Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana Book 3 Chapter 31:1-13

Book 3: Chapter 31

Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 3: Chapter 31: Verses 1-13
The stages of growth of a human embryo

The Lord resumed : By force of Karma (destiny), as directed by Providence, the soul (destined to be born as a man) enters the womb of a woman through the generative fluid of a man for the formation of a body. In the course of a night it is integrated by being united with the ovum, and in five nights it is rounded into the shape of a bubble. In a period of ten days it becomes as hard as a plum and later on it develops into the shape of a ball of flesh or an egg (in the case of oviparous creatures). In the course of a month a head is formed and at the end of two months hands, feet and other limbs take shape. By the end of three months the nails (of fingers and toes), the hair on the body, bones and skin appear, as also the organ of generation and the other apertures in the body (those of eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth and anus). In as many as four months the seven essential ingredients of the body (viz., chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and semen) come into being; while at the end of five months hunger and thirst make themselves felt: In the course of six months the foetus is enclosed by an amnion and begins to move in the right side of the abdomen (or in the left if it is a female). Deriving its nutrition from the food and drink etc., taken by the mother, the foetus grows and remains in that abominable receptacle of faeces and urine, the breeding-place of worms. Bitten again and again all over the body by the hungry worms in the abdomen itself, the creature suffers terrible agony on account of its tenderness and swoons away moment after moment. Nay, adversely affected by the bitter, pungent, hot, salt, dry, acid and other such irritating substances consumed by its mother, the foetus experiences a painful sensation in every part of its body. Enclosed by the amnion and covered outside by the intestines, it remains lying in one side of the abdomen with its head turned towards the belly and with its back and neck arched (like a bow). Unable to move its own limbs like a bird which cannot freely move in a cage, the creature in the womb finds its memory awakened by the will of Providence and recollects its doings committed during hundreds of previous lives and feels suffocated for a long time. What peace of mind can it have under such circumstances? The foetus, though endowed with consciousness from the seventh month of its conception, is tossed by the winds that press the embryo downwards during the weeks preceding delivery, and cannot remain at one place like the worm born of faeces in the same abdominal cavity. Tied to the physical body, made up of the seven ingredients [1], which are like so many cords to bind it, the human soul, which regards the body as his own self, is much afraid (of the process of gestation being repeated in other such births), and with joined palms he entreats and extols Him by whom he was cast into the womb, in a tone full of agony. The human soul says : I take shelter in the lotus-feet, which once trod the earth and bring immunity from ail fear, of Him who of His own sweet will assumes various forms in order to protect the universe-which has sought His protection (from time to time)-and by whom I have been thrown into such a condition as this, which is quite becoming of my wicked self. I bow to Him who, having embraced Maya in the form of this psychophysical organism (consisting of the gross elements, the lndriyas and the mind) in this womb, appears as bound by virtuous and sinful acts, and has His reality screened by Maya, but who flashes on my afflicted heart as absolutely pure(untainted by Maya), immutable and possessed of wisdom which knows no break.



  1. (mentioned in verse 4 above)

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