Our Motherland – 3

The Divine Mother

Nothing can be holier to us than this land. Every particle of dust, everything living or non-living, every stock and stone, tree and rivulet of this land is holy to us. To keep this intense devotion ever alive in the heart of every child of this soil, so many procedures and conventions were established here in the past. The various religious rites invariably included a description of the spot in relation to the entire expanse of BhAratavarsha-

जम्बुद्वीपे भरतवर्षे भरतखण्डे…

All our important religious ceremonies start with bhoomi-poojan-worship of earth. There is a custom that as soon as a Hindu wakes up in the morning, he begs forgiveness of the Mother Earth because he cannot help touching Her with his feet throughout the day.

समुद्रवसने देवी पर्वतस्तनमंडले

विष्णुपत्नी नमस्तुभ्यं पादस्पर्शं क्षमस्व मे ।।

(O Mother, the Divine Consort of Almighty, with ocean as Thy embroidery and mountains as Thy breasts, forgive me for touching Thee with my feet.)

A simple act indeed, but it brings home to our minds every morning the idea of devotion for this motherland as the sublimated devotion to the Divine Mother. This training has gone so deep that even in ordinary day-to-day affairs we often come across a flash of that realisation. When a child at play tramples on the ground, the mother says, “Do not kick the Mother Earth, dear child.” Or if a nail is driven into the earth wantonly, she says, “Oh, no! Dear child, Mother will be pained. ” An ordinary farmer, too, before applying the plough to the soil, prays for a pardon. Such is our living tradition.

Never, never has our land been dead inanimate matter, but always the living divine mother to all her children-the lowliest and the greatest.

SwAmi VivekAnanda, when about to leave England for BhArat, was asked what he thought of his motherland after having visited the luxuriant countries of the West like America and England. He said, “BhArat, I loved before. But now every particle of dust in BhArat is extremely holy. It has become a place of pilgrimage for me.”

There is one more touching instance of SwAmiji when he returned to our motherland after his triumphant tour of the West. A vast assembly of our countrymen eagerly awaited to offer a hero’s welcome to him. When the SwAmiji alighted from the ship and stepped on the Southern shores, a thunderous ovation greeted him. However, the people were amazed to see SwAmiji prostrating on the ground and showering his body with the dust of the soil. To the surprised query of some one, SwAmiji explained: “My body has been so long in the materialistic countries of the West and hence has become contaminated. I am therefore purifying myself with the dust of this holy soil.”

And his guru Sri RAmakrishna Paramahamsa once severely admonished a person who was going to GangA to wash himself after answering nature’s call. He said, “How unbecoming of you to pollute the divine waters of Ganga-Gangavari brahmavari-with your dirt!”

Such has been the living realisation of the glorious motherhood of our land inculcated by her great sons, which has permeated into all strata of our people.

She has been, in fact, the central theme of our national life all through. She has nourished us as the mother with her soil, air and water and all the various necessary objects for our sustenance and happiness. Like a father she has arranged protection to us through impregnable Himalayas in the north, and mountain ranges like ArAvali, Vindhya and SahyAdri interspersed all over the country that afforded our freedom-fighters protection and shelter in the past. And she has acted as our spiritual preceptor too in her capacity as Dharmabhoomi and Mokshabhoomi.

Verily, our motherland has been a mother, a father and a teacher- mAtA, pitA and guru – all rolled into one.

Note: These are excerpts from the Chapter titled “Our Motherland” in Sri M. S. Golwalkar‘s book, Bunch of Thoughts. Links to two previous posts from the same chapter are here and here.

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