[INDOLOGY] mAtAjI

Richard Salomon rsalomon at u.washington.edu
Thu May 23 13:12:02 EDT 2013


On the other hand, this usage is not /exclusively /South Asian. For 
instance, in Yiddish a little girl is referred to/addressed as "mamele" 
= "little mother." I would imagine there are (many?) other such 
casesfrom other languages/cultures.

Rich Salomon

On 5/23/2013 9:53 AM, Dipak Bhattacharya wrote:
> Perhaps this is not pan-Southasian. In my school days a Sikh batchmate 
> asked me why Bengali fathers called their daughters or girls of their 
> daughter's age 'Ma!'
> Calling a young woman 'Ma' is of course an honour as well as sign of 
> responsibility of protection. This is characteristic of Bengali 
> Muslims too. I have pleasant experience of that. Long ago travelling 
> for a night in the Madras Mail I got an 'Instant ticket'. An 'Instant 
> ticket' at that time assured entry without the guarantee of a berth. A 
> Muslim gentleman watched us checking from berth to berth and at last 
> assured my daughter on his own, 'For mother there will be no problem 
> of a berth'. To me he said, 'Why! Your daughter is not my daughter?'
> There is a famous story about Shvaji that a Muslim young woman was 
> captured by his men and brought before him. Shivaji told her,
> 'If my mother were like you I would have been a handsome man.' That 
> guaranteed protection.
> Best
> DB
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *From:* Suresh Kolichala <suresh.kolichala at gmail.com>
> *To:* Howard Resnick <hr at ivs.edu>
> *Cc:* Indology List <indology at list.indology.info>
> *Sent:* Thursday, 23 May 2013 7:28 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [INDOLOGY] mAtAjI
>
> This phenomenon is pan-South Asian. It is very common to address women 
> as 'mother' 'maa/amma/aayi' and men as 'father' 'baapu, ayya, appa'. 
> It is also common across linguistic families to address sons and 
> daughters endearingly as 'mother' and 'father'.
>
> Suresh.
>
> On Thu, May 23, 2013 at 9:31 AM, Howard Resnick <hr at ivs.edu 
> <mailto:hr at ivs.edu>> wrote:
>
>     Thank you, Matthew, for raising these key questions. Gaudiya
>     [Bengali] Vaishnava communities, expanding around the world,
>     typically follow and teach this "rule" of addressing women as
>     'mother.'  Are they merely propagating a Bengali Hindu custom? Or
>     does it include Bengali Muslims? Is the custom, to any degree,
>     pan-Hindu? pan-South Asian?
>             Thanks to Jonathan and Somadeva for their information.
>
>     Howard
>
>
>     On May 23, 2013, at 4:33 AM, Matthew Kapstein
>     <mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU <mailto:mkapstei at UCHICAGO.EDU>> wrote:
>
>     > This thread included the comment that in Bengal men address even
>     their daughters as Ma, and so far as I know this is indeed the case.
>     >
>     > Two questions:
>     >
>     > Is this so widespread outside of Bengal?
>     > Among Bengalis, is the use confined to Hindus or is it current
>     among Muslims as well?
>     >
>     > Both of these questions, of course, are pertinent to the issue
>     of whether or not this should be
>     > considered 'Hindu' usage?
>     >
>     > Matthew Kapstein
>     > Directeur d'études,
>     > Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
>     >
>     > Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
>     > The University of Chicago
>     >
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-- 
----------------------

Richard Salomon
Department of Asian Languages and Literature
University of Washington, Box 353521
Seattle WA 98195-3521
USA

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