An Ode to motherhood

Colonel Satish Singh Lalotra
‘The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world’—–William Ross Wallace’.
Mother is an English word, not an acronym. It is a noun, which specifies a woman who is in relation to a child, to whom she has given birth. Since the word is not an acronym, so it does not have any full form too but over the years people created their own full forms to show their creativity, love and respect for mother. Be that as it may, the full form of mother which I thought comes nearest to defining her in totality may appear somewhat like this—
M—Million things she gave me-O-Specified only that she is growing old-T-Tears she shed to save me-H-Heart of purest Gold-E-Eyes with long lasting love-R-Right ,she means and always right. As we come upon another ‘Mother’s day’ on 08th May this year, William Ross’s words rings so true. There is no way that we could be the person that we are today without the sacrifices, motivation and love from our mother. She has had a significant influence on the successes that we have been able to achieve. How does one then describe mother or rather encapsulate all her being in such a short article? It is impossible to write down the emotions that can be etched on a human’s mind regarding the issue.


Life starts within them and each life is raised with warmth, affection and unqualified love of mother. A mother may have different names like mommy, mom or mama but every mother has the same role in our lives. She is the caretaker and defines gratitude and inspiration in her children with unrequited attention. She is the pillar of hope for every member of family. As a country with Hindu religion as its mainstay, India has always placed its mothers /women folk on a pedestal. Almost all names of Hindu Goddesses are either prefixed or suffixed with the word ‘Maa’. We have example Maa Durga, Maa Luxmi and Maa Sarswati etc keeping the position of the word Maa as per the spoken convenience of the people with that of the deity. This lends credence to the fact that Indian civilization was honed on the anvil of sterling qualities of head and heart of its countless mothers who were the harbingers of their son’s future course of actions in the world. According to the philosophy of ‘Santaan Dharma’, the institution of ‘Motherhood’ is given the pedestal position as stated earlier in a Hindu society. For a Hindu every day is a ‘Mother’s day”. Unlike others Hindus respect, worship, celebrate and give highest recognition to 5 mothers in their everyday life. The ‘Mother earth’, the Cow, religious texts, the divine mother, and the biological mother in that order stand the religious conviction of a devout Hindu. These have been considered as the sources of life that provide sustenance for the continuity of humanity and hence offering admiration, worships and making provisions for their continuity are a few of the duties of their earthly children.
The word ‘Maa’ in Hindi language comprises of a consonant ‘Maa’ and a vowel ‘Aa’. This consonant pertains to the heart which evokes the emotion of love, joy and happiness while the vowel relates to ‘Anand shakti’ or the power of bliss. So one’s mother is a treasure house of all the bliss, love and success. As stated earlier in the Hindu religion, Maa Durga’ is considered the ‘Ichha shakti’ (power of will), Maa Saraswati as Kiriya Shakti (power of activity), Maa Lakshmi as the Arth Shakti (power of wealth) and so. Hence the earthly mother strives hard to make sure that her children are well nourished , their activities are directed by her will and they acquire proper knowledge to be of some value to her as well as the world at large. Therefore the key role of a mother in a child’s development. Even in the world of Islam, a mother is elevated to the highest pedestal of human existence one can fathom of. As per holy Quran shurah 4:36 and 46:15 Prophet says ‘Worship God and join not any partners with him and be kind to your mother’ as well as ‘Do good and serve your mother, then your father, then the near relatives and then those who come after them’ respectively.
Indians do not have to go any corner of the world to seek sterling examples of motherhood guiding them through their lives. Flip through the medieval history of our country and out tumbles the pinnacle of motherhood in the form of ‘Panna Dai’ ,the 16 th century nursemaid to Rana Udai Singh -II ,the fourth son of Rana Sangha of Mewar kingdom. She was a ‘Khinchi Chauhan’ Rajput given the charge of Rana Udai Singh -II, breast feeding him virtually from his birth in 1522 along with her own son Chandan Singh. A widower, she was a close confidant of even Rani Karnawati wife of Rana Sangha often helping her in negotiating state matters. When Rana Udai Singh was attacked by his own uncle Banvir Singh with a sword with an intention to kill the heir apparent, Panna Dai sacrificed her own son Chandan Singh who was sleeping alongside in the palace thus saving the last hope of Mewar. Harshadrai Sakerlal Mehta made ‘ Veerangna Panna ‘ an Indian silent movie way back in 1934 . In 2014, the then CM of Rajasthan Vasundhra Raje inaugurated the Shaheed smarak and Panna Dhai museum as well as boat shaped museum in Goverdhan sagar lake. This museum is dedicated to Panna Dai and her sacrifices to Mewar kingdom. The hall also portrays her life in which visitors are shown a 3D movie about her.
We have many more marvelous examples of Indian mothers having cast a profound effect on the formative years of their children’s lives by way of molding them into a steel frame of resolve. Who can forget the role of ‘ Jijabai’ the mother of Guerrilla king ‘Shivaji’ from the Deccan ? She by her single mindedness in her capacity as a regent cum mother raised Shivaji into a formidable force to reckon with in those turbulent times of Mughal tyranny. Similarly ‘Rani Lakshmi Bai’ with her adopted son ‘Damodar Rao’ tied and carried piggy back on a horse back in the famous battle of Jhansi against the British is firmly etched in the minds of millions of Indians to have an everlasting impression of what an evolved Indian motherhood is even during war time. Coming to the recent times we have examples of Putlibai Gandhi, Swaroop Rani Thussu , Vidyavati, Kamla Nehru, Prem Lata Peshawria mothers of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Kiran Bedi respectively who were icons in themselves for turning their progenies into possessed personalities, having the guts of changing the world in their own little ways for better. The latest to adorn the high pedestal of Indian motherhood is none other than mother of our PM Narendra Modi ,Heeraben Modi who by her sheer simplicity and style of living a frugal existence has captivated the whole world.
The sterling qualities of head and heart which the entire world is witness to in our PM is no wonder the gift of his mother who instilled in him these pearls of wisdom in his formative years of growing up. Having penned this article on mother’s day I am reminded of my own mother who though having passed away 17 years back has had her teachings still firmly imprinted in my subconscious as a guiding light to steer me from the highs and lows of life. Though we are quick to celebrate such occasions marking as an ode to our parents but in actuality the changing socio-economic mores in our society has had a stressful impact on these relations too. The demands of motherhood on modern upward mobile mothers is far too in excess as compared to their counterparts from the days of yore. But then has anything worthwhile been achieved in this world without digging in our heels.? The modern mothers have to remind themselves the quote of ‘William Ross Wallace’ -‘The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world’ to be of some substance to their progeny as well as in their own eyes and take the idea of motherhood to lofty heights.
(The writer is a retired army officer.)