“Mathru Devoo Bhava,
Pithru Devoo Bhava,
Acharya Devoo Bhava,
Athithi Devoo Bhava…“
Translated literally, one can interpret the aforementioned sanskrit couplet as
“I see thy mother as God,
I see thy father as God,
I see thy teacher as God,
I see thy Guests as God…“
This is the first lesson taught to any hindu kid in India and across the world. Majority of us will have this principle ingrained in our genes and our parents hope that we live out these very sacred words. We see GOD in each and every one of us and this is the basic principle of hinduism. Many interpretations exist, but I tend to simplify (because of occupational tendencies) and I believe this is the one of the best summary of the same.
Now, sample the following incidents:
Incident 1: Some time back, I was sitting in my doctor’s clinic with my dad and I see a 80-year-old man going in for check-up. Initially, I am tempted to think someone is accompanying him, but to my horror find that the elder has come on his own. Checking his background from different sources, I find that the elderly statesman has 2 children who are extremely well to do and settled abroad. Father doesn’t want to go abroad and Children don’t want to come to India. This person has to fend for himself and hence, takes care of himself.
Incident 2: Couple of days back, I am travelling to office with my music on and book in hand. Having a tendency to look at the passing road, I observe a heart-wrenching moment. An elderly couple (maybe into 60s) are making their way on a footpath. The mother can’t walk on her own and is clinging onto her husband for support. Slowly and steadily they walk towards their destination. This is an incident that was caught in flash of a second and haunted me.
These are a couple of incidents that are etched into my memory. These aren’t the only ones which are observed and I would be very categorical that my family is also filled with similar incidents. All these incidents show helpless aged parents who are left to their own mercy and face hardships in life. This begs a lot of serious questions which are revolving in my head.
Most of us in 30s and 40s have a middle-class upbringing. I can generalize that may be 5% of today’s population was born rich, may be another 30% had a luxury of having educated parents. But majority of us would definitely agree that our parents have gone through a lot of hardships to bring us up and have spent their best years in ensuring that their progeny have the best of education. Middle class India’s dream was realized through the century old belief that education is the path to salvation and is the way forward in life.
When we see the incidents like the one quoted above occur, one is tempted to ask the dirty question. Isn’t the duty of the children to take care of their parents in their old age? Though the question is simple, I am very clear that there isn’t one right and wrong answer and the question has multiple dimensions attached to it than one single statement.
TRUE, we that as a society are moving towards being a materialistic nuclear society and we are more focused on our goals than ever-before. However, do our goals matter more than those 2 people who are the very reason for our existence in this world?
TRUE, we are children would like our parents to stay with us. However, they do have preferences of their own and we should respect their sentiments. Shoudn’t we respect their sentiments and make some adjustments?
TRUE, the generation has transcended many emotional, financial barriers in life and we may be financially independent when we come to that stage of life. However, in a country like India where there is no concept of central social security or federal assistance (in financial terms), a large portion of this section of society is without any financial assistance. I do acknowledge the fact that some of these respected elders do have their own financial independence being part of the public/private sector. However, my generalization is over a large section of society who don’t have this luxury. Isn’t it our responsibility to provide this basic facility to our parents?
TRUE, parents can be very adamant about relocation or being independent. However, subscribing to their views can’t be more important than their well-being. We as children should do whatever is necessary for their well-being and comfort rather than just being mere spectators.
Whenever these elders are left to cater to themselves, it stirs up a lot of emotion in me and I feel frustrated. Are we so busy that we can’t take care of our parents? Don’t we remember that time isn’t on our side and we soon will be on the same side of fence and maybe with more drastic consequences and situations? What if …….
Having said all the above, I do need to quote one individual known to me very closely. He took extreme care of his mother who became sick for a period of one year (which included his marriage) and had many emotional challenges along the way. He and his wife were very dedicated towards his mother and unfortunately, we lost her recently. The one thing I remember about meeting this person everyday is his cheer and dedication towards his mother. I do realize that his mother was blessed with such a wonderful son and I wish many more parents are blessed with such children. My friend, I salute you for you embody the hymn quoted in the first paragraph of this post.