Personal Notes

“Indian Mythology & Mother’s Day”

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So, I’ve learned that one of the advantages of having kids is finally being able to rely on them.

My first experience with this new phenomenon came yesterday when I came home from work. To my surprise, this is what was sitting on the dining table!

mothers day card and envelope

Cards. Flowers. Sweets. Handmade offerings. All for my wife on Mother’s Day.

Now, like most guys during Mother’s Day week, we stress over what  the right gift even looks like, for our moms, our wives, our grandmothers, the whole lot.  And boom, like a thousand blessings from the gods, sitting on my dining table is a package of gifts already made by Jiya, and ready to be delivered!

(I’ve seen a lot of Mother’s Day gifts, but this one was really good, because of what Jiya can get away with saying.)

mothers day card

If I told anyone I thought my wife was 3 years old, I’d be in the doghouse for the weekend. But no! if Jiya says it, it’s “cute”.

My first inclination was to piggyback somehow on the gift(s).  Somehow take credit for it even.  Realization soon set in though that my wife would soon realize that Jiya’s gifts were the direct byproduct of Jiya’s nanny (an angel in disguise, I kid you not).  Needless to say, that put me in a rather tough spot, since any gift of mine will automatically be compared to Jiya’s, and I obviously will not be able to wade very long in that water, so to speak.  (BTW, in an effort to totally outdo me, Jiya made a second handmade card – as if one was not compelling enough – this one displaying abstract images drawn by Jiya of farm animals and donuts, and somehow mixed into one).

There is an expression that maturity is finally learning that the volume knob also turns to the left.  That is what Jiya’s card reminded me of — of so many cards I made in school for my parents — too many to count.  But to get one yourself is beyond fulfillment.  As my wife aptly said, “I’m going to keep this card forever.”

So, to all the mothers and to those who care for others daily, thank you. There’s a reason we refer to Earth as “Mother Nature,” because a mother’s care and nurture and blessings and love and emotions and courage and heart and soul are unique to her children. They are literally tied by a cord at birth, fed through that cord, and sustained.

As a voracious reader of Indian mythologies, one of my favorite stories dealing with the bond between mother and child  is that of Subhadra and Abhimanyu in the Mahabharat.  In fact, in my study at home, I put up a big hand-drawn tapestry of Abhimanyu that I purchased when I was in India a few years ago.

The story is a straightforward one, with many different renditions, with this being one of the most popular: a husband (Arjun) who is a warrior is speaking to his wife who is pregnant (Subhadra).  Arjun is recounting to her a very elaborate battle formation (Chakravyuha) among infantry soldiers and, he explains that if you are on the opposing side, how to enter it and how to exit it safely without getting killed.

hedge maze

During the retelling, Subhadra is awake and hears how to enter the formation but, while her husband is explaining the intricacies of how to exit the formation, she falls asleep. When she does, her child in the womb (Abhimanyu) also hears only how to enter it but never hears how to exit it.

Years later, in the great war known as the Mahabharat, Abhimanyu is fighting a battle when his enemy forms a Chakravyuha formation. His father is not there, and no one else knows how to deal with it. Instinctively, he knows how to enter it (since he and his mother were awake during this part of the telling).  So bravely, he goes forward and enters the formation.  For hours, while inside the Chakravyuha, he fights valiantly and kills many of his enemies, but in looking to exit the formation, he cannot recall how to (because his mother and he had fallen asleep during this part of the retelling), and so, he is then surrounded and tragically killed while stuck inside the formation.

The story is a popular one in India and is a reminder to parents that the child in the womb hears everything you do but, most importantly, emphasizes the bond that begins with a mother and her child even before birth.

Wishing you all a very Happy Mother’s Day this weekend.

Now excuse me while I go try to find a gift….

To your family’s success,

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