Garbhopaniṣad

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Garbhopanisad, GarbhopaniSad, Garbhopanishad


This is a minor Upaniṣad of the Krsna Yajurveda group. It is remarkable for its detailed and accurate description of the development of the garbha or the foetus in the womb. The philosophical part of the work lies in the reflections of the jīva or the individual soul in the womb before birth.

There are 22 mantras, mostly in prose. It gives an aphoristic description of the human body in the next six mantras. It describes the parts of body systems like the five bhutas or elements like earth, water, fire, the sense-organs, the capacity to know the six kinds of tastes and the voice capable of producing desirable and undesirable sounds.

The eighth mantra describes the formation of the foetus in mother’s womb. It shows the growth and it's complete development till the end of the eighth month. According to this Upaniṣad, the jīva (the individual soul) enters the foetus in the seventh month. The next mantra dilates upon how a male child, female child, a eunuch and twins are born.

The verses 10 to 17, give a poignant description of the jīva repenting his miserable state for being forced to take birth and suffer in numerous lives due to his own mistake of seeking transitory worldly pleasures than God.

However, all this knowledge of his previous lives and the present state is totally forgotten as soon as he is born.[1] By conceiving of the various parts of the human body, as different items in a Vedic sacrifice, an individual can purify his mind and finally attain liberation.


References

  1. Garbhopaniṣad verse 18
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore