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Charaka Shareera Sthana 3rd Chapter Kuddikaam Garbhavakranti Shareeram


3rd chapter of Charaka Shareera sthana deals on the formation of embryo as conducive to the understanding of the body. The chapter name is Kuddikaam garbhaavakranti Shareeram.

Read – Embryology As Per Ayurveda

Formation of embryo

Now we shall explore the minor chapter on “the formation of embryo as conducive to the understanding of the body”.  Thus said Lord Atreya [1-2]

 Factors responsible for procreation

When a man with unimpaired sperm and a woman with unaffiliated genital tract, ovum and uterine bed cohabit during the period of fertilization, the Jiva (Soul) along with the mind descends into the zygote (combined form of the sperm and ovum) lodged inside the uterus. This results in the formation of the embryo.
Following this, the embryo grows without hindrance and in a healthy way, being nourished by the wholesome Rasa i.e. the nutrition coming from the mother and as a result of the pregnant woman following all the prescribed regimens during pregnancy.

Thereafter the foetus formed with all the sensory and motor organs, and properly developed body with all limbs and body parts intact and fully formed, and endowed with the excellence of strength, complexion, mental faculties and compactness gets delivered in proper time i.e. 9th or 10th month of gestation. This occurs due to the combination of the factors derived from the following sources –

  • Mother
  • Father
  • Soul
  • Wholesomeness
  • Rasa (digestive product of the mother’s food)
  • Mind

The embryo also associates the mind and soul with a new body (transmigration of soul). Thus said Lord Atreya [3]
Read – Conception And Formation Of Fetus As Per Ayurveda

Bharadvaja’s objection

‘No’, said Bharadvaja, because neither mother nor father, nor wholesomeness, nor the utilization of drinkables, eatables, chewable or lickables can produce a foetus. It is also not correct to say that the mind transmigrates from another world to take part in the formation of the foetus. [4-I]
If parents are responsible for the formation of the foetus many men and women who are keenly desirous of sons can produce them by resorting to cohabitation. Similarly those who desire daughter can get them. None of the men or women would be devoid of children and none would grieve for not having a child. [4-II]

Atman (soul) is not produced by another Atman. If this is to be accepted, we would get a doubt ‘does the soul manifest by itself and then produce itself or does it produce itself without getting manifested?’ Both these propositions are untenable. The soul which is born already exists. Therefore he cannot create himself.
The soul which is unborn also cannot create another soul. This is because an unborn soul is non-existent and in such condition cannot create another soul.

Therefore the proposition that the soul creates an embryo is untenable both ways. Let us consider the problem from another angle. If the Soul is capable of reproducing Himself, then how is it that He does not choose a desirable womb endowed with lordship, unrestrained movement, capacity to have forms as he pleases, wherein he would be endowed with strength, speed, beautiful colour and complexion, mental faculties, compactness and having freedom from aging, disease and death? The Soul wants Himself to be like this or even better. [4-III]

Wholesomeness is not responsible for the formation of the foetus. Had it been so, only those who resort to wholesomeness should get children and the remaining ones who resort to unwholesomeness should never get a child but both the types of people are found to be equally successful or unsuccessful in getting children. [4-IV]

The foetus is not formed of Rasa (digestive product of food). If it is true then no man or woman would remain childless. None of them live without Rasa (digestive product of food). If the intention here is that individuals having the excellence of Rasa should have children, then only those who take meat soup of goat, sheep, deer, and peacock, milk, curd and ghee of the cow, honey, oil, rock salt, sugarcane juice, Mudga (Phaseolus Mungo Linn) and Sali rice for nourishment should get children and the others who take Syamaka, Varaka, Uddaklaka, Korasusa (type of corn, rhizomes and roots) should always be deprived of a progeny. But both the types of people are equally successful or unsuccessful in getting children [4-V]

The mind does not come from the world (from the previous birth) beyond to enter into the foetus. If it does so, nothing of its past life should remain unknown, unheard and unseen by him. But actually it does not remember any such things. The mind actually on getting associated with the sense organs would reflect the knowledge of various objects. The mind if coming from the other world / previous birth should remember and have known the memories of things and subjects from the past and that is not the truth.

Therefore, I say, the foetus is not formed out of the mother, father, Soul, wholesomeness or Rasa (digestive product of food). It is also not correct to say that the mind transmigrate from another world to take birth in the formation of the foetus. Thus said Bharadvaja [4]
Read – Monthly Development Of Fetus – Ayurvedic perspective

Atreya’s decision
Lord Atreya said, “no the foetus is formed from out of the combination of all these factors”. [5]

Factors derived from mother

The foetus is produced out of the mother. Without, mother there is no possibility of conception and birth of viviparous creatures. We shall hereafter describe those organs which are derived from the maternal source (from ovum) and which are found because of the existence of the mother.
They are skin, blood, flesh, fat, umbilicus, heart, Kloman (right lung), liver, spleen, kidneys, bladder, rectum, stomach, Pakvashaya (colon), upper and lower parts of the anus, small intestine, large intestine, mesentery and omentum, (these are the organs derived from  maternal source). [6]

Factors derived from father

The foetus is produced from out of the father (from sperm). Without father there is no possibility of conception and birth of viviparous creatures. We shall hereafter describe those organs which are derived from paternal source, (from sperm) and which are formed because of the existence of the father. They are hair of the head, hair of the face, nail, and small hairs of the body, teeth, bones, veins, ligaments, arteries and semen. (These are the organs derived from paternal source) [7]
Read – Factors That Harm Fetus, Avoidable Food And Habits In Pregnancy

Atman as a Source

The foetus is produced out of the Soul. The Antaratman (Soul inside the animal body) is the same as garbhatman (Soul in the foetus). This is known as Jiva or animated Soul.

According to religious scriptures,

  • This Soul is eternal.
  • He does not get afflicted by diseases.
  • He does not undergo the process of aging.
  • He does not succumb to death.
    He does not undergo diminution.
  • He cannot be penetrated.
  • He cannot be cut. He cannot get irrupted.
  • He is omnipresent and omnipotent.
  • He is invisible.
  • He is without the beginning and end, and
  • He is unchangeable.

On entering the uterus and getting associated with the sperm and ovum (zygote) the life element will take the form of ‘foetus made up of six elements’. In the foetus the life element will take the designation and name of ‘atma’ – the soul. Since the soul doesn’t have a beginning (origin) the soul doesn’t take its birth. In spite of the soul not being manifested (not having taken birth) it will create (pour life into) the foetus composed of six elements. The same foetus during the course of time attains the state of childhood, youth and old age. According to the stage in which he is he will be considered to have taken origin (birth) at that particular stage and coming to the stage which has not been manifested it will be said that he will be manifested in the upcoming stage in future. This means to tell that he is considered to be unborn or in the process of taking birth. Therefore, he is both born and unborn simultaneously.

In such situations where the Soul is considered to be both born or being born he produces that state of life after having taken birth himself. In other situations, where that state of the body (Soul), is yet to come, the soul is considered to produce him without being born.
In those particular ages (stages of growth) i.e. types of growth as well as in these particular states (situations) of growth as well as in these particular states (situations) of living beings, the change of the state of the associated body, is considered to be the birth of Atman. The sperm, ovum and life element (atma) are available but until they get associated with each other in the uterus they will not get the name ‘garbha – i.e. foetus’. When these three components get associated they will get the name as ‘foetus’. Similarly the state of ‘mere existence from the beginning’ doesn’t qualify a person to be called as father unless he has a child. It is only after the birth of his child that a man will be called as ‘father’ of that child. Similarly, the existent foetus (Soul) can be considered to be born or unborn depending upon the state attained or ‘yet to be attained’ by him. [8]
Read – Signs And Symptoms Of Pregnancy – Ayurvedic Perspective

Guiding factors

Mother, father and Soul independently cannot satisfy the entire requirement for the formation of a foetus. They themselves do certain things independently and some other things they do because of the force of the actions of the previous life.
They possess the ability to do certain things themselves. For some other things, they do not have that ability. They would do some actions with the help of the essential tools in the form of mind, senses and intellect. When these tools do not possess excellent qualities and are weak they will not be capable of doing the actions as per their choice and liberty.

It is only when these factors (mother, father, soul) are added with the excellence of other factors like mind, sense organs, sperm, ovum etc., depending upon the actions in the previous life, they will be able to render the actions as per their strength and as they want them to be done and also have the capacity to manifest things by themselves.
On the contrary if the mind etc entities are not adorned by good qualities i.e. if they are defective the person becomes enveloped and influenced by rajas and tamas qualities. He will start doing undesired and abnormal (non-righteous) actions. Because of defects in these factors, the soul (devoid of such instruments in their normal state) cannot help in the formation of a foetus. He will also not be capable of taking birth in desired species.

It is not wise to think that the soul which fails to create a foetus when mind, intellect etc are defective is not the creator of the foetus. It is well known that spiritual individuals, who have realized Soul of their own can enter into the desired womb, attain great things and attain salvation. These people have also considered that atma or soul himself is responsible for salvation i.e. freedom from the vicious cycle of life and death.
There is none else who is responsible for the happiness and sorrow of the individual other than the soul (only the soul is responsible for one’s happiness and sorrow). The foetus is not formed by anything else being born. Germination is not possible from anything else other than the seeds. Therefore the life element in the foetus will not come from any inert things; the life process is imparted by the life element atma i.e. soul itself. [9]
Read – Planning for Baby (Conception) with the Help of Ayurveda

Factors derived from Atman

We shall hereafter describe those aspects of the individual which are derived from the Soul and which are formed because of the existence of Soul. They are – taking birth in such and such wombs (human, animal, bird etc), life span (having less, moderate or more lifespan), self realisation, mind, senses, to take things into and to excrete things out of the body (breathe in and breathe out), stimulation / motivation (to the senses), to behold (the information), characteristic shape, voice and colour / complexion of the individual, desire for happiness and sorrow, liking and  disliking, consciousness, courage, intellect, memory, egoism and efforts. All these aspects of the individual are derived from the Soul. [10]
Read – Adhyatmika Gunas – Qualities Related To Soul As Per Ayurveda

Factors derived from Satmya

The foetus is produced from out of the wholesomeness. Without consumption of unwholesome foods and things man or woman would not become sterile / impotent. There would also not occur deformities or morbidity / defects in the foetus. When the men and women would consume unwholesome foods and things they would vitiate the doshas. If these vitiated doshas put into circulation reach the sperms, ovum and uterus and contaminate them they would not be capable of procreating offspring. Men and women would be capable of procreating offspring as long as the sperms, ovum and uterus are not afflicted by the vitiated circulating doshas (vitiated by the consumption of unwholesome things). This is because in people who consume wholesome foods sperms, ovum and uterus would be healthy.

Even during the fertile period, during the union (sexual) of the men and women who are given with wholesome things and whose sperms, ovum and uterus are unimpaired, do not produce the offspring if the soul responsible for the formation of the foetus doesn’t enter into the uterus. This is because the foetus is not formed just by consumption of wholesome foods but by the combination of factors. Here we explain the aspects of the individual are derived from wholesomeness and are manifested because of the existence of such wholesomeness. They are the state of freedom from diseases, laziness and greed, clarity of senses, excellence of voice, colour and semen and calmness of mind. These aspects of the individual are derived from wholesomeness. [11]

Factors derived from Satmya

The foetus is produced from out of Rasa (digestive product of the mother’s food). Without Rasa even the mother will not live, what to speak of the formation of the foetus in her womb (the foetus also will not live). When the nutrition / nourishment are not proper it doesn’t help in the formation / development of the foetus.
Conversely, a foetus is not formed simply by the employment of proper nourishment. Here also the combination of the factors is responsible for the production of the foetus.

We shall hereafter describe those aspects of the individual which are produced due to proper nutrition. They are – manifestation and growth (in height of the body), continuity of the strength, satisfaction, plumpness and enthusiasm. These aspects of the individual are derived from Rasa [12]
Read – Diet And Lifestyle For Women In Ayurveda

Factors derived from Sattva

Mind is also the connecting link which connects the Soul with the physical body. The mind would enter another (new) body along with the soul and establishes relationship with that body. This means to tell that the mind establishes its relationship with the gross body with the help of the subtle body of the soul. So, on the eve of death when the mind starts leaving the body, there occurs a change in the normal behaviour and inclinations, the sense organs are disturbed, strength diminishes and living beings are attacked with diseases.

Living beings devoid of mind breathe their last because the sense organs derive their inspiration from nothing but mind.
The mind which indulges the sense organs in their respective sense objects and also controls them is of three kinds. They are Sattvika, Rajasa and Tamasa. The mind dominated by any of the above mentioned attributes in one life follows in the subsequent life as well. When the individual is endowed with the Sattvika type of mind from previous life he can remember things of the past incarnation. Because of this power to recall things of the past incantation, the individual is called as “Jatismara”.

We shall hereafter describe those aspects of individual which are derived from mind and which are manifested because of the existence of mind. They are liking, conduct, purity, enmity, memory, attachment, detachment, jealousy, valour, fear, anger, drowsiness, enthusiasm, sharpness, softness, seriousness, instability and such other manifestations of the mind which will be described later while discussing the various types of mind. All of them occur in the man but all of them are not manifested at the same time. An individual is said to belong to that particular type of mind by which he is dominated. [13]
Read – Sub Types Of Personality Features Based On Satva, Rajas, Tamas

Embryo- conglomeration of several factors

As a Kutagara (round shaped cottage used for administering hot fomentation therapy) is constructed from out of various types of construction materials and just like a chariot is constructed from out of various parts, similarly the embryo is formed from out of various types of procreative factors.

Therefore we assert that the foetus is formed from various factors, i.e. mother (ovum), father (sperm), soul, wholesomeness and rasa (digestive product of mother’s food).  The mind serves as the connecting link. Thus said Lord Atreya. [14]

Read – Anomalies, Defects In Fetus, Ayurvedic Treatment

Observations of Bharadvaja

Bharadvaja said: “if the foetus is formed out of the conglomeration of these various procreative factors then how do they get united? Their conglomeration apart, how is that the union of these factors results in the production of a creature in the form of a human being? If you opine and argue that since man is born from another man, just like the cow is born from another cow and the horse is born from another horse and hence takes the shape and form of human being, then the statement made earlier that the man is formed by the combination of six factors shall not be accepted / relevant.

If it is to be believed that man is created by another man, then why the child born to parents who are dull, blind, hunch-backed, mute, dwarf, lisping suffering from freckles, insanity, Kustha (obstinate skin diseases including leprosy) and Kilasa (leucoderma) does not carry the defects of his parents?
If it is argued that the Soul sees things by His own eyes, hears by His own ears, smells by His own nose, tastes by His own tongue, touches by His own skin, understands by His own Intellect and because of this individuals born of dumb etc; do not carry the defects of their parents (because it is not the sense organs of parents but those of the Soul which takes part in procreation)? This is because the soul is independent, he will perceive things through his sense organs and independently forms these sense organs, therefore the progeny of blind will not be blind, and the progeny of deaf will not be deaf.

If we accept that the Soul understands things with the help of sense organs i.e. by vision etc. that will also mean to tell that in the absence of these sense organs, He won’t be able to know and understand things. This also means that the soul is both a knower and non-knower. Does that mean that the soul is faulty?
If we tell that the soul gains knowledge through the sense organs, does that mean to tell that in the absence of sense organs the soul would become non-knower? Does that mean that because of the absence of the power to know things, he cannot serve as a causative factor and if He is not a causative factor, will be ridiculed as a story. (Thus said Bharadvaj). [15]
Read – Importance Of Soul In Perception Of Knowledge: Atma Jnana

Atreya’s observations

Lord Atreya said, “It has already been concluded that the mind is responsible for the union of the Soul with the physical body. A human being is considered to be a Soul with the physical body. A human being is considered to be a causative factor for the production of another human being simply because foetus is composed of the conglomeration of various factors which produce a human form. 
Thus, there are four species of living beings, viz, viviparous, oviparous, Svedaja (living- beings born of hot moisture) and Udbhija (living- beings born piercing earth). Each of these four species is of innumerable types.  This is because of the innumerability of distinctive features, they possess.

The species of the first two categories take their specific forms depending on the contact of the causative factors of the foetus with the wombs of the specific species just like the gold, silver, copper, tin and lead melted and poured into various designs of bee-works take respective forms.
Similarly when the foetus formed due to the conglomeration of various factors occupy the womb of human being, they would take the human form and shape because of the effect of human species. A human being is considered to be product of a human being because he belongs to the same species. [16]
Read – Human Being Is A Replica of Universe – Loka Purusha Samya Vada

Factors for hereditary defects

A question was also raised that if the human being is a product of another human being, why a progeny of a dull human being is not always dull?  The reply is that if the part of the seed (sperm or ovum) which is responsible for the formation of a particular organ is vitiated, this will result in the vitiation of that respective organ. If it is not vitiated, there would be no vitiation of the respective organs either.

So both the possibilities are there (i.e. the respective organs of the progeny may or may not be vitiated depending upon the vitiation or otherwise of the part of the seed responsible for the formation of such organs). As a matter of fact, the sense organs of all living beings are born out of the Soul and their existence or otherwise are determined by the fate i.e. the result of the past action. So the offsprings of the dull parents do not invariably resemble their parents. [17]
Read – Intrauterine Death Of Fetus In Ayurveda

Knowledge of Soul though sense organs

It is not that the Soul is endowed with consciousness only when he is possessed of sense organs and is devoid of consciousness otherwise. The soul can never be separated from the mind, and so, He is always endowed with consciousness. [18]

Read – How Knowledge Is Gained Through Sense Organs?

Thus it is said
The soul is never devoid of consciousness of course, he cannot respond to the various actions in the absence of the sense organs. So it is not possible to perform any act without the presence of sense organs as it is not possible for a potter to work if he does not have the required quantity of mud irrespective of his knowledge regarding the production of a pitcher. [19-20]

Concentration of mind for proper examination

Listen to this spiritual wisdom which is of immense help for the attainment of the knowledge of Soul.
One should control his sense organs as well as fickle mind and keep himself established in his own self after knowing the real nature of the Soul and attaining the height of spiritual wisdom.
Thus, with this knowledge undisturbed in all situations, he will be able to examine all aspects (of the science of medicine) [20-21]
Try to understand this point also, O! Bharadvaja, Even if somebody has lost some of his sense organs_ vocal and motor faculties, in a dream he does experience the various objects of sense happiness, miseries etc., he cannot, therefore, be treated as a creature devoid of consciousness. There cannot be any knowledge without knowledge of the Soul. Nothing can move alone unless prompted by an efficient cause to do so. [22-24]

So get rid of all doubts.
O! Bharadvaja, I have explained to you everything about the Soul. The Soul is omniscient, primary cause, seer and efficient cause. [25]
Read – Mind – Qualities, Functions, Doshas As Per Ayurveda

To sum up:-

In the minor chapter on the formation of embryo as conducive to the understanding of the body, the following topics are discussed:
Factors responsible for the formation, growth and delivery of the embryo;
The views of Punarvasu and Bharadvaja on this topic
The attack on the conclusions (by Bharadvaja) and
A detailed exposition of the nature of the Soul [26-27]
Thus ends the third minor chapter of Sharira Section the “Formation of Embryo as conductive to Understanding of the Body” of Agnivesha’s work as redacted by Charaka. [3]

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