Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Three Mothers

(Couldn’t help translating this small piece from the book, ‘Mahanagara’ by Jogi. Call it a tribute to Motherhood or Womanhood, but for me, it’s nothing but lovely crispy writing, the kind I love to read and write myself)

That boy wasn't into studies but would watch his friends go to the ashrams, learn Vedas from the sages, and he too wanted to learn it all. So he goes to Gautama Rishi’s ashram. Gautama asks for his ‘gothra’. Not knowing his lineage, the boy comes back to his mother and asks ‘What’s my gothra?’

His mother says, ‘See, I was working as a maid in many houses and got pregnant in that period. So I don’t know exactly who your father is. Tell this to your guru.’

He goes and tells this to Gautama. While the other disciples laugh at him and taunt, the Guru appreciates his truthfulness and his mother’s frankness and names him as ‘Satya-kama’---a lover of truth. ‘You’re the son of Jaabaala, so you’re ‘Jaabaali’,’ he says. A Rishi is thus born in the name of his mother.

The nurturing mother, Jaabaala. She teaches her son to be truthful, and win over the World through this truthfulness. He becomes known by his mother’s name and she in turn, becomes famous through him. She is the one who nurtures.

Then, the second mother, Kunthi. She becomes a mother before marriage. And sets her son sail in the Ganges, fearing the Truth! Her son, Karna, becomes a benevolent giver. And places a higher value on his friendship than on the love towards his mother. The baby floating down the Ganges is picked up by a charioteer, and now grown up, Karna realises the truth of his birth. That truth doesn’t trouble him, nor does it make him pity his own condition. He doesn’t crave for his mother. Thus, she becomes the mother who makes her son transcend her necessity, who sets her child free from her bondage. If Karna had stayed with his mother he too would perhaps have lusted for power? But away from her, he never craved anything at anytime. He learnt to give not receive. He stayed with Duryodhana but never became like him. Such a life, he received from his Mother. Kunthi abandoned him and nurtured his greatness.

Jaabala is the Mother who nurtured and Kunthi is the Mother who abandoned. The third Mother is the one who destroys. The Mother of the Universe who also becomes the one who butchers mercilessly. A demon asks a boon that nobody but his mother should kill him. He’s sure that a mother will never kill. With that boon he unleashes havoc and suffering. Lord Krishna tries to kill him but fails. Then his wife, Satyabhaama, who’s born from an amsha of the Mother Goddess kills the demon. That Demon was Narakasura. When his troubles cross limits, the mother of the Universe arrives in some form to swallow him. To destroy is also a part of the Mother’s responsibility. Nurture, Abandon, Destroy—she knows all.
These three mothers, their strange stories—filled with pride, fortitude and fearlessness...and our puranas have various dimensions of this mother-son bonding. Just as you have a mother who killed her son, we also see a son who killed his mother. He is Parashurama. On the orders of his father, he cuts his mother down. Then when his pleased father confers a boon, he asks for the revival of his mother. He gives birth to his mother again. Now, is he a son to his mother, or is he a mother who birthed her again?