Matru Devo Bhava – Mother is God; Let us remember her on Mother’s Day

09 May 2021 1033 Views

Mother Matrupanchakam by Adi Shankara

Today being Mothers’ day in USA, (May 9, 2021) we thought it appropriate to reminisce the great sacrifices mothers make. It is more fitting to remember Matrupanchakam (five hymns) composed by Adi Sankara.

At very young age Sankaracharya wanted to take up Sanyasa which was opposed by his mother. Finally, she agreed with a condition that he would be present at her death bed and perform all the kriyas. He came back to be with his mother when he realized through his intuitive powers that her days were numbered. He performed her funeral ceremonies. It was at that time Sankaracharya composed Matrupanchakam explaining the sacrifices mothers do for their children.

Mother has been extolled as a god form in several places in the puranas and also God has been approached as a son approaches his mother by many great savants. She is Dhatri (One who bears the child), Janani (one who gives birth to the child), Amba (One who nourishes the limbs of the child) and Veerasu (One who makes him a hero), Shusroo (One who takes care of him). But Sankara in these poems is not dealing either of God in the form of mother nor mother in the form of God. He laments to the lady who was his mother and points out how his conscience is pricking him for being not able to do the duty of a son.

aasthaam tavaddeyam prasoothi samaye durvara soola vyadha,

nairuchyam thanu soshanam malamayee sayya cha samvatsaree,

ekasyapi na garbha bara bharana klesasya yasya kshmo dhathum,

nishkruthi munnathopi thanaya tasya janyai nama.

Oh mother mine,

With clenched teeth bore thou the excruciating pain,

When I was born to you,

Shared thou the bed made dirty by me for an year,

And thine body became thin and painful,

During those nine months that you bore me,

For all these in return,

Oh mother dearest,

I can never compensate,

Even by my becoming great.

gurukulamupasruthya swapnakaale thu drushtwa,

yathi samuchitha vesham praarudho maam twamuchai

gurukulamadha sarva prarudathe samaksham

sapadhi charanayosthe mathurasthu pranaama.

Clad in a dress of a sanyasin,

You saw me in my teacher’s school,

In your dream and wept,

And rushed thither,

Smothered, embraced and fondled me, Oh mother mine,

And all the teachers and students wept with you dear,

What could I do,

Except falling at your feet,

And offering my salutations.

ambethi thathethi shivethi tasmin,

prasoothikale yadavocha uchai,

krishnethi govinda hare mukunde tyaho,

janye rachito ayamanjali.

Oh mother mine,

Crying thou shouted in pain,

During thine hard labour,

“Oh mother, Oh father,

Oh God Shiva,

Oh Lord Krishna,

Oh Lord of all, Govinda,

Oh Hari and Oh God Mukunda,”

But in return,

Oh my mother dearest.

I can give you but humble prostrations.

na dattam mathasthe marana samaye thoyamapi vaa,

swadhaa vaa no dheyaa maranadivase sraadha vidhina

na japtho mathasthe marana samaye tharaka manu,

akale samprapthe mayi kuru dhayaam matharathulaam.

Neither did I give you water at thine time of death,

Neither did I offer oblations to thee to help thine journey of death,

And neither did I chant the name of Rama in thine ear,

Oh Mother supreme, pardon me for these lapses with compassion,

For I have arrived here late to attend to those.

mukthaa manisthvam, nayanam mamethi,

rajethi jeevethi chiram sthutha thwam,

ithyuktha vathya vaachi mathaa,

dadamyaham thandulamesh shulkam.

Long live,

Oh, pearl mine,

Oh jewel mine,

Oh my dearest eyes,

Oh mine prince dearest,

And oh my soul of soul,

Sang thou to me,

But in return of that all,

Oh my mother dearest.

I give you but dry rice in your mouth.


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