Our Guru Maharaj would say often that the uniqueness of our Sanatana Dharma lies in the fact that it quite literally, encompasses all. There is nothing that is left untouched by our scriptures and works of Mahatmas.
From the greatest principles of spirituality to even a simple recipe for a food delicacy, one can find “everything under the sun” in our Vedas, Itihasas, puranas and works of Mahatmas. Every scientific fact that is accepted today can be found in our scriptures – represented cryptically as riddles or artistically as stories.
Let us consider the following …. Did our Maharishis not accurately predict so many astronomical facts such as the red colour of Mars, the timing of eclipses, the shape of the earth, so and so forth without the aid of the sophisticated device of this age?
This multi-faceted nature is the beauty of our religion. Look at anything from any standpoint – spiritual, philosophical, scientific, psychological or social – it will always make perfect sense!
In Srimad Bhagavatam, there is a conversation between the great Kapila Vasudeva and his mother Devahuthi in which the stages of development of a fetus during pregnancy from the moment of conception to delivery has been described in a chronological order. The amazing thing about this description is that it is in perfect synchrony with the embryological timeline given by modern science. To imagine that all this was done in an age when there were no modern laboratories and investigative tools like ultrasound scanners is simply startling!
Srimad Bhagavatam says as that the life-force enters the womb of a woman through the generative fluid of a man. In the course of a night it unites with the ovum and in five nights it is rounded into the shape of a bubble. In a period of 10 days, it becomes as hard as a plum and later on it develops into a ball-like structure.
कललं त्वेकरात्रेण पञ्चरात्रेण बुद्बुदम् ।
दशाहेन तु कर्कन्धू: पेश्यण्डं वा तत: परम् ॥ (३-३१-२)
kalalam tvEkarAtreNa panchrAtrEna budbudam |
DashAhena tu karkandhuhu peshyaNdam vA tata: param ||(3:31:2)
This perfectly matches the modern view of the process of fertilization according to which the spermatozoa ascend the female reproductive tract to fuse with egg that arises from the ovary to form a zygote at the fallopian tubes. Then cell division takes place giving rise to a structure called the Morula. By the second week a ball-like structure called blastocyst is formed implants on the wall of the uterus.
Srimad Bhagavatam goes on to say that in the course of a month a head is formed and at the end of two months, the limbs take shape. By the end third month, the nails of fingers and toes, the hair on the body, bones and skin appear and so do the reproductive organ and the other apertures in the body (eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth and anus). In as many as four months the seven essential ingredients of the body (chyle, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and semen) come into being; while at the end of 5 months hunger and thirst begin to appear.
चथुर्भिर्धातव: सप्त पञ्चभि: क्षुत्तृदुद्भव: ।
षड्भिर्जरायुणा वीत: कुक्षौ भ्राम्यति दक्षिणे ॥ (३-३१-४)
chaturbhirdhAtava: sapta panchabhi: kshuttrdudbhava: |
shadbhirjarAyuNA vIta: kushau bhrAmyati dakshiNE || (3:31:4)
As per the modern medical view, as the embryo develops the body folding process gives rise to the formation of the primitive head from the third week. From weeks 5 to 8, limb buds take shape gradually. Organs of reproduction are formed from the seventh week onwards and take full shape by about the 14th week. The scalp hair and nails are formed by the 12th week. By about the 18th week the fetus can swallow. All these embryological milestones correlate with Srimad Bhagavatam.
While talking about the later stages of pregnancy, Srimad Bhagavatam says in the course of six months the fetus is enclosed by a membrane and begins to move inside the abdomen. Deriving its nutrition from the mother, the fetus grows in that bag of faecal matter and urine, the breeding place of worms. Bitten again and again all over the body by the organisms in the fetus suffers indescribable agony. The fetus, 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. When the jiva is ten months old, the wind that helps parturition pushes the fetus, with its head downwards. All of a sudden, the child issues out with great trouble, head downward, breathless and without any memory of the agony experienced in the womb.
येवं कृतमतिगर्भे दशमास्य: स्तुवन्नृषि: ।
सद्य: क्षिपत्यवाचीनं प्रसूत्यै सूतिमारुत: ॥ (३-३१-२२)
yEvam krutamatirgarbhE dashamAsya: stuvannrushi: |
sadya: kshipatyavAchInam prasUtyai sUta mAruta:||" (3:31:22)
Going by ultrasound scan reports, it has been found that the eyes are opened from about the 28th week and the fetus also has a well-developed sense of hearing apart from a well differentiated nervous system. These points tally perfectly with the statement in Bhagavatam that says that the fetus is blessed with consciousness from the 7th month. As mentioned in Bhagavatam, the amniotic fluid is nothing but the accumulation of the urine and meconium (faecal matter) contained in a sac that encloses the fetus. The fetus moves about in the sac till it finally takes the head down position (most common position). Finally the onset of labour contractions delivers the baby.
The description in Srimad Bhagavatam, of the development of the fetus , down to such specific details leaves us totally awe-struck!
-- Dr. A. Bhagyanathan