Sutapa Das: It’s easy to take mothers for granted. Some researchers recently followed around one such mother for a week in an attempt to estimate the monetary value of her ‘motherly love’. She took the kids to school, so they calculated how much a taxi driver would cost. She cooked the breakfast, lunch and dinner so they approximated the wage bill of a chef. The mother also played the role of a cleaner, psychologist, accountant and nurse to name but a few. They calculated the overtime the mother put in, and how she would often go on for years without any time off (every family holiday she was fully on-call). After crunching the numbers, they concluded that to employ such a mother would set you back in the region of £150,000 a year!
To be honest, however, that doesn’t tell you the full story. The quality of the job is what really stands out. The service of a mother is quite unmotivated and practically uninterrupted. They don’t really stipulate any expectation in return for their services, and are delighted when offered the opportunity to go beyond the call of duty. What to speak of receiving benefits, even when the child acts in irrational and ungrateful ways, the mother happily continues to serve. Their service unfailingly goes on day after day, and even when the child becomes a grown adult the outpouring of motherly love doesn’t subside.
The ancient scriptures tell us how our actions towards God and all living beings should be similarly devoid of selfish intent. By offering our lives in service, completely unmotivated and uninterrupted, we discover an amazing satisfaction and fulfilment which otherwise remains elusive. While this may be hard to conceptualise, the living example of millions of magnanimous mothers give us an insight into what selflessness really is. Our teacher, Srila Prabhupada, explained how the love between mother and child is the purest form of love found in this world. How wonderful if we could take that spirit, foster a mood of gratitude, and share that same spirit with the entire world.
Disclaimer: I am sure many fathers fit the descriptions above as well