||Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
Aum Namo Narayanaya
Sharanye Tryambake Gauri Narayani Namo Stuthe - this line of a sloka which forms part of the Devi Mahatmayam, sings praise and glory to the Divine Mother.
This week indeed packed several surprises, none of which were pleasant. The weekend brought sad news of the demise of our Minister of Public Administration, Comrade Roy Padayachie, whilst on official work in Addis Ababa and continued to deteriorate when I was confined to the bed for the entire week due to a chest infection and flu.
Although indisposed, I made every effort to straddle out of bed to watch the Minister’s final send off, which was televised nationally. The dignified and honourable funeral - attended by our President, cabinet, foreign dignitaries, and a mass of people across all, race and language barriers - spoke mountains of the gentle giant whom the media referred to as the “Minister with clean hands”. A rare species indeed, when today most high ranking politicians have a cloud of corrupt behaviour over their head; utilising high office for personal wealth accumulation. I was introduced to the late Minister at an ANC function by Mr Siva Naidoo, when he first became Deputy Minister of Communications, and we maintained a wonderful relationship ever since.
I recall fondly how on a few occasions he called me on a Sunday evening out of courtesy to follow up on discussions we had on projects and would give his valuable input and comment. On another occasion when he spotted me at the Gateway Mall with my colleagues, he made it a point to walk over and warmly embrace me and chat for a few minutes, to the amazement of friends who exclaimed: “the Minister just came over to greet you”. All these episodes vividly capture him rightly as a humble soul whose interest went beyond fame and self interest.
Many tributes were read at the funeral - from friends, family, foreign diplomats, the President and fellow comrades - but the tribute read by Mr Solly Pillay (the Minister’s brother-in-law) really struck a chord of correlation between the life he lead and the most dignified and wonderful send off he had.
Sharanye translates to “I take refuge”; Tryambake to “Oh three-eyed-one; Gauri to “fair in complexion”; Narayani Namo Stuthe to “I bow to thee Mother”. This when translated means that we bow to the Mother Gauri, who is the consort of Shiva and take refuge in her. I indulge you a little in allowing me to use writer’s licence to break up Tryambake to Tri Ambika - which means three mothers. Hence, I now refer to the line to mean I take refuge in the three mothers who is verily Gauri (Parvati).
With our limited imagination, limited vocabulary and limited vision - it is virtually impossible to think of, describe and see the Divine Mother (Gauri) as Master Sri Ramakrishna did as the universal consciousness that creates, sustains and dissolves this creation. But as man, we have the opportunity to serve and worship this universal consciousness through serving the Tri Ambikas (three Mothers).
From listening to Mr Solly Pillay, I conclude that the success of the late Minister was through his ability to serve these three mothers with distinction.
The first, being your biological mother. Mr Solly said that every parent and family hoped that at least one child will be the hero and bring great honour to the family. From all the tributes that were read - encapsulating his academic achievements, social consciousness and career achievements to raising a wonderful family - would definitely have made his mother proud and leave a smile from ear to ear. Mothers who are the very foundations of our lives will sacrifice everything possible to raise their children into responsible and successful adults without expecting anything in return. But, in this ego endowed society we have children, who having achieved success and wealth at the expense of their parents, pay not a heed of respect to them in the most vulnerable stage of their lives. Those who cannot see God in their parents can forget seeing God in the universal form.
Second, is serving the Motherland. Swami Vivekananda said:
Are you prepared for all sacrifices for the sake of our Motherland? If you are, then you can rid the land of poverty and ignorance. Do you know that millions of our countrymen are starving and miserable? Do you feel for them? Do you so much as shed a tear for them? Have you the courage to face any hurdles, however formidable? Have you the determination to pursue your goal, even if those near and dear to you oppose you? I loved my motherland dearly before I went to America and England. After my return, every particle of the dust of this land seems sacred to me.
I still shudder to think where we would be today, if it were not for those selfless brave souls, some who paid with their lives for the democracy we enjoy today. Since democracy, people have sat back and expect the government to create a utopia, without making a single contribution to towards building this country. Swamiji further states: “No nation is great because Parliament enacts this or that, but because its men are great and good”. My heart still palpitates with emotion when I heard how the late Minister had to be sneaked into his own home to spend time with his new born child for fear of being caught by the security forces. When people have made such extreme sacrifices for our freedom, the least we can do to honour them is to help realise their dream of a truly non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous motherland.
And finally - to honour, propagate and preserve our mother tongue. This also refers to our culture and heritage which provides a moral compass during the storms of life. I was indeed moved to see a state funeral coffin draped in marigold garlands and Tamil prayers and padigams being read. As we start to globalise, people begin to embrace the global business language of English to communicate and transact with ease. However, this language is devoid of the rich and lofty ideals that come with our mother tongue heritage. During the week, Swami Vimokshananda mailed some wonderful links about the Thirrukural. This Tamil treasure house of ethics, morals and values provides more than an adequate framework within which man can live in this world, yet reach the highest state of bliss. Therefore, embracing your mother tongue, whatever it may be, forms a strong basis of a moral and just life.
Dear readers, on this all important Mothers Day, I pray that we revere our three mothers (biological, country and cultural heritage) as the Divine Mother herself, and through selfless and yeomen service to them, may we attain the universal consciousness, is my sincere prayer.
Hamba Kahle dear Comrade Roy Padayachie. May your legacy inspire youth throughout the world to serve humanity selflessly.
With love and prayers always