Patience and the ability to forgive are the qualities that sustain any relationship, and they constitute the foundation of any family. There is no one who embodies these qualities more than a mother, said Malayaman, in a discourse. Children can try one’s patience, and mothers exhibit enormous patience when looking after their children. A mother’s affection for the child begins right from conception. She ensures that she does not take anything that is likely to harm her child. She talks to the child in the womb. After the child is born, she sings lullabies to the child.

Some of the best bhakti poetry has been written by poets imagining themselves to be mothers to their favourite deity. Periazhvar set the precedent, when he imagined Lord Krishna as his own child. He sang of the various stages in the childhood of Krishna. The verses describe Krishna’s adamant refusal to have a bath, His taking the cows out to grazing, His mischief. Periazhvar imagined himself to be Yasoda, even as he wrote of the child Krishna. Kumaraguruparar wrote Meenakshi Pilllai Tamizh, in which he imagined himself to be the mother of Goddess Meenakshi of Madurai. In his role as mother, he was naturally anxious about his child, and he prayed to various deities to protect his daughter — Meenakshi! He did not leave out any deity. He prayed to Vishnu and Siva. He even prayed to Ganesha and Shanmukha, forgetting that they were the Goddess’ own sons! He was so fond of the Goddess that he forgot himself and prayed for protection for the Divine Mother! Kumaraguruparar said Goddess Meenakshi was like nectar. And what was this nectar like? It was the nectar that flowed from the sweet Tamil language. In all these respects, whether it was Periazhvar or Kumaraguruparar, they showed that they were complete mothers, for their anxiety for their favourite God’s welfare was exactly like a mother’s.

The Tamil work Aranerichaaram elevated mothers to the status of God. Tamil poet Avvaiyar said that mother and father were the two primary deities, and even here she gave pride of place to the mother. Another Tamil poet called Vilambinaganar said that there was no deity or celestial to compare with a mother.

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