“Matha Pitha Guru Deivam” is a very popular adage or phrase in Sanskrit language and often quoted in Hinduism. Transalated word for word, it is, “Mother Father Teacher God”. The meaning of this adage is the greatest truth, and is the order in which one should offer reverence. The phrase is a basic tenet in existence from the time of the Vedas and beyond and represents the hierarchy in which one should respect these entities.
First comes the mother (Matha or Mata) who gives birth to the child, thereby bringing us as a child into this world. Next comes the father (Pitha or Pita), because it is the mother who knows the truth about the father and she points us to the father. The mother and father then takes us to the teacher (Guru), and it is the guru, through his or her teachings, points us to God (Deivam or Devam). Here God represent the consciousness or self-awareness or our real self.
As per Hindu mythology: Once upon a time, Lord Shiva and his wife godess Parvati received the gift of a ripe mango. Their children Ganesha and Karthikeya, both wanted the full fruit. The parents were in a dilemma and decided to give them a test: the winner would get the fruit. They announced, “Whoever goes round the world and reaches back first will be the winner.” Karthikeya immediately set off to encircle the world on his vehicle - the peacock. Ganesha, with his vehicle Mooshika (mouse) prostrated himself in front of his parents, went around them once and claimed the prize. To the question of how, Ganesha said, “Our parents are the whole world to us. So by going around them once, and said, “I have gone around the world.” The happy parents gifted the fruit to Ganesha. When Karthikeya came back after going round the world, he saw Ganesha with the fruit in his hand. His non-understanding of this simple truth upset him so much that he went away to live alone and meditate in the hills of Palani in Southern India.
Maatha,pithaa,guru,DheivamIam proud to be an Indian for the one reason that it is here and here alone and in its innumerable scriptures there is emphasis on the role of parents,teacher and how a true understanding of which leads one to attain salvation (God-realization in life-the purpose of life).
Let us take up the first teaching that we are taught right from our childhood,namely."Maatha,Pitha- a,Guru.Dheivam".How many of us have given a self-searching on these apparently simple words-why Maathaa and pithaa are given that elevated position in our society.Recollect what that great tamil saint-poet Avvaiyar has said on this in her "AAthichhoodi" -to quote,"Annaiyum Pithavum munnari Deivam".
Mother gets that divine status,because it is she who bore you in her womb for 1o months and therefore your very soul entered through her by divine grace, and father gets the status because it is from his sperms that combining with mother s blood that your body (achit) gets a shape and later the soul enters it in mother s womb (chit) and although the whole process may be described as God s act,it is the cause-and effect process and therefore the effect also gets the divine status. Further,one may agree with me that no child normally is born without crying.Why should it cry instead of keeping quiet or laughing.It cries because it is in a world of chaos! when does the cry stop? the moment the soft embrace of mother is felt by it and what a touchstone the mother is-he compassion to the child is fathomless and pure as gold and no wonder Mahalaxmi the Goddess is described as the embodiment of compassion.It is mother who introduces the child to her/his father which otherwise the child would never come to know.By doing so, she takes the child towards the path of "gnana"
and from there onwards mother and father together contribute to the upbringing of the child. Father then takes the responsibility of teaching the child the good and bad in life which when properly imparted become veritable "manthras* for the growing child to protect him and to allow him to tread on the path of righteousness, which again the great poet Avvaiyaar emphasises
thus-"Thandhaisol mikka manthiram illai" meaning, there is no word which is superior to what the father tells to his child (see for example the mother of all mantras, "Gayatri mahamantra" is taught to the child by the guru only through his father !).
Now when the child is ready to be sent to school (in those days to Gurukuam)
Guru enters his life and a great guru is the real connector of the soul with the supreme, leaving aside all the mundane things in life that he initially imparts to the child.A guru is one who is not only knowledgeable but one who has realized the "Self" and therefore strictly speaking he is not judged by his age.
This sort of guru one may encounter even at a much later stage in life-example the Great Madhurakavi Alwar was in his advanced age and although a great scholar and a pandit by himself met his true guru the Great vaishnava Alwar Nammalwar who was only sixteen years when he sought God to lead him to path of realization and it is Nammalwar who connected Madhrakavi s soul to Ishwara (chit reaching Parabrhammam or Ishwara).So the role of Guru in enlightening his sishya s mind is again matchless and therefore the saying "Maathaa,Pithaa and Guru then Deivam" is a mantra by itself.Imantra by itself.Imagine when Madhurakavi Alwar attains God-realization through his Guru-Nammalwar, he writes 10 psalms in praise of his Guru wherein he eulogises his guru as his God-so much was his devotion to his Guru!I hope this materialistic world of ours at this stage of Kaliyuga produce such selfless Godly Gurus to lead sishyas to tread on the path of righteousness.
Now comes Dheivam- once the child is led into a correct path of Life it takes no time for it to realize GOD, for Dheivam resides in his inner hear always and he is connected to Him by the act of his glorious Guru.