By | Devdutt Pattanaik | Indian Author
The maternal uncle plays a very important role in Hindu scriptures. He is called the ‘Maama’. He is the brother who visits his sister’s house during the rakhi festival. She visits his house during Bhai Dooj, the final day of Diwali. He watches over her welfare. It is an acknowledged phenomenon in Hindu families. In Purana, mountains are considered brothers of rivers. Many stories in the great Indian epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata involve maternal uncles.
Ram’s maternal uncle is Kausalya’s brother. In some versions of the tale, it is said that Dashrata, king of Varanasi, fought the king of Kosala and to make peace and merge the two kingdoms, he married Kausalya, the princess of Kosala. Nothing much is known about Ram’s maternal uncle though. We do know that Bharat is raised in the house of his maternal uncle, sometimes called Yudhajit. Ravana has close relations with his maternal uncles, Marichi and Subahu, who help him abduct Sita.
In the Mahabharata, we hear of Shakuni and Vasudev. Shakuni is the maternal uncle of the Kauravas, and Vasudev is the maternal uncle of the Pandavas. Kansa is the maternal uncle of Krishna. Each has a different character making us wonder what kind of maternal uncle we want in our life.