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Garbhādhāna – Part I


This article is about Garbhādhāna Saṃskāra, the first & foremost samskara, one of 16 main Samskaras (process of purification for spiritual evolvement of individuals) as enshrined by our Scriptures for every bharatiya to undergo and here a general introduction is given for Garbhādhāna that goes with maithuna as a physical act involved with it.

Introduction

Our Śāstras say that 84 lakh kinds of species[1] exist in this universe. Of all these, being given a human birth is a rare fortune. Dharma is the only factor that differentiates humans from other species.

आहारनिद्राभयमैथुनं च सामान्यमेतद्पशुभिर्नराणाम्।

धर्मोहि तेषामधिको विशेषः धर्मेण हीनाः पशुभिस्स्समानाः॥

Cāṇakya Nīti

Food, sleep, fear, and procreation are common to all species, but Dharma alone is the unique, exclusive, and determining factor that makes human beings distinct from all the other species.

Also, there are special Dharmas exclusive to specific groups of the society.

प्रयोजनम् अनुदिश्य मन्दोऽपि न प्रवर्तते ।

“Even a person of low intellect will not execute an action if the reward is not well known.”

Our Ṛṣis have explained Dharma from various perspectives in the form of the Vedas and Śāstras. Literatures like Itihāsas, Purāṇās describe in story form the contents of the Smṛti corpus to show the rewards reaped by those who have followed the various Dharmas.

Saṃskāras (purificatory process for the Ātmā, the soul) as described in the Dharma Śāstras are prescribed to have a comfortable living and hold an important place in everyone’s life. These Saṃskāras help us to remain aware of our roles and responsibilities for building a responsible society.

We have several Śāstras that are beneficial to mankind in general and especially Bhāratiyas in particular. Our Mahaṛṣis have discussed and pondered over many things that are meant to benefit mankind without any discrimination. Those Mahaṛṣis have been lenient and open-minded with several ideas changing from yuga to yuga, but people are often misguided by amateur translations or explanations of our scriptures that are available now as open sources. Many Saṃskāras have been suggested by the Mahaṛṣis for the Ādhyātmic upliftment (Ādhyātmic[2] = related to the ‘Ātma’, or spiritual) of the individual. Garbhādhāna is one such Saṃskāra that everyone must be aware of; lakhs or in some instances, crores of rupees are being spent for conducting a Vivāha (marriage), but the same dedication is not given for the very first Saṃskāra mentioned (to be performed after marriage) in our Śāstras. (Only in a few books, Jātakarma[3] Saṃskāra is mentioned as the first Saṃskāra but one’s journey begins from the time of conception, which is why Garbhādhāna is mentioned as the foremost among all Saṃskāras.)

In fact the Vedas, that form the main corpus of our entire traditional knowledge system insist upon the dharmic procedure for creating progenies & convey the necessity for even procreation as part of Dharma samrakshanam. Let’s look at those Vedic injunctions on this subject.

While it is natural for all sentient beings to procreate, the human race has more stakes in that process of procreation. Dharma being the common thread that binds us in all our actions in all walks of life, it is incumbent upon all of us to take the responsibility to ensure that our progenies too are to remain dharmic in their life to sustain this great idea called dharma for successive generations forever perennially.

It is also mandated for every bharatiya to obtain satprajaas to fulfill the vedic injunction

प्रजननं वै प्रतिष्टा, लोके साधुप्रजायास्तन्तुं तन्वानः पितृणाम् अनृणो भवति। तदेव तस्य अनृणम्। तस्मात् प्रजननं परमं वदन्ति। KYV.TA.10.79

. एष वा अनृणो यः पुत्री। KYV.TS.6.3.10

“To relieve oneself from the one of the three debts one is ordained since his birth as the Veda would say”

जायमानो वै ब्राह्मणस् त्रिभिर् ऋणवा जायते, ब्रह्मचर्येण ऋषिभ्यो यज्ञेन देवेभ्यः प्रजया पितृभ्यः।KYV.TS.6.3.10

Those who are born in this society are eternally indebted on three fronts to three different entities namely

  1. DevarNam, a debt towards Devas
  2. RishiruNam, a debt towards Rishis
  3. Pitru-ruNam, a debt towards Pitrus (forefathers).

The first debt is returned by performing various yajnas enshrined in our scriptures for grhasthas as compulsory duties. Second is returned by learning scriptures like Vedas and transferring knowledge to the next generation. The third one is to beget children to serve familial forefathers.

All these three debts are part of grand idea called Dharma. If we are to discharge these debts, children must be born with dharmic ethos. This samskara called garbhadhanam is very essential for all bharatiyas who are mandated to protect, propagate & sustain our dharma & the value system it has created in our society since time immemorial.

A few terms

Garbhādhāna/Niṣeka = The first sexual intercourse (performed as the subsequent Saṃskāra with rituals and prayers after the Vivāha Saṃskāra). But the term ‘Garbhādhāna’ can be used for each sexual intercourse occurring before each conception.

Maithuna = Sexual intercourse.

Saṃskāra = A ceremony prescribed by our Śāstras for enhancing one’s good conduct and skill, it is beneficial for both the Ātmā and body.

Smṛti = A synonym for ‘Śāstra’. Śruti = A synonym for ‘Veda’.

Prāyaścitta = A good deed that can neutralize the bad effects caused by our misdeeds.

Kāma = Any desire in general, not just related to love or lust.

Ritu Kāla = In general, the first 16 days from the day of menstruation. This might have been given with particular importance to the Ovulation phase for the women.[4]

The five Parvā days Amāvāsyā, Paurṇamī, Aṣṭamī, Caturdaśī and monthly Saṅkrānti day.[5] (Parvā = The time related to the phases of the moon’s cycle.)

All of us work hard and earn for which we exert ourselves every day to sustain ourselves. Why do we do this? We may not have enjoyed some luxuries or comfort. So, we certainly work harder to ensure that the next generation does not feel any difficulty on an economic or social front. Our ancestors ensured that we had both material and spiritual wealth to lead a comfortable life.

For acquiring material wealth, we have the help of financial executives, marketing wizards, and stock market enthusiasts.

At the same time (for acquiring spiritual wealth), we do have special Śāstric enthusiasts and experts who have integrated multiple traditional scriptures into many fine works. We must seek assistance from well-informed sources to get any clarification if needed.

As time passes, our Śāstric knowledge needs to be enriched and passed on to the upcoming generations.

All we require is some synergy to reboot our mindset towards Śāstras.

Garbhādhāna as per our Śāstras

Garbha + ādhāna = Garbhādhāna (Two worded compound word.)

Garbha = Fertilisation or fusion of the male and female energies or cells.

Ādhāna = Deposition/Establishment. In this context, it means ‘Impregnation’ done with the chanting of mantras or ślokas for procreation to maintain the family’s legacy.

Garbhādhāna is the first Saṃskāra among the Sixteen Saṃskāras for an individual that is to be mandatorily performed for a Dharmic progeny.

This Saṃskāra involves the ritual where the husband has maithuna (for the first time) with his wife in a prescribed manner at the appropriate time for procreating progeny with excellent qualities. The husband requests the blessings from Devātās to ward off the negative effects accrued over a time in the past to ensure welfare for the couple and their progeny. Both pray with some Vedic or Purāṇic verses (as per their tradition) before engaging in maithuna. Note – While reciting mantras, proper guidance from a Guru is mandatory. Otherwise, the results may prove to be counterproductive.

While discussing health, points related to these terms – physical, mental, social, spiritual, etc. are mentioned. The Garbhādhāna Saṃskāra ensures that all these points are given their due attention by requesting the blessings of numerous Devātās. Vedas and Purāṇās have given lots of mantrās and rituals that can be incorporated into one’s customary rituals and these have been carefully selected by the Mahaṛṣis that slightly varies from place to place.

Even animals can have sexual intercourse, but they are not in a position to ask the Devātās for a progeny with desired qualities but human beings alone, especially in our country, have the opportunity to choose and attain a progeny with the qualities that we may desire.

Why this Saṃskāra?

पूरयति त्रायते इति पुत्रः।

पुन्नाम्नो नरकाद् यस्मात् पितरं त्रायते सुतः।

तस्मात् पुत्र इति प्रोक्तः पितॄन् यः पाति सर्वतः॥ Śrīmad Rāmāyaṇam AyodhyāKāṇḍaḥ 107/12

One who fulfills and protects the legacy of one’s lineage is ‘Putra’, this applies to both males and females.

Another explanation from Śrīmad Rāmāyaṇam mentions that ‘Putra’ is the child who rescues the father and his ancestors from a hell known as ‘Pun’ and strives to maintain the legacy of the family at all instances.

To purify the individual who is yet to be born, the parents of that individual are strengthened and blessed with the help of rituals of Garbhādhāna Saṃskāra.

Garbhādhāna Saṃskāra is performed to beget progeny rise higher than their parents.

The purohita can help the couple with the mantras and guidance on the procedure, but required dedication and sincerity towards the performance of these rituals will help obtain the benefits intended.

Śāstric protocol for a child –

A child is given special emphasis right from the time of conception. Physicians, gynaecologists, neonatal specialists, obstetricians, paediatricians, etc. are involved in designing a special protocol with the help of other professionals that ensures good health for the child who will be born. Likewise, the Ṛṣis who have written the Śāstras laid down special emphasis on a child’s welfare that includes the rituals that ensure Ādhyātmic (spiritual) upliftment, nutritional and medical treatment protocols.

It is mentioned that for creatures that are born inside the mother’s womb (viviparous creatures), the life span of the newborn may be uncertain due to the sinful acts of the parents or the sinful acts of the newborn in the previous birth, the child may encounter difficulties that may adversely affect the health and welfare.[6]

तद्दोषशान्त्यै प्रतिजन्मतारमाद् द्वादशाब्दं जपहोमपूर्वम् ।

आयुष्करं कर्म विधाय ताता बालं चिकित्सादिभिरेव तक्षेत् ॥ Phaladīpikā 13/5

“To counter such adversaries that may affect the child or the child’s mother (during pregnancy or labour), the father must perform Puṇya Karmas till the child’s 12th birthday, especially a Āyuṣya/Mṛtyuñjaya Homā on every Nakṣatra birthday (yearly Nakṣatra birthday) of the child is mentioned. These must be complemented with medical treatment protocols and other virtuous deeds.”

We have a good awareness about the nutritional plan for pregnancy, vaccinations after birth, routine check-ups, etc.

Following these rituals as per our tradition ensures that a child who will increase the lineage’s fame and legacy is born hale and healthily from an adhyatmic perspective. There are general guidelines that are essential for maithuna (where most of the Garbhādhāna protocol can be followed but without the rituals and prayers), and these will be discussed in Part 2

[1]Skandapurāṇam,Khaṇḍaḥ 3 (Brahmakhaṇḍaḥ),DharmāraṇyaKhaṇḍaḥ, Adhyāyaḥ 08/26-29, जन्तूनांनरजन्मदुर्लभम् Vivekacūḍāmaṇi – 1

[2] Ādhyātmic/Spiritual strength is fortified by performing virtuous deeds (Puṇya Karmas).

[3] A Saṃskāra that is performed after a child is born.

[4]Nowadays, a few women may even have cycles with a gap of 35 days. The average is around 30 days and may vary from 21-35 days, but in reproductive age; the number of days between two cycles tends to be around 30 days but will vary with ethnicity and other factors. PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) is often responsible for this. Special emphasis must be given for the ovulation period to conceive. (This can be viewed online or by consulting someone acquainted with this.) For conception, focus on ovulation and the prohibitions of Śāstras.

[5]चतुर्दश्यष्टमी पक्षद्वये दर्शश्च पूर्णिमा। सङ्क्रान्तिश्चेति पर्वाणि पञ्च प्राहुर्महर्षयः॥ Kāla Darśam, The five Parvās as per Śāstras. Saṅkrānti is mentioned in any Pañcāṅgam, Saṅkrānti = The day when the Sun moves from one Rāśi to another Rāśi.

[6] Phaladīpikā 13/3-4

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