Random Musings- Part 38- Notes on Garbadhanam
Garbadhanam is a conception ritual wherein a Husband transfers his Semen to his wife with chanting of mantras for the purpose of conceiving a child.
After the marriage ceremony, when the couple returns to bridegroom’s house the bride is made to sit on a Bull’s hide facing east or north. The husband and wife together lights a fire and perform a simple fire ritual giving oblations to Agni, Vayu and Surya. Later in the evening, the husband takes her out and shows her the Pole star and other stars and both make a commitment to have a firm, stable and happy life.
For three nights they do not have conjugal relationship. Further they should sleep on floor and should not consume saline food (1). They can eat Boiled rice with curd (2). Then, on the last part of the fourth night, they will make a fire sacrifice with expiatory oblations of ghee/clarified butter to Agni, Vayu and Surya. These expiatory oblations are given to remove any “dosha” (3) or Karmic faults in the Prarabda Karmas of the Bride that may become obstacle in their marriage.
Then the husband makes her sit down to the west of the fire, facing the east, and pours some ghee of the remains (of those oblations) on her head with three Vyahritis (i.e. Bhuh, Bhuvah, Svah) and the fourth with all three Vyahritis combined and hence purifying her. Then, the husband and the wife become intimate with each other with the mantra (4)-
सं नाम्नः सं हर्दयानि सं नाभिः सं त्वचः | सं त्वा कामस्य योक्त्रेण युञ्जान्यविमोचनाय |
United in name, united in our hearts, united in our navel, united in our skin. I will bind thee with the bond of love; that shall be insoluble.
For the purpose of conception, when the husband and wife co-habit with each other on the fourth night after the monthly cycle has started, the husband should chant mantra for Vishnu, Thvasta, Prajapati and Dhaatri for preparing the womb of the mother, for the proper formation of frame (fetus) of the child upon conception, for the healthy and potent sperm that can cause conception and finally for successfully causing the conception respectively (5). Then after chanting few more mantras, the Husband must enter the wife by praying to Prajapati by uttering the Vyahritis for an offspring. (6). This cohabiting of a couple for the conception of child by purifying the act with mantras is called as “Garbadhana”.
The Samskaras like Garbadhana helps to remove the faults that may be present in the father’s seed and mothers egg (i.e. faults can be biological/genetic or/and subtle/karmic ) and hence making sure that the child born is physically, mentally and spiritually healthy (7).
The scriptures suggest the husband and wife to conceive between the 4th day of the monthly cycle and 16th day of the monthly cycle except on the 4th, 11th and 13th day (8). The Garbaadhana procedure i.e. reciting of Mantras before cohabiting is to be practiced, not only when the couple gets intimate for the first time after marriage but also after every monthly periods (9). Some also opine that, it should be performed every time the couples get intimate for the sake of conception (10).
1. Apastamba Grihya Sutra 3.8.8
2. Shankhayana Grihya Sutra 1.17.7
3. The dosha’s that are expiated are that of causing death of Husband, being without offsping, destruction of cattle and wealth (Shankhayana Grihya Sutra 1.18.3), any other faults that are terrible and blameful. (Hiranyakeshin Grihya Sutra 188.8.131.52)
4. Hiranyakeshin Grihya Sutra 184.108.40.206
5. Hiranyakeshin Grihya Sutra 220.127.116.11
6. Hiranyakeshin Grihya Sutra 18.104.22.168
7. Manu Smriti 2.27
8. Manu Smriti 3.46 & 3.47
9. Paraskara Grihya Sutra 1.11.7 Hiranyakeshin Grihya Sutra 22.214.171.124
10. Hiranyakeshin Grihya Sutra 126.96.36.199