‘Mother And Motherland Are Higher Than Heaven’ – An Arya Akasha Analysis Of A Maxim
Today marks Republic Day in India. जय हिंद !
The dual commemorations it is keyed to being the promulgation of India’s Constitution in 1950, and the declaration by the Indian National Congress in 1930 of their intent to fight for “Purna Swaraj” – “Full Independence/Self-Determination”. ‘Full Empowerment’, we may perhaps say. And you shall see why that flavour of (re-)construction is relevant shortly.
So with that in mind, it seemed an excellent opportunity to take a look at one of my favourite Hindu ethical enjoinments:
” जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी “
” Janani Janmabhumishcha Swargadapi Gariyasi “
” Mother & Motherland Are Superior Even To Heaven “
A noble sentiment found in some versions of the Ramayana (and variously attributed to the Rsi Bharadwaj or to Rama Himself); there is some controversy as to its ultimate origins and sourcing – although to my mind, the sacred truth contained therein elevates it above impugnment upon the basis of dispute as to its (human) authorship.
As with many of the best lines of poetry or scripture, it is rendered further marvelous – to my mind, anyway – when we consider some of the implications of the Sanskrit word-choices used in its construction.
For example, Janani has at its Sanskrit root, “जन” – a term which also encompasses within its ambit of meaning, words for “nation”, “community”, “tribe”. Also, as it happens, from the same Proto-Indo-European root (Genh) which gives us “Genius”. It has also entered into modern Hindi in the sense of a “Cause”; and, Maternal connotations in mind, a Source, as well. A closely related term, जनन, in Sanskrit not only means Queen, but also “solidarity”, “life”, as well as that thread of a united-by-causation, in the hereditary sense that we see in Jana, above.
The “Mother” referred to here, then, is intentionally phrased thus precisely because this shows us that the Mother in question is Nation; and that Nation, wherein one is expressed [to reference me some Hannah Arendt, also], and from whence one comes, to whom one belongs, is both Above All, and not entirely coterminous with the concept of the land underpinning same.
Indeed, it is a supernal entity – Whose constituent bearers [and somewhat immanentizers] out here in the material world, the housers of the small-ish shards of that mighty Prakriti , are Her Children, the Members of Same.
[I have also left it intentionally somewhat ambiguous as to which sense I meant “Cause” in, above – and this is because while it would ordinarily be understood as “Causation”, the fact is that a “Cause” in the modern sense of “something which one believes in”, is also hugely relevant here. And, in a veer-y real sense, is also the causation of one’s actions, if it is gen-uinely, truly, dearly held and believed with/in]
Now, Bhumi, which stands at the root of the ‘Janmabhumischa’ utilized in the maxim, is similarly complex. For while in one sense, it can mean the ground, the territory … in another, broader [yes, this is an Old Norse somewhat theological pun], it can mean the Earth, particularly Earth Mother; and in a narrower sense, means the Stage, or even a role, a guise, a part assumed by an actor (Or, in this case, actress); and, further, a “foundation” upon which to build.
So, in terms of its utilization here, we see ‘territory’, this stage of the earth, as the grounds upon which the drama of nations and nationhood is carried out … the role of Mother Nation is also one face worn by the Goddess in question, that of Mother Earth another, and ‘Mountain Mother/Mountain Queen’ a linkage between the two [as I considered at some length in my 2018 Indian Independence Day article – ‘Bharat Mata And The Indo-European Deific Of National Identity’].
Meanwhile, the land, the territory, its topography and terrain, its essential characterization [anthropomorphicized, and/or otherwise], provides the ‘foundation’ upon which a Nation and its expression are ‘built’, formed, molded, “realized” (in both senses of the term).
Once again, we have the Divine Synthesis of Prakriti & Purusha – the Bhumi in question interestingly being the latter in a certain sense (and yes, I am aware that I am employing these terms in somewhat unexpected manner); as it is in my view considerable that the ‘spirit’ of the land entering into and expressing itself thence through the medium of the People, is a valid perspective and construction ‘going the other way’. (A sentiment perhaps somewhat parallel in construction to Adi Shankara’s words in the opening couplets of his Saundarya Lahari [‘The Waves of Beauty’] – “sivah saktya yukto yadi bhavati saktah prabhavitum / na cedevam devo na khalu kusalah spanditumapi”. Or, phrased another way – in the absence of this Divine Feminine Principle/Power/Goddess-of-Cause , even Shiva Himself is unable to Move/Radiate/Rule; which I mention in part due to the traditional keying of Shiva to ‘Purusha’ – as we can see, the conception of the Mother Goddess as acting within the more conventionally defined ‘Purusha’ is not invalid)
A final element to consider, literally in terms of linguistics is the utilization of Bhumi to mean “tongue”, or “story” – for, as I noted in my 2019 piece on Language, Frantz Fanon really was onto something with his observation that “to speak…means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization.”
Emil Cioran put it slightly differently – “One does not inhabit a country; one inhabits a language. That is our country, our fatherland – and no other.”
A Nation, properly construed, is both … a territorial body, a country, a state, and all the “cultural” elements, the ‘bringing together’ which constitute the essential soul and psyche of its people, indeed the very fact it has a ‘people’ at all [rather than, say, ‘tenants’, or ‘tourists’, or others who are just simply passing through].
And, it is also the case that a language is strongly conditioned by and flows out of, the mouths of the people who speak it, their situation geographically and metaphysically. How we construe things is hugely influential upon what our resultant lexical contents shall be. What we encounter in the immediate environs around us, is also a big influence upon how we construe things.
Cioran’s quote is, therefore, not entirely true – as the language flows also from the context, the ‘fatherland’ [or, at least, the civilizational complex] from whence its bearers are to be found.
It does, however, most definitely continue to support and underpin and above all [there’s that phrasing again] uphold the Nation, to arka-en back to that Fanon quote, in an irreducibly complex cycle of mutually interleavened growth-and-support.
The People bearing the language, the language bearing the Stories, the Stories re-immanentizing and re-vitalizing the Nation, the Nation emanating out the Stories, which help to preserve the language, and all of the above construing, re-creating, ‘defining’ in many senses, The People.
The Tongue as ‘stage’ upon which Stories are played out, expressed. (A situation considerably enhanced via the esoteric linkage of Vak Saraswati to the Tongue – and likewise for the Queen of Serpents deific , Sarpa Rajni , Herself a Form of this same Goddess being understood also in this context of the Empowered Tongue and the supporting, the expression, the maintenance, the involvement, the pageantry of the World)
“Myth” as the essential mortar and ‘Mythaloka’ – stage, realm once again, wherein a Nation can exist. Especially, particularly, supernally. [And, in case you have forgotten – just because it’s a “Myth” doesn’t mean it’s not “true”. It simply means that what underpins its resonance is a different kind of true. A far deepa kind of “real” , often that shall be around long after a lot of the more ‘mundanely real’ concepts are ash and archaeology. See my recent work upon the true meaning of ‘Myth’ – ‘On The Correct Understanding Of Myth, Mythos, And Mythology’]
Small wonder, then, that the Macaulays of this world realized that you could seriously attempt to ‘erase’ a people largely through erasing their contact and context with their own language, culture, heritage in those spheres – and thence do within a few generations what an invading army might take hundreds of years to fail at.
Such is the power of language.
Although this also takes us to our conclusion.
Language, as I have briefly talked about in some of my previous efforts, is Supreme. Vak is correlate with Rta, as an in-universe expression, thereof. Vak, as Originator of, and transcendentally above, not just ‘nations’ down here on Earth, but the universe entire and at large … well, this therefore means that the Mountain Peak of Parvati-Devi, ascends up and through and beyond Svarga-Loka.
Above the Heavens.
For there Reigns Aditi. Limitless.
Supreme is Devi above all !
Jai Mata Di!