Mother’s grace is well revealed in her positive statement:
“I am not a preceptor, nor are you disciples;
I am not a guide, nor are you way-farers;
I am Mother, and you are children.”
When She was asked once to disclose the name of the deity whose incarnation She is, She parried the question by saying, “Is it not enough that I am your Mother? Why bother about the rest?” On another occasion she declared that she had no disciples, only children. Mother has thus repeatedly professed her preference for the mother-child relationship over the other possible relation ships between God and man.
Her maternal concern for the well-being of the people who visit her can be seen any day at Jillellamudi. She takes care to see that the visitor has his meal first, then listens patiently to his account of his vicissitudes, and comforts him with kind words and advice. But then it is also known that Mother once acted as a spiritual teacher-Guru. To keep a promise she had made to the old lady Desiraju Rajamma, Mother formally initiated a few of her attendants with mantras. Sometimes we also see practition. ers of various spiritual disciplines approach her and receive guid ance on matters relating to their spiritual practices. Thus she has been a preceptor and guide on a few occasions. Why then does she declare so emphatically that she is neither a Guru nor a guide. and that she is just Mother?
The preceptor occupies a revered position in our tradition and is looked upon as a manifestation of God on earth. A well known verse identifies him with the Creator, the Sustainer, and the Destroyer of the universe and asserts that he is verily the eter nal divine spirit. The preceptor does act as a foster-parent of his disciple. But then he is highly selective when it comes to his accepting someone as a disciple. He examines the aspirant’s deserts very critically as the stories about Nachiketas and Satyakama Jabali in the Upanishads illustrate, and only when he is fully satisfied that the other deserves to be taught the mysteries of the realm of the spirit does he consent to become his Guru..
Moreover, the disciple’s relationship with his preceptor is governed by a rigid code, and he is not free to violate it. The story of Ekalavya and Drona in the Mahabharata suggests that even an indirect disciple is bound by the code. This can sometimes lead to bitterness and painful consequences. Bhishma, for instance, was once forced by his preceptor Parasurama to take up arms against him.
A preceptor is thus highly selective in his choice of disciples, whereas a mother is naturally fond of all her children, irrespective of their qualities. When Desiraju Rajamma asked our Mother to teach the mantras in accordance with the qualifications of the seekers, Mother told her that she did not have the scales to weigh their merits with. Mother refuses to discriminate between the apparently evil and virtuous, as She cannot discard any of her children. There is no rigidity in the mother-child relationship. Even when one deviates from the strait path of virtue and strays into the primrose path of dalliance, Mother does not forsake the wayward child. As Sri Sankaracharya observes beautifully, there can be a wicked child in the world but never a bad mother.
As for being a guide, the word “guide” indicates that he can only show the way. He is prepared to guide and lead one towards the goal only as long as one is strong enough and suffici ently determined to move forward. If a person is unable to walk along the path, the guide will be of no use to him. This is precisely where the mother-child relationship is superior to that of a guide and the way-farer. The mother will not be content with merely showing the way to her child. If the child is unable to move forward, the mother herself will take the child to the destination. Out of compassion Mother has declared that she is not a mere guide but our mother. By so declaring she has taken upon herself the responsibility of making us reach the goal, in spite of ourselves. And what is this goal? Since this goal happens to be Her own blissful lotus-like feet, how can she act as a mere guide?
It should be remembered, however, that to be a mother is also to be a teacher and a guide. All over the world we see that Home is the first school for every child and mother the first and foremost teacher. She is also a guide in the sense that she shows the way to her child, and leads it along the way. While every mother is thus a teacher and a guide, she is, ofcourse, more than a teacher and, a guide. A mother’s abiding interest in her child’s welfare is unparalleled.
Our Mother too is thus to a certain extent our teacher and guide. Though she does not formally instruct us, she does subtly enlighten us and enable us to march forward to our goal. But it is our good fortune that she has graciously accepted us as her children, and not as disciples or way-farers.
“A Sthithaprajna does not wish for anything – not even to be a sthithaprajna.”