Garbha Sharira (Ayurvedic Embryology)
What is pregnancy?
The union of spermatozoa, ovum and soul inside the uterus is known as garbha (embryo). The linkage of prakrti (nature) and vikaras (imbalances) also plays significant role besides the soul.
Symptoms of pregnancy, according to Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, two symptoms can be seen in pregnant woman
- The symptoms seen just after the conception: These include fatigue, polydipisia, and thigh- weakness, retention of sperm and ovum and widening of the vagina.
- The symptoms seen after body parts of the embryo have manifested. These symptoms blackening of breast-areola and lips, unexplained emesis, developing of linea nigra, sialorrhoea, weakness, body-heaviness craving for sour taste and above all, anorexia.
Components of embryo originating from Pancha Maha bhutas (The five-elements)
- Components originating from Akasha or space: Sense of sound, auditory system, lightness, minuteness, division, channels of circulations and orifices.
- Components originating from Vayu or air: Sense of touch, organ of tactile perception, an activity of the body, synthesis and transportation of tissues and expiration.
- Components originating from Agni or fire: Form, eye, brightness, catabolism and anabolism, aura, body- temperature, metabolic enzymes and coenzymes, and sharpness.
- Components originating from Jala or water: Taste perception, coldness, moisture, softness, unctuousness, intracellular and extracellular body fluids, blood, seminal fluid, and urine.
- Components originating from Prithvi (earth): Smell perception, stability, heaviness, bones and hair.
Components of embryo originating from parents
- Components originating from mother include integument, blood, muscles, fat, heart, pancreas, liver, spleen, kidney, urinary bladder, rectum, stomach, intestines and bone marrow.
- Components originating from a father: Hair, beard, mustache, teeth, bones, veins, tendons, ligaments, arteries, seminal fluid and nails.
Components of embryo originating from Atma (Soul)
Knowledge about oneself, birth in specific species, happiness and appearance.
Components of embryo originating from Satva-one of the trigunas (Sattva-rajas- Tamas- The 3 mental attributes )
Determination, consciousness, memory, knowledge, endeavor, longevity and pride.
Month wise development of fetus
1st month: In the 1st month, the embryo is in unclear shape.
2nd month: In the 2nd month the embryo assumes a shape of solid mass. The accumulated five elements undergo processing by the combined action of three biological humours and thus attain solid-state. If the solid mass is oval in shape, the foetus shall be male. If the solid mass is oval in elongated, the foetus shall be female. If the solid mass is round, the foetus shall be hermaphrodite.
3rd month: During the 3rd month, body parts and all the sense organs become apparent.
4th month: In the 4th month, the heart develops and various body parts become stable and manifested. The consciousness manifests in this month. The chief characteristic feature of the 4th month is the mother expressing the nature of the child through her taste preference, behaviour. The character of the child can be estimated by the quality and the taste of the food stuffs mother wants to consume. If mother, demands are not fulfilled, the child can suffer from an array of diseases including congenital.
5th month: In the 5th month, the development of the mind is more evident.
6th month: During the 6th month, the development of the intellect becomes more evident.
7th month: In the 7th month, the body parts (major and minor) become more evident in terms of full- development.
8th month: In the 8th month, because of the immature nature of the fetous, because of the immature nature of the fetous, the essence of 7 Body Tissues (Sapt Dhatus) called - ojasa (the prime nectar of life) remains in unstable mode. Ojasa moves from mother to fetus and vice-versa through channels of circulation carrying rasa or nutrition. Due to the cyclic transformation of ojas between the mother and fetus, both can go in happy or sad mood.
Antenatal care of pregnant woman
- For the first five months, sweet, cold and liquid diet is recommended.
- In the 6th month, rice gruel or Ghee medicated with the herb - Tribulus terrestris ( Small Caltrops- Gokshura) should be taken.
- In the 7th month, ghee medicated ten herbs from the classification of herbs called "Vidharigandhadi group of herbs" by Ancient Scholar Charaka should be consumed for the proper growth of the fetus.
- In the 8th and 9th month, oil enema is highly recommended. This ensures the downward movement of the biological air...VATA thus making delivery free of complications.
- Striae gravidarum:Striae gravidarum is the linear contraction of the abdominal skin due to enlargement of the uterus, thigh and breast.
- Garbhasrava (abortion) and garbhapata (miscarriage): Garbhasrava means the abortion of the fetus occurring in the first trimester. Garbhapata refers to the miscarriage occurring in the second trimester of pregnancy. Causes for miscarriage /abortion includes psychological and physical factors, genetic disorders (chromosomal defects like Down's syndrome, cleft palate), diseases of the female reproductive system and nutritional disorders. Various fetal conditions like upavistaka or upasuska (Intra Uterine Growth Retardation of the foetus) are described in ancient Ayurvedic texts.
Ayurvedic Embryology explains month wise development of the foetus, antenatal care of pregnant woman and concise account of pregnancy diseases. By adopting various methods described in Ayurvedic Embryology, not only smooth pregnancy can be ensured but good health can be given to mother and child.