Mother is the creator of every being and refers to the source of divine energy of creation who is loving, compassionate, responsible and fierce. Her protective and nurturing qualities help the integral growth of physical and spiritual development of every living being. Sanatan Dharma describes mothers are the divine form of Shakti. Further, according to Vedas, every individual taking birth in this universe has seven mothers or Sapta Matrikas. Here, we will enlighten and elaborate on the Sapta Matrikas of Sanatan Dharma.
Audau Mata (Biological Mother)
As divine power shapes the expressions of the universe, nurturing and guiding them through creation, sustenance, and transformation, a mother plays a significant role in shaping her child’s best attributes.
Beyond meeting our material needs, a mother is a child’s first guru, striving to nurture and facilitate their spiritual development. Through her thoughts and actions, she leaves a lasting impression on the child’s consciousness, even before birth, laying the foundation for their spiritual success in life.
The Bhagavata Purana shows an exemplary illustration of a mother‘s positive impact on her unborn child. King Hiranyakashipu, consumed by a thirst for power, left his home to undergo intense penance to become invincible. Meanwhile, the gods held his pregnant wife Kayadhu captive, fearing that her child could become a threat like his father, Hiranyakashipu. The gods planned to kill the child upon birth.
However, the wise sage Narada intervened, understanding the situation, and protected Kayadhu and her unborn child. He took her to his hermitage, ensuring her safety until Hiranyakashipu’s return. Seeking the protection of her unborn child and sincerely following Narada’s spiritual guidance, Kayadhu embraced his teachings wholeheartedly. Despite having only a child in her womb, Prahlada, she instilled all of Narada’s teachings in him. As a result, Prahlada grew into a selfless individual and a devoted follower of Lord Vishnu.
The story of Prahlada demonstrates the tremendous influence of a loving mother on her unborn child and the power of unwavering compassion, as shown by Narada, which far surpasses fear-based violence employed by the gods.
Guru Patni ( Wife of One’s Guru)
Following the Vedic tradition, children had to stay in a Gurukul (an ancient Indian educational system) at five years old, where they acquired worldly and spiritually significant education. This system involved students residing with the Guru (teacher) in his home, where they imbibed the necessary discipline and structure for learning. The Guru’s wife assumed a motherly role for the students, providing them with warmth and affection, which was essential for their development, especially when they were away from their parents.
Brahmani ( Saint’s Wife)
In ancient Vedic civilization, the Rishis, also known as advanced spiritual practitioners, served as philosophical and moral leaders within society. They played the role of spiritual guides for kings, responsible not only for the well-being of citizens but also for their spiritual growth.
At times, however, some saints became overly focused on the prescribed rituals mentioned in the scriptures for disciplined spiritual development, losing sight of the ultimate goal – to cultivate compassion, love, and selflessness.
The Bhagavata Purana shows an exemplary illustration, which narrates a story of Krishna’s friends becoming hungry while herding cows in the village. They noticed the preparation of food offerings nearby as per the Vedic rituals. Krishna suggested they ask the Rishis if they could have some food, but the Rishis ignored them. Krishna then advised them to approach the Rishis’ wives, who immediately organized a feast upon hearing about the boys’ hunger and served them with great love and care.
Witnessing the Rishis’ wives’ spontaneous display of unconditional love and service, the Rishis realized their mistake and felt remorseful for their lack of hospitality. They recognized the importance of embracing kindness and hospitality in their spiritual practice.
This incident highlights the significance of a motherly figure guiding spiritual aspirants towards becoming more loving and joyful individuals. In Vedic culture, the compassionate wives of Rishis played a vital role in providing spiritual nourishment, ensuring their husbands remained focused on the true essence of guiding lives toward authentic spiritual growth and well-being for all.
Raj Patni (The Queen)
In ancient Vedic India, a virtuous ruler was not only esteemed as a king but also held in high regard as a responsible caretaker of the material and spiritual prosperity of the people. Such a ruler was considered akin to a fatherly figure for the citizens. Similarly, the queen received great respect, like a revered mother who perceived the kingdom’s inhabitants as her children. She actively encouraged and assisted the king in implementing policies that aimed at the well-being of all. The queen played the role of a nurturing and guiding mother, inspiring the king to govern with policies that fostered the welfare of every subject.
In ancient Indian civilization, the communities have significant importance on the relationship between humans and cows. Cows hold great love and reverence.
Beyond their gentle and meek nature, cows’ milk production and its utilization to create various food products vital for sustaining life during Vedic times evoked a profound sense of gratitude within society. Consequently, cows are maternal figures, and their offerings are not for granted in Sanatan Dharma; instead, they are the givers without expecting anything in return.
Traditionally, after a cow gave birth and started producing milk, the calf was left with the mother for about two weeks to drink as much as needed. Only after this period would the excess milk be used for human consumption. The ancient Indian people valued the calf’s needs, providing care and humility while obtaining milk.
The nurturing aspect of animals, including cows, needs recognition and is essential to foster a sense of love, respect, and gratitude in our interactions with others, creating a more peaceful and harmonious world.
Dhatri ( Nurse or the one who takes care)
It is often said that those who assist you in times of weakness or illness, be it doctors, nurses, daughters, sons, sisters, nephews, or nieces, deserve heartfelt gratitude. Regardless of gender, the active role of caring for others during times of necessity can be seen and appreciated as a compassionate trait, even when these individuals may display irritation, moodiness, or a lack of praise. The Divine exists within each of us. This nurturing power demonstrated through someone’s strength and selflessness should never be underestimated and always held in high regard.
Prithvi (The Earth)
Just like a loving and generous mother providing selflessly for her children’s needs, Mother Earth nurtures and sustains all life without seeking anything in return. Unfortunately, instead of showing appreciation and treating the Earth with love and gratitude, a significant portion exploits its resources without restraint.
As a result, we are all experiencing the negative consequences of climate change due to the lack of proper recognition of the Earth’s invaluable service.
In moving forward to protect and preserve our planet, we must recognize this service as a divine expression of unconditional love and embrace it as the powerful and unblemished energy displayed by mothers. We should learn to draw inspiration from the Mother Goddess and wholeheartedly acknowledge her presence.