Query: Heirarchy of respect in Hindu Culture- Is it in order of 'Mata Pita Guru
Before I further delve into the saying 'Mata Pita Guru Daivam' I would
narrate an experience during one of my discourses.
After having introduced myself as one who had realized God in 1993 I
started speaking on matters related to every seeker of Spirituality. Having
realized God I am able to know the queries existing within every Human being in my vicinity. One need not
tell me and the discourse starts extempore.
After having elaborated on various issues related to Spirituality and
after a lapse of about two hours... I could see one of the older member existing in the congregation started
to weep... he was weeping internally... the flow of tears was a continuous downpour. I stopped my speech and
enquired of the gentleman the cause of his tears. Whatever he narrated is an eye
He introduced himself as one who had retired from government service and
was now 65 years of age. It was around 13 years of age when he had queries like, "who am I" "what is my
relationship with my parents" "how are human beings related to animals" "what is the meaning of God" "how can
we approach god" "why do we go to the temple" and many other questions.
'Mata" (mother): Finding no answers in his school textbooks he
initially approached his mother whom he considered most near to him. He enquired of her all the queries
narrated above and after persistent questioning he was able to understand even as a child that his mother
knew nothing about the queries he went to his father.
'Pita' (father): The moment he opened his mouth in the presence of his father, he was rebuked and taken to
task by his father for indulging in matters beyond his age. He was advised to put more of his attention to the
studies in the class. He indirectly understood that his father was also ignorant about the various subjects and
instead of giving him a suitable reply gave him an unwanted piece of advice.
'Guru' (teacher): Having understood the crux of the problem that his mother and father did not have the
answers to his queries he approached the class teacher whom he considered next to his parents. The class teacher on
hearing the queries made one excuse or the other but was unable to give a satisfactory reply. The teacher never
wanted the student to know of his incapability in giving answers to his queries. The student ultimately went to the
principal and the same story was repeated. The principal was also ignorant of the subject.
Nowhere else to go... the queries existed within him and he finally
retired from government service. Even during the tenure of his government job he enquired of his fellow
colleagues about the queries but none was able to give a satisfactory reply. And here he had not put forward
any query to Vijay Kumar even though he had a big list in his pocket but Vijay Kumar had explicitly made the
answer to his every query clear in the two hours of his initial discourse.
He felt so happy that as the queries melt away, they took the form of the
tears that welled up in his eyes spontaneously. He was practically sobbing with happiness.
This is not the experience of this lone gentleman but many in pursuit of
Spirituality face the same dilemma. Simply by going to the temple one cannot learn of the meaning of the
sacred Scriptures lying in the bookshelves of the temple. One who is the knower of all need to explain the
hidden meaning of the Scriptures to the mass community? And by talking of 'Daivam' we mean someone who has
raised himself on the Spiritual platform much higher above the thinking of a normal Human being.
Any sage or Saint who has learned the intricate truths of the sacred Scriptures can dispel the doubts of the
serious spiritual seekers. Such people are considered equivalent to 'Daiva' or 'Deva'.
No doubt the position of the mother is the highest on the physical
domain. God meant it so. Why? It is only a mother who in times of need would care for the child of another.
In case of 'Pita' so is not the situation. Similarly, the 'Guru' gets the next position for he is the one who
grooms the child in the journey of life and is only next to 'Mata and Pita'. Whatever status a student
achieves later in life... the regard for the Guru never ceases.
All devas are supposed to exist in heaven (swarga in Hinduism). And who
are these devas? They are atmans (souls) who have risen themselves above the level of a normal Human being
but have yet to attain salvation. And for attaining salvation (moksha in Hinduism) they have to descend to
mother earth and again take the form of a human being. And only as a Human Being can one gain self
realization, enlightenment and finally salvation (moksha in Hinduism).
Moksha Salvation can never be gained otherwise except in form of a human being. The status of a human being has
been considered as the ultimate in Hinduism. The form of a human being is the highest manifest stage in the cosmic
life of an atman the soul within. This is the prime reason why devas are put at number four after Mata, Pita and
Guru (mother, father and teacher).
We must never forget that there are only two entities in whole Cosmos
whom we address as you ("Tu" in Hindi). Try addressing your father as you, ("Tu" in Hindi) and response would
be immediate. A slap on your face will explain everything. Similar is the case with a Guru. No real Guru
would ever tolerate any nonsense from any student (Shishya in Hinduism). Both Pita and Guru (father and
teacher) expect respect from children. They never tolerate otherwise.
On the contrary in the case of God and mother... the tolerance is never
limited by the cause. We may conduct ourselves in any manner positive or negative... the mother would always
tolerate and forgive the good and the bad deeds of her children. So is never the case with Pita and Guru
(father and teacher).
As per Hinduism devas when they exist in swarga (Heaven) can bless us
only through the medium of prayers. We cannot see devas with our physical manifest eyes. We can only seek the
blessings of devas through various religious acts as applicable in different religions. The status of devas
has been considered next to a Guru for the prime reason that on the physical plane it is the Guru who is
imparting the wisdom to the student but in the case of a Deva we never know when our prayers would be
This hierarchy 'Mata Pita Guru Daivam' exists in Hinduism from the
times of Bhagavad Gita and beyond. Adi Shankaracharya may have propagated the
same in his times for he may have felt that due respect is not being given to Mata Pita and Guru as is due to
them. The saying 'Mata Pita Guru Daivam' forms the core of relationship between a child and mother, father,
Guru and supernatural beings (we call as devas in Hinduism).
Always there to clarify your queries ( send your query),
Vijay Kumar "Atma Jnani" ... The Man who Realized God in 1993! Send your
A to Z of Respect in Hindu Culture explained in words everyone can easily understand and
fathom. More on respecting your elders can be found at : http://www.vijaykumar.org/Hinduism-Beliefs/
... Vijay Kumar - 13 June 2010.
Full text of query: I have heard of the famous saying 'Mata Pita
Guru Daivam'. Can I know whether this was the preaching of Sri Adi Shankaracharya.
Does this mean that the heirarchy of the respect in Hindu culture is in
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