A child is a blessing to the parents and family she/he is born into. For some, it is a cherished moment for some it is a rather daunting task. Regardless, a mother brings a child into the world with unconditional love and strength and has high hopes for her child. Parents dream of a better future than theirs for their children, a better personality enough to achieve their dreams which some couldn’t. In order to prepare the child for the outside life, Hindu scriptures tell us the process of Garbh Sanskar, educating the child in the womb of the mother itself.
It is a well-known fact that children are receptive to love, information and care from the outside world. What the mother consumes, listens, watches influences the child. Garbh Sanskar is an ancient practice that can be traced back to ancient scriptures and included in the Vedas. It is a sort of prenatal education that helps in the physical, mental and spiritual development of an unborn child.
What is Garbha Sanskar?
The word Garbha in Sanskrit refers to fetus in the womb, and sanskar means the education of the mind. A Mother’s bond with the child starts right from the time of conception. The baby listens to the mother and feels her feelings even when it is developing in the womb. This is why it is important to transfer positive thoughts, positive energies, and emotions to the baby (and to the pregnant woman herself). The mother can shape up baby’s first impressions by listening to good music, reading material that stimulates positive thinking, meditating, doing yoga and much more.
The positive thinking and attitude promote the physical well being of the mother and the baby throughout the pregnancy and after. The advantages of Garbh Sanskar are not only educating your child but added the development of a bond between the mother and the child.
The Vedic rituals performed by the mother, father and the Guru on the son or daughter from the time of conception till marriage, so that they may perform balanced sattvic (Sattva-predominant) actions are referred to as the sanskaras. There are sixteen important sanskaras of which only 3 are to be performed before the birth- 1 preconception and 2 after conception.
In this sanskar, body purification is achieved with the help of specific mantras and sacrificial fires and through the mantras, it is taught how to scientifically and hygienically perform correct intercourse.
The sanskar of Garbhadhan should be performed after marriage for a virtuous progeny. This sanskar is performed from the fifth to the sixteenth day after the first menses after marriage. Excluding the first four, eleventh and thirteenth nights, the other ten nights are considered appropriate to perform this sanskar.
The sanskar of Punsavan performed after conception is called Anavalobhan sanskar. Anavalobhan means miscarriage. This sanskar is performed to prevent a miscarriage of the foetus and to impart to the foetus knowledge in the womb without any obstacles. This sanskar is supposed to be performed in the second or third month of pregnancy.
The juice of durva filtered with a cloth should be squeezed into the right nostril of the pregnant woman with the help of the right thumb while reciting the mantras from the suktas (Vedic hymn) of Prajavadakhya and Jivaputrakhya.
ॐ जापतये स्वाहा । जापतय इदं न मम ।
Om Jaapataye Swaha | Jaapataya inda na mama|
The sanskar of Simantonnayan should be performed to destroy the defects in the ovum and foetus and to protect the foetus from micro-organisms and ghosts. In this sanskar, the oblations offered to Deities Matrudevata, Rakadevata, Vishnu and Prajapati should be two, two, three and one respectively. Thereafter, two bunches of the raw fruit of Audumbar (Holy fig tree), spikes of porcupine and three tender grass blades should be taken in the hand, and using their roots, the woman’s head from the hair parting till the forehead should be combed three to four times reciting ‘Gayatri Mantra’. Then the hair should be tied. Two priests should hold a veena and recite mantras from the Samaveda.’
These conclude the Pre-birth Sanskar. The rest are performed after the birth of the child.
What does Garbha Sanskar include?
According to Ayurveda, Garbh Sanskar is one of the best ways to give birth to a healthy baby. It’s all about the mother maintaining a sound state of mind, not only mentally, but physically, emotionally and spiritually as well. Ayurvedic garbh sanskar suggests certain guidelines to keep in mind for the pregnant mother. These include:
Healthy eating habits
According to ayurveda the ahara- rasa, which is nutrition or energy obtained from the mother’s diet, helps in the nourishment of the mother herself, the growth of baby and preparation for formation of breast milk. The garbh sanskar foods in pregnancy should have a balanced amount of calcium, folic acid, and iron.
Garbha sanskar recommends a sattvic diet or a pure diet during pregnancy. This means eating only freshly-made meals using fresh vegetables. It also means eating in moderation. A sattvic dish is one that contains vital nutrients in balanced proportions. Sattvik food also has all the different kinds of taste – sweet, bitter, sour, salty, pungent and astringent. A sattvic diet also means avoiding food that is spicy, fermented and which contains preservatives.
Ayurveda recommends the consumption of panchamrut, which is beneficial for boosting potency and immunity. This is made with one spoon curd, honey, sugar and two spoons of ghee or clarified butter mixed with eight spoons of milk. Abstinence from addictive substances is advised.
Pregnancy can make you moody and irritable. Garbh sanskar helps you manage your emotion which is good, both for the mother and the baby.
Practicing yoga or some form of light exercise
Garbh sanskar recommends that pregnant women take up some light form of exercise or yoga for the physical well- being of both the mother and the child. Here are the benefits of exercise:
- Pranayama breathing exercises help to calm and relax the body while preparing you for breath- control during childbirth.
- Light exercise increase flexibility, improves blood circulation and reduces backaches during pregnancy.
- Specific garbh sanskar yoga asanas boost the mother’s chances of having a full-term normal delivery with minimal labour pain.
Meditation is an important aspect of garbh sanskar and is beneficial for the body as it de- stresses the mind. It involves getting into ‘zero state of mind’, which can help bring peace and tranquility, and enhance concentration.
Consuming herbal ghee during pregnancy
Medicated ghee made from cow’s milk ghee is recommended during the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th month of pregnancy by ayurveda. It is said to be beneficial for the mental and physical development of the baby and can help prevent congenital abnormalities in the foetus. According to ayurveda, medicated ghee might also help the mother have a full-term normal delivery. However, do consult your doctor as every pregnancy is not the same.
How garbh sanskar music helps your child
Since it is believed that a foetus can respond to external stimuli, especially from the seventh month onwards, the therapeutic effect of music can play an essential role according to garbh sanskar. The nearest sound for the baby is the mother’s heartbeat, and that is why it is believed that crying baby can be soothed by holding him or her close to the chest. As the child hears something familiar, it can bring about a sense of calmness. The same logic applies to music, and much like the rhythm of a beating heart, the rhythm of music has a calming effect on a baby too.
Garbh sanskar believes that the sound of the veena, a string instrument, and the flute, have sounds which can soothe the mind and the soul.
Garbh sanskar finds its roots in ancient practices. It focuses on the well- being of the mother and the healthy development of the child. But more than this, garbh sanskar focuses on fostering an everlasting bond between the mother and the child. A healthy diet, positive thoughts, regular exercise and a loving bond, are the components of garbh sanskar. Practice the simple tenets of garbh sanskar and experience the peace they offer.
In History – Well adjusted kids of Prenatal Sanskar
The story of Abhimanyu is well known in the Mahabharata. Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna, learned how to enter the Chakravyuha (the strategic arrangement of warriors to entrap and defeat the enemy) when he was in his mother’s womb. He had heard and remembered the narration of the technique by Krishna to Subhadra during her pregnancy.
When Pralhad’s mother, Queen Kayadhu was pregnant with him, she used to listen to devotional songs and words of Narada Muni. Therefore, even though Pralhad took birth in a Rakshasa family, he became a devotee of Lord Vishnu.