At first, there was a birthday.
Then came Valentines Day.
Then Mothers Day.
Now Fathers Day.
Don’t know if there is a sisters day or brothers day or in-laws day yet, but surely on the horizon if not there already.
This arbitrary breaking down of thankfulness/celebration of a particular relationship with no basis in culture ends up being superficial and largely confined to WhatsApp statuses, a mandatory gift and a possible dinner. And the next day ends up being the same as the one before the “Day”. So, did one really recognize the importance of the relationship in question?
The importance of any relationship cannot be undermined, nor can it be categorized or sorted into orders of importance. Everyone has their role to play in society, and these relationships are closely intertwined – one is a father to someone and a son to someone else, for instance. But a father or mother is not just by virtue of the incidence of birth – as ably demonstrated by Yashodha and Krishna.
Back to fathers. I am one now, and a new world has been opening up to me, slowly but surely. And so when someone told be it’s Father’s Day today, I wondered why. I did Google, and I didn’t quite understand the results I found. An obscure tradition suddenly gains prominence and then fades away till the next Father’s Day.
And so I dug deeper into our own culture, and I found a few thoughts that am happy to share with you here today.
But between the padas on one hand and the cringeworthy WhatsApp messages on the other, lies a feeling that one can only experience, and not read about.
It is this feeling that makes one work harder for the family, one that makes one afraid of the future and at the same time look forward to it, one that wants to give immensely and unconditionally and still in some corner expects a small bit in return, one that knows that final goodbyes will happen in due course and so wants every minute to be special…
Being a father is celebrating one’s own legacy and passing it on to the next generation…in the hope that they too do the same, but in a way that they know how precious it is.
It is responsibility, and a bit of carefreeness, wrapped up in love, and served with dedication and joy, with a tinge of strictness much like a bitter pill has a sugar coated exterior. In this case however, the bitter bit sometimes is on the outside, to ensure that the child reaches the good bits in time, slowly, surely and enjoying along the way…
pitā svargaḥ pitā dharmaḥ pitā paramakaṃ tapaḥ ।
pitari prītimāpanne sarvāḥ prīyanti devatāḥ ॥
My Father is my swarga, my father is my dharma, he is the ultimate tapasya of my jeevana. If he is happy,
all devas are pleased.
Mahabharata Shanti Parva 258.20
janakaścopanetā ca yaśca vidyāṃ prayacchati।
annadātā bhayatrātā paścaite pitaraḥ smṛtāḥ॥
One who gives birth, one who initiates, one who imparts knowledge, one who provides food and protects
from fear – these five are considered as fathers.
Chanakya Neeti Shastra 80
सर्वतीर्थमयी माता सर्वदेवमयः पिता
मातरं पितरं तस्मात् सर्वयत्नेन पूजयेत्
sarvatIrthamayI maataa sarvadevamayaH pitaa
maataraM pitaraM tasmaat sarvayatnena pUjayet
Mother is the embodiment of all tīrthās, and father is the embodiment of all devas. Hence, mother and father are to be revered with dedication.
पिता यच्छति पुत्राय बाल्ये विद्याधनं महत्।
Pitaa yacchati putraaya baalye vidyaadhanam mahat!
It is the father than gives the wealth of education to his son during childhood…