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MOTHER
One of the Five Great Benefactors

Written by Maung Yint Kyuu (Myaungmya)

(U Kyaw Khin Myint, Saddhama Jotikadhaja)

(Translated by U Aung Thein Nyunt)
March, 2000

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  (FATHER by the same author)  

(In honour of the Mother's Day, the full moon of Pyatho,
I pay deep respect to my mother by this literary work.)

            Oh! Mother!" I cried in hallucination and in affection. My darling and sons, who stayed beside me were suddenly frightened in bewilderment. At that time, I had a slight fever. Indeed, I violently and impatiently cried in a feverish dream, though my spouse and my sons were in full attention to wait on me. I actually longed for my mother when I was severely sick on bed. How wonderful it would be if my mother was near me! Mother was away from me at that very time, indeed!

            Mother said that I was a valetudinarian when I was a child. Whenever I was ill, mother was always with me and nursed me wholeheartedly. When I was ill with fever, she went to the back of our house and collected the green leaves of tamarind tree. Then she washed them with water and squeezed them in both her palms to get the juice of tamarind leaves. She dropped them into my eyes. All the feverish feelings went away all of a sudden. I became better again. Mother was looking after me all the time. When she was near me, I felt full of vitality. How good and excellent it is to take the shelter of a mother's love! How affectionate and compassionate my dear Mother is!

            When I was young, I would stay near my mother constantly. I wheedled my mother into getting something. I used to stroke her belly with my head. I would listen to old events and stories narrated by my mother, resting my little head on her lap. Whenever she was in the course of conversation, she always talked about parental love how great and noble it was. She said that former people paid great respect to their parents and some of the soldiers in days of yore, when they had to go forth for battle, wore a piece of their mothers' skirt as ear-rings and could fight their battles towards victory.

            After I had passed Tenth Standard, I prepared to go to Yangon and to attend Yangon University. While living in the hostel I always kept an old skirt (longyi) belonging to my mother which was taken from her as a token of gratitude, and rolled it over my pillow. Every night, before my sleeping time, I paid respect to my mother. I thought to myself that it would be as if I were sleeping on her lap receiving the same genuine loving-kindness of my mother.

            I remembered the Most Venerable Sayadaw U Poke ( U Boke ) who was very well-known in the history of Myanmar Literature. It was in the Reign of King Bo-daw-pha-yar who founded Amarapura in 1149 Myanmar Era. During that time, a son was born to U Ohnt and Daw Hmwe of Dantdaing village, Alone Township. The little boy was named Maung Poke because he was born at the moment of a lunar eclipse, which is " La-nga-poke" in the Myanmar language.

            Since his youth, the boy was sharp in intelligence and could read Pali literature. He was also renowned as a well-versed bhikkhu scholar in the city of Amarapura. After the demise of Pahtama Oke Kyaung Sayadawgyi, Sayadaw U Poke, the name which had been popular since his youth, was conferred the title of" Cakkhindahi Siridhammadhaja Mahadhamma Rajadhirarguru" and became the guru-teacher of the Royal family.

            One day, Sayadaw U Poke had a headache and stopped teaching bhikkhus and Samaneras for a period of time. The Sayadaw did not take any medicine and went to the Mahamuni Buddha Image of Mandalay together with his assistant bhikkhu. Before the Mahamuni Buddha Image, the Sayadaw paid respect to it, putting a small package on his head. Not before long, the severe headache was totally cured. His right-hand disciple bhikkhu, seeing this strange occasion, dare not supplicate to the Sayadaw why it was easily healed. But he thought to himself that the small package might be a powerful charm of medicine.

            When the Sayadaw U Poke passed away, the disciple did not take interest in the Sayadaw's other belongings but only in that small package. So, he managed to get it and went away to inquire what it was inside. When he opened it secretly, he found a strange thing! It was indeed an old piece of his mother's skirt ( longyi )! Even the Venerable Sayadaw U Poke paid great respect to his mother, Daw Hmwe. He was also grateful to his parents. How honourable it is! How emulating it is! In truth, it is a great example for sons and daughters of today.

            The Buddha preached the true love of a mother in Matuposaka Sutta. If comparing the gratitude children owe their mother with the depth of the earth, the latter would be like a small bamboo leaf. When compared, a mother's love towards her children and the breadth of the great ocean, the latter would be a rain-drop. When compared, a mother's love towards her children and the beginning of a vast universe, the latter would be the eye of a needle. When compared a mother's love towards her children and Mount Meru, the latter would be the horn of an ox. No one can repay the gratitude of a mother in this present life. Indeed, a mother's love towards her children cannot be truly compared with anything else in this world!

            I have learned that the Buddha repaid gratitude of his mother Mayadevi, who was reborn as a deva named Santussita, in Tavatimsa deva world, by preaching Abhidhamma there during three months of rain retreat. But even the Buddha could not manage to repay half the gratitude he owed his mother's breast feeds. There are so many notable examples of how great and beneficial it is to repay the gratitude of parents in Theravada Buddhist literature.

            I was born in a village in 1948, the year of Myanmar Independence. When I was born, my father was away from home for the purpose of business. My mother said that she had to face so many troubles while I was born. As it was in a village, mother had to be nursed by a local midwife but she said that she was not distressed, nor disappointed with her situation. There is a saying: a pregnant woman glances at the cemetery thrice a day. In the same way, there is also a saying: a worker who works on a raft along the river is always faced with danger. Similarly, since she had carried me in her womb, she was always faced with danger until my birth. Mother said to me that she was elated to see my head once I was born because I was strong with full limbs. Indeed, since he carried me in her womb, she had to take care of everything which would endanger me.

           It is said in Puttovada Admonatory Verse:

           - For the sake of foetus,
Since her conception
Mother avoids eating everything hot,
pungent and bitter.

           - Mother moves slowly
to avoid hurting her embryo
with affection to the unseen.
           - Mother prays for its welfare
in the presence of Buddha Image,
offering cool water at night and
alms-food in early morning.

            Mother, I have already kept the following verse in my memory and occasionally recite it by heart. It was written by Ven. U Jagara ( Gukyaung - Nyaung Oo):-

            Here is a process of how an embryo grows into an infant.

           - A mass of foam out of semen and ovum arises in uterus;
it becomes a solid of blood;
then, it changes into a piece of flesh.
            - Mother who carries it,
had to avoid eating everything
hot and pungent.
            -When embryo becomes developed
in her womb it
is born in the tenth month
            Mother's breast becomes full of milk
and ready to feed it.
           - Mother keeps it in her lap,
wraps it in blankets,
protects it from insects,
and always takes care of it.
           - While it is sleeping in her bosom,
she, herself, cannot sleep soundly,
for fear of her baby's discomfort;
           - Slowly getting up from her bed,
mother replaces soiled blankets
and soothes her baby to sleep.
           Mother's affection towards her child
dips into the deepest part of the mind;
When compared it with earthly world,
it is as great as the depth and breadth of earth, air and water.
           - How priceless and encompassing is
the loving-kindness of mother!

            As mentioned in " Koe-Khan-pyo", when she sees her own child, Mother feels as happy as if she were receiving a drop of clear, clean and cool water.

           I know your genuine love, mother, as I am a literary man. When I read the following verse of Maghadeva written by Man-Lei Sayadaw; i appreciate his meaning: "Here are the sufferings of a pregnant woman:

           vomiting, aching in head,
swelling in parts of the body,
having blurred eyes, bleeding in female organ,
pain and ache in womb and waist,
and having abnormal mind.

           Every mother who bears the burden of foetus has strong desires, longing for something to be eaten or to be done, etc.

            While she was in pregnancy, mother longs for eating sour foods and feeling dizzy for lack of sleep, during first month, and longs for eating sweet things like sugar in the second month; when the third month comes, mother has a strong desire for eating something delicious like peanuts; she likes to eat bitter taste like the nimb leaf in the fourth month and has astringent tastes for foods such as guava in the fifth month; in the sixth month, she longs for eating something hot and salty like chilli and ginger; in the seventh month of the pregnancy, she may give birth to her baby; when the eighth arrives, she extremely wishes to take a bath; in the ninth month, the hairs near her temple becomes dry and her temples become shallow; she gives birth to her child in the tenth month.

            As I know these facts through reading books I feel sympathy for you, Mother. I firmly believe that every mother has to suffer such a kind of feeling and also think how great and vast the gratitude owed to a mother is. What I feel deeply sorry for, Mother, is that you had to feel anxious two or three days after my birth due to the blasting band of a gun. From that time on, you had a frequent pain in your head through your life. I have myself seen how painful and dreadful your headache is when you suffer from it for two or three days. I dare say I would take it from you if I could do so!

            Mother! You have made me brought up from infant life; you have put me in your lap feeding me sweet milk and protecting me form the dangers of insects.

            It is said in the page 210 of the Mahatanha sankhaya Sutta, Mulapannasa Commentary, Vol.II that due to the power of loving-kindness towards her own child, mother's red blood changes into white one, milk, -tada Kira matulohitam tamthanam Sampattam puttasinehena pannaram hoti. How can I repay my gratitude towards Mother? Indeed! I have grown up due to your milk of loving-kindness!

            The Lord Buddha said in the Metta Sutta that a mother guards and protects her own child by means of giving up her own life-Matayathaniyam puttamayusa ekaputtamanurakkhe.

            I realize that mother's love is greater than that of father because mother has to bear her child in her womb for ten months and always look after her child. In the Mangala Sutta, it is stated that the auspicious occasion is to support and attend one's own mother and father- Mata pituupatthanam. Here, I notice the word matamother, is given priority. So, to comment on the meaning of incomparable loving-kindness, the love of mother is shown for easy understanding. Mothers love their adopted sons, but they love their own sons more than the adopted sons. I'd like to define the meaning of, Mother that it is the mother that is always looking after her child with great compassion and loving-kindness.

            As I greatly love Mother, I am always listening to Mother's words; I always following the paths Mother that has advised; I was able to set myself up in life, reading Mother's facial expression since I was young, You know, mother, that I am a son of full understanding and obedience. As I had a lucky chance to be near Mother I am always hearing the noble instructions of her. The admonitory words given by mother have already been fixed in the deepest part of my heart. Mother! In truth, you actually established Dhamma-cetithe words of Buddha in my heart.

            There is a Myanmar saying: Following the words of parents, even sheets of iron and blocks of stones can dissolve, meaning every hardship and suffering can easily be overcome and surpassed if the words of parents are listened to. Since my youth, I have never done what my mother advises against. I always obey the words of my mother. Up to the present, mother never feels sorry for my misdeeds. I always try to follow your words, mother! I always wish you a long life and happiness!

            Mother, I still remember that event. When I was too young to know about right and wrong, I was beaten by you due to a misdeed that you did not like. You had never beaten me like this before. So, I noticed you felt so sorry for that. That event is still fresh in my memory. From that time onwards, you never beat me any more. I realize it is a righteous action for a mother to chide and beat her own son with a good-will-cetana. It is, indeed, a good tradition in Myanmar society. Just like an engraver pecks a flint to become a beautiful statutte so also you make me prosperous and successful in my life; in reality, you lead me to a righteous life. I dare receive it, mother!

            Mother! That even is still fresh in my memory, too. When I was young, a female cat in our family gave birth to three kittens . I loved them so much. I never stayed away from them. I noticed the mother cat seemed to be fearful to take her children away from her. While the mother cat went away from them, I took them to another place and hid them in safe place. The mother cat worried about her children and was sorrowfully mewing. When the kittens were old enough to play with one another, the mother cat brought a dying rat in her mouth to her children and taught them how to catch a rat. Moreover, she also taught them how to protect themselves from dangers and how to defeat other ones. Though this mother was an animal, she did not forget to teach her children. It is a wonder of a mother's love!

            In the similar way, a mother hen put her chickens in her bosom between her two wings and makes them warm with mother's love. And she taught her children how to fly, how to search for food, and how to protect themselves from enemies.

            Every pair of parents is very eager to teach their children even before they are not able to speak; when they learn to speak, their parents teach them how to act, how to speak, how to pay respect to the elders which will be appropriate to their ages. So the Lord Buddha said that the parents are indeed the very first teacher in life. How great and grand the love of parents!

            The Lord Buddha also compare the parents with Brahmas who are always replete with the four kinds of sublime state: Loving kindness (Metta), Compassion (Karuna), Sympathetic Joy (Mudita) and Equilibrium of the mind (Upekkha).

            A pregnant mother is always inclined towards her child in her womb till its birth and feels affectionate to it so she has to avoid eating anything hot or pungent, takes care with moving to and fro, or other things that might endanger the foetus within her womb.

            As soon as she gives birth to her child and sees its face, she forgets everything which has already been suffered during the ten months. The incessant cry of the new born baby as it is to stay in the bandage of the shawls, or as it is suffering from hunger, mother feels compassion for it.

            When the children are able to move upwards and down, to gibber and to smile, to prattle and to act lovingly, the parents are very pleased and long to watch them. When they grow up with a good health and prosperous with higher education and social status, parents feel joyful and pleased with them, too.

            When sons and daughters live in married life, parents with equilibrium of the mind, not inclining towards attachment to them nor being worried about their situation as they have already been equipped with the necessities of life, can stay their remaining part of life happily and peacefully.

            Mother, such a kind of sublime living is called Brahmavihara as preached by the Lord Buddha. Mother, you are really similar to a Brahma!

            As I was always missing you, Mother, I returned to my native place; you were very pleased to see me and welcomed me with warm love. As you know my favourite breakfast is as glutinous rice, steamed dough, fried cakes, etc., you prepared them for me every morning. Mother, now, I am fifty years old but you look upon me as a teenager, and take care of me so much. There is an old Myanmar Saying- "Regard son as master and husband as god." Mother's compassionate love is too great for me; Mother, you are very dutiful as a mother; how can I repay your gratitude, Mother?

            When I was married, you did not like me to stay away from you; you wanted to live with us in a single family.

            I caught a hint that you wanted to live with us, just like a mother hen putting all her chickens between her two wings. I think mother's true love towards her sons and daughters would cease only at the time of death. How great and sublime the spirit of mother is in the world of beings!

            I have heard a wonderful event, mother: a mother cow, while feeding her calf, was killed with a spear by a butcher, but it did not die on the spot because it was still feeding her child with maternal love. In the same way a mother cow which was being milked by her master sustained her own milk for the feeding of her calf and it would never give it to her master.

            How wonderful maternal love is!

            When I was in mother's home, I had a lucky chance to attend you by washing your longyi ( skirts ), helping you bathing, washing your hair, cutting your nails, etc., I gave you a set of robes for your donation, sweet fruits and a set of Dhamma-tapes preached by Mogok Sayadawgyi for you. When mother went to bed I shampooed your limbs as did when I was young. Only when had you gone to sleep, did I pay homage to you and went to bed.

            After I had prepared for my return trip to my home, I paid homage to you very respectfully. Whenever I paid homage to you, I did it very respectfully in the manner of the five kinds of touch. I touched your instep with my forehead and kissed them with my lips. At that moment I noticed warm drops of tears fell down to my head and the tears of the rapture from my eyes smeared on them.

            I heard the words of good wishes fallen down from mother's lips indistinctly. Of them, I noticed some full sentences: "My dearest son! May you be healthy, wealthy and prosperous; may you live long staying aloof from three kinds of calamities and may you be a supporter of the Buddha Sasana!" At that time I remembered a baby-tortoise which had to stay away from its mother tortoise but became alive due to the maternal love of its mother. It is usual that female tortoises come up to the sand banks and lay their eggs there. They then cover them with grains of sand and return to the ocean. Due to the warmth of the maternal love, the eggs do not putrefy and baby-tortoises come out when the right time comes. All these above mentioned facts are shown in the commentary of Moliyaphagguna Sutta, Aharavagga of Nidanavagga Samyutta Pali:-

           Kacchapa pana attano utusamaye mahasamuddato nikkhamitva samuddatire valikantare andane thapetva valikaya paticchadetva mahasamuddameva otaranti. Tani matuanussanavasena na putini honti

           I have read how to repay gratitude towards one's own parents in the Buddhist literature: "Oh bhikkhus! Those sons and daughters who are in the life-span of one hundred years have put their parents, one on a shoulder and the other on another, for one hundred years and attended to them; they bathe and smear them with talcum powder; they shampoo them very carefully for one hundred years long; those sons and daughters may happily receive dirt and filth discharged from their parents; they can even give them the wealth of royal kingship".

            "Oh bhikkhus! Even though they perform such a kind of good deeds, it cannot be said that they actually return the gratitude towards their parents.

            Why? The parents are true benefactors and great helpers who make their sons and daughters successful and prosperous; they are indeed great instructors of their sons and daughters".

            "Oh bhikkhus! Those sons and daughters can make their parents who are devoid of serene faith, saddha replete with genuine saddha those sons and daughters can make their parents who are devoid of moral precepts- sila replete with genuine sila, they can make their parents who are devoid of charitable deeds, dana replete with genuine dana; those sons and daughters can make their parents who are devoid of wisdom- panna replete with genuine panna"

            "Oh bhikkhus! such a kind of good performance can be said that they actually return gratitude towards their parents". The above-mentioned statements are shown in Samacittavagga of Dukanipata, Pathama-panna saka, Anguttara Nikaya.

            As I always obey the words of mother and recollect the attributes of mother repeatedly I was deservedly conferred the religious titles by the state. Mother, dana or charity is similar to a staircase towards the celestial abodes. It is also a valuable food-package for the journey of Samsara. All these facts have already been known by mother! Nevertheless, mother is still a little bit reluctant to make charity as you are very eager to give your wealth to me. Mother! You have already done different kinds of charity; please, bring all your wealth together with you, mother, as the valuable food-package for your long journey of Samsara!

            Mother! You are just equipped with the value of sila, samadhi and panna; you are also replete with serene faith-saddha, you always observe the five moral precepts and make charitable deeds without any reluctance. I believe that as you have heard the dhamma-discourses on the tapes of eminent Sayadaws and practised meditation systematically, you now live in peace and happiness and have a brilliant destination in your future life. Mother, I am always paying respect to you by means of my own moral precepts and following your words though I have to stay away from you. Your son, I am going to repay my gratitude to you and serve my motherland by performing religious and national duties even at the risk of my life.

            I know, mother, that you say ' Sadhu' repeatedly for the noble performance of my meritorious deeds and I feel joyful to hear your words in praise of me: "I'm lucky to have such a kind of son!"

            Mother, I know I can't repay my gratitude to you to the fullest extent. The debt of my gratitude towards you cannot be settled down up to now, but I think I have already fulfilled your wishes that you are longing for.

            The story of prince Suppavasa mother of Ven. Sivali MahaThera frequently comes into my memory as it is retold by yourself. Mother! The mother of Ven. Sivali had to bear her baby in her womb for seven years long and as she could not give birth to her child, she had been half-consious for seven days. She suffered a lot for her son. Due to the compassionate power of the Buddha she could give birth to her son. "Do you want another son?', asked the Buddha. The mother replied, "Yes, Venerable Sir, I want to have such kinds of about one hundred sons." Mother, you gave the noble example of the mother of Ven. Sivali, saying how great and noble the maternal love is towards the most worthy sons. Mother! How about you!



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