Dipak Bhattacharya dbhattacharya200498 at yahoo.com
Thu May 23 16:53:08 UTC 2013

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. 

 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'.


On Thu, May 23, 2013 at 9:31 AM, Howard Resnick <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.
>On May 23, 2013, at 4:33 AM, Matthew Kapstein <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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