Mother Teresa’s 20th Death Anniversary fell on September 5
“Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for great development, greater riches and so on that children have very little time for their parents and parents have very little time for each other. In the home begins the disruption of peace of the world”
Inspirational women belonging to religious communities and living according to vows, provide a more powerful view of women and their role in life, to inspire and encourage women to step out of limiting self-beliefs that keep them trapped in roles that lack of power. Historical characters like Arhant Mahaparajapathi Gothami and Saint Teresa of Calcutta are foremost in this respect. “Good it is to restrain your eye; good it is to restrain your ear. Restraint in the nose is good, good it is to restrain your tongue—(verse 360). Bhikku vagga- Dhammapada
“We cannot find God in noise and agitation. Nature trees flowers and grass grow in silence, the stars, sun and moon move in silence. Silence our eyes, silence our ears, silence our mouths, silence our minds, in the silence of hearts god will speak” --Mother Teresa, in her book - ‘Silence’
Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu was born in Skopje, Macedonia, to Albanian parents, on August 26th, 1910 as the youngest of three siblings, exactly hundred and seven years ago. She preferred to mention that her birthday was on 27 August, the day she was baptized. She believed that this day was more important than the day she was born. In 1928, Gonxha entered the order as a Roman catholic Loreto nun. She finished a three year training in Dublin, Ireland. She was posted to Calcutta (now Kolkatta), India, and was named Sister Mary Teresa. She was called to rest on 5th September 1997.
Mother Teresa became an honorary citizen of India. In 1965 she received permission from The Vatican to expand her services outside India. She toiled endlessly on behalf of the down-trodden masses setting up orphanages, AIDS hospices, charity centres world-wide caring for refugees, blind, disabled, alcoholics, victims of famine and epidemics in Asia, Africa, Poland and Latin America. The work was acclaimed by award distributing organizations throughout the world, with Magsaysay awards and Bharet Ratne in 1980.
Obtaining permission from The Vatican, Mother Teresa opened her own order, “Missionaries of Charity” in 1950, based in Calcutta. From this order she engaged in serving the poorest of the poor masses, initially as a teacher from 1931. She taught Geography and Catechism. She was thoroughly shaken by the miserable life of slum occupants in the poverty-stricken city of Calcutta. Here orphans were living in Government dwellings with no basic needs nor education. Adults with no fixed abodes wandered the streets in hunger. Most were sick and required help. She underwent a struggle and made a lot of personal sacrifices to elevate their living standards. Her ‘selfless’ and caring work for them was well exemplified.
Mother Teresa, ‘Saint of the Gutters’ once said, “God doesn’t look how much work we do, but with how much love we do it. Let us touch the dying, the poor the lonely, and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed of or be slow in doing the humble work”.
Un-egoistic and unmoved, this Albanian angel, never used ‘labels’ to decorate her name. All donations received were diverted to charitable work. “Do not wait for leaders, do it alone, person to person; if you judge people you have no time to love them.” she said.
Buddha Dhamma is very clear on the concept of silence. Meditation ensures absolute quietness in the mind, which means no seeking of self-importance and self-continuance. This can’t be achieved through any form of manipulation of thought. ‘Samatha-Vipassana’ or the repetition of stanzas and the wrong interpretation of ‘Sathipattana’ like sitting in one posture for long periods must be mentioned here. A selfless silenced mind like that of Mother Teresa is needed. Only such a mind can understand what love, compassion or metta is. Love/metta can come into being simply when there is total self-abandonment. These concepts are not based on fear, pleasure and sensation. It is only compassion sans judgment of people that can bring about order, a new culture, and a new way of life.
In 1971, she won the Pope John XXIII Peace prize worth $ 25000. She used this prize money to opened a hospital for leprosy patients. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, with title “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta” on evidence of a miracle being performed. This is the first step pending one more miracle to proceed to Canonization.
“O Gotami perform a miracle in order to dispel the wrong views of those foolish men who are in doubt with regard to the spiritual potentialities of women,” Buddha requested Maha Prajapati Gotami when she visited him just before death. These words of Lord Buddha illustrates the spiritual strength of a woman.
The second miracle finally happened in Brazil. Hundreds of blue-and white-robed nuns gathered from around the world to attend the canonization of the church’s newest Saint, just 19 years after her death, when Pope Francis formally canonized Mother Teresa on September 4, 2016. Mother Teresa, ‘Saint of the Gutters’, said, “God doesn’t look how much work we do, but with how much love we do it. Let us touch the dying, the poor the lonely, and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or be slow to do the humble work”
With her in-built charitable mind, caring for those who needed care, regardless of their religious faiths, she looked after the hapless. Mother Teresa’s exemplary work and life have given a sense of direction to others, that it is ‘better to light one candle than curse the darkness.’
Conveying the message of Lord Buddha, Ven. Ananda Thera addressed Mahaprajapati Gotami. “Great foster mother, you yourself are one who has been duly admitted to the Order of Bhikkhuni, the moment you adhere strictly to these Eight Special Precepts,” said Ven. Ananda Thera. Mahaprajapati Gotami responded,“Venerable Ananda, just as a young maiden who is in the habit of decorating herself with flowers, with her hair washed and brushed, so also I am prepared to adhere to the Special Rules with great delight”. The Licchavi Kings of Vesali donated a large nunnery for Mahaprajapati Gautami and her retinue of hundreds of Sakyan princesses. Maha Prajapati was a role model for all nuns. She encouraged and helped them to adjust to the solitary and austere life of novice nuns. Buddha instructed and gave Mahaprajapati Gautami a subject to meditate and she became an Arhat. The enlightened one, when assigning positions to the Bhikkhunis, exalted Maha Prajapati to the chief place among those who are great in experience. Buddha said, “Oh Bhikkhus, among my Bhikkhuni disciples who are of long-standing in the Order, Mahaprajapati Gotami is the foremost.”
Winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and addressing the Jurists…,
“The poor people are wonderful people. One evening we went out. We picked up four old sick women from the street, and one of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the sisters to take-care of the other three. I took this one that looked worse. So I did for her all that my love could. I put her in bed and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand and said only one word. ‘Thank you’ and she died. I couldn’t help, but examine my conscious before her and I asked what would I have said if I was in her place and my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, I’m a hungry, I’m dying, I’m cold, I’m in pain or something, but she gave me much more - she gave me her grateful love, and she died with a smile in her face.”— Mother Teresa
Service to womankind
Prajapati Gotami and her companions had barbers shave off their heads. After donning yellow robes they followed the Buddha to Vesali on foot. They reached there with wounded feet at the Buddha’s monastery and continued their appeal. Having made the tricky journey of fifty yojanas (An old term used to mention distance), their delicate feet were inflamed with boils that hurt. All the women led by Prajapati Gotami, who arrived at Vesali with bloated feet, stood in a group at the entrance to Kutagara Monastery. She did succeed in receiving ordination, subject to the eight chief laws. And all the other women received ordination at the same time. Over 25 centuries hundreds of thousand women have benefitted from the initiative which was taken by Maha Prajapati Gotami.
Mother Teresa’s untiring efforts, resulted in a 4000 strong community of ‘Missionaries of Charity’ nuns working in over 600 foundations spread over 123 countries.
So many Gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind,
Is all this sad world needs.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox ~