“A praying mother is more precious and valuable than all the riches in the world.”
She brushed aside the hair that fell on her face. She was tired, although it had been almost painless. Her eyes were tired but somehow gleamed with pride as she glanced at her son.
On that fateful Ashtami-Rohini night in the Dwapara Yuga, when the Lord first saw this world from the eyes of little Krishna, the jewel adorned Hindu Gods rejoiced at the waves of fear that the holy birth had unleashed across the forces of evil around the universe.
Little were they aware of the tremors of love and fear that was seizing Mother Devaki’s heart. For she knew, her son was no ordinary child, but the embodiment of the Lord himself. She knew that he was not hers to keep, but was here to bring balance between the good and evil in the world. She knew that her love for him would never be as important as saving humanity. And, she knew, that in just a few moments, she would have to bid him goodbye, uncertainly, but surely.
Devaki, had to spend all the good years of her life, in a dungeon her own brother made for her. She gave birth to children, one after the other, only to be torn away from them and be subjected to witnessing their murders, just minutes after birth. Yet, she gave birth, because it was the God’s will to enter her womb as her eighth child.
Or, was it because she held on to a tiny hope that her brother would spare this one and let her be a mother for once? Did she hope a little that she could raise at least one of her babies? Every single time she gave birth, she died a little, as she failed to save the little life she had created.
On that night, when she first held her son, she knew he would not die. No child with so much life in his eyes could die, ever. Wouldn’t she have wanted to hold him to her bosom, just a little more longer, even as the Gods commanded the imprisoned couple to hurry up? Wouldn’t she have wanted to nurse her son and attain the enlightenment of motherhood? Yes, I know she did. I just know.
And when the night passed and her husband returned to their dingy prison holding a baby girl, but no Krishna, she would have closed her eyes and said for the first time, of the million times she would say from then, “Lord, I know it’s you, but you are still my son. And as long as I am alive, I will pray for you, worry for you.”
Devaki sat in the darkness, praying. She did not doubt, even for a moment, that Yashoda would be a wonderful mother to her son. But she did yearn, a little, somewhere deep inside her, where no Gods could see, to be Yashoda for one day.
To hold those tiny fingers and feel them wrap around hers. To wake up in the middle of the night, worrying if her baby was hungry. She longed, a little, to bathe her son in oils and perfumes and look at length at the beauty he was. To watch from the corner of her eyes, as he clumsily broke pots of butter and ran to escape her wrath. Her wrath.. ! Like she could! Wouldn’t she agree to another lifetime in prison to just hear him speak loving, caressing words of love? All sons are beautiful in the eyes of their mothers, but hers would be the most beautiful of them all. Not because he was the Lord himself, but because he was Her son.
But Devaki brushed her thoughts aside, held her breath for a moment, and prayed. For she was blessed to have had held him in her womb for as long as she could. She was lucky to be the bearer of hope and the messenger of happiness, not just to the whole world, but to her friend, her sister, Yashoda.
The world knows Yashoda to be the kind and loving mother for Krishna. The stories of little Krishna’s adventure are filled with Yashoda’s love for her son so pure, that she couldn’t see the Creator in him. Yashoda, treats him like an ordinary child and Krishna playfully surrenders to his mother’s anger and threats. That love has been praised in so many words, in books and verses, in songs and portraits, in hearts and in temples.
Many years later, Yashoda cried. Krishna was now no longer a child. He had grown up and had to move out into the world to fulfill his mission on earth. Her heart broke at the thought of letting him go. For, her love had blinded her, she could not see the Lord in him. They all said he was special. That he was no ordinary child. How could they be true? He was her baby.
How could the Lord be foolish enough to eat dirt as a child? How could he have stolen so much butter, just like all children of Nandavan, if he was God? And all the times he cried when I punished him for being naughty, would he not have shown himself to me, if he were God? And would a God child roam around tending to cattle and playing with pretty girls in the village, teasing them and winning their hearts? No, he couldn’t be a God. He is just my baby.
Yashoda, did not have the wisdom nor the clarity of vision, that Devaki had, that had made parting with Krishna easier. Yashoda, would spend the rest of her days waiting for her son to return home. She would spend hours churning butter, yearning to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet behind her. She would speak to anyone who would listen about how as a child, her son had courageously stood up for the right and sought justice for the poor and neglected. She would take his old clothes and breath in any fragrance that was left of him in those.
And she would pray, for the rest of her days, “Lord, I know you have always been there for my son. But alas, I cannot stop worrying for him. Pardon me for my foolishness, but please look after him.”
Both Yashoda and Devaki, were mothers like no other. They loved in their own way and prayed Krishna in their own way. There is no knowing who loved more, there never will be. The two women devoted their lives for Krishna, one for his birth, the other in his upbringing. They did not go to temples, nor offered rituals for Krishna, but dutifully became the mothers they had to be.
Oh Krishna, how you played with your two mothers. How you have given them so much heartache. Yet, its a heartache, so many mothers pray to you today for. To bless them with a child like yourself. You have heard the silent prayers of mothers, and you would know, that even today, they speak the same language. They would apologise for their foolishness, yet pray to you to keep their children safe.
Because from your time to mine, things have changed so much, but if there was one thing that has stood the test of time, then it is the love of a mother.
The mother in me cries, cries for Devaki, for Yashoda, for the many others out there who loved and let go of their children , so that they could fulfill their mission on earth.
A woman can achieve many things in life. But the most selfless act she commits is to love her children unconditionally. To love them expecting them to leave her one day. Tell me Krishna, was that the real reason you took birth? To teach women, mothers, that they must not love their children expecting it in return? Did you want us to learn that we complete ourselves, fulfill our lives by just bringing out the best in us and offering it to our children, so they learn to selflessly help humanity? Did you want us to walk this thorny path without seeking comfort in our children’s lives?
Today I am a mother, I am Yashoda, I am Devaki, I am the woman who carried her child on her hips while she walked long miles balancing a pail of water on her head, I am the mother who jumped in front of danger and sacrificed her life to save her daughter’s. I am the old lady who waits for her son she lost to a battle for their homeland. I am all and we are one. We are many more.
As I close my eyes and rest my head, I pray, “I know I have made many mistakes in my life, but my son isin’t one, he is a blessing. Take care of him Krishna.”