Thanks to Webolim.
Excellent expositions on the significance of prenatal education as mentioned in the Vedas. I am copying below two of the sessions that I found very fascinating.
Vedic Samskaras before child birth
Introduction: Samskaras are the Vedic rituals and ceremonies which are performed in special occasions like marriage, birth and death, to culture the psyche and the mind of the being. Among the sixteen Samskaras which are performed to culture the mind three samskaras are performed even before the birth of the child. Three Samskaras performed before the child delivery are -1. Garbhadanam, 2. Pumsavanam and Simanta- Unnayanam.
Garbhadhanam: Garbhadhanam is the ceremony of making the womb. It is a ritual which has to be conducted for sexual intercourse. Vedas unlike some religious texts never consider sex as sin. Sex also here is taken in the sense of worship. Sex in the micro level represents in the Vedas the cosmic Srishti in macro level. Srishti is the union of Prakriti and Purusha through which the things get manifested. In the same way sex is also a union through which the beings are born. Sex plays a vital role in giving birth to the children. The couple should have a tranquil mind when they get united through sex to bring a virtuous child. The couple should not get together in with a disturbed mind. This ceremony also is called as Ritu shanty which means the peace at due time and Samaveshana which means to enter together.
The couple after marriage should be in celibacy for three days. They should go to sleep together. But they should not have sex. When they lie each other, a samit (a wooden pestle) separates the couple in the bed. This creates a psychological balance. They get introduced to each other in all these three days. Only after three days the sex is permitted. This ritual is the consecration of both bija (seed-male) and kshetra (field-female). The ceremony starts with Anujna (Starting the ritual with the blessings of the elders.). The limbs of this ceremony to be performed in the morning are Achamana (sipping the water thrice), Vigneshvara Puja (worship of Lord Ganesha), Samkalpa (Resolution), Kumbha sthapanam (establishing the vessel with pure water with mango leaf and turmeric), Varuna & Vishnu Avahana (Charging Vishnu-power and Varuna power in the water), Shanti Japa (recitation of Mantras which make harmony with Vishnu Gayatri, opening Mantras of 4 Vedas, Suktas of Apa, Pavamana, Varuna, Vishnu, Rudra, Brahma, Sri and Purusha), Homa (offering the oblations in to the Divine in the fire; offering Samit with the recitation of Vishnu Sukta, offering Anna with the oblation of Brahma sukta and offering ghee with the oblation of Rudra sukta) and Jayadhi Homa (representing Indra’s Victory)
Evening: Aupasana (offering oblations to fire with Mantra)
Night: Samaveshana (having union)
Through all the morning rituals the soil gets prepared, as the minds of the couple stay in equilibrium and peace through the rituals. Even before having union few Mantras have to be recited to sanctify the process of sex. These Mantras pray for a good progeny which has to be fashioned by all Divine forces.
Pumsavanam: This ceremony is to get a heroic child. It is performed before the movement of fetus takes place, 2 to 4 months from the date of conception.
I day- Udaka shanty (Recitation of a collection of various important Mantras from the Vedas), Pratisara bandha (Tying the thread with turmeric as a protective force)
II day- Anujna (Getting the blessings to start the ritual), Homa in Aupasana Agni (offering the oblations to the Divine in the fire), Pouring the essence of banyan tree in the nostril of wife (Two girls who have not attained puberty bring Nyagrodha (banyan) shoots. Husband crushes them and pours the essence in the nostril of the wife. Nyagrodha represents heroism and Strength.)
Simanta- Unnayanam: This ceremony is conducted to make the pregnant woman happy. A happy woman gives birth to a healthy child. Through the psychological faculties like satisfaction, happiness, peace, harmony and bliss of the mother, child gets birth with health. In this occasion the husband fulfills any particular desire of wife. This ceremony makes her happy by decorating her with bangles, making her to hear soft Sama Veda music and also with fun and frolic. This ceremony is conducted in four to eight months after conception. The limbs of this ceremony are Udaka shanti japa, Pratisara bandha, Anujna, Homa, Simanta Unnayana (Parting of hair in the upward direction with consecrated porcupine Quill having white spots, bunch of darbha grass and a bunch of unripe fruits of Udumbara tree [symbol of fertility]), Veena gana (playing SamaVeda through Veena), tying shoots of corn (prosperity), Mouna (silence) and Meditation still stars appear, couple following the calf in north and Vyahruti japa facing east.
Jatakarma is a ritual which should be performed as soon as the child is born. Many of the psychological problems are related to the imbalance in the circumstance in which the child is born. To remove those imbalances this ritual is performed. Therefore this ritual is significant. As soon as the child is born it should feel very comfortable and it should feel that it is taken care and loved. Though the child does not know any language, it can feel. It can feel happy when it is loved and taken care. It can feel sad when it is getting ignored. Jatakarma is to show the child that it is taken care by the new relatives that it is seeing. Limbs of this ceremony are –
1. Touching the shoulders, keeping the child in the lap and kissing
2. Smelling the forehead and murmuring in the right ear
3. Feeding honey, ghee mixture through a dharba
4. Sprinkling of the water
5. Smearing the tongue with mixture
6. Keeping the child on the lap of the mother
7. Right breast feeding
8. Touching and addressing the ground where the child is born
9. Laying the child on the ground
10. Keeping the water vessel near the head of the child
11. Homa with mixture of mustard and husk to create fumigatory effects
Oblations are offered mainly to Maruts, Agni and Brihaspati
These are the various ceremonies prescribed in the Vedic texts to educate the child with love, peace and harmony. The child also gets educated with Mantra-power, meditation, symphony of SamaVeda and Yoga.
Sri Aurobindo and Mother on prenatal education
The higher souls have a freedom to choose their parents. They like to choose to be born in the pure hearted parents. Therefore if a person loves to get a great soul as a child he has to be spiritual. The parents who are pure hearted and have Divine aspiration are blessed with great souls as their children. But sometimes we see that right children are born to wrong parents. How it is possible? Sometimes the great souls deliberately chose the wrong parents or wrong clan for two reasons: 1. by the choice, the clan or parents can be transformed. 2. The great souls want to reveal that even with the lot of psychological pollution in atmosphere one is possible to grow spiritually. There is also a possibility of a great soul’s birth in a wrong atmosphere by mistake. But generally the great souls prefer to be born only to the spiritually qualified parents.
Preparation of soil:
The parents should be in a peaceful mood when the have union to fashion a virtuous child. Neither should be reluctant.
Once the embryo is getting developed in the womb it should be nurtured with the healthy atmosphere which includes serene music and rhythmic recitations of Mantra through which the child can be lulled to meditation. The parents should create a healthy environment to the child in the womb through that the child can aspire the righteousness.
Invoking the Divine:
The Divine forces should be invoked within to make the child potential and tranquil, as Kunti invoke the Divine forces like Indra, Yudhishtira, Vayu and Ashvins.
Children of future:
The children who are going to be born in future will have a higher intelligence and a higher receptivity. Therefore the parents should be eligible enough to nurture these children.