Mother Supreme


mother and child










By Malli Iyer

To many of us, it would appear to be no more than a token gesture to celebrate Mother’s Day once each year. I don’t know of anyone who would not subscribe to this day of honouring their mother, motherhood and maternal bonds.     Credit goes to Anna Jarvis of Grafton, W. Virginia for not only initiating “Mother’s Day” celebrations in 1908, but constantly crusading and lobbying for this to ultimately become a global phenomenon. Mention must necessarily be made of Janet Heyden of Leichardt, Sydney in 1924 who worked towards making it a national event across Australia. It has become a tradition to bestow a bunch of flowers, typically with Chrysanthemums (which is in season during autumn in Australia) since the last three letters also symbolically signify “mums”.  Mother’s Day celebrations are held on the second Sunday of May in most countries, although the Arab world celebrates it with the arrival of Northern Spring.   In almost every country Mother’s Day traverses geographical and religious borders ”“  in most parts of Eastern Europe and Russia it is celebrated as International Women’ day.   Families right across the world use the opportunity to show solidarity and herald the inherent supremacy of their mother in their lives.

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother” was Abraham Lincoln’s tribute to his mother in early 19th century. Mothers evoke strong emotions in us.   Every human being lives in a mother’s womb for 9 months before one sees the light of day. Mother’s role is universally acknowledged as the giver of life as well as the nurturer. Every mother undergoes risks associated with childbearing and lives with rigours during childbirth that can only be described as ”˜fraught with danger’. Without an element of ”˜godliness’, unconditional and unfettered love,  a mother cannot possibly cope with the huge responsibility of raising children.   Bonds thus formed must never be forgotten but acknowledged and applauded.   The age old proverb “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” must have been inspired by a mother when it was created. The power that a mother wields in every family inspite of the gentleness associated with it is aptly named “Shakti” after the consort of Lord Shiva whose immeasurable powers to conquer the demons in Hindu mythology are legendary. Indian women have always been inspired by paragons of virtue  such as Sita, Parvati and Draupadi, shining examples of selfless love such as Radha, Mirabai and the brave and fearless women like Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi,Chandbibi and Razia Sultan. Jewish folklore believes that “God could not be everywhere, so He created a mother.

“Maatru Devo Bhava” in Sanskrit points to deification and glorification by suggesting that “A mother is an incarnation of God”.    Religious epics and early history do not differentiate between biological and non-biological mothers. Yashoda was the foster mother of Lord Krishna, whilst St. Mary or Blessed Virgin Mary was the mother of Jesus by virtue of being conceived miraculously through the Holy Spirit.   Playing the role of mother and dedicating their lives to their adopted children was reason enough to achieve universal reverence and virtual immortality. Stepmothers have been around from the days of Ramayana and Mahabharata and have been proven to play an important role in shaping the lives of children. History is dotted with examples of grandmothers and mothers-in-law who have exercised power and influence that changed destinies of royals and the nobility.   The role of a mother has evolved further in more recent times with surrogacy and resident nursemaids who take on the responsibility of child care whilst biological mothers are unable to do so. Whilst the women’s role in the society is undergoing significant changes, their forays into areas that have been male preserve for long have brought out their true potential.    Interestingly, civilisation could not have come thus far without mothers, madars, mutters, moeders, mamas, mums, ammas, ammees, ems, moms or whatever name you may wish to call them.

What are the sterling qualities in a mother that make them synonymous to courage, sacrifice and a symbol of strength and integrity.   A mother is capable of creating the noblest and most intelligent species in human beings that redeem humanity and save modern civilisation from destruction.   They impart the character building values of choosing between rights and wrongs, teach humility, honesty, compassion, love, self assurance and discipline to the young ones. They also play the role model for social etiquettes, self-preservation, hygiene, cleanliness, and hospitality from early years which stay with children lifelong.

Championing the cause of mothers as far back as 1907, Anne Morrow Lindbergh is quoted to have said, “By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off.   They are the great vacationless class”. They remain so to large segments of the population even today although legislative changes such as removal of the gender discrimination   by the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act 2005 are good developments. India is a country of extremes in wealth and poverty, women worshipped as Godesses or hopelessly mistreated, a revered billionairess or a malnourished ejected social outcast and women’s equality of opportunity is still only a pipe dream. A homophobic or a mother outside marriage is very much a social stigma and seen by the community as a women’s emancipation gone wrong.  Thus Indian women come in many guises.

The advent of women and mothers like Indira Gandhi to the topmost position of power since 1960s, have also brought about a new era of politicians, bureaucrats, businesswomen, entrepreneurs, sociologists, human rights lawyers and educators. They are no long seen as pushovers as many of them have risen to become astronauts, jet pilots, senior military officers, CEOs of global business giants and some of them have pioneered satellite technology. Women remain the main hope for homeless, destitute, orphans, aged care world over thanks to the devotion of saints like Mother Teresa.

Mother’s Day is a happy augury for an unhappy world, where hope for a better world springs eternal.

Short URL: