Matrudevo bhava (Mother is God)

My colleague was scheduled to visit a factory in an industrial town about 300 km away on Friday to discuss the customer’s requirement of equipment for their expansion project. He was to leave by an early morning train and return by an evening train.

Three days before the meeting, the customer’s General Manager telephoned me and cancelled the meeting. He told me that their team would meet us in our office the next Friday since they would be in our city for some other work. I informed my colleague and requested him to cancel his tickets.

The next day, my colleague applied for a day’s leave on Friday, stating he had to attend to some personal work.

At the meeting the following Friday, the customer’s Purchase Manager told my colleague that he had seen him in a taxi near their factory the previous Friday. He enquired whether the elderly woman with my colleague was his mother.

My colleague clarified that the woman was not his mother, but his neighbour, who had a brother living in that town. When she had heard that my colleague was travelling to that town on work, she had told him that she wanted to visit her brother for a few weeks, and hesitatingly asked my colleague whether she could travel with him to that town. She was extremely apprehensive about travelling alone because, till her husband’s death a couple of years earlier, she had always travelled only with her husband, never on her own. My colleague had readily agreed, had booked her onward ticket along with his, and had offered to drop her at her brother’s residence, which was located quite close to our customer’s factory.

When the meeting at the customer’s factory was cancelled, my colleague realized that his neighbour would be disappointed about her visit being cancelled and would feel extremely miserable about her inability to travel alone. Since he didn’t want that to happen, he didn’t tell her about the cancellation of the meeting, but only changed his return booking. They travelled that morning as scheduled. After dropping her at her brother’s house, he returned to the railway station and returned to our city by the afternoon train. His neighbour was blissfully unaware of this. In fact, if the Purchase Manager had not seen him that day, nobody else would have known.

My colleague explained, “Most people think ‘Matrudevo bhava Pitrudevo bhava’ means ‘My parent is God’. So, while they have a lot of respect, love and concern for their own parents, they are indifferent to other elderly people or are sometimes disrespectful towards them. I believe ‘Matrudevo bhava Pitrudevo bhava’ means ‘Every parent is God’.”

The Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli I.20 says: “matrudevo bhava, pitrudevo bhava, acharyadevo bhava, atithidevo bhava.” It literally means “be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God, be one for whom the guest is God.”: Wikipedia

Please also read Paid in Full (With High Interest), a truly touching post written by a mother.


29 thoughts on “Matrudevo bhava (Mother is God)

  1. This has got to be one of the best, and definitely a favourite, of all the posts I have visited so far during the A-Z.
    A truly beautiful story, that I believe everyone should read, to be reminded of this fact – Every parent is God. Thank you for sharing, and for pointing me in the direction of Paid in Full.

  2. “Devobhava” be it Matru, Pitru or Athithi are all traditions specific only to our culture. Unfortunately in this impersonal world they are seen to be fast vanishing!

  3. Parents are the image of God, hats off to your colleague.
    With modernisation & in our effort to blindly copy the west we have lost our culture & values.
    Today most children have no time for their parents and we even have homes where they are dumped as if they matter no more. We should go back to the joint family system & values but then the craze to be more Angrez than the Angrezee is just too strong for most to resist, I guess.

    • Feroze, joint family system may not be practical, but we have lost many of our values.

      There is nothing wrong in emulating the good values of the western world. Unfortunately, we seem to think that all western systems are good and all Indian/Asian/eastern systems and/or values are outdated. We must learn to adopt the best systems and values from all cultures.

  4. This is indeed one of the most touching stories I have read in some time and perhaps the best of Proactive Indian! Your life experiances are reproduced in a most meaningful way with parallel references and make for great reading! Congrats!

  5. I’ve done this a couple of times…:-) I respect your colleague for his warm and compassionate heart, Pro.

    Thank you for highlighting Farida’s post. She’s a very good friend.

    • Vidya, I’m not surprised you’ve done this.

      Farida’s blog is a truly inspirational blog. I highlighted her post in the hope that my readers can read this wonderful post and her other posts and, like I did, start following her blog.

  6. I totally respect such people..infact for me those who care for their own family are not good sons:) or good daughters, I rather fall for good human beings..

    • Thank you for your appreciation!
      If I keep writing such ‘sweet’ stuff all the time, my readers may become diabetic :-), and I will definitely become diabetic :-(! I think what I will do is write at least one ‘Positive Take on Life’ post every week starting May.

  7. Taking time off from his office, to give importance to his neighbour, is great. This is the true meaning of ‘matrudevo bhava’. In this busy world, we find people like him very rarely.

  8. What a lovely story. I actually have a lot of faith in the goodness of people, so I’d have been surprised if he had backed out on her. That’s not to chastise anyone who thinks differently, but good acts go unnoticed more than bad.

  9. Complete respect to the person whose deed brought happiness to an elderly woman. Such deeds might be small for us, but to those who get happiness out of it, this is a big boon. Thank God, there are many such good people around !!

  10. Wonderful story Pro. It is so very important for us to look beyond and do good for the society at large. As rightly said by one of the readers above, being a good son or a good daughter is not enough. What makes it special is being a good “social animal”. However, the independence and freedom being taught now-a-days emphasizes on self above society. And we forget our duty towards the other “mothers” and “fathers” around us.

  11. Thank you for sharing the link to my post. Your colleague is a very nice person. I do not know many people in my life who would do that for their own parents. People have no time for their own parents, what can we expect to do for other elderly people in our society? I hope posts like this will open our eyes and make us sensitive to their needs.

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