Invoke the Mother to help us annihilate within all negative forces and all weaknesses. – Chinmaya
A mother is an embodiment of love, of compassion, of forbearance, of patience, of forgiveness, of tolerance, and of sacrifice. No wonder why in Hinduism, God is worshipped as Divine Mother during the Navaratri festival.
Pujya Gurudev used to narrate a story.
Monsoon season is in progress. The 5-year-old boy can not contain the excitement of playing in the way-side ditch water. Though he is warned not to play in the dirty water, the temptation appears too much to resist! At last, finding an opportune moment, he escapes the attention of the grown-ups, stealthily enters into the rain-collected muddy water, and fulfils his desire to his heart’s content.
The boy thoroughly enjoys the mud-splashing game with the local slum boys. An hour passes by. When the excitement cools down, his attention turns to his muddy, wet clothes. He visualizes the future consequences of his aquatic adventure – a serious father and a furious mother.
Totally drenched head to toe, with a heart filled with fear and guilt, he reaches back home. Father is absorbed in reading the newspaper sitting in the courtyard. Mustering courage, the boy calls out meekly, “Papa…”
Father, hearing the call, lowers his newspaper and looks out. To his horror, in front of him, he finds his darling child, his apple-of-the-eye, in the filthiest condition. He removes his specs and stares at the boy for a few seconds. And in those few moments, the boy sees a total transition happening in his father. The otherwise loving figure now becomes stern, fiercely silent, and absolutely unapproachable. In a serious tone, the father now calls out the boy’s mother.
Mother, working in the kitchen, hearing the call, comes out. Seeing her child in that deplorable condition, she becomes a BhadraKali!
She drags the boy into the bathroom through the backside, all the while shouting, “How many times I have told you not to play in that dirty water…” And as the boy cries in protest, she lands some tight slaps on his cheeks. Amidst the boy’s loud weeping and wailing, the mother undresses, him, puts him in a bathtub, applies soap and rubs him and scrubs him.
Bathing is over. The mother wipes her child with the bathing-towel. By then the boy also realizes his mistake, “The fault is mine. My mother is always my well-wisher. She had warned me, but I disobeyed her. I should have been her good child…” The boy becomes silent, obedient and humble.
Seeing her child quiet and repentant, the mother’s heart also melts in love, “Poor child! I have been so harsh to him. It is but natural that children will want to play in the water. How will a poor innocent child know what is good or bad? I should have been more forgiving and compassionate…”
After the bath, the mother puts new clothes on him. Applying face-powder, a black dot is put on the cheek to save the child from ‘evil-eye.’ For being obedient, the mother presents a lolly-pop to her baby and then takes the happy child to his father.
The boy stands behind the father’s chair, not having the courage to come in front. The boy is worried whether he will be accepted by his father. He has not forgotten the serious, unwelcoming face of his father. But the mother persuades him to go near the father.
With all humility, with a tone soaked in confession, with a heart filled with sincere love, he calls with all meekness, “Papa…”
The father turns back and looks at his child. The serious face of the father within a few moments lits up with joy and forgiveness when he finds a totally transformed child.
The father lifts the child, and placing him on the lap, gently kisses him!
This incident happens in every household.
Gurudev then elaborates upon the moral of the story:
Child playing in the dirty water:
This is our story. Turning away from our father and mother (the supreme Lord), we enter into extroverted activities, indulging in all worldly pursuits and sense pleasures. Thus our mind becomes dirty, filled with ahankara-mamakara, kama-krodha and raga-dvesha.
Child rejected by the father:
With such an impure mind filled with worldly vasanas, when we sit for meditation and chant, “ Aham Brahmaasmi, I am Brahman”, we don’t experience anything! True, Brahman is our own nature, but with a mind possessing all evil traits, we are denied entry into the kingdom of our own ‘heavenly Father’.
Father commands the mother:
In Bhagavad Geeta, Brahman is compared with the father principle and Maya/Prakrti is compared with the mother principle. It is said: Brahman, the Pure Consciousness, does not do anything. In His presence, empowered by Him, the Prakruti, the power of Maya, does everything.
Mother Nature takes over to correct and guide us, her erring children.
Mother cleans the child:
Mother Nature, through various ups and downs in life – heat-cold, joy-sorrow, honor-dishonor, profit-loss, pain-gain, purifies us. Like that child, we also protest, but the cleaning continues. We may complain and grumble, protest and murmur, but Mother Nature turns a deaf ear to all our ‘Why me?’-s. She is a tough Task-Mistress. She will not let us leave until we have learnt our lessons!
Sufferings teach us wonderful lessons in life. Sufferings make us humble, sensitive, introspective, grateful and make us God-dependent. It makes us fit to deserve liberation. This is the blessings of Mother Durga – to clean us of all inner impurities through measured doses of timely sufferings.
Introspection makes us learn one of the greatest lessons in life – ‘I alone am the cause of all my suffering.’ We realise that reforming oneself is the only way to peace and happiness. Life then takes a U-turn; grumbling stops and inner-refinement begins. We work on ourselves. We become a sadhaka, a spiritual seeker.
The child gets good clothes, the mother’s love, and lolly-pop:
As we try to improve the quality of our thoughts, something wonderful starts happening in us and around us. We experience tremendous peace because of our noble thoughts. Through such a beautiful mind, we perceive a beautiful world. And then we start creating a beautiful world around us through our noble thoughts, words, and actions. Goodness within attracts goodness without. This is the blessings of Mother Lakshmi – Goddess of material prosperity and divine virtues.
Mother takes the child to the father:
An intense desire to be one with God comes spontaneously to a refined mind. Understanding our need, Mother Nature blesses us with the opportunity to attend Satsang and to listen to the scriptures through mahatmas. The sincere seeker gets a Guru. This is the blessing of Mother Saraswati – the Goddess of knowledge.
The child calls, “Papa”:
With such a purified mind, with all humility, respect, reverence, surrender, and love, we contemplate upon the meaning of the Mahavakyas, the Upanishadic statement “I am Brahman.”
The father lifts the boy, places the boy on his lap and kisses him:
We realise our oneness with Brahman. The delusory world ceases, the illusory ego disappears, the birth-death journey ends, and we become one with our Creator.
In the end what remains is only gratitude to the Divine Mother, who pulled us out from the filthiest worldly ditch, and made us one with Brahman.
To that Mother, our humble prostrations!
O M T A T S A T