Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Simantonayana - 3rd Shodasa Samskara

Simantonayana sanskaar (The ritual for the mental development of foetus) ‘Seemant’ - this vernacular word literally means brain, while ‘Utnayan’ literally means development.

The word Simantonayana thus acquires the meaning of - a ritual in which the mother focuses her attention to brain development of the child. The previous ritual (Punsavan sanskaar) is for physical development while this Simantonayana sanskaar caters to mental development. Every physical and mental aspect of the foetus is taken care of by virtue of both these rituals. The book 'Sanskaar Vidhi' mentions that for Simantonayana sanskaar, the husband should himself oil the wife's hair with fragrant oil, comb the hair, remove the knots, tie the hair into a nice bun and take her to the temple or hall of Yajya (where the brahmanical fire sacrifice is performed). This implies that during this time both the husband and wife should concentrate on the mental development of the child; they should realize that the child's mental development depends entirely on them and that the way they lead their intellectual lives will leave its impression on the child. 

The scripture-writers have considered the mother a mould in which the parents can cast the child exactly the way they want him/her to be. If care is not taken during this time, then after the child's birth, the good or bad external environment starts having a profound effect. The implication of Simantonayana sanskaar directs the parents' attention to the child's mental development. The best time for this ritual is when the brain-cells of the fetus start forming. Shaareer Sthaan of Sushrut mentions: In the fifth month, the mind is quite awake, in the sixth the intellect and in the seventh there is manifestation of organs. In the eighth month, the element of oj (one of the eight essential elements of the body) is not stably formed. A child born in the eighth month, often, does not survive. This makes it clear that according to Sushrut, the child in a womb of five months develops a more aroused mind than in the fourth month when the brain only starts forming. This is the reason why the Simantonayana sanskaar is performed in the fourth month. The sole purpose of this ritual is that the mother should completely understand that from this point on, she owns responsibility for her child's mental development. Whatever she does from now on, should be done with the knowledge that every thought of hers is unconsciously affecting the child taking shape within her. If not performed in the fourth month, the ritual can be carried out in the sixth month or even eighth month. One of these three months (fourth, sixth, eighth) should be chosen for Simantonayana sanskaar. The fourth suits because during this month, the formation of brain cells begins. The sixth suits as during the sixth month, the first origin of intelligence can be traced and eighth is suitable because by that time, the body, mind, brain and heart of the foetus are all ready. This is the time when the woman is called 'twin-hearted' as two hearts work simultaneously. So in this situation, the mother should pay special attention to maintain the functionality of the child's body, mind, brain and heart as the child delivered in eighth month rarely survives. 

The lack of desire for any particular thing on part of the pregnant woman leads to a disinclination of the child too for the same thing. Similarly, whatever the mother desires for, the child also starts desiring for the same. The framers of the system of rituals strongly held that the mother's impressions have an allround effect on the child and therefore, Simantonayana sanskaar was given a significant place. Manusmriti (Chapter 9, verse 9) says: The kind of image a pregnant woman draws in her mind is similar to the kind of the child she bears. So, for an excellent offspring equipped with supreme impressions, the woman should be kept in a conducive environment.

Simantonnayana is a family and a community festival with prayers seeking safe birth of the child. Special invocations are made seeking blessings for the couple, and particularly seeking the birth of a child who will have all qualities of nobility and high intellect. Appropriate hymns are recited by the priest and musical instruments are also played on the occasion. The elderly ladies shower blessings on the mother-to-be with the following:

ॐ वीरसूस्त्वं भव, जीवसृस्त्वं भव, जीवपत्नी त्वं भव।
om vīrasūstvaṁ bhava, jīvasṛstvaṁ bhava, jīvapatnī tvaṁ bhava.

May you give birth to a brave child, you give birth to a living child, and you remain the wife of a living husband.


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