Jeeva’s Travails in the Womb

In this chapter Sri Hari describes to Garuda how the beings who return from various hells enter the wombs of women on the earth. The jeevas suffer great agonies in the womb. Attaining birth as a human being is difficult and thereafter the being must try to elevate himself or herself. This is the briefest of all the chapters in the Puranas.

Shlok 1-15

Garuda asks Sri Hari in humility as to how the jeeva suffers while in the mother’s womb.Vishnu describes how a human being comes into the world. It is by the union of man and woman. In three days during the middle period of menstruation, the being is formed. In these three days if the retas and rajas get united on the first day, if the being is born, it is as an outcaste, on the second day as a killer of a Brahmin and on the third day as a washerman or washer woman. In the ages past long ago Indra killed Vrittasara, a Brahmin and earned the dreadful sin of Brahmin killing. He prayed to and performed a penance to propitiate Brahma who divided the heinous sin into four parts and arranged for their stay in the rajas of woman. The being or jeeva in one night becomes a lump in the mother’s womb; after four nights, the jeeva becomes round like a bubble and in ten days gets the size of a jujub fruit. In one month the being’s head is formed, after two months the shoulders, after three months, nails, hair, skin and genitals and after four months the bodily fluids are formed. After the fifth the jeeva gets hunger and thirst. By the end of the sixth month the being is enveloped by jaravaayu (we call it amniotic fluid now but it was considered a kind of wind here) and by the end of seventh month gets movement. The jeeva is now grown enough to feel pain. This is the result of the mother eating foods tasting pungent bitter, sour etc. Now it is caged in the womb like a parrot in a cage. At this stage the being has a recollection of the many previous births and goes on sobbing in grief for the many sins he (the jeeva), committed. He folds his hands though bound and goes on imploring Vishnu in pathetic tones for release. Right from the seventh month the jeeva is tossed in the womb by the winds in the uterus. He sends up prayers to the supreme Lord, Vishnu.

Shlok 16-23

Awareness dawning on him at this stage, the jeeva sends up prayers to the consort of the goddess Lakshmi, the destroyer of evil to be compassionate to him. He submits in repentance that he was swayed by ‘maya’, appearance or created illusion regarding relationships etc., and was a victim of his ahankara, ego-sense. In the mistaken faith in wife and children and the pleasures of family life he did misdeeds. Now, if and when released from the womb he would surrender himself to His command and will. He tearfully submits to the Lord that he has been wallowing in urine and excrement. He wonders in anguish as to how to secure liberation form the cage. He very humbly seeks refuge in Him and prays for freedom from the birth and death cycle. He would rather stay there in the womb resorting to the refuge of His feet.

Shlok 24-43

Vishnu tells Garuda how the sinner in the womb comes thrown out by the ‘winds’ of parturition through the birth canal of the woman. He comes out head first and is almost breathless in the changed atmosphere and surroundings. He has no knowledge at all. If one’s mind were to be blank like that, who would not be liberated! Vishnu’s ‘maya’ bewilders and befuddles the new born. He experiences the miseries of the infant since he is totally dependent. His wishes cannot be expressed and none around understands him. He lies in a bed he wets and messes up intermittently. Though bitten by mosquitoes etc. there is nothing he can do except bawl in out. He grows from infancy into childhood and from adolescence to adulthood. Youth is the period when man or the jeeva acquires bad habits and not too worthy behavior because of his acquired tendencies down the earlier births. He finds evil company attractive because of that and seeks consorting with woman in lust. The seductive guiles of females captivate him because of his eagerness to seek sense-gratification. The five senses lead the deer, the elephant, the bird, the bee and fish to their own death. It is because of being attracted by the music of the flute that the deer runs to go near it and gets trapped. The elephant is drawn by the loud trumpeting of the female elephant and falls in the ditch dug by its catcher. The glow worm touches the flame out of enticement and gets burnt. The fish is attracted to the bait on the hook and swallows it to be caught and killed. If a single sense is enough to cause the destruction of a bird beast etc., how can a human being, being led astray by five senses at the same time escape being killed? Man, out of his greed and lust wants to get what cannot be reached or obtained. His ignorance makes him haughty, emotional and impassioned. The evil grows in him if it is not constantly checked and held under control. As a lover man loses his sense of proportion and brings down ruin on himself. Attachment to sense objects and eagerness for sense-gratification in methods unacceptable and evil, make man lose the wonderful opportunity to go upwards towards liberation from birth-cycle and mukti, salvation. He lets go a good opportunity which could come only after several births and many human births. To be born as a Brahmin is a great opportunity and sad it is that such a one seeks degradation by his obstinacy and disobedience to the moral code and righteous behavior taught by the scriptures, the holy and the learned. As a result of arrogance and ignorance man commits many sins and towards the end of his life falls prey to a variety of diseases. After death he goes to hell again. Persons of this type, sinners, can never get liberation. Sri Hari asks Garuda in his love and compassion as to what more he wants to know.


More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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