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Motherhood In Hinduism

Motherhood, or woman’s power of creation, is considered holy in Hinduism. To the Hindu, God reveals Himself in the form of Mother. Devi Mahatmya states that all women are aspect of the Supreme Goddess.

Women are looked upon in the Hindu tradition as the embodiments of Shakti, the primordial energy of the universe at the root of all existence. In Hinduism, marriage is the means of uniting two beings. It is stepping stone to self realization through the fulfillment of natural tasks. The Hindu wife practices self purification through fasts, prayers and penances etc, before conceiving a baby.

The conjugal union marks “the greatest prayer between man and wife, the prayer that is going to bring into the world another jiva (being) fraught with a tremendous power for good or evil” (The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda VIII 61).

The Hindu eugenics tradition prescribes the couple’s performing certain religious rites in order to beget babies of merit.

In her role as mother a woman not only undergoes the ordeal of maternity but also faces the problems of nurturing her children. She is the best preceptor appointed by nature to guide her children in their infancy and childhood.

Service to mother, father and guru is service to God, as they represent the bhuh, bhuvah and svah (three worlds), the three ashramas (brahmacharya, grihasthya and vanaprastha), the three Vedas (Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and Sama Veda) and the three fires (garhapatya, dakshina and ahavaniya). Among them, the respect or emotions evoked by the word ‘mother’ is spontaneous and peerless. The epics portray the mother as a living God, whose blessings may change one’s fortune. Puranas, too, hold the mother in high esteem and regard her as the embodiment of tirthas (all holy places). Skanda Purana (Kashi, XI.50) has it that even the sannyasi to whom everyone pays obeisance must bow before the mother.

Hinduism thus recognizes ‘matir shakti’, or the power of motherhood, manifesting itself in all women, irrespective of their social status or vocation.