Amongst the basic tenets of Sanatanadharma is the theory of karma, that professes a causal and continuing relationship in all occurrences and relationships in life. Simply put, it is believed, what goes around comes around, and what is owed must be repaid. In continuation, it is believed that man is born indebted and must repay these debts in order to ready himself for liberation. The five debts owed by every householder, it is believed, are deva-\u1e5b\u1e47a (the debt owed to the Supreme), pit\u1e5b-\u1e5b\u1e47a (debt owed to one\u2019s ancestors), \u1e5b\u1e63i-\u1e5b\u1e47a (debt owed to sages in whose lineage each man has descended), n\u1e5b-\u1e5b\u1e47a (debt owed to fellowman) and bh\u016bta-\u1e5b\u1e47a (debt owed to other creatures). Ancients lived life endeavoring to repay these debts every day, so that they may be liberated. The life of a householder (g\u1e5bhasta) thus revolved around prayers to the Supreme, prayers to the manes, adhering to texts authored by sages, feeding fellowmen, and feeding animals and birds. Having repaid these debts as a householder, man is then believed to be free to become a renunciant, who can in turn, dedicate himself to finding liberation. In other words, one who has renounced the world is believed to have paid his dues and thus unfettered. It is therefore that in the order of sanny\u0101sa, the mendicant who has renounced everything from his past, including the name he was given at birth, can no longer interact with blood relatives the way he did formerly. Further interaction, it is feared, will engender fresh karmic debts. In extension, the father who was once worship worthy, is no longer prostrated to; the debt owed to the father is believed to have been repaid. However, the mother alone continues to remain venerable. Not only does one need to obtain the permission of the mother in order to become a sanny\u0101s\u012b, once a sanny\u0101s\u012b, he is still allowed to prostrate before her, for it is believed that the debt owed to a mother can never be repaid. \u015ar\u012b \u0100di\u015ba\u1e45kara, the great philosopher and thinker, explains most lucidly and movingly, why. \u0100ry\u0101mba and \u015aivaguru were a pious couple who lived in the tiny village of Kaladi in Kerala. The childless couple was blessed with a son after many years of yearning, but the father did not live to see his son grow up. Widowed young and left with the responsibility of raising her son on her own, \u0100ry\u0101mba managed admirably. Aided by her accommodative relatives, she had the threading ceremony of her son performed. Drawn to contemplation innately, the young lad desired to renounce the world at a very young age. He was however, unable to get \u0100ry\u0101mba to permit him to. He found himself to be in the grip of a deadly crocodile once, as he descended a river to bathe. Instead of fearing for his life, the wise lad looked upon this as a fortuitous opportunity to cajole his mother into permitting him to assume sanny\u0101sa. \u0100ry\u0101mba, who feared for the life of her son, was left with little choice but to accede. She reluctantly gave her consent to her son becoming a sanny\u0101s\u012b, but requested that he be present during her last moments, and that he perform her obsequies upon her demise. The lad who grew up to be the great \u0100di\u015ba\u1e45kara, kept his word to his mother and appeared before her during her final moments. He also performed her obsequies upon her demise, although sanny\u0101s\u012bs of the advaita order do not indulge in karma. The five verses of the M\u0101t\u1e5bk\u0101-pa\u00f1caka were composed by \u015aa\u1e45kara at this juncture, expressing his indebtedness to the woman who had labored to give him life. Each of the five verses is an ode to \u0100ry\u0101mba, with \u015aa\u1e45kara reminiscing in each, the inexplicable expression of love that was showered upon him from the moment he was conceived. He begins in the first verse, with the pregnancy, in what can be described as a rather dissociative syntax, marveling at that selfless nature of motherhood. From \u015aa\u1e45kara\u2019s otherwise lucid and confident style, it can be discerned that the dissociative nature of this particular verse is suggestive of his absolute awe of motherhood. \u0906\u0938\u094d\u0924\u093e\u0902 \u0924\u093e\u0935\u0926\u093f\u092f\u0902 \u092a\u094d\u0930\u0938\u0942\u0924\u093f\u0938\u092e\u092f\u0947 \u0926\u0941\u0930\u094d\u0935\u093e\u0930\u0936\u0942\u0932\u0935\u094d\u092f\u0925\u093e \u0928\u0948\u0930\u0941\u091a\u094d\u092f\u0902 \u0924\u0928\u0941\u0936\u094b\u0937\u0923\u0902 \u092e\u0932\u092e\u092f\u0940 \u0936\u092f\u094d\u092f\u093e \u091a \u0938\u093e\u0902\u0935\u0924\u094d\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0930\u0940\u0964 \u090f\u0915\u0938\u094d\u092f\u093e\u092a\u093f \u0928 \u0917\u0930\u094d\u092d\u092d\u093e\u0930\u092d\u0930\u0923\u0915\u094d\u0932\u0947\u0936\u0938\u094d\u092f \u092f\u0938\u094d\u092f \u0915\u094d\u0937\u092e\u094b \u0926\u093e\u0924\u0941\u0902 \u0926\u0941\u0937\u094d\u0915\u0943\u0924\u093f\u092e\u0941\u0928\u094d\u0928\u0924\u094b\u093d\u092a\u093f \u0924\u0928\u092f\u0903 \u0924\u0938\u094d\u092f\u0948 \u091c\u0928\u0928\u094d\u092f\u0948 \u0928\u092e\u0903\u0965 \u0101st\u0101\u1e41 t\u0101vadiya\u1e41 pras\u016btisamaye durv\u0101ra\u015b\u016blavyath\u0101 nairucya\u1e41 tanu\u015bo\u1e63a\u1e47a\u1e41 malamay\u012b \u015bayy\u0101 ca s\u0101\u1e41vatstar\u012b| ekasy\u0101pi na garbhabh\u0101rabhara\u1e47akle\u015basya yasya k\u1e63amo d\u0101tu\u1e41 du\u1e63k\u1e5btimunnato'pi tanaya\u1e25 tasyai jananyai nama\u1e25|| Leave alone the searing pangs of labor; - the blandness of tongue (suffered during preganancy), the ravage to the body and the soiled bed shared for a year (with the child) \u2013 no matter how great a son, he will yet find himself incapable of repaying his mother . (All that can be said is) salutation to that mother! \u015aa\u1e45kara then moves on to an endearing episode that takes place during his time at the gurukula. He says, \u0917\u0941\u0930\u0941\u0915\u0941\u0932\u092e\u0941\u092a\u0938\u0943\u0924\u094d\u092f \u0938\u094d\u0935\u092a\u094d\u0928\u0915\u093e\u0932\u0947 \u0924\u0941 \u0926\u0943\u0937\u094d\u091f\u094d\u0935\u093e \u092f\u0924\u093f\u0938\u092e\u0941\u091a\u093f\u0924\u0935\u0947\u0937\u0902 \u092a\u094d\u0930\u093e\u0930\u0941\u0926\u094b \u092e\u093e\u0902 \u0924\u094d\u0935\u092e\u0941\u091a\u094d\u091a\u0948\u0903\u0964 \u0917\u0941\u0930\u0941\u0915\u0941\u0932\u092e\u0925 \u0938\u0930\u094d\u0935\u0902 \u092a\u094d\u0930\u093e\u0930\u0941\u0926\u0924\u094d\u0924\u0947 \u0938\u092e\u0915\u094d\u0937\u0902 \u0938\u092a\u0926\u093f \u091a\u0930\u0923\u092f\u094b\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0947 \u092e\u093e\u0924\u0930\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0941 \u092a\u094d\u0930\u0923\u093e\u092e\u093e\u0903\u0965 gurukulamupas\u1e5btya svapnak\u0101le tu d\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e6dv\u0101 yatisamucitave\u1e63a\u1e41 pr\u0101rudo m\u0101\u1e41 tvamuccai\u1e25| gurukulamatha sarva\u1e41 pr\u0101rudatte samak\u1e63a\u1e41 sapadi cara\u1e47ayoste m\u0101tarastu pra\u1e47\u0101m\u0101\u1e25|| Having dreamed of me in the garb of a renunciant, you rushed to the gurukula and lamented aloud, reducing the entire gurukula to tears. (I can only) offer salutation at your feet today (for such tender love). \u015aa\u1e45kara now juxtaposes her causeless and unending love for him with the service he can and has rendered unto her and laments, \u0928 \u0926\u0924\u094d\u0924\u0902 \u092e\u093e\u0924\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0947 \u092e\u0930\u0923\u0938\u092e\u092f\u0947 \u0924\u094b\u092f\u092e\u092a\u093f \u0935\u093e \u0938\u094d\u0935\u0927\u093e \u0935\u093e \u0928\u094b \u0926\u0947\u092f\u093e \u092e\u0930\u0923\u0926\u093f\u0935\u0938\u0947 \u0936\u094d\u0930\u093e\u0926\u094d\u0927\u0935\u093f\u0927\u093f\u0928\u093e\u0964 \u0928 \u091c\u092a\u094d\u0924\u094b \u092e\u093e\u0924\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0947 \u092e\u0930\u0923\u0938\u092e\u092f\u0947 \u0924\u093e\u0930\u0915\u092e\u0928\u0941 \u0939\u094d\u092f\u0915\u093e\u0932\u0947 \u0938\u092e\u094d\u092a\u094d\u0930\u093e\u092a\u094d\u0924\u0947 \u092e\u092f\u093f \u0915\u0941\u0930\u0941 \u0926\u092f\u093e\u0902 \u092e\u093e\u0924\u0941\u0930\u0924\u0941\u0932\u093e\u092e\u094d\u0965 na datta\u1e41 m\u0101taste mara\u1e47asamaye toyamapi v\u0101 svadh\u0101 v\u0101 no dey\u0101 mara\u1e47adivase \u015br\u0101ddhavidhin\u0101| na japto m\u0101taste mara\u1e47asamaye t\u0101rakamanu hyak\u0101le sampr\u0101pte mayi kuru day\u0101\u1e41 m\u0101turatul\u0101m|| I have neither offered you a sip of water as death closes in, nor will I make offerings accompanied by the sacred syllable \u2018svadh\u0101\u2019 upon your demise. Why; I haven\u2019t even uttered the redeeming t\u0101raka-mantra as you set about your final journey. Please look upon me, who have arrived inordinately late, with the utmost compassion. It is believed that the dying must be given a sip of the water brought from the sacred river, Ga\u1e45g\u0101, as the final drink. The son must then lay the dying parent in his lap and utter the T\u0101rakamantra in his or her ear. Upon the demise of the parent, the son must perform the obsequies to the accompaniment of Vedic mantras (that include the sacred syllable \u2018svadh\u0101\u2019) in order to be liberated. However, a sanny\u0101s\u012b in the advaita faith is not allowed to indulge in karma. Although \u015aa\u1e45kara laments his inability to perform these duties, it is believed that the great advait\u012b departed from tradition and performed the obsequies of his mother as a tribute to her selfless love. That he has composed this verse even after having performed the obsequies suggests that \u0100di\u015ba\u1e45kara felt that his debt to her was yet unpaid. The following verse further reiterates that \u015aa\u1e45kara indeed performed the rites. Reminiscing the sweet words \u0100ry\u0101mba would utter, he laments his inability to repay her affection appropriately. \u092e\u0941\u0915\u094d\u0924\u093e\u092e\u0923\u093f\u0938\u094d\u0924\u094d\u0935\u0902 \u0928\u092f\u0928\u0902 \u092e\u092e\u0947\u0924\u093f \u0930\u093e\u091c\u0947\u0924\u093f \u091c\u0940\u0935\u0947\u0924\u093f \u091a\u093f\u0930\u0902 \u0938\u0941\u0924 \u0924\u094d\u0935\u092e\u094d\u0964 \u0907\u0924\u094d\u092f\u0941\u0915\u094d\u0924\u0935\u0924\u094d\u092f\u093e\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0935 \u0935\u093e\u091a\u093f \u092e\u093e\u0924\u094b \u0926\u0926\u093e\u092e\u094d\u092f\u0939\u0902 \u0924\u0923\u094d\u0921\u0941\u0932\u092e\u0947\u0937 \u0936\u0941\u0937\u094d\u0915\u092e\u094d\u0965 mukt\u0101ma\u1e47istva\u1e41 nayana\u1e41 mameti r\u0101jeti j\u012bveti cira\u1e41 suta tvam| ityuktavaty\u0101stava v\u0101ci m\u0101to dad\u0101myaha\u1e41 ta\u1e47\u1e0dulame\u1e63a \u015bu\u1e63kam|| In return for your words, \u201cyou are my pearl, (the darling of) my eye, (my) king; may you be long-lived\u201d I offer but dry rice-grains1. \u015aa\u1e45kara comes a full circle now and contemplates the excruciating pain of labor. Dumbfounded at the mind-boggling nature of motherhood he exclaims, \u0905\u092e\u094d\u092c\u0947\u0924\u093f \u0924\u093e\u0924\u0947\u0924\u093f \u0936\u093f\u0935\u0947\u0924\u093f \u0924\u0938\u094d\u092e\u093f\u0928\u094d \u092a\u094d\u0930\u0938\u0942\u0924\u093f\u0915\u093e\u0932\u0947 \u092f\u0926\u0935\u094b\u091a \u0909\u091a\u094d\u091a\u0948\u0903\u0964 \u0915\u0943\u0937\u094d\u0923\u0947\u0924\u093f \u0917\u094b\u0935\u093f\u0928\u094d\u0926 \u0939\u0930\u0947 \u092e\u0941\u0915\u0941\u0928\u094d\u0926\u0947\u0924\u094d\u092f\u0939\u094b \u091c\u0928\u0928\u094d\u092f\u0948 \u0930\u091a\u093f\u0924\u094b\u093d\u092f\u092e\u091e\u094d\u091c\u0932\u093f\u0903\u0965 ambeti t\u0101teti \u015biveti tasmin pras\u016btik\u0101le yadavoca uccai\u1e25| k\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47eti govinda hare mukundetyaho jananyai racito'yama\u00f1jali\u1e25|| What (else can I offer, but) a salutation to that mother who cried, \u201cO\u2019 mother, O\u2019 father, O\u2019 \u015aiva, O\u2019 K\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a, O\u2019 Govinda, O\u2019 Hari, O\u2019 Mukunda\u201d (in inexplicable pain) as she brought me to life?! It must be borne in mind here that an advaita-sanny\u0101s\u012b is not allowed to bow to another. That \u015aa\u1e45kara thought it appropriate to bow before his mother and yet found his debt unpaid, suggests what motherhood stood for in his eyes.