MOTHER IN THE HINDU HERITAGE

Shehjar e-magazine

MOTHER IN THE HINDU HERITAGE
*Dr Chaman Lal Raina
thrva Veda says: May the husband and wife be complementary to each other! May the husband be a song, the wife be a verse! May husband be the Sky and wife be the earth! It is by their union that offspring results. Each have to emotionally fulfill the vow of being faithful for higher values of life. (14.2.7). Verily, this is the essence of married life to live in perfect harmony for the betterment of the children and for the observance of ethical values in the society.

Amar Kosha says that the bilogical mother is --- Janayitri prasur mata janani.She who gives birth to a child is verily, mother.

The Shakti Agamas says that the Divine Mother is the source of all creation,as she is seen in the Para-Prakriti.

This is what we need to understand on the sanctity of the mother in essence. The child needs to respect the mother not only on a specific day, but throughout life. This is the beauty of Indian heritage that we call every woman as the Matri -Shakti. She is not only given the due respect, but revered as the incarnation of the Divine mother. Durga Sapta Shati establishes this norm,as she is revered as the Ashta Matrika.

Manu Smriti says:

Yatra Naryastu Pujante Ramante Tatra Devatah,
Yatra-itastu na pujyenteSarvaastraphalah kriyah

The translation runs as: Where women are adored, there the Gods are delighted; but where they are not worshipped, all religious ceremonies become futile.

Manu says in his Smriti: One Acharya excels ten Upadhyas, a father one hundred Acharyas, a father hundred Acharyas. But a mother excels the father in making the child the true inheritor of the Vedic knowledge. (2.145)

Maatri Shakti is the concept of motherhood in the Veda. The Rigveda Samhita has a hymn(10-85), which establishes that the Vivaha Sanaskaa or the sacrament of marriage, in the Aryan way of life is an important Samaskara. Samaskara means a sacrament, which has got life long impact during life. Later, all the applied branches of the Vedas established the Vivaha Sanskara to be the best form of the marriage to be performed in the social environment for maintaining the purity of body and mind, for the adolescents of both the sexes. The Puranas and the epics lay emphasis on the institution of marriage, as in seen in the celestial marriage of Shiva and Parvati, of Shri Rama and Sita, of Shri Krishna and Rukmani,of Savitri and Satyavan. The Vivaha Sanaskara maintains the purity of soul for the better progeny to come in the family. That is why, in the Hindu tradition, we have Dharma/righteousness, Artha/access to the manifested world, Kama/ desire to have righteous progeny and Moksha/ realization of Ishvara of the Vedas, Brahman of the Upanishads or Shiva of Kashmir Shaivism, within the present human birth. Hindus believe in the transmigration of the soul, therefore, they try to attain Moksha, after seeing the whole phenomenon of human life, helping the progeny, raising the children to establish the Gotra and family.

The Vedic education was encouraged in every segment of society including the girls, so that they would play an important role to guide the children in extending the idea of 'Krinvantu Vishvam Aryam'. In short, to make the human race noble. This Vedic aphorism establishes the fact that a child is supposed to have the three obligations of preserving the Vedic culture, based on humanitarianism and not on fanaticism. These are Rishi- rina. Deva -rina and Pitri- rina This is obligation towards the rishis, devatas and ancestors.

The Hindu mother makes the child learn purity, truthfulness, respect for elders preserving the Dharti Maa/ earth planet, keeping respect for ecology and like other values. Therefore, the Vedic teachings are more universal than particular in nature. This is the beauty of the motherhood in India to establish the four norms of life, as referred to in the Vedas,which .give rise to the equal opportunities to boys and girls. Kumari/ virgins were also entitled to all Sanaskaras, including the Upanayana Sanskara, in the Vedic tradition. Unfortunately, this sacrament was deleted from the system , due to the hierarchy of male dominant society. It is Kashmir only, where the Upanayana has been replaced by the Kanya Sanaskara, to be performed one day before the Vivaha Sanskara. It is known as the Kanya Devaguna. In the ancient India, the girls were taught the Vedas and other allied subjects. In other words they were taught the performance of Homa-havana, meditation, instructions about family life and how to raise the child in accordance to the Vedic way of life. The epic stories were taught to the children by their mothers in their pre-school age. Later the teachers would teach them Brahmacharya and would initiate them according to their Kula Parampara/ tradition of being well versed in their family related Gotras. That is the social and spiritual discipline to be maintained by the adolescents. Both boys and girls would learn the Yama and Niyama, according to the Patanjali's Yoga system. Mother would play a very important role in upbringing of the child. That is the reason, why the motherhood is very much appreciated within the Aryan legacy.

The boy and girl of the same Gotra can not marry each other, as they happen to be the descendents of the same Rishi. They have to consider themselves as being like brothers and sisters. This is still current in the Hindu way of life.

The institution of marriage is some how connected with the Gotra system.

  1. Being a mother is the true index of the socio-religious thought, acumen and implication on the Vedic way of life.

  2. Husband and wife are the one soul. They are Eke-Atman/one soul, or one spiritual entity, woven together for giving the best norms to their children in relation to society.

  3. The groom makes a vow at the time of Sapta Padi: I take your hand in my hand to fulfill the obligation of Dharma, Kama, Moksha. In the modern terminology, we can interpret this concept as means to strive for and to achieve peace, progress, healthy life, better education, economic devolvement and the proper raising of the children and for Jiva Seva/ community service in the spiritual context at large.

  4. The bride would pray for the groom: Jivet Sharda Shatam Pashyet Sharda Shatam, Shrunuyama Sharda Shatad, and the groom would pray the like wise for the bride. Both of them would pray for their child in the same manner on the auspicious occasions like Kahnethir - Jata karma and Mekhla -Upanayana Sanskar/sacred thread ceremony.

  5. This could be possible, only by living a homogeneous life, a clean life and a balanced meaningful life in sharing the Vedic truths for the global peace and for recognition of the motherhood.

  6. In a Hindu way of life, a woman is said to be the Grihya Lakhsmi and Saubhagya Lakshmi, which makes the motherhood esteemed in and around the social behavior and life.

The word Dampati means husband and wife bonded together, under the Sapta Padi, the uniting of the two souls for raising the progeny and giving the best Sanaskaras to the children. The family , relations and neighbors remain as the witness to this sacred sacrament. This institution is ancient , and more dedicated life is seen even today in the Hindu way of life.


Netra Drishti
Painting and Concept by Dr. Chaman Lal Raina
Some of the female Vedic luminaries in the Vedic heritage are Lopamudra, Apala,Sikta,Vibhavani, Ghosha,Ahalya, Sita,Kunti, Shakuntala, Tara, Damyanti, who became the torch-bearers for Indian womanhood, since the ancient times. The Atharva Veda says: That the higher education was regarded as a necessary accomplishment for preserving the Vedic norms in the society, and for raising the progeny in the right direction. It is because of the great contribution of the ancient Indian woman that the concept of the MOTHER TRADITION evolved with the sacrifice of Sati, Sita and Savitri.

The Brihad Upanishad says: Man and woman are the equal units of life to fit in a single set for maintaining the healthy norms of life (1.4.50). There are various sources of information to reveal that the concept of Motherhood is very pious, having the characteristics of purity and a moral bondage between the mother and child. The epic SAVITRI written by Sri Aurobindo Ghosh has put the Vedic womanhood/motherhood in high esteem, where Yama, the Lord of Death had to surrender before Savitri, when her husband's soul was taken away by Yama. But for the presence of mind, true dedication and spiritual insight of Savitri, her husband Satyavan was saved, and then Savitri gave birth to many children. Therefore, the Indian womanhood is revered as Savitri.

Sita in her exile taught all the spiritual insights to Lava and Kusha and was very much instrumemtal in imparting military training to her twins, according to the Kshatriya Dharma , where Shri Rama had no choice but to accept their challenge in that Ashvamedha Yagnya. There can be no better example for the children to pay their homage to Mothers, as was displayed by Lava and Kusha in the court of Ramarajya of Shri Rama, in restoring the lost prestige of Sita .

It is because of the reverence for Motherhood, that Lalleshvari, Roopa Bhavani, Arni Maal, are revered in Kashmir, though we have no evidence that they bore a child. Mothers day is the celebration of a son/daughter to see the biological MOTHER to be revered as Shri Sharada Mata, as was done by Vivekananda, Mother of Pondicherry as done by the devotees of Shri Aurobindo, like Jijabhai, as done by Shiva Ji.

Mother is to be revered with the promise to bring the woman at par with man, in every norm of life-physical, mental, gnostic and spiritual. We have the spiritual way of life, to guide the young boys and girls for maintaining the concept of Motherhood in high esteem.
*Dr. Chaman Lal Raina did Masters in Hindi & English. Ph.D. in Hindi & Iqbaliat at the University of Kashmir. Worked on the research project at the Iqbal Institute for writing monographs on Indology as Research Associate. Worked as lecturer to teach research methodology in Iqbal Institute, University of Kashmir. Dr. Raina's first love is for the Vedas and the Shakti Tradition of India. To his credit goes some ten books on Indology. He was awarded Nagmani Fellowship, Buddhist Fellowship etc. from various Institutions. Presently Dr. Raina is associated with the Yoga Studies, religion and sanskrit at Florida International University, USA.
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Comments
Dr Raina's research on motherhood in Hindu culture is deep.He has put her on highest altar for the respect and honour she deserves
Added By pushkar ganjoo
Motherhood tradition in India is related to the Vedic Suktas. Dr Raina has expressed Hinduism through the medium of vivid allegory which no text can paint. I find an evolutionary process of Motherhood tradition through the references of the Vedas, Agamas of Hinduism. In regards to his painting, Dr. Raina has given the Bija-mantra/seeds of the Sankrit Varnamala which has originated from its primal source none other than Aum. -Sharma Dammar, Masters of Arts in Religious Studies
Added By Sharma Dammar
Very well written article on motherhood. This write up is informative as well as touching. I urge everybody to read this article. I wish it is published on Mother’s Day and Valentines Day, but for us everyday is Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
Added By Chandra Ganju
I would like to add the UPANISHADIK SUTRA/ aphorism---"MAATRI DEVO BHAVA",which teaches that the biological mother is none else but the living presence of the Divine Mother. I would like to conclude with the aphorism --"MAATRI HASTENA BHOJAM", the food presented by the hands of mother is always the Divine Prasad.
Added By Chaman Lal Raina
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