- Parents and conception
Maatrimaan Pitrimaan A’charyavaan Purusho Veda – Shatapatha Brahmana.*
“Verily, that man alone can become a great scholar who has had the advantage of three good teachers, viz., father, mother, and preceptor.” Blessed is the family, most fortunate is the child whose parents are godly and learned. The mother’s healthy influence on her children surpasses that of everyone else. No other person can equal a mother in her love for her children, or in her anxiety for their welfare.
This explains the use of the word Matrimaan in the above quotation, meaning thereby:- “He alone is said to have a mother whose mother is devout and learned.” Blessed is the mother who never ceases to impart religious tone to the mind of her child from the time of conception till his knowledge is perfected.
It behoves both parents before, during, and after conception to avoid the use of such foods and drinks as are intoxicating, decomposed (Lit. – foul-smelling) non-nutritious, (Lit. dry), and prejudicial to the growth of the intellect; and use those articles that are productive of mental tranquility, health, strength, intellect, energy and good temper – qualities that go to make a man refined.
Such foods are milk, butter, sugar, cereals etc., – foods and drinks that help to make the reproductive element (both male and female) of the highest quality, free from all faults and imperfections. They should follow the rules of sexual intercourse, which are as follows:- From the time of menstruation day following is the proper time for sexual intercourse for pregnancy) barring the first four days and
*Maatrimaan Pitrimaan A’charyavaan Purusho Veda – Shatapatha Brahmana. In the text the word mata, i.e., mother precedes the word pita, i.e., father. In the Sanskrit language and all vernaculars derived from it, it is a invariable practice to use the word mata before the word pita whenever they happen to come together. -Tr.
Not only this but the word “wife” comes before the word “husband” and the name of the wife before that of the wife before that of the husband. We speak of Sitaram and not Ramsita. This shows in, what veneration the female sex was held by the ancients. -Rama Deva.
ekaadsi and tryodsi of the (lunar) month; so that there are altogether left ten nights out of which it is best to choose one for sexual intercourse.
After the sixteenth day after menstruation there should be no sexual intercourse till the return of the aforesaid period, or, in case of pregnancy for one year. At the time of sexual intercourse husband and wife should be perfectly healthy, mutually happy, and free from sorrow. In the matter of diet and dress they should follow the rules laid down by Charak and Sushrut,* and in the matter of keeping each other happy they ought to practice the system taught by Manu.
During conception pregnancy the mother ought to be very careful as to her diet and dress. Till the birth of the child those articles only should be used as are productive of intellect, strength, beauty, health, energy and mental tranquility, and such other good qualities.
After the child is born and its cord has been cut, it ought to be bathed with scented water and Homa** performed with scented clarified butter. The mother should also be well looked after in the matter of bath, diet, etc., so that both mother and child may gradually gain in health and strength. The child’s mother or wet-nurse should take such foods and drinks as are productive of good qualities in the milk.
The mother should suckle the child only for the first six days, thereafter the wet-nurse; but the parents should see that the wet-nurse gets good food and drink.
The mother should suckle the child only for the first six days, thereafter the wet-nurse; but the parents should see that the wet-nurse gets good food and drink. If the parents be too poor to afford a wet-nurse, cow’s or goat’s milk diluted with an equal quantity of water should be used; and such drugs as are productive of intellect, energy, and health should be added to the milk after being well soaked in pure water boiled, and strained.
After confinement the mother and the child should be moved to another room, where air is pure, and which is well furnished with scented and beautiful things. They should move about in a pure atmosphere. When neither the wet-nurses nor milk (cow’s or goat’s) can be procured, the parents should do what they think best at the time; but they must remember the child’s body is made up of the elements derived from the body of the mother, which in fact accounts for the mother getting weaker after each confinement. It is best, therefore, for the mother not
*Two great authorities on Medical Science in Sanskrit. **See chapter .
to suckle her child. Plasters should be applied to the breast that will soon dry up the milk, by following this system the woman becomes strong again in about two months. Till then the husband should have thorough control over his passions, and thus preserve the reproductive element. Those that will follow this plan will have children of a superior order, enjoy long life, and continually gain in strength and energy so that all their children will be of a high mental calibre, strong, energetic, and devout. The woman should have her reproductive organs properly seen to, and the husband should practice continence.
The mother’s instructions to a child.
A mother should so instruct her children as to make them refined in character and manners, and they should never be allowed to misconduct themselves in any way. When the child begins to speak, his mother should see that he uses his tongue properly so as to pronounce letters distinctly in the right place and with the right amount of effort. For pronouncing the letter ‘p’ for example, that right place is the lips and amount of ‘effort’ required is what is called Full.
In speaking, vowels should be exactly timed- short, long, or prolonged as the case may be. She should try to cultivate a sweet, subdued and pretty voice in her child. In his speech, letters, syllables, words, conjoined words and stops should be distinctly discernible. When he begins to talk and understand a little, he should be taught how to address his superiors and inferiors, father, mother, king and a learned man, and how to conduct himself in their presence; so that he may never be slight in company, but be always treated with respect. Parents should endeavor to inculcate in the minds of their children intense desire for the love of knowledge, elevating company, and control of the senses.
Children should avoid useless playing, crying, laughing and wrangling. They should not give way to excess of pleasures and sorrows, nor become completely engrossed in a thing. Jealousy and malice they should not harbor. They should never handle or rub the reproductive organs, as it causes the loss of the reproductive element and, consequently besides soiling the hand, leads to impotence.
The parents should try, in every possible way, to develop in their children such sterling qualities as truthfulness, heroism, patience, cheerfulness, etc. When children attain to the age of five years they should be taught the Sanskrit Alphabet, as well as that of foreign languages; thereafter the parents should make them
understand and learn by rote such verses ( Vedic), poetical pieces, aphorisms, prose passages, etc. as are full of good precepts, inculcate truth and virtue, love of knowledge and God; and give advice as to the general behavior towards father, mother, sister and other relatives, friends, teachers and other learned men, guests, king, fellow-subjects and servants, so that they may not, as they grow up, be duped by any unprincipled person.
They should also counsel them against all things that lead to superstition, and are opposed to true religion and science, so that they may never give credence to such imaginary things as ghosts (Bhuts) and spirits (Preta).
Preta (in Sanskrit) really means a dead body, and Bhuta means who is deceased.
In support of this contention we quote Manu:- “After his death, the pupil who helps in cremating his teacher’s Preta is purified in ten days together with other people who carry the Preta in the crematorium.” * MANU : .
It is clear, then, that Preta in the above quotation cannot mean anything else but the dead body. After the body has been cremated, the dead person is spoken of as Bhuta i.e. deceased – one who lived but does not live now. All those that are born and cease to breathe after having lived in the present are spoken of as Bhutashth i.e. deceased. Such has been the belief of all learned men from Brahman to the present day.
But we do not wonder that one, who is ignorance-ridden, superstitious, and associates with low people, is constantly troubled by all sorts of ghosts, spirits, and devils, in the shape of fear and doubt. See! When one dies, then his soul according to his done deeds (evil and good), takes new birth to suffer pain and pleasure. Can anyone evade this law of God?
People ignorant of the principles of Medical and Physical Sciences look upon persons afflicted with the physical and mental diseases, such as high fever and lunacy, as possessed of devils (Bhut and Preta). But instead of having such persons treated medically,
*This verse from Manu had quoted by the author for the sole object of supporting his statement regarding the meaning of the word Preta. But it does not follow that the author believes in the superstition inculcated by the verse which is clearly and interpolation in Manu. -Tr.
dieted properly, otherwise cared for, they trust them to such rogues, scoundrels, cheats, idiots, profligates and extremely low, selfish, despicable and dirty charlatans who victimize them by their trickery, quackery, so-called charms, and magic incantations. They waste their money and bring misery and suffering on their children by the increase of disease.
When these people who really have ‘more money than brains’ go to those ignorant, wicked and mean rascals and say to them “Sirs would you kindly tell us what is wrong with such and such a person or child”? They answer this:-He is possessed with a big devil or ghost, Bhairava (God of drink) or Shitala (goddess of small-pox). It will never leave him unless you adopt proper means for its removal. It may even take his life, but if you offer us a round sum, or give us a round sum, or give us a present, we will exercise the devil out of him by incantations, recitation of magical formulae and prayers, etc.”
Then those ignoramuses and their friends say “Please Sirs, cure him though it may cost us our last penny”. On this the rogues feel triumphant and say ” Well bring us such and such material, our fee, offerings to the God, and presents to ward off the influence of unlucky stars.”
Then, they sing, beat upon drums play on castanels , cymbal, etc., in front of the man who is supposed to be possessed of a devil; by and by, one of those scoundrels begins to dance and skip about as if in a fit of madness and says” I will even take his life” and the ignoramuses fall at the feet of that mean rascal, saying “O! save him Sir! Save him. You shall have anything you like”. Upon this the rogue says ” I am Hanuman; bring me my offerings – sweets, oil, a basket of loaves and a red dress.” Or ” I am God, or Bhairava, bring me five bottles of liquor, twenty fowls, five goats, sweets and clothes”, and when these dupes answer ” You shall have anything you like” – the rogue begins to skip about and dance still more. But if a sensible man were to give them an offering of a good thrashing or shoe-beating, kicking or smacking on the face instead, their Hanuman God or Bhairava will at once be propitiated, and immediately take to their heels as all this quackery is simply meant for robbing the simpletons off their wealth.
*In Hindu Mythology the monkey-God who helped Rama – the incarnation of Vishnu to defeat Ravana – the Rakshash king of Sri Lanka. He was a historic person who was afterwards defied. He was a brave and learned man – well read in the Vedas – who was commander-in-chief of Rama’s forces. Rama Deva.
Similarly, when these ignorant people go to an astrologer and say ” O Sir! What is wrong with this person’? He replies “The sun and other stars are maleficent to him. If you were to perform a propitiatory ceremony, or have magic formulas chanted, or prayers said, or specific acts of charity done, he will recover. Otherwise I should not be surprised, even if he were to lose his life after a long period of suffering.”
Inquirer ~ Well, Mr. Astrologer, you know, the sun, the planets and other stars are but inanimate things like this earth of ours. They can do nothing but give light, heat, etc. Do you take them for conscious being possessed of human passions, of pleasure and anger, that when offended, bring on pain and misery, and when propitiated, bestow happiness on human beings?
Astrologer ~ Is it not through the influence of stars, the planets, then, that some people are rich and others poor, some are rulers, whilst others are their subjects?
Inq. ~ No, it is all the result of their deeds….good or bad. Ast. ~ Is the Science of the planets untrue then? Inq. ~ No, that part of it which comprises Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, etc., and which goes by the name of Astronomy is true; but the other part that treats of the influence of the planets on human beings and their actions and goes by the name of Astrology is all false.
Ast. ~ Is then the horoscope of no value? Inq. ~ No, and it should be named not horoscope, but death-knell of happiness; because the birth of a child gladdens every heart in the family, but this happiness lasts only so long as the horoscope is not cast, and the aspect of the planets is not read out to the parents.
When the priest, after the birth of the child, suggests the casting of a horoscope, his parents say to him. “Oh, Sir! Cast a very good horoscope.” Then the astrologer brings the horoscope, well bespangled with red and yellow lines if they be rich, or a plain one if they be poor. They ask him if the aspect is beneficent. He answers “I will read it out to you as it is; his stars of nativity are good, and so are the stars that govern the relation of social intercourse, consequently he will be a rich man and will make a name for himself; he will command respect among his associates; will have
good health; and be a ruler among men.” Upon hearing this, the parents say “Well done Sir! Well done! You are a very nice man.”
The Astrologer things it would not pay him to say nice things only, so he adds “These are all his lucky stars, but there are others that maleficent. On account of the position of such and such stars he will meet with his death in his eighth year.” On learning this, all their happiness is converted into great distress, and they say to the Astrologer “Oh Sir! What shall we do? What shall we do now?” The astrologer answers ” Propitiate the stars. They ask “How can we do it?” He says ” Do such and such an act of charity, have the hymns relating to the stars chanted, fee the priests, and it is very likely that the maleficence of the stars will be warded off.”
The qualifying words very likely have been used by the way of precaution, because, if the child died he could say ” How could I help it? I cannot override the will of God. I did my utmost and so did you, but it was so ordained from the first on account of his misdeeds in the previous life.” But, if the child lived he could say “Behold the power of our incantations, gods and priests; I have saved the life of your child.” But really, if their incantations and prayers fail, and the child dies, these rogues should be made to pay double or treble the money given to them, and if the child lives, they should still be made to pay because, as they themselves say, there is not a soul living that can undo the law of God or evade the consequences of one’s deeds.
Parents can say to them “This child has survived in consequence of his deeds, and according to the laws of God, and not through your help.” The same answer should be given to Gurus (so-called spiritual fathers or teachers), who prescribe certain acts of charity to their dupes and then appropriate the gifts themselves, as has been given to the astrologers above.
Lastly, a word about Shitla* and Charms. These are nothing but downright frauds and quackery. Should anyone say: “If I were to give a charmed bangle or locket to any person, my God or saint would ward off all evils from him through the power of the charm or of incantations.” To such a person the following questions should be put: “Can you by your charms evade death, or the laws of God, or the consequences of your deeds? Many a child dies in spite of your charms and incantations; and, even your own children die; why
*Small pox, -It is looked upon as a goddess by the superstitious people in India.
can’t you save them? Will you be able to save yourself from death?” These questions, that rascal and his fraternity can never answer, and they soon find that the game is not worth the candle.
Therefore, it behoves all to do away with all kinds of false and superstitious practices and do all in their power to promote, in return for their services, the welfare of those pious, learned men, who are devoted to their country and are altruistic teachers of humanity, teaching and preaching to all without the least amount of hypocrisy.
All alchemists, magicians, sorcerers, wizards, spiritists, etc. are cheats and all their practices should be looked upon as nothing but downright fraud. Young people should be well counseled against all these frauds, in their very childhood, so that they may not suffer through being duped by any unprincipled person.
They should also be taught that the preservation of the reproductive element begets happiness and its loss the reverse. He, in whose body, it is well preserved, gains in health, strength, energy and intellect; and consequently feels happy. The only way to preserve it is to keep aloof from hearing and reading obscene literature; associating with libidinous people, indulging in lascivious thoughts; looking upon women (with an eye of lust); engaging in conversation with them; embracing or having sexual intercourse with them. Children should be taught to lead a pure and virtuous life; and devote themselves to the acquisition of perfect knowledge and culture.
He, in whose body the reproductive element is nor preserved, becomes impotent, void of good qualities, and suffers from spermatorrhoea and such like diseases. He is, in fact, a ruined man, through loss of health, strength, intellect, courage, pluck, energy, patience and such other good qualities. Parents should not neglect to impress upon their children that, if they fail to acquire knowledge and wisdom, and preserve the reproductive element when young, they will never again have another chance like this in their life.
They must bear in mind that it is only so long as the parents are alive, and able to look after the household, that they can prosecute their studies, and perfect their bodies. Both the father and the mother should also advise them regarding other necessary matters. This is the reason the words, Matriman and Pitriman, appear in the quotation heading this chapter. The mother should instruct them from birth to the fifthth year, and the father from the sixth to the eighth year.
. Tutoring and reprimanding.
In the beginning of the ninth year Dwijas* should, after their Upnayan** ceremony has been performed, send them to school (Acharyakul),*** where the teachers are thorough scholars, imbued with piety and well, versed in all the sciences. Shudras should also send their children to school, but without performing their Upnayan
Those children alone become well-behaved, refined, and scholarly, whose parents do not indulge them; but on the other hand, always reprimand them when necessary. Says Patanjili, in his Mahabhashya:-
“Those parents and tutors who are not slow to reprimand their children and pupils ( when needed) are as if giving them a drink of immortality; but those who indulge them are , in fact, giving them poison, and are thus the cause of their ruin, because indulgence spoils children, whilst (occasional) reproof develops good qualities in them.” MAHABHASHYA : .
Children should also feel pleased when reprimanded, and feel uneasy when fondled. But parents and teachers should never reprimand them out of malice or spite. Outwardly they should keep them in awe; whilst inwardly they should be tender hearted and kind to them. Likewise they should advise them to abstain from stealing, sexual abuse, contracting habits of indolence, arrogance, drunkenness untruthfulness, malevolence, wickedness, malice, jealousy, blind passion; and to cultivate good qualities, such as, truthfulness, virtue.
*Persons of the three upper classes are called Dwijas or the twice-born because of their rebirth through the acquisition of knowledge and culture. First is the physical birth, whilst the second is their spiritual birth. The three upper classes are : Brahmans, Kshatryas and Vaishayas. The reader is referred to the th chapter, for detailed information regarding this subject. -Tr. **The ceremony of initiation into knowledge; it is performed just before a student leaves home for the seminary: in this ceremony he has to take vows of living a chaste life, of truthfulness, of devotion to studies, etc. -Tr. ***A’charyakula is the academy for the education of the children of all Classes. In this institution the teacher is not a mere tutor, he also loco parentis. This system of education has been revived after the author ‘s death by his followers. There are at present three Gurukulas or residential colleges for teaching the Vedas conducted on these lines. The biggest is at Kangri, Haridwar. It teaches up to the degree standard and has trained out many graduates. The second one is at Brindaban. It teaches up to the Degree standard. The third one is at Deolali in the Bombay Presidency. – Ram Dev.
Once a person has committed theft or sexual abuse or has spoken an untruth in your presence you can never respect or trust him anymore. A broken pledge injures a man’s character more than anything else. Therefore, once you make a promise, keep it; suppose you say to a man; ” I will meet you at such and such a place or time” or ” I will give you such and such a thing, at such and such a time”; but always keep your promise; otherwise no one will ever trust you. All should, therefore, speak the truth and keep their word.
One should never be vain. Deceitfulness, hypocrisy, and ingratitude are painful even to the soul that harbors them. How much more so then to others? It is hypocrisy to believe one thing and say another, and thus mislead people in order to gain selfish ends. Ingratitude is that condition of mind in which you do not feel thankful to one who has been good and kind to you.
A child should not lose his temper, or say a rude word; he should rather cultivate a speech that is pacific and sweet. He should avoid useless talk, and speak only as much as is necessary, neither more nor less. He should respect his superiors. On their approach, a child should stand up and greet them, and offer them the best seat available.
In an assembly, each person should occupy a seat in accordance with his rank and position, so that he may never have to suffer the indignity of having to yield his seat to another. He should never bear malice towards any one. He should try to acquire virtues and shun vices; associate with the good and avoid the wicked. Father, mother and tutor, a child should serve with all his capabilities and resources, all his heart, and all his soul
Says Taitreya Upnishad:- “Fathers, mothers, and tutors should always give their children and students good counsel and they should also advise them to imbibe their virtues but avoid their vices.” TAITREYA UPANISHAD :.
Children should always speak the truth, and should never trust a hypocrite or a man of low character. They should obey their parents and tutors in all things that are good. Tutors should help their pupils to revise all that their parents had taught them at home, the Vedic mantras, aphorisms, poetical pieces and prose , passages, inculcating the love of righteousness, knowledge, and
good character. They should understand the nature and attributes of God* and worship Him accordingly.
.Conduct, dress and diet.
In the matter of dress and diet, they should so conduct themselves as to gain in health, strength and general behavior, and knowledge. They should eat a little short of their appetite, and abstain from animal diet and spirituous liquors. They should never enter deep water lest they be attacked by dangerous creatures ( such as, crocodiles), or even drowned, if they be unable to swim. Therefore, says Manu – “Never bathe in water of unknown depth”.
On the general conduct of life the same sage has said:- “Look down while you walk. Filter your water before you drink it. Speak in accordance with truth. Think well before you act.” MANU : .
Says another poet :-
“Parents who neglect the education of their child are his veritable enemies. In company, he is like a crane among swans.”
To give their children the highest education possible, to instruct them in the ways of truth, to make them refined in character and manners, in short to devote all their resources, body and mind, to accomplish this object is the paramount duty, the highest virtue, and the glory of parents.
*As taught in the first chapter.
END OF CHAPTER