Courtesy of Covid-19, the sky-high prices of vegetables and having to contend with dried-up herbs pushed us to start our own little garden. My husband was planning about organic fertilizers, timings for watering and ensuring adequate sunlight. However, as I fingered the fertile soil; I realised that the nutrients and strength that Mother Earth provides to those plants was being ignored. We focus on the externals; we praise the gardener’s skills, the fertilizers, right timings of water and sunlight. Yes, these are all important; but we do not see the invisible work of Mother Earth; how she supports these vegetables to flourish. Sadly, this also applies to mothers in our society.
Aside from bringing up a child to be independent in a terribly competitive and materialistic world, a devotee mother plants and waters the seed of Krishna Consciousness in her child. Sure, whether the child becomes a devotee or not depends on the mercy of Radha and Krishna. But the mother (and father of course) is responsible in teaching God consciousness to her child. Srila Prabhupada had instructed that women’s duty should be to take care of the children. So many women in our society quit their jobs to focus solely on the upbringing of their children and welfare of their family.
A mother’s daily activities are perceived as mundane; she simply prays, cooks, cleans and takes care of her child on a daily basis; however we cannot perceive the love and care of the mother in the sound of the child’s gleeful laughter, we cannot perceive the patience and resilience of a mother in keeping the house clean every-day, we cannot perceive her discipline and determination in practising her own Sadhna when she devises ingenuous ways to bring up her child in Krishna Consciousness. Because her activities appear so repetitive and mundane, a woman’s voice and reasoning is ignored because she is deemed as lacking the professional clout to handle any problems and it is expected that her world is limited to waiting on her children and collecting air-tight containers…how petty-minded; even worse when some women, even in our society, are subject to domestic or verbal abuse. They are looked down upon, ignored and treated with irritation by their close ones. This leads them to loneliness, depression; so much depression that they lose taste for spiritual life.
How can we help such women? Should we tell that they need to fight against their loved ones until the latter respects them. Some women are forceful so they can demand respect, but some are not; they are meek and quiet and wouldn’t dare voice out their feelings. They need to understand that what they are going through is their karma and the result of living in this material world. Luckily, Srila Prabhupada has the answer.
Yarhi vava mahimni sve parasmin kala-mayayoh rameta gata-sammohas tyakvodaste tadobhayam
As soon as the living entity becomes situated in his constitutional glory and begins to enjoy the transcendence beyond time and material energy, he at once gives up the two misconception of life (I and mine) and thus becomes fully manifested as the pure self.
Srila Prabhupada explains how one can be freed from the control of the material nature by surrendering unto the Supreme Lord, but if there is no surrender, then the living entity will never be able to control the material nature. So, he stresses on the need to be firmly situated in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
There are so many examples of devotees surrendering to Krishna and the Lord coming to their rescue. For instance, Draupadi was brought in front of the assembly of the Kurus to be mercilessly humiliated by Duryodhana and his brothers. As Dushasana tried to strip her naked, she desperately clung to her saree with one hand and held out one hand crying out for Krishna. She had begged for help from her glorious husbands and her righteous elders, but everyone was powerless. Finally, she realized that she could not help herself either and holding out both arms, she cried out for Krishna. Only then did Krishna supply her with unlimited amounts of cloth to cover herself.
Secondly, on the auspicious day of his wedding, Vasudev was imprisoned and he promised Kamsa that he would bring each of his new-born child to the demoniac King. Imagine the pain of seeing one’s child being murdered in front of one’s very eyes and being imprisoned for nineteen long years. Vasudev could have fought with Kamsa but he had faith and he did not want to interfere in the Lord’s plan. Krishna did come to kill Kamsa and save Vasudev although it happened as per his own sweet will.
What is the point of such pastimes of Krishna? These pastimes are meant to give us hope and to inspire us. Circumstances of the material world and our own karma will push us against a wall and make us feel like there is no solution. It will make us feel all alone and that we have been deserted by Krishna. This is how mothers especially those who are ignored, belittled or who suffer verbal and physical abuse, feel.
How to cope?
As mothers we need to come to terms that we will not be valued for our invisible contribution and we will be happier once we stop expecting recognition from our immediate family. To face the fruits of our karma and material nature, we must empower ourselves through our Sadhna. The best armour for a mother is her spiritual practices. Srila Prabhupada speaks of the material body being overcast with five kinds of miserable conditions, namely ignorance, material conception, attachment, hatred and absorption. By worshipping the Lord, glorifying the Lord, hearing Srimad Bhagavatam, rendering service and being always in the association of devotees, we will gradually rise above these miserable conditions. It also helps to have a trustworthy friend with whom we can confide our difficulties. This will relieve the heart of sadness.
We need to realise that we may not get recognition from our immediate family but ultimately, we are rendering service to Krishna through our family and we are earning Krishna’s recognition. All that is happening to us is only Krishna’s doing. We have fallen in love with a very mischievous Lord and his ways are the same as his four-bending form. It will never be straightforward.
Isvarah paramah krsnah Sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah Anadir adir govindah Sarva- karana-karanam (Brahma-samhita 5.1)
Let us obey the Supreme Lord, whose hand is in everything, without exception.