Hinduism,Cosmos ,Sanatan Dharma.Ancient Hinduism science.
The Garbha Upanishad – Ancient Vedic Embryology :
It is very interesting to note that there is a significant description about the science of embryology in Vedanta literatures. Srimad Bhagavatam,Third Canto mentions a brief description of human embryology. Garbhopanishad, one of the ancient Upanishads, also serves as a brief treatise on embryology. These are very relevant to modern science and technology.
According to Vedanta the manifestation of life begins from the moment of conception. Life first enters the semen of the male and is injected into a womb of a woman. Dr. Jerome Lejeune,11 known as “The Father of Modern Genetics,” also said, “Life is present from the moment of conception” before the Louisiana Legislature’s House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice on June 7, 1990. He explained that within three to seven days after fertilization we can determine if the new human being is a boy or a girl.
“At no time,” Dr. Lejeune said, “is the human being a blob of protoplasm. As far as your nature is concerned, I see no difference between the early person that you were at conception and the late person which you are now. You were, and are, a human being.”
A man’s semen contains millions of cells called sperm cells (about 107 /ml). Each sperm cell is an actively motile, free-swimming and elongated cell from 60-75 μ in length. F.M
Burnet remarked about this sperm cell as “It is intimidating thought that there is more information on organic chemical synthesis packed into the head of a spermatozoon than in all the 200 volumes of the Journal of Biochemical Chemistry.”
According to Vedic literatures, spiritual particle, spiriton (soul) enters this sperm cell which then fertilizes the ovum, the female gamete, to form a single cell called zygote.
The various stages of development of embryo in the womb of the mother are described in Srimad Bhagavatam 3.31.2-4, 3.31.10, 3.31.22-23:
“On the first night, the sperm and ovum mix (to form zygote), and on the fifth night the mixture ferments into a bubble (blastocyst). On the tenth night it develops into a form like a plum, and after that, it gradually turns into a lump of flesh.”
“In the course of a month, a head is formed, and at the end of two months the hands, feet and other limbs take shape. By the end of three months, the nails, fingers, toes, body hair, bones and skin appear, as do the organ of generation and the other apertures in the eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth and anus.
The Garbha Upanishad:
Garbhopanishad meaning “Esoteric Doctrine over the Embryo” is one of the minor Upanishads, listed number 17 in the modern anthology of 108 Hindu Upanishadic texts.
Written in Sanskrit, it is associated with the Krishna Yajurveda by some, and as a Vedantic Upanishad associated with the Atharvaveda by other scholars. It is considered as one of the 35 Samanya (general) Upanishads. The last verse of the Upanishad attributes the text to sage Pippalada, but the chronology and author of the text is unclear, and the surviving manuscripts are damaged, inconsistent with each other and incomplete.
The Garbha Upanishad is a text that almost exclusively speculates on medical and physiology-related themes, dealing with the theory of the formation and development of the human embryo and human body after birth.
The Upanishad gives details of the elements (essential parts and principles) and various features of the body and gives detailed explanation on the evolution of the embryo in the mother’s womb. Paul Deussen et al. consider this Upanishad on the garbha or human embryo to be more like
“a manual on physiology or medicine” than a spiritual text, with the exception of a passage which includes a number of statements about the fetus’ awareness, including the assertion that the fetus has knowledge of its past lives as well as intuitive sense of good and bad, which it forgets during the process of birth.
The term Garbha literally means “womb” and “relating to gestation”.
The text’s title means “esoteric doctrine relating to gestation, womb, fetus”.
Structure and manuscripts:
In reality we only have 25-30% of Vedic and Post Vedic texts, yet this 30% are collected from ancient foreign references.
The rest were burnt and destroyed by the Islamic Invaders. The surviving manuscripts are incomplete, most of the text is lost or yet to be discovered, and the text is discontinuous, inconsistent between the manuscripts available.
The most studied version has been the Calcutta manuscript, which has four prose sections in one chapter
The four sections are structured in a form of dialectic style inquiry, where a proposition is presented, followed by a series of questions, and these questions are then answered.
For example, the Garbha Upanishad opens with the following,
Consisting of five, connected with each of the five, Supported on six, burdened with six qualities, Having seven constituent elements, three impurities, twice procreated, Partaking of fourfold food is the body.
Why is it said to be consisting of five…??
Because it consists of prithvi (earth), apas (water), agni (fire), vayu (wind) and akasa (space, ether).
What is earth..? what water..? what fire…? what wind..? what ether…??
— Garbha Upanishad,
Section 1: What is human body….??
Human body is composed of five elements, states the Garbha Upanishad.
Whatever is hard in the body is constituted of earth, whatever is liquid is of water, what is warm is from fire, what moves in the body derives from the essence of air, and the hollow in the body is the essence of space.
The earth principle provides it with support, the water necessary for assimilation of food, the fire essence for illumination, the wind principle distributes of substances with the body, while ether provides avakasha (room within).
The five objects of sense are related to ear, skin, eye, tongue, nose. The related support system consists of the mouth to speak, hands to lift, feet to walk, tongue for tasting, nose for smelling, Apana for excretion, and the genitals for sexual procreation. The body discriminates and knows by Buddhi (intellect), fancies and thinks through Manas (mind) and speaks with speech.
There are five tastes, representing food it needs for development, and these are sweet, saline, bitter, pungent and astringent.
The body goes through six stages from existence in its life, and these are creation as fetus, birth, growth, maturity, decay and death.
It develops six “chakras (wheels)”, which denote “the dhamani (nerves), mūlāḍhāra, svāḍhishthāna, maṇipūraka, anāhaṭa, viśuḍḍhi, and ājñā.”
Then six gunas and seven notes of sounds, which are combined to form sounds, some perceivable and some non.
Section 2: How is human embryo formed..??
Seven colour constituent elements (dhatus) in the body are, states the text, white, red, opaque, smoke colored, yellow, brown and pale colored.
From white which is food rasas
(juice, sap, essences) develops the blood (red), out of blood develops the flesh (opaque), from flesh develops the fat (smoke colored), from fat develop the bones (yellow), inside bones develops the bone marrow (brown), and from marrow develops the semen (pale colored).
From the union of the male shukra (शुक्र, semen) and shonita (शोणित, blood, female vital energy) develops the human embryo, asserts the Garbha Upanishad.
शुक्लो रक्तः कृष्णो धूम्रः पीतः कपिलः पाण्डुर इति ।
सप्तधातुमिति कस्मात् यदा देवदत्तस्य द्रव्यादिविषया
जायन्ते ॥ परस्परं सौम्यगुणत्वात् षड्विधो रसो
रसाच्छोणितं शोणितान्मांसं मांसान्मेदो मेदसः
स्नावा स्नाव्नोऽस्थीन्यस्थिभ्यो मज्जा मज्ज्ञः शुक्रं
शुक्रशोणितसंयोगादावर्तते गर्भो हृदि व्यवस्थां
नयति । हृदयेऽन्तराग्निः अग्निस्थाने पित्तं पित्तस्थाने
वायुः वायुस्थाने हृदयं प्राजापत्यात्क्रमात् ॥ २॥
It has white, red, black, smoky gray, yellow, tawny and pale as the colours. What are the seven dhātus (tissues) when Devadatta (any person) desires enjoyment of objects? From the proper combination of qualities, six types of taste (rasa) emerge. From relish of food, blood is created, from it flesh, thence fat, bones, marrow, semen. By the combination of semen and blood the embryo (garbha) is born, and its growth is regulated by the heart (mother’s heartbeat as well as the embryo’s
-Garbha Upanishad ).
Section 3: How does the embryo develop..??
The Upanishad gives details about how the conception takes place in the womb and how it develops over a period of nine months.
After the union takes place in a particular (Ritu)Cycle of menses, the growth of the body in the embryo on the first day is a “nodule”. It becomes a “bubble” by the seventh night; in 15 nights it becomes a “lump”; in a month’s time the embryo is hard; by the end of two months, head is formed; parts of the feet appear by three months; stomach, the hips and ankle appear by the fourth month; the vertebral column shapes up by the fifth month; the face, nose and ears appear by the sixth month; the seventh month is when fetus is imbibed with Jiva or soul (Atman, in the eighth month has all body parts, and fully developed in the ninth month.
The fetus grows and is nourished by what the mother eats and drinks, through a vein, states the text.
The Upanishad asserts its theory for the gender of the child, birth defects and the birth of twins. It states that dominance of male semen results in a male child while a female child is born when there is surfeit of female or mother’s semen. When semen of both male and female are equally strong birth of a hermaphrodite occurs.
Birth defects are asserted to result when either parent is suffering from anxiety and trauma at the time of conception. Twins of same gender develop when the shukra and shonita burst into two; however, when only shukra bursts into two or when the parents copulate often, then twins of mixed gender may be formed.
Development and birth of a single embryo is most common among humans, states the text. However, up to Quintuplets are observed among humans, asserts the ancient text.
Section 4: What does the embryo know..??
By the eighth month, states Garbha Upanishad, the embryo knows its past birth, meditates and perceives Om, gains the intuitive knowledge of good and bad.
The text states that in the last weeks of its development, the fetus remembers the good and bad karma and being born anew through many births, resolves to remember Maheshwara (Shiva) and Narayana (Vishnu), resolves to study and practice Samkhya-Yoga after birth because all these bestow the reward of liberation. The fetus resolves, states the Upanishad, to meditate on Brahman after birth.
However, when the fetus is in the process of birth, states the text, forget its resolutions.
Developments after birth :
The text, states T.M.P. Mahadevan, asserts that soul resides in the human body and longs for liberation.
The Garbha Upanishad posits the question, “Why is it called Sharira (the body)..??”, and in response states that because in it Shriyante (exists) three fires – the fire for knowledge, the fire for seeing and the gastric fire. The text uses similes of yajna (fire) ritual to describe how cosmic processes are repeated in the temple of body, with food as offering, mind the Brahman and seeking of the soul (Atman) as the goal of the ritual of life.
The text then abruptly jumps to enumerating anatomy of a developed human body, likely from lost chapters of the manuscript. It asserts, that in a human adult, “the head has four skull bones, and in them there are on each side sixteen sockets; in the body there are 107 joints, 180 sutures, 900 sinews, 700 veins, 500 muscles, 360 bones and 45 million hairs”.
Further, enumerates the Upanishad, the heart of an adult human male weighs 364 grams, tongue weighs 546 grams, bile in the body 728 grams, semen produced is 182 grams, fat 1,456 grams, and excrement generated is uncertain in amount because it depends on what and how much the body eats and drinks.