Little Mohan was always ready in the service of his mother. His mother, Putalibai, was a saintly woman. She would not have her meals without her daily prayers. She would have only one meal during the Chaturmas (the four monsoon months). It was easy for her to take the hardest of the vows, and then to keep them without flinching. Even an illness was not allowed to interrupt the observance of a vow. To keep two or three fasts in a sequence was nothing to her.
During one Chaturmas, she vowed not to have food without seeing the Sun. Small children would stand outside, staring at the sky, waiting to announce the appearance of the sun to mother, so that she could have her food. But, as we know, at times the Sun is hardly seen in the rainy seasons. At its sudden appearance, young Mohan would run and rush to announce it to her mother.
She would then run out to see the Sun, but by that time the Sun God would again disappear! Mohan, with other children, would be then disappointed. But, his mother would say cheerfully, “It does not matter. May be it is not in my destiny to have food today.”
She would then return inside cheerfully, to attend to the innumerable rounds of her other duties and household chores.
The ascetic life of a saintly mother left an indelible impression on the young Mohan’s heart. The first lessons of a religious life that he received were from his mother. Thus the mother became his first guru in his practice of a sincere and joyful ascetic life.