Holistic Living - Mother Divine
by Suma Varughese
By the Indian actor, Govinda, as told to Suma Varughese
My mother, Nirmala Devi, a classical singer, was my first and last guru.
To her I owe everything. She was a sadhu, a devout woman, wise
in big things and small. Many people approached her for spiritual guidance.
She prescribed a sattvic (pure) lifestyle and ran a frugal household
for the first 25 years of my life. Our food was simple: vegetarian
without garlic or onions. I still follow that rule in my house. On the
rare occasion when I eat non-vegetarian food elsewhere, I invariably fall
ill. My lifestyle is simple. I don't smoke or drink. I keep fit through
walks, jogging and yoga .
I practise a meditation my mother initiated me into. Before leaving the house I touch my forehead
on the ground where my mother used to sit. There is a lamp shining before
her portrait. Every morning I worship Shiva for 20 minutes. Even when
I'm shooting out of town, my family sends me fresh bel leaves by air for
the puja (daily prayers). My devotional practice is down to earth.
I believe that serving one's mother is Shakti sewa (service of
the Divine power), serving one's father is Shiva puja, acquiring
knowledge is to worship Ganesh (the Elephant God of the Hindus),
looking after your body is Hanuman (the Monkey-God) puja, keeping
your wife happy is Lakshmi (The Goddess of wealth) puja, serving
your children is Krishna puja. The greatest service is to serve
humanity itself. I have had many spiritual experiences. My sister died
of cancer while my mother was still alive. When my mother saw her body,
she said that her atman (soul) was stuck inside her. She spoke
to her, told her to go in peace, and that her children would be looked
Suddenly the dead body moved by four inches!
People were aghast, and ran to call the doctor, but that was only the departure
of the soul. My mother extended her lifespan for my sake. Though she prepared
me for it, her death was a great loss to me. When she died I had doine about 70
per cent of the sewa I had wanted to do for her.
The rest remained
undone. I may be a popular film star, but I never see that as a reason for arrogance
or vanity. My mother told me that as long as I had the grace of Saraswati, the
goddess of arts and learning, I will be popular, that's all. So why should I be
vain? My popularity has nothing to do with me. I hope to walk along the right
path all my life. That is my only ambition.