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A Mother´s Unconditional Love

14 May 2023 10:11 am

My mother dedicated her life as a teacher for over 6 decades. The story one of her students told me at her funeral etched in my memory deeply. This student very much enjoyed my mother´s company as he was learning something valuable each time they spoke. Therefore, after my mother finished a class and walked back to the staff room, he walked with her, every single time, engaging in a meaningful conversation. He did this continuously for many years. He felt that my mother was giving him special attention and was fond of him. However, it was only towards the end of his education that he realised that my mother was not giving any special attention to him. In fact, all the students in her class had felt that each one of them was special to her. Although I am honoured and privileged that she was my biological mother, all the stories that many people related to me at my mother´s funeral and thereafter dawned on me that, she was the mother to thousands of people from all walks of life. I am proud to have been able to share my mother with thousands of others as their mother too.

I have studied in some of the top universities in the world. I have read many great books on leadership. I work in a senior position in an organisation with a global footprint. I lead a multi-cultural, professional and talented team. I have considered myself a strong leader. However, this story was a humbling wake-up call for me to realise what little have I accomplished so far in life. No education, no book, no leadership program, no work experience has taught me how one can make every person genuinely feel that they are special. My realisation now is that the guidance one receives at home is the best education one can ever get in a lifetime. I wish I had had the wisdom to ask my mother, when she was alive, how did she make a profound impact on everyone who walked in to her life. Anyway, had I asked, I think I know what her answer may have been… She may have said “I don´t know. Do I really do that?”. She would have been oblivious of doing anything special because she was doing something effortless, even perhaps something very ordinary in her mind. There were many times that students would remind her of the profound impact she had on them, and many times she can´t even remember because she was “just” doing what she was doing very naturally. Although I don´t know for sure, I think I know the secret recipe for the impact that she was making in others´ lives. She was filled with unconditional love inside, and therefore what came out of her in the form of thoughts, words and actions were always unconditional love.

One of her students from her early years of teaching had mentioned to my mother that she could not attend a school event because she didn´t have a saree to wear. That day, my mother had asked the student to come home with her, opened the cupboard and asked her to select any saree that she liked. Thereafter, she had arranged for a matching blouse to be stitched. From that day onwards, my mother had been the second mother to this student who lost her own mother at an early age.

As a teacher, one doesn´t earn much. Therefore, one has limited resources at one´s disposal. However, my mother never hesitated to help people in need to give away what was hers. After my mother passed away, we went through our mother´s dressing cupboard, which was almost empty. We felt immensely proud to see what little she had kept because she had given away all her jewellery and most of her clothes. She had kept only 3 sarees (one white, one for her own funeral and one for weddings). One day, her maid had told my mother that she didn´t have a saree for a wedding. My mother had lent her saree to the maid to wear and return. How many people would lend a saree to a maid and be prepared to wear it again for a wedding! We talk about the value and the power of renunciation, and what a great role model she was. I can remember talking about the virtue of renunciation with my mother. She didn´t say much… She didn´t have to… because she was living it every day. Her unconditional love for all made it so effortless to let go of things and be happy with a simple life.



In the twilight days of her life, we arranged for 3 maids to take care of her as her health was deteriorating rapidly. I have watched in amazement how much they adored her. They would touch her feet and worship her every single day before they left. They would do this even if she was sleeping and was not aware of their presence. They treated her like their own mother, and in fact more like a deity. Another young person told me that she is so happy to have had the opportunity once to apply a medicinal oil on my mother. Her unconditional love was so profound that people took it as a privilege and an honour if they could do something in return for her. My mother left a request for us to utilise the money in her bank account to help the maids and other less privileged people who have been of assistance in her life. She had an unwavering gratitude for those who helped her. After all, Gratitude lays the foundation for the seeds of virtue to grow.

It is sad that the Internet, Technology and Artificial Intelligence are gradually taking over the role of parents, teachers and other areas of importance. Sadly, science is feeding fuel to lighten up the ignorance in people. What my mother taught her students is not something that can be replaced by books or internet. She taught them about the real world, life´s challenges and most importantly how to live a good life with strong values. She gave hope, confidence and courage for people to pursue their dreams with humility and responsibility. Students who learnt from her sent their own children to her 20 – 30 years later for education because they knew that what she imparted was invaluable and timeless. Moreover, she charged so little from the students who came for private tuition. There were many times where parents begged her to charge more as tuition fees, but my mother always refused to do so. I think she knew that what she was imparting was priceless. There are countless numbers of poor children whom she gave free tuition and guided them in their life journeys.

Such was her commitment for serving others that she woke up every morning at 4:30 and started her day by sharing her good thoughts with the loved ones. Many eagerly looked forward to her blessings and good advice. She was not shy of calling a spade a spade and reprimanding people but she always did that with an unconditional love. There are many who have told us that they are sorely missing her frank advice, reprimands and blessings.

A student once mentioned that her parents had earlier rejected her boyfriend, and she was very sad about it as he was a good person. After she told the story to my mother, she had asked her boyfriend to come and meet her. Once my mother was convinced that it was a good match, she had convened the parents and convinced them that it was a good match for their daughter. Today, they are married, blessed with beautiful children and leading a happy life. One could say that she crossed the line of the role of teacher… And I am sure that she must have crossed the line thousands of times… Well, she wasn´t an ordinary teacher following a rule book. She was an extraordinary teacher who was guided by her conscience of what is best for people.

There are a countless number of stories that I could write about, but let me relate one more story to inspire you of her generosity and selflessness. Once there was a student in her school who was falling behind studies. My mother spoke to the parents of the student and arranged for the student to stay at our home during an entire school holiday season. She taught the student throughout the holiday season so that the person could elevate the competencies to a level that could be maintained in school. She did this without charging anything. She was so benevolent to not only teach but feed her students when necessary. I recently read a beautiful book about a dedicated teacher who would feed the poor students with her salary, as well as teaching and guiding them. As surreal as that book may sound to many, I know that I don´t have to look that far to find great people like that.

And I can go on and on and on… but let me tell you why I thought of putting pen to paper. The first reason is to say thank you, thank you and thank you again to all the great teachers out there. I think it is the most noble and fulfilling profession that anyone can have. It is also one of the most underpaid professions. Yet they make a selfless contribution for the broader good of the society. I perhaps earn in less than a year what a teacher earns in a lifetime. But to be honest, I consider that the contribution that I make to the society through my work to be a fraction compared to a contribution of a great teacher. If a teacher reads this article, I want you to know that your work is greatly appreciated and something that one cannot place a price tag on.

The second reason is to remind you not to be blind to the role models who are right by your side. I have read many books of great achievers and leaders to draw inspiration from them to my life. I have always had a strong connection with my mother. But If I had earlier had the realisation that I am having now, I would have put aside all these great books and simply asked my mother how she did various things in such a simple and seemingly effortless manner. I wish I clearly had recognised the role model who was there right by my side throughout my life. My mother had a tremendous impact on who I am today. But I feel that I could have learnt a lot more had I asked her more and listened to her more. As I have become more academically and professionally educated than my mother and have had a very successful career, I had this sense of belief that I have accomplished a lot. Only when I listened to all the stories that people kindly shared with me about my mother and looked back at her glorious life, did I realise that I have a long way to go, and I have so far left only tiny footprints relative to the big footprints left by my mother. Just like my mother has made a unique contribution to this world, I am sure that your mothers and fathers have made a unique contribution in their own ways too. As you become more successful, please don´t forget to ask them for their opinions and advice because I am sure that they will have plenty to offer if you ask and have a listening ear.

Sometimes you may not like what you hear, but please remember that it often comes out with unconditional love.

The third and final reason is to encourage and inspire children to take good care of their parents. It saddens me to learn about so surreal stories of how poorly some children treat their parents. I have read, heard and directly seen how bad some children treat their parents. I wish them the wisdom to see clearly and the courage to ask for forgiveness for their mistakes and correct them in the future. A mother, a father is always special, and they deserve to be treated in a special way. They must not become a discarded coin because they have a wealth of experience and wisdom that you may not have. My relationship with my mother is something that I truly treasure. I do not remember a single day that I have raised my voice, intentionally hurt her feelings or disappointed my mother. We have guided and supported each other with good thoughts, words and actions throughout our lives and helped each other progress in our spiritual journey. Knowing the honourable and selfless life that my mother led, and knowing how we supported each other, I have not shed a single tear of sorrow upon her death because I don´t have any sorrow. I have shed only tears of joy and pride. To me it marks the celebration of her exemplary life, what I could contribute to her life and the spiritual journey we have shared together. But it is important to understand that for you to be able to shed any tears of joy and pride upon the death of a loved one, you need to work for it throughout your lifetime with right thoughts, words and actions. If you truly understand the realities of life, and live a virtuous life where you fulfil your duties and responsibilities without any attachments, you can transcend pain and sorrow as they simply do not manifest. I encourage you to live a life that you/others can celebrate any moment well-understanding the uncertainties and impermanence of life.

The realisations at my mother´s funeral have given me a renewed purpose in life. I hope this article will inspire you to bring out the best in you! Remember you can give out unconditional love only if you have it inside. And it can be unconditional only if you do not have any expectations whatsoever in return. Live a life radiating unconditional love! Unconditional love will eventually lead to unconditional happiness!

A grateful son who is inspired by a wonderful mother.


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