Dal Sabzi for the Aatman Dal Sabzi for the Aatman Dal Sabzi for the Aatman Dal Sabzi for the Aatman Dal Sabzi for the Aatman  
  ‼  Aum, Asato maa sadgamaya, Tamaso maa jyotirgamaya  ‼  
     

 

CHILDBIRTH AND CHILDHOOD
Page One

According to Hindu Scriptures even the act of approaching his wife for intercourse is considered a sacred duty of a married man.

After the conception of a child is ascertained, the child in the womb is consecrated by the ritual named Pumsavana. Pumsavana is generally understood as a rite “for quickening a male child.” The ceremony is performed in the third month of pregnancy after conception becomes manifest.

The significance of the ritual consists in its main features. It should be performed when the moon is on a male constellation. This period is regarded as favourable for producing a male issue. Inserting the Juice of the banyan tree into the nostril of the pregnant women is meant for preventing abortion. Susruta (father of Indian medicine) says that the banyan tree has got the properties of removing all kinds of troubles during pregnancy, such as excess of bile, burning sensation etc. He says, “after pounding herbs and mixing them with milk, three or four drops of the juice should be inserted in the nostril of the pregnant woman. She should not spit the juice out.” Insertion of medicine into nostrils is a common, thing in the Hindu System of treat­ment. It is, therefore, obvious that the above ritual is undoubtedly founded on the medical experience of the people. Putting a dish of water on the lap of the pregnant woman is a symbolical act. A pot full of water denotes life and spirit in the would-be child. Touching the womb emphasized the necessity of taking every care by the expectant mother so that the foetus should be healthy and strong in the womb and abortion may not take place.

The duties of a pregnant woman: Our ancients realised that the conduct of an expectant mother influenced the unborn child. So, after laying down rules and regulations about the prenatal rituals, they prescribed the duties of a pregnant women and her husband.

A pregnent women was made to observe purity and read religious books which would keep her calm and so would help the unborn foetus.

She was told not to go near the seas, or trenches, avoid strenuous exercise and not to bathe in the river. She should not go to a deserted house nor sit on an anthill as the son of Garbhahanta (Destroyer of foetus) would attack her.

Needless to say that would surely be the case if she did not observe the above safety rules.

Further she was told not to scratch the earth with her nails, not to go too near charcoal and ashes and not to leave her hair disheveled. The above seem to me to be perfect rules for personal hygiene, which would be in perfect accordance with the Do’s and Don’ts for a modern pregnant lady.

The duties of the husband were not to make unnec­essary demands upon the wife and to try and fulfil most of her wishes so that she remained calm and happy. Thus we see that every possible care was taken to preserve the physical and mental health of the pregnant women, and we observe that the rules laid down all had a medical basis designed to promote her well-being.

In most Hindu families it is believed that a pregnant women should relax in bed during an eclipse.

It is wise, even for the rest of us, to take care during an eclipse as science has discovered that people who hurt themselves by way of a cut or a fracture, during an eclipse take a longer to heal as the blood flow seems to be more during that time than at any other time.

Bacteria is more active during the eclipse period, hence our belief in changing the drinking water in our vessels and cooking fresh food.

We all know that harm can be caused to the eye by looking at the sun or the moon during an eclipse. Also science is at the moment conducting experiments on the effects of the eclipse on the unborn foetus.

Finally, the child makes his advent in to the world. When the child is born, the moment of his birth is noted with meticulous care, for preparing the horoscope, as the position of the planets at the precise moment of his birth would determine his character and landmarks of his future life.

If a boy was born there was rejoicing as they felt that he would have the right to continue the family’s line of business and look after his parents during old age as well as perform the rites after their death.

However, getting a daughter was no less meritori­ous during the Vedic period as we see that girls did enjoy the position of learning wisdom and she enjoyed the position of bringing it light the names of two families (that of her father’s and that of her husband’s) if she turned out to be virtuous and worthy. Hence, Sita, besides enjoying an unequalled place in mythology for being her own self, was equally well known as Rama’s wife as well as “Janak Dulari” (Daughter of Janaka).

A girl was desired during the Vedic period also because “Kanyadaan” (giving away of a daughter in marriage. was considered as one of the worthiest of deeds. It is not a degrading custom as considered by modern women as Hindus always believed that the giver was greater than the receiver.

Medhajanana: Now the Jatakarma ceremonies properly commence. The first ceremony is the Medhajanana or producing of intelligence to the baby. This is performed the next day after the birth.

The father with his ring finger with a gold ring gives to the child honey and ghee. With each feeding he utters one word of the Gayatri mantra, namely; “Bhu” with the first feeding: “Bhuvah” with the second feeding; “Svah” with the third feeding; “Bhur Bhuvah Svah” with the fourth feeding.

The Medhajanana ceremony speaks of the high concern of the Hindus about the intellectual well-being of the child. Also the things fed to the child are conducive to the mental growth. According to Susruta the following are the properties of ghee: It is producer of beauty, it is greasy and sweet, It is remover of hysteria, head-ache, epilepsy, fever, indigestion, excess of bile. It helps in fostering digestion, memory, intellect, talent and lusture.

Ayusya: The next item of the Jatakarma ceremony is the Ayusya or the rite for ensuring a long life for the child. Near the navel or the right ear of the baby the father murmurs: “Agni is long-lived, through the trees. By that long life, I make thee long-lived. Soma is long-lived, through the herbs. The Brahman is long-lived through observances. Sacrifice is long-lived through the sacrificial fire. The ocean is long-lived through the rivers.”

Thus all the possible instances of long life are cited before the child, and by the association of ideas it is believed that with these utterances, the life of the baby would also be lengthened.

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