Mata, Pita, Guru

“Having Mata, Pita and Guru in one’s awareness is considered to be fundamental to living a life in which you’re not regularly organizing suffering for yourself but living a life in which you can design happiness consciously.”

Thom Knoles

We could be forgiven for thinking that Mata, Pita and Guru, Mother, Father, and ‘Teacher,’ refer to specific people in our life. But as we’ve come to expect from Vedic wisdom, there is much more to these words than meets the eye.

In this episode Thom explains the connotative meaning of this triumvirate and the role that they play, moment to moment, in our lives. 

While most of us see life as a series of events happening to us, those who view life through the lens of Mata, Pita and Guru, see it as a series of events happening for us. No points for guessing which approach leads to the least suffering.

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Episode Highlights


The Three-Part Body of Knowledge



Mata – The Gestator






The Source of All New Moments



Purification Takes Place



Pita; The Instigator of Change



Source and Cause



Thought – A Stream of Energy and Intelligence



A Thing Stimulates You to Have a Thought



The Third Element – Guru



“We Can Make Money Out of This.”



Truth of Snake-fear



Darkness Remover



Guru; The Shedder of Light



Mata, Pita, Guru — Fundamental to Living a Happy Life


Jai Guru Deva


Mata, Pita, Guru

Jai Guru Deva. Thank you for coming to my podcast, The Vedic Worldview. I’m Thom Knoles.

[00:56] The Three-Part Body of Knowledge

Very often in India, one hears Indians referring with great reverence to a triumvirate, meaning three-part body of knowledge, information that has three parts, triumvirate known as Mata, which means mother, Pita, which means father, and Guru, which means the one who sheds light, the one who removes darkness, the teacher. Mata, Pita, Guru.

And Mata, Pita, Guru is also expressed in all kinds of forms. One of these is, in certain members of Indian society, where a thing called the Yagyopavit, which is referred to as a sacred thread that’s placed over one shoulder and crosses over the torso and is tied into a knot under the opposite side, and the sacred thread, the Yagyopavit, is made of three bits of linen that are waxed.

To the untrained eye, for those who have ever seen a bowstring, the string on an archery bow, it looks like a bowstring, and it has these three parts, and if somebody decides in their life to be a householder, or they decide to be a reclusive who lets go of all material possessions, never do they let go of the threefold string. There are other versions of this threefold reverence. Each one of these three will stand for one of Mata, Pita, or Guru.

[02:36] Mata – The Gestator

Mata needs to be addressed in some detail. The word Mata in Sanskrit is the word for mother, the divine source of birthing. So we’re now going to make a distinction between source and cause.

Source, that which is the gestator, that aspect of the consciousness field, and consciousness always finds manifestation in the material world too.

So now we’re talking about the whole field of consciousness and archetypes inside of the consciousness field that are detectable by the human consciousness state, these archetypes, and then the manifest forms that appear in response to recognition of the unmanifest.

Unmanifest consciousness, when recognized, when re-cognized, turns into the manifest, that which gestates, that which envelops, that which encloses, that which then gives birth to all relative features. Mata.

[03:56] Matrix

Mata gave us the Greco-Latin word, matrice or matrix. Forget about the movie. We’re not talking about that concept.

The matrix, matrice is the narrow point of, let’s say, an hourglass shape. You think of an hourglass where you have sand or some other substance inside of one bulbous part, and then all of that, by gravity, is drawn into a narrow neck, a tubular narrow neck through which it flows into another bulbous area, and this is what we call an hourglass, bulbous at two ends with a narrow neck connecting them.

The narrow neck of this is referred to this consciousness, legendary consciousness mythos, as matrice or matrix.

Mata, the mother, the birth canal from one state of existence through a highly defining narrowing and condensing of qualities into a blossoming and expansion of a new existence.

[05:21] The Source of All New Moments

To move from something embryonic and fetal into something expressive and self-sufficient, we require the Mata quality, the narrow neck. This is the birthing phenomenon. And we find this to be highly worthy of our reverence and recognition.

To recognize it, and to acknowledge it, and to have reverence for it, is considered to be a fundamental aspect of successful human consciousness.

What do we mean by successful? Most people, when you think that word, means you have a lot of money in your bank account. That’s not successful. That’s probably just some failure to recognize where true value is.

Successful means, that which can succeed, means succession, the movement from a less-evolved state to a more-evolved state. This is what succession means. And succession requires matrice, matrix. Mata.

Mata is that which gives birth to every new moment, every new minute.

[06:45] Purification Takes Place

Every second is a birthing into a field of all possibilities, from old pattern states into new states in which those useful patterns can come forward, and those things which are no longer relevant are left behind. Purification takes place. Mata, Mother, Mata. 

So, this is not just talking about one’s own biological and cultural mother, though it doesn’t exclude her either. But it’s not only that, it’s not exclusively that. Mata is a much broader concept than that of simply our mother, but it does include her. It doesn’t exclude her.

So we have to take care there. We don’t want to trivialize the biological cultural mother that we have, but we’re not exclusively referring to her when we say Mata. Mata.

[07:46] Pita; The Instigator of Change

Pita. Pita. Pita is the instigator of change, the thing that prods change into action. Pita; The masculine consciousness. Masculine consciousness has nothing to do with human genitalia. So let’s not get all tangled up in a discussion of human genitalia. This is about a consciousness trend.

There’s a consciousness trend, which does the gestation, does the birthing, and then a release into self-sufficiency. Then there’s the masculine consciousness trend, which is the Pita quality. We’ve talked about mother, now we’re going to talk about Mother as Source. Source.

[08:41] Source and Cause

Let’s make a distinction between Source and Cause.

When you have a thought, there is a source of thought. What’s the source of thought? The unbounded Consciousness field. You think of this in this way. On a daily basis, we have somewhere between 60,000 to a hundred thousand thought forms. Cognitive neuroscientists refer to these things as “cognitive processes,” but that’s just a fancy way of saying thoughts.

Every little memory, every little impulse, every little desire, every little thought that you have, every little tune that’s playing in your head and all of that.

There’s somewhere between 60,000 and a hundred thousand of these consciousness events, which we call thoughts occurring in the mind of a person in a given waking day. That sounds like a lot. 

[09:47] Thought – A Stream of Energy and Intelligence

All right. Every one of these thoughts is a stream of energy and intelligence. Energy, on the one hand, because we know that all processes require energy and thinking is a process.

We can even measure the energy produced by thinking in terms of the electroencephalography, which is the method by which you place silver-chloride electrodes onto the scalp of a person, and you can measure the electrical output called, colloquially called, brainwaves.

The electroencephalography, the different frequencies of vibration, cycles per second of waveforms that appear on the scalp, amplified by a computer and printed out as brainwaves to give it some kind of graphic, and so then thought has energy in it, measurable energy. Thought also has discernment, discrimination, differentiation.

A thought is not just a random explosion of energy in any direction. A thought has mission in it. A thought is about a specific thing. And so thought, as a specific function, shows the discriminating value in thought, and this we’re going to refer to as intelligence.

So thought is a stream of energy on the one hand, an intelligence, or discernment on the other. Intelligence. Therefore we can call thought a stream of energy and intelligence, and we’re producing somewhere between 60,000 and a hundred thousand of these in a day.

If you only produce 60,000 or you produce as many as a hundred thousand, don’t get too heady about what that means. If you’re a voluminous thinker, you could be having a hundred thousand very stupid thoughts in a day, or you could be having 60,000 stupid thoughts, or you could have 60,000 genius thoughts or a hundred thousand genius thoughts.

[12:03] A Thing Stimulates You to Have a Thought

So volume is not where value necessarily is. We’re simply making a point about the sheer amount of energy and intelligence that is apparent in the human mind daily.

Now let’s look at the source of thought. This is the Mata that we’re talking about. All of that energy and intelligence is coming from somewhere deep inside of us. That is the source of thought. This is the Mata quality.

Whereas the Pita quality, the cause of thought. Cause and source have to be looked at independently because they’re independent of each other. A thing stimulates you to have a thought.

That which stimulates you to have a thought is the cause of thought, but it’s not the source of thought. Something may stimulate me to have a thought, but it’s my deep inner Consciousness that produces thought.

The source of thought and the cause of thought are two separate things. Mata; source. Pita; cause, the stimulus that which stimulates the phenomenology of thinking. That which stimulates the phenomenology of manifestation. The stimulator, that which stimulates. This is the masculine quality of the Consciousness field, the stimulating.

So stimulation and source. Source and cause. Mata and Pita. Mata, Pita.

[13:50] The Third Element – Guru

And now, let’s bring in this third element, Guru. Guru. Guru provides us with the capacity to understand that which has had light shed on it.

When you think that you see a snake on the floor of your tool shed because the light is very poor, and it’s actually just a rope or a cord lying on the ground, what turns out to be potentially a very useful object. The mind can create from it the hallucination of it being a snake, and you might think, “Snake, snake, snake,” and all kinds of irrelevant behaviors will start up.

There’s a great story in the Vedic literature, in the Upanishad, about a snake. Once upon a time, somebody thought they saw a snake in a toolshed, and they came out shouting, “Snake, snake!”

And in India, particularly in those times, cobras could be problematic socially since, even today, about 100,000 Indians die of cobra bites in a given year, which is quite an astonishing fact on its own.

“Snake. Snake, snake!” And so then everybody gets all alert. “There’s a snake in the tool shed.” It was not actually a snake. It was a rope lying on the ground, but the darkness allowed the consciousness of the person to construct a snake, and the hearts were pounding, and the blood pressure was going up, and people were having heart attacks and all of that.

[15:29] “We Can Make Money Out of This.”

And then eventually the mayor of the village decided, “We can make money out of this. We’re going to refer to this place as Naga Nagar.” Naga Nagar means snake town.

And they set up hotdog stands and all kinds of things with a great big barrier rope around the whole area where the tool shed was, keeping the tool shed at a distance of about 30 or 40 yards.

And over there is the snake place and over here all the snacks. And here are some toy snakes, and pictures of snakes and the t-shirt that says I visited Snake Town and the special snake, food, and hot dogs, and so on and so forth. And so this whole thing turned into an industry.

And then, one day, some wandering forest yogi, in the middle of the night, wandering into this village, saw a great clearing, and in the middle of which was a tool shed. And he thought, “Well, I’ll take shelter there because it looks like it might rain tonight.”

So he goes into the tool shed, and lies down in the straw there and notices that there’s a rope on the ground. And he wonders if anybody really needs that. It’s always useful to have a rope with you if you’re traveling around in the bush.

The next morning he heard all this hubbub beginning and turns out that the crowds were spectacular on that given day at Snake Town. Sales were high, people were buying snake dogs, and snake features, and snake balloons, and snake t-shirts, and whatnot. I visited Snake Town and all of that kind of thing.

[17:04] Truth of Snake-fear

And so the yogi comes out from the tool shed, and people see him and people, suddenly the whole place goes silent. “There’s somebody who came out of the snake place. Oh, no, no!”

They start shouting. “Get away from there. Get away. Snake. Snake!”

He goes, “What? What? What do you mean?”

They said, “There’s a snake in there. You can’t be in that spot. It’s a prohibited area.”

He said, “Oh, I spent the whole night in there. There’s no snake in there. Oh, do you mean this?” He says, holding up the rope.

And they said, “No, you fool. That’s a rope. That’s not a snake. That’s a rope.”

He goes, “That’s all that was in there, just this rope.” And people begin, and then the mayor realizes that this could be the end of the industry, all the industry of snake sales in Snake Town.

And so he said, “Let’s get rid of this guy. He’s about to completely destroy our entire legend of the town. And what kind of income will we have if we don’t have snake fear? Fear-based administration is our industry.”

And so people start throwing rocks at him, and they drive him out of town, chase him out with sticks and things. He runs off with the snake, the rope, and doesn’t visit that village again.

[18:22] Darkness Remover

This is a story that’s designed to illustrate the difference between having light shed on a thing or having only darkness, where shoddy guesswork rules our life, irrespective of the fact that we have Mata Pita, we have our source, we have our cause, the stimulus, what is it that helps us to discern what’s actually going on?

The shedding of light. Guru, the word gu-, it means darkness; and -ru means remover. Darkness remover.

What is a darkness remover? Light. What does light do? The shedding of light on an object allows you to discern what that object is, where it is, its proximity to you, and what its qualities are, and whether or not it’s worthy of much more consideration.

The shedding of light, the removal of darkness, Guru is a very, very essential part of living a life that is fulfilled.

The role of a Guru is the role of someone who is a shedder of light, a remover of darkness. And what is that? What plays that role? Well, anything from which you learn the truth of a situation, a form, or a phenomenon. A form could be a human person, could be a phenomenon, a style of thinking, a way of relating, and so on and so forth.

When we have our Mata Pita in relative darkness, that is to say, we’re ignorant of our source, and we’re ignorant of the things that stimulate us to have thoughts and their qualities, propaganda and whatever else is stimulating us to have thoughts, we are absent of that Guru function. We’ve not learned yet how to become wise by virtue of our own experience.

[20:40] Guru; The Shedder of Light

Guru is not necessarily only a human person, though a human person can play that role of Guru, and not necessarily always a wise and trusted counselor.

Guru could also mean that you had some experiences that were difficult for you to have, nonetheless were enlightening and illuminating for you, where you went down a particular track that was unsustainable, and you learn something from that, provided that you did learn, and you don’t just keep going back into the ever-repeating known, provided that you did learn, and you can transcend your former mistake on what that quality was.

A mistake means there’s a take, and there’s a miss-take. A mistake means not the correct take. If you have learned from your miss-takes, then your miss-takes are also your Guru. If you have learned from anything, whatever it is that taught you anything is the Guru function.

If it turns out that, reliably, for a period of time in your life, there is someone who is able to, with consistency, shed light on what the heck is actually going on around you and in your life, then you might accurately refer to that person as Guru. But Guru is a function, not necessarily just a person.

[22:20] Mata, Pita, Guru — Fundamental to Living a Happy Life

Mata, source. Pita, those things that stimulate the source. Guru, that which sheds light on everything.

Mata, Pita, Guru, these three things never to be forgotten even by someone who has decided to be reclusive, maybe some forest Yogi in India who’s decided to abandon all clothing except maybe a loin cloth or something, and is living in a cave. You’ll still see them wearing their little string, the threefold string, the Yagyopavit, Mata, Pita, Guru.

This is a constant reminder that in order to live a life that is cognizant of our source, cognizant of that which is orienting our thinking, our source Mata, the orientation values, the Pita quality, and Guru that which sheds light on all of it.

Having this in one’s awareness, Mata, Pita, Guru is considered to be fundamental to living a life in which you’re not regularly organizing suffering for yourself but living a life in which you can design happiness consciously.

Jai Guru Deva.

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