Garbha Upanishad Deals Embryo and Body

tttIItThe Garbha Upanishad (गर्भ उपनिषद), or Garbhopanishad (Garbhopaniṣad), is one of the minor Upanishads, listed number 17 in the modern anthology of 108 Hindu Upanishadic texts. Written in Sanskrit, it is associated with the Krishna Yajurveda by some, and as a Vedantic Upanishad associated with the Atharvaveda by other scholars. It is considered one of the 35 Samanya (general) Upanishads. The last verse of the Upanishad attributes the text to sage Pippalada, but the chronology and author of the text are unclear, and the surviving manuscripts are damaged, inconsistent with each other and incomplete.

What is Garbha Upanishad?

The Garbha Upanishad is a text that almost exclusively comments on medical and physiology-related themes, dealing with the theory of the formation and development of the human embryo and human body after birth. Paul Deussen et al. consider this Upanishad on the garbha or human embryo to be more like “a manual on physiology or medicine” than a spiritual text, with the exception of a passage that includes a number of statements about the fetus’ awareness, including the assertion that the fetus has knowledge of its past lives as well as an intuitive sense of good and bad, which it forgets during the process of birth.

Garbha Upanishad
Garbha Upanishad

Garbha Upanishad Etymology

The term Garbha literally means “womb” and “relating to gestation”. The text’s title means “esoteric doctrine relating to gestation, womb, fetus”. It is also called Garbhopanishad (Sanskrit: गर्भोपनिष).

Garbha Upanishad Structure and Manuscripts

The most studied version has been the Calcutta manuscript, which has four prose sections in one chapter.

Garbha Upanishad Contents

The four sections are structured in a form of dialectic style inquiry, where a proposition is presented, followed by a series of questions, and these questions are then answered. For example, the Garbha Upanishad opens with the following:

Consisting of five, connected with each of the five, Supported on six, burdened with six qualities, Having seven constituent elements, three impurities, twice procreated, Partaking of fourfold food is the body.

Why is it said to be consisting of five?

Because it consists of prithvi (earth), apas (water), agni (fire), vayu (wind) and akasa (space, ether).

What is earth, water, fire, and ether? — Garbha Upanishad, Section 1

Section 1 of Garbha Upanishad: What is the human body?

Whatever is hard in the body is constituted of earth, whatever is liquid is of water, what is warm is from fire, what moves in the body derives from the essence of air, and the hollow in the body is the essence of space. The earth principle provides it with support, the water necessary for the assimilation of food, the fire essence for illumination, the wind principle distributes substances with the body, while ether provides avakasha (room within).

The five objects of sense are related to the ear, skin, eye, tongue, and nose. The related support system consists of the mouth to speak, hands to lift, feet to walk, tongue for tasting, nose for smelling, Apana for excretion, and genitals for sexual enjoyment. The body discriminates and knows by Buddhi (intellect), fancies and thinks through Manas (mind), and speaks with speech. There are five tastes, representing food it needs for development, and these are sweet, saline, bitter, pungent, and astringent.

The body goes through six stages from existence in its life, and these are created as:

  • Fetus,
  • Birth,
  • Growth,
  • Maturity,
  • Decay, and
  • Death. 

It develops six “chakras (wheels)”, which denote “the dhamani (nerves), mūlāḍhārasvāḍhishthānamaṇipūrakaanāhaṭaviśuḍḍhi, and ājñā. Then six gunas and seven notes of sounds, are combined to form sounds, some acceptable and some non-acceptable.

Section 2 of Garbha Upanishad: How is the human embryo formed?

Seven color constituent elements (dhatus) in the body are, states the text, white, red, opaque, smoke colored, yellow, brown, and pale colored. From white which is food rasas (juice, sap, essences) develops the blood (red), out of blood develops the flesh (opaque), from flesh develops the fat (smoke colored), and from fat, develop the bones (yellow), inside bones develop the bone marrow (brown), and from marrow develops the semen (pale-colored). From the union of the male Shukla (शुक्ल, semen) and shonita (शोणित, blood, female vital energy) develops the human embryo, asserts the Garbha Upanishad.

Section 3 of Garbha Upanishad: How does the embryo develop?

The Upanishad gives details about how conception takes place in the womb and how it develops over a period of nine months. After the union takes place in a particular (Ritu) season, the growth of the body in the embryo on the first day is a “nodule”. The fetus grows and is nourished by what the mother eats and drinks, through a vein, states the text.

The Upanishad asserts its theory for the gender of the child, birth defects, and the birth of twins. It states that dominance of male semen results in a male child while a female child is born when there is a surfeit of female or mother’s semen. When the semen of both male and female are equally strong birth of a hermaphrodite occurs. Birth defects are asserted to result when either parent is suffering from anxiety and trauma at the time of conception. Twins of the same gender develop when the Shukra and Shonita burst into two; however, when only the Shukra bursts into two or when the parents copulate often, then twins of mixed gender may be formed. Development and birth of a single embryo are most common among humans, states the text. 

Section 4 of Garbha Upanishad: What does the embryo know?

By the eighth month, states Garbha Upanishad, the embryo knows its past birth, meditates and perceives Om, and gains the intuitive knowledge of good and bad.

The text states that in the last weeks of its development, the fetus remembers the good and bad karma and being born anew through many births, resolves to remember Maheshwara (Shiva) and Narayana (Vishnu), resolves to study and practice Samkhya-Yoga after birth because all these bestow the reward of liberation. The fetus resolves, states the Upanishad, to meditate on Brahman after birth. However, when the fetus is in the process of birth, states the text, the squeezing out of the womb causes it to forget its resolutions.

Section 5 of Garbha Upanishad: How does the embryo learn through Garbh Sanskar?

Garbh means “womb” and Sanskar means “ethics” or “values” Parenting your child and teaching ethics inside the mother’s womb can be the most blissful experience that any parent can imagine. The greatest evidence of Garbh Sanskar’s spiritual journey is our historical background. During pregnancy, the mother maintains a healthy balanced diet that helps to develop a strong, healthy placenta that determines the birth weight and future health of the child in adult life.

The purpose of garbh sanskar is to educate the child in the womb. Science has shown that babies in the womb will benefit from Garbhsanskar in the early stages. The mother’s relationship with the baby starts right from the moment of conception.

There is also a well-known mythological narrative in Mahabharat about how Arjuna taught Abhimanyu to enter ‘chakravyuha’ when he was in the womb of his mother, Subhadra. This history, too, proves the fact that people also believed the idea of Garbha Sanskar during the mythological period. 

Developments after birth

The text, states T.M.P. Mahadevan, asserts that the soul resides in the human body and longs for liberation.

The text then abruptly jumps to enumerating the anatomy of a developed human body, likely from lost chapters of the manuscript. It asserts, states Paul Deussen, that in a human adult, “the head has four skull bones, and in them, there are on each side sixteen sockets; in the body, there are 107 joints, 180 sutures, 900 sinews, 700 veins, 500 muscles, 360 bones, and 45 million hairs”. Further, enumerates the Upanishad, the heart of an adult human male weighs 364 grams, the tongue weighs 546 grams, bile in the body 728 grams, semen produced is 182 grams, fat 1,456 grams, and excrement generated is uncertain in amount because it depends on what and how much the body eats and drinks.

What Is Garbha Sanskar?

As soon as Indian women get pregnant they begin to wonder what is Garbha Sanskar and how to do it at home. Garbha Sanskar is an ancient Indian way of teaching the good things to the unborn baby during pregnancy. As per science, it has been proven that 60% of a baby’s brain development happens inside the womb. From the seventh month onwards, unborn babies can hear and respond to their parent’s voice, different sounds, music.

Garbh Sanskar in Pregnancy and Its Benefits | Max Hospital
Garbha Sanskar: Reading Good Books, Listening Good Music, Chanting Spiritual Mantra, etc

Scientific evidence for Garbha Sanskar

Garbha Sanskar is highly popular across the globe in different forms in different cultures because its significance in the development of the baby is. The baby inside the mother’s womb responds to outside stimulus, sounds and can also listen to their voice.


It may sound weird but communication with the baby is a great way for the parents to bond with the child. The baby has the ability to listens to you and feel your feelings while it is still inside the womb. You can influence your unborn baby’s first impressions inside the womb by listening to soothing music, visualizing good things, meditating and thinking positively.

DIY Garbha Sanskar

You can do Garbha Sanskar at home to ensure a healthy pregnancy and child using the following methods:

Start with a pre-pregnancy detox for both mother and father

The detox will make your system clean, you can also opt for a through Ayurvedic detox before trying for a baby. If you’re already pregnant, then follow a nutritional wholesome diet during the entire pregnancy. Always consult with your doctor before starting a new diet or exercise routine before and after getting pregnant.

Follow a healthy lifestyle

When you are trying to conceive, follow a healthy eating and sleeping pattern. It is applicable to both the parents. Avoid intake of cigarette, tobacco, aerated drinking, alcohols and junk food.

Bond with child

Spend time reading good books, listening to music. This will increase the bonding of parents with the unborn child.

Listen to Garbha Sanskar Mantras

Try to pray every day by chanting Samaveda mantra. You can also listen to bhajans, Gayatri mantra, Ganesha mantra to have a positive impact on your child. Balaji tambe’s Garbha Sanskar music is quite popular among women. Apart from listening to mantras, you can also try listening to soothing music which boosts the mood and promotes positive thinking. By all this, your baby will also get positive energy.

Indulge in works of art

Enhance constructive thoughts by reading good books during pregnancy. Embrace your creative side by taking up a hobby like painting, gardening, knitting, photography etc.

Stay positive

Stay away from sad thoughts and avoid watching horror and thriller shows and movies as it can have a bad impact on the baby. Keep yourself engaged in positive talks and activities.


Because of the above, I am confident that you have learned in-depth about Garbha upanishad.  It’s meaning, contents, manuscripts, etymology, development of fetus, Garbha sanskar, etc. Now, that you have become self-sufficient to practice and achieve the goal, hence it’s the right time to use your acquired knowledge for gaining numerous benefits for well-being.

After reading this article, how would you rate it? Would you please let me know your precious thoughts? 

Frequently asked questions

Before posting your query, kindly go through the:

What is Garbha Upanishad?

The Garbha Upanishad is a text that almost exclusively comments on medical and physiology-related themes, dealing with the theory of the formation and development of the human embryo and human body after birth.

How many stages the body goes through as per Garbha Upanishad?

The body goes through six stages from existence in its life, and these are created as: Fetus, Birth, Growth, Maturity, Decay, and Death.


What is Garbha Sanskar?

Garbha Sanskar is an ancient Indian way of teaching the good things to the unborn baby during pregnancy. As per science, it has been proven that 60% of a baby’s brain development happens inside the womb.



Related Posts