It was the first day of Navaratri of 2018. As I was settling down into the sacred mood of honoring the motherly presence permeating our Universe, a beautiful gift fell into my lap literally. I watched this video forwarded on my mobile by a friend and was completely blown away by it. The video was about a German lady singing ancient Sanskrit verses that I had never heard before. It started off with the lines –
शुद्धोसि बुद्धोसि निरंजनोऽसि
संसारस्वप्नं त्यज मोहनिद्रा
Suddhosi Buddhosi Niranjanosi
Samsāra Māyā Parivar jitosi
Samsāra svapanam traija mohan nidram
I was hooked onto every word of this song from the beginning and began to look for more information. Soon, I discovered that the song was sung over 10,0000 years ago by Queen Madalasa while rocking the cradle of her little sons. It is part of the Madalasa Upadesha or Putropadesha – the teachings of Queen Madalsa to her children.
So the story goes that Madalasa was the queen of King Ritudhwaja. She was an enlightened queen. In due course of time, she gave birth to her first child, who was named Vikrant. When her baby prince was crying, Madalsa didn’t try to divert the child’s attention with toys or fancy objects. Instead, she chose to introduce her son to the ultimate Truth and sang these words of highest wisdom to calm him down.
Since Madalasa was a self-realized soul, her words had a colossal impact on the baby. As she kept illuminating her little son through her cradle song, the son grew up with wisdom. As soon as he was seven years old, he went to the mountains to live the life of a yogi. A second son was born to Madalasa who was named Subahu. Madalasa brought him up in the same way as she had her first-born. Subahu also grew into a great renunciate and moved into the forest to engage himself in penance. The same happened with Shatrumardan, the third son. It is said that with the influence of Madalsa’s unique education all the three sons soon experienced God-realization.
The king became angry and fearful about the fact that all his children had left the kingdom to live in the forest. He quarrelled with the queen and extracted a promise from her to spare the fourth son so that he could be trained to take over the reins of the kingdom. So, Alarka the fourth son was educated differently by Madalsa. To him, she sang songs of valour that would him a great king who would protect his kingdom and make it prosperous. She taught him to be caring and kind to others. Alarka grew up to be a righteous king and a mighty warrior. However, later on, his mother’s teachings were instrumental in putting him on the path of true wisdom and he became a brahmagyani.
Madalsa’s great sankalpa that the children who entered her womb will become free from the worldly bondage of illusion and ignorance was thus fulfilled. Such is the power of intentions and words of a mother who is centered in her being.
I was thrilled to discover the story of this extraordinary mother. Unfortunately, like many significant aspects of Indian history, this story too appears to have gone into oblivion. The nine verses of Madalsa Upadesa can be found in Chapters 25-30 of the Markandeya Purana, one of the eighteen ‘great Purāṇas’, and said to be narrated by Rishi Mārkandeya.
As I was celebrating the discovery of this priceless expression of the highest wisdom and sharing it with everyone I met that week, the Universe signaled that its bag of goodies had more in store! On the last day of Navratri when I was attending the evening satsang at Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Ashram, I heard the familiar words of Madalasa, but sung in totally different tune. What a beautiful surprise! The singers were singing my favourite lullaby and the experience was deeply transcendental.
Hearing the song of Madalsa live felt like a boon was granted. It also salvaged my pride as an Indian, since despite all my efforts I was unable to find an Indian version of this song. The full rendition of Madalasa Upadesa at Art of Living Satsang is probably the first ever by any Indian in modern time. You can listen to it here.
In another satsang that I attended recently, I heard Gurdev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar advise a busy working mother to play Madalsa Upadesha to her little children when she asked him a question about how to deal with the guilt of not being able to give enough time to them.
Queen Madalsa’s story is an inspiring example of the great influence that a mother wields over the child from the start. Her powerful words can shape not only the destiny of our children but also help us reach our own light.