Seven kinds of mothers

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Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

According to scriptures also, there are seven mothers: (1) the real mother, (2) the wife of the spiritual master, (3) the wife of a brāhmaṇa, (4) the wife of the king, (5) the cow, (6) the nurse, and (7) the earth.
SB 1.11.28, Translation and Purport:

After entering the house of His father, He was embraced by the mothers present, and the Lord offered His obeisances unto them by placing His head at their feet. The mothers were headed by Devakī (His real mother).

It appears that Vasudeva, the father of Lord Kṛṣṇa, had completely separate residential quarters where he lived with his eighteen wives, out of whom Śrīmatī Devakī is the real mother of Lord Kṛṣṇa. But in spite of this, all other stepmothers were equally affectionate to Him, as will be evident from the following verse. Lord Kṛṣṇa also did not distinguish His real mother from His stepmothers, and He equally offered His obeisances unto all the wives of Vasudeva present on the occasion. According to scriptures also, there are seven mothers: (1) the real mother, (2) the wife of the spiritual master, (3) the wife of a brāhmaṇa, (4) the wife of the king, (5) the cow, (6) the nurse, and (7) the earth. All of them are mothers. Even by this injunction of the śāstras, the stepmother, who is the wife of the father, is also as good as the mother because the father is also one of the spiritual masters. Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the universe, plays the part of an ideal son just to teach others how to treat their stepmothers.

The wife of a brāhmaṇa is considered one of the seven mothers.
SB 1.14.42, Purport:

It appears from this verse that during the time of the Pāṇḍavas free contact between man and woman was allowed in certain conditions only. The higher-caste men, namely the brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas, could accept a woman of the vaiśya or the śūdra community, but a man from the lower castes could not contact a woman of the higher caste. Even a kṣatriya could not contact a woman of the brāhmaṇa caste. The wife of a brāhmaṇa is considered one of the seven mothers (namely one's own mother, the wife of the spiritual master or teacher, the wife of a brāhmaṇa, the wife of a king, the cow, the nurse, and the earth). Such contact between man and woman was known as uttama and adhama. Contact of a brāhmaṇa with a kṣatriya woman is uttama, but the contact of a kṣatriya with a brāhmaṇa woman is adhama and therefore condemned.

SB Canto 7

There are seven kinds of mothers. These mothers are the original mother, the wife of the teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a brāhmaṇa, the king's wife, the cow, the nurse and the earth.
SB 7.12.8, Purport:

The relationship between the student or disciple and the wife of the spiritual master or teacher is like that between son and mother. A mother sometimes cares for her son by combing his hair, massaging his body with oil, or bathing him. Similarly, the wife of the teacher is also a mother (guru-patnī), and therefore she may also care for the disciple in a motherly way. If the wife of the teacher is a young woman, however, a young brahmacārī should not allow such a mother to touch him. This is strictly prohibited. There are seven kinds of mothers:

ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī
brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā
dhenur dhātrī tathā pṛthvī
saptaitā mātaraḥ smṛtāḥ

These mothers are the original mother, the wife of the teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a brāhmaṇa, the king's wife, the cow, the nurse and the earth. Unnecessary association with women, even with one's mother, sister or daughter, is strictly prohibited. This is human civilization.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Adi-lila

According to Vedic civilization, there are seven mothers, of which the cow is one.
CC Adi 17.154, Purport:

Everyone can understand that we drink the milk of cows and take the help of bulls in producing agricultural products. Therefore, since our real father gives us food grains and our mother gives us milk with which to live, the cow and bull are considered our father and mother. According to Vedic civilization, there are seven mothers, of which the cow is one. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu challenged the Muslim Kazi, "What kind of religious principle do you follow by killing your father and mother to eat them?" In any civilized human society, no one would dare kill his father and mother for the purpose of eating them. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu challenged the system of Muslim religion as patricide and matricide.

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Because Pūtanā came to take Kṛṣṇa on her lap and offer her breast milk to be sucked by Him, she was accepted by Kṛṣṇa as one of His mothers.
Krsna Book 6:

There are seven kinds of mothers, according to Vedic injunction: the real mother, the wife of a teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a king, the wife of a brāhmaṇa, the cow, the nurse and mother earth. Because Pūtanā came to take Kṛṣṇa on her lap and offer her breast milk to be sucked by Him, she was accepted by Kṛṣṇa as one of His mothers. That is considered to be another reason He closed His eyes: He had to kill a nurse or mother. But His killing of His mother or nurse was no different from His love for His real mother or His foster mother, Yaśodā. We further understand from Vedic information that Pūtanā was also treated as a mother and given the same facility as Yaśodā. As Yaśodā was given liberation from the material world, Pūtanā was also given liberation.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Cow is considered mother. Because one mother has given birth to the child, the another mother is supplying milk. So everyone should be obliged to mother cow, because she is supplying milk.
Lecture on BG 1.31 -- London, July 24, 1973:

In India in village, there is, still the system is amongst the poor men, the cultivators, that if the cultivator cannot provide to keep a cow, he will not marry. Jaru and garu. Jaru means wife, and garu means cow. So one should keep a wife if he is able to keep a cow also. Jaru and garu. Because if you keep a wife, immediately there will be children. But if you cannot give them cows' milk, the children will be rickety, not very healthy. They must drink sufficient milk. So cow is therefore considered mother. Because one mother has given birth to the child, the another mother is supplying milk. So everyone should be obliged to mother cow, because she is supplying milk. So according to our śāstra there are seven mothers. Ādau mātā, real mother, from whose body I have taken my birth. Ādau mātā, she is mother. Guru-patnī, the wife of teacher. She is also mother. Ādau mātā guru-patnī, brāhmaṇī. The wife of a brāhmaṇa, she is also mother. Ādau mātā guru-patnī brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā, the queen is mother. So how many? Ādau mātā guru-patnī brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā, then dhenu. Dhenu means cow. She is also mother. And dhātrī. Dhātrī means nurse. Dhenu dhātrī tathā pṛthvī, also the earth. Earth is also mother. The people are taking care of mother land, where he is born. That is good. But by the by they should take care of mother cow also. But they are not taking care of mother. Therefore they are sinful. They must suffer. They must have, there must be war, pestilence, famine. As soon as people become sinful, immediately nature's punishment will come automatically. You cannot avoid it.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

How cow is not mother? She's mother. We are taking her milk.
Lecture on SB 1.16.19 -- Hawaii, January 15, 1974:

Personified dharma, he's inquiring from the cow. He's addressing cow, amba. Amba means mother. So cow is our mother. Why mother? Because from practical point of view, we drink milk. So how mother... How cow is not mother? She's mother. We are taking her milk. There are seven mothers according to Vedic civilization:

ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī
brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā
dhenur dhātrī tathā pṛthvī
saptaitā mātaraḥ smṛtāḥ

Real mother, from whose womb we have come to this world, real mother, ātma-mātā. Then guroḥ patnī, wife of the teacher or spiritual master, guroḥ patnī. Brāhmaṇī, the wife of a brāhmaṇa. Ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā, and the wife of the king, or the queen. She's also mother. Dhenu, the cow. Cow is also mother. And dhātrī means nurse. Nurse is also mother. Tathā pṛthvī, and the earth, the earth is also our mother. That we say in country, in the country which we take birth, we say deśa-mātṛkā. In Sanskrit it is called deśa-mātṛkā. That is also mother. Mother land, mother language. So this... So many mothers we have got, out of which, cow is also mother. Therefore she's addressed as amba. Amba means mother.

According to śāstra, Dharitrī is one of the mothers, seven mothers.
Lecture on SB 1.16.23 -- Los Angeles, July 13, 1974:

So here it is instructed. Even the earth is addressed as mother. According to śāstra, Dharitrī is one of the mothers, seven mothers.

ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī
brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā
dhenur dhātrī tathā pṛthvī
saptaitā mātaraḥ smṛtāḥ

There are seven kinds of mother. Real mother, then a spiritual master or teacher's wife, guroḥ patnī. Brāhmaṇī, the wife of a brāhmaṇa. Ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā. And the queen, the wife of the king. Dhenu, cow; dhenur dhātrī, maidservant, nurse. Because it was also formerly the practice, rich man, or mother is not unable to suck breast milk. So they used to employ young girls who has also children. Otherwise there is no milk supplied. So that is also mother. As Kṛṣṇa took Pūtanā as mother... Pūtanā came to kill Kṛṣṇa, smearing poison over her breast. And Kṛṣṇa sucked the milk and her life also. But Kṛṣṇa took her as (His) her mother.

There are seven mothers. So real mother, ādau mātā, guru-patni, the spiritual master's wife, she is also mother.
Lecture on SB 6.1.22 -- Honolulu, May 22, 1976:

Sometimes spiritual master's wife is considered as mother. Ādau mātā guru-patni. There are seven mothers. So real mother, ādau mātā, guru-patni, the spiritual master's wife, she is also mother. Ādau mātā guru-patni brāhmaṇi, the wife of a brāhmaṇa is mother. Actually every woman is mother. That is moral instruction. Mātṛvat para-dāreṣu. Anyone, any woman who is not your wife, except your wife, everyone, every woman is to be considered as mother. This is education. And that (indistinct) of education is defined by Cāṇakya Paṇḍita, that who is paṇḍita, learned.

So this is moral education, and in the śāstra it is also said that there are seven mothers.
Lecture on SB 6.1.22 -- Honolulu, May 22, 1976:

So this is moral education, and in the śāstra it is also said that there are seven mothers:

ādau mātā guru-patni
brāhmaṇi rāja-patnikā
dhenur dhātrī tathā pṛthvī
saptaitā mātaraḥ

Real mother and guru-patni, the wife of spiritual master or teacher. Ādau mātā guru-patni, brāhmaṇi, the wife of a brāhmaṇa, and rāja-patnikā, the queen, she is also mother, rāja. Dhenu, cow. Dhenu, dhātrī, nurse. Dhenur dhātrī tathā pṛthvī, as well as the earth. Earth is mother because she is giving us so many things, fruits, flowers, grains for our eating. Mother gives for eating, cow gives us milk. This is sense.

Guru-patnī, the spiritual master's wife, she is also mother.
Lecture on SB 6.1.23 -- Honolulu, May 23, 1976:

Sometimes spiritual master is considered as mother. Ādau mātā guru-patnī. There are seven mothers. So real mother, ādau mātā... Guru-patnī, the spiritual master's wife, she is also mother. Ādau mātā guru-patnī brāhmaṇī. The wife of a brāhmaṇa is mother. Actually every woman is mother. That is moral instruction. Mātṛvat para-dāreṣu. Anyone, any woman who is not your wife, except your wife, every woman is to be considered as mother. This is education.

In the śāstra it is also said that there are seven mothers.
Lecture on SB 6.1.23 -- Honolulu, May 23, 1976:

So this is moral education, and in the śāstra it is also said that there are seven mothers.

ādau mātā guru-patnī
brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā
dhenur dhātrī tathā pṛthvī
sapteti mātarī smṛta

Real mother and guru-patnī, the wife of spiritual master or teacher... Ādau mātā guru-patnī, brāhmaṇī, the wife of a brāhmaṇa. And rāja-patnikā, the queen, she is also mother. Dhenu, cow. Dhenur dhātrī, nurse. Dhenur dhātrī, tathā pṛthvī, as well as the earth. Earth is mother because they are giving us so many things, fruit, flowers, grains for our eating. Mother gives for eating. Cow gives us milk. This is sense.

General Lectures

We say dhātrī-mātā. We have got seven mothers. One of them is the earth.
Lecture -- Bhuvanesvara, January 29, 1977, (with Oriyan translator):

We say dhātrī-mātā. We have got seven mothers. One of them is the earth.

ādau-mātā guroḥ patnī
brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā
dhenur dhātrī tathā pṛthvī
saptaitā mātaraḥ smṛtāḥ

According to our śāstra, there are seven mothers: my original mother, ādau-mātā... Guroḥ patnī is my mother. Dhenu, cow, is my mother. Dhātrī, the nurse, is my mother. Tathā pṛthvī. Also earth is also my mother. So mātā is there, and the sons are there. How you can deny, that "There is no father"? I may not see my father, but there is father; there is no doubt of it. That pitā is personally presenting Himself-ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā: (BG 14.4) "I am the seed-giving father."

Conversations and Morning Walks

1973 Conversations and Morning Walks

These are seven mothers. So cow is mother because we drink milk, cow's milk.
Room Conversation with Cardinal Danielou -- August 9, 1973, Paris:

Prabhupāda: According to Vedic conversion, we have got seven mothers. Ātma-mātā, the original mother, guroḥ patnī, wife of the master, spiritual master...

Cardinal Danielou: Yes.

Bhagavān: Can you understand?

Yogeśvara: (translates)

Prabhupāda: Ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī brāhmaṇī, the wife of the priest.

Yogeśvara: (translates)

Cardinal Danielou:

Prabhupāda: Rāja-patnikā, the wife of king, the queen.

Yogeśvara: (translates)

Prabhupāda: Four. Ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā, dhenur. Dhenu means cow. Dhenur dhātrī. Dhātrī means nurse. Tathā pṛthvī. Pṛthvī means earth. These are seven mothers. So cow is mother because we drink milk, cow's milk.

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

A animal which is giving milk, so important foodstuff, and that is being killed, it does not suit any moral sense of any human being. On the contrary, according to Vedic system, there are seven mothers. And cow is accepted one of them.
Room Conversation with Monsieur Mesman, Chief of Law House of Paris -- June 11, 1974, Paris:

Prabhupāda: Why there should be slaughterhouse maintained? As you are one of the leading citizens of Paris, we appeal to you to take up this consideration seriously. Why we should maintain slaughterhouse? If we want to eat the flesh, let us wait till the death. And there will be death. There is no doubt about it. So why they should maintain slaughterhouse? And this is most cruelty. A animal which is giving milk, so important foodstuff, and that is being killed, it does not suit any moral sense of any human being. On the contrary, according to Vedic system, there are seven mothers. And cow is accepted one of them. Because she gives milk, and we take her milk, therefore she's our mother. So this is our philosophy.

1975 Conversations and Morning Walks

According to Vedic civilization, there are seven mothers. So you cannot kill your mother. That is not very good philosophy. And who can deny, "The cow is not mother"? Who has got this audacity? You are drinking milk in the very morning.
Garden Conversation with Professors -- June 24, 1975, Los Angeles:

Prabhupāda: And there are persons, they want meat-eating. So for them these unimportant animals are recommended. But cow is very important animal. You get from its milk so many nutritious food. So apart from religious sentiment, from economic point of view, cow-killing is not good. And from moral point of view it is not good because you drink cow's milk, so cow is your mother. According to Vedic civilization, there are seven mothers.

ādau-mātā guroḥ patnī
brahmaṇī rāja-patnikā
dhenur dhatrī tathā pṛthvī
sapta eta mataraḥ smṛtaḥ

Ādau-mātā, real mother, and guru-patnī, the wife of guru or teacher, she is also mother 'cause teacher is father. Ādau-mātā guroḥ patnī brahmaṇi, the wife of a brāhmaṇa. She is mother. Ādau-mātā guroḥ patnī brāhm..., rāja-patnikā, the queen, the wife of the king. She is mother. And then cow is mother because you are drinking her milk. Ādau-mātā guroḥ patnī brahmaṇi rāja-patnikā, dhenur dhatrī, nurse. Nurse is also mother because you suck the breast of the nurse. Therefore according to Vedic civilization, there are seven mothers. So you cannot kill your mother. That is not very good philosophy. And who can deny, "The cow is not mother"? Who has got this audacity? You are drinking milk in the very morning. Christ says, "Thou shall not kill?—wholesale killing stop." And the Vedic literature is little liberal. It does not say, "Thou shall not kill," but, "You shall not kill at least cow." But the wholesale stop is not possible. The Vedic wisdom knows that. But you shall not kill at least cow. That is civilization. And the Christians are maintaining thousands of slaughterhouse. Is that very good proposal?

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

The mother earth is giving you everything. Therefore she's called mother. Seven mothers... One of the mothers is this earth.
Morning Walk -- March 5, 1976, Mayapur:

Prabhupāda: Mental adjustment is nonsense. No mental adj... Actual. Mental adjustment is material. You have to follow the orders of superior. There is no question of mental adjustment. (break) You get all your necessities of life from the earth. Now, you get food, you get drinking water, you get shelter, bamboo. These things will... You get cotton. So what is that slogan? Kapara...?

Gopāla Kṛṣṇa: Roṭi kaparā makān.

Prabhupāda: Ah, everything, yes. Roti is there, kaparā is there, and makān is there. And wherefrom it is coming? Sarva-kāma-dughā mahī. From earth. Why you are after factories? The mother earth is giving you everything. Therefore he's called mother. Seven mothers... One of the mothers is this earth. Dhenu dhātrī tathā pṛthvi sapteti mātari smṛtāḥ. Dhenu means cow, and dhātrī means nurse. Tathā pṛthvi. Pṛthvi means this land. So they are taking care of the land, nationalists, and killing the other mother, dhenu. A rascal civilization. If you are taking care of mother, you must take care of all mothers. No, they are mad after the land, but killing the other mother, dhenu. This is called rascaldom.

From the material nature everything is coming. Therefore according to Vedic knowledge, this earth is also mother. We have got seven mothers according to Vedic civilization.
Room Conversation with Reporter -- June 3, 1976, Los Angeles:

Prabhupāda: So, we are coming from material nature. That means we are..., material nature is our mother. From the womb of mother, the child comes from. So, from the material nature everything is coming. Therefore according to Vedic knowledge, this earth is also mother. We have got seven mothers according to Vedic civilization:

ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī
brāhmaṇī rāja-patnikā
dhenur dhātrī tathā pṛthvī
saptaitā mātaraḥ smṛtāḥ

Ātma-mātā means original mother, real mother. And guroḥ patnī, the wife of teacher. The wife of a brāhmaṇa. Brāhmaṇa means the most intellectual class of men in the human society, brāhmaṇa. It is not a caste. It is a section in every human society. Always, there is a class of men very intelli..., intelligent. They are called brāhmaṇa. So, ātma-mātā, guroḥ patnī, brāhmaṇī, rāja-patnikā, and the queen—formerly there were kings—she is also considered mother. And dhenu means cow is mother because we drink her milk. She supplies milk. That's mother. And pṛthvī, in the earth, we are coming out. Earth is mother. Really we see coming. And there may be different varieties of sons. That doesn't matter. But anything coming out the earth—the earth is mother—and that is coming out, that is son. Then where is the father? There must be father. Is it possible mother can give birth to a child without father?

In this way, especially, seven mothers, dhenu, dhenu means cow, and dhātrī, nurse, she is also mother. So from that point of view, cow is mother, and you cannot kill on any ground the mother.
Evening Darsana -- July 8, 1976, Washington, D.C.:

Prabhupāda: Give protection to the cows. Kṛṣṇa mentioned specifically, go-rakṣya. He does not say that you don't kill, but you give protection to the cows. And if you want to eat meat, you can kill other animals. On the whole, paśu-hiṁsā, any animal killing, is not good for spiritual life. And so far vegetable is concerned, everyone has to eat something. So if you can eat vegetables, that does not mean because somebody is killing vegetables, he should kill his own father and mother on that plea. So cow is mother because we are drinking her milk. So you cannot put any argument in favor of killing mother. If you... Anyone who supplies milk from the body, she is mother. According to Vedic civilization, cow is one of the seven mothers. There are seven mothers: the real mother, ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī, the wife of spiritual master; then queen, rāja-patnikā. Ātma-mātā guroḥ patnī brāhmaṇī, the wife of a brāhmaṇa. In this way, especially, seven mothers, dhenu, dhenu means cow, and dhātrī, nurse, she is also mother. So from that point of view, cow is mother, and you cannot kill on any ground the mother. That is not good reasoning.

Correspondence

1947 to 1965 Correspondence

The Indians are not cow worshippers as others wrongly interpret it, but the Indians are gratitudeful to the species of cow for supplying milk to the human babies and the sentiment is so fine that simply for supplying milk the cow is accepted as one of the seven mothers.
Letter to Harbanslal -- Bombay 2 August, 1958:

According to Indian way of thought, every one is advised to do good to others namely not only to the human society but also to living beings other than human being. The Indians are not cow worshippers as others wrongly interpret it, but the Indians are gratitudeful to the species of cow for supplying milk to the human babies and the sentiment is so fine that simply for supplying milk the cow is accepted as one of the seven mothers. That is called Indian cultural mission. We should learn to look upon every living being as our own brother and treat him in that love.

Compiled bySahadeva + and Labangalatika +
Completed sectionsALL +
Date of first entryJuly 3, 0009 JL +
Date of last entryDecember 1, 0009 JL +
Total quotes20 +
Total quotes by sectionBG: 0 +, SB: 3 +, CC: 1 +, OB: 1 +, Lec: 8 +, Conv: 6 + and Let: 1 +