Conception in Ayurveda and Jyotisha

Nothing at the moment of birth is accidental; from the number of people in the room to the weather of the day. The circumstances of birth relate to who we are and reveal the nature of our personality and karma. These factors are also very benefical for chart rectification.

Birth is the moment we come out of the womb and enter an ‘individual existence’. This sounds like a simple definition but has actually been a debate among scholars for many millenium. When exactly does ‘individual existence’ start? Advanced Vedic astrologers rectify the birth time to 24 seconds using the nadiamsha (D-150) and ardha-nadiamsha (D-300), yet still there are so many variables that there is still disagreement about the exact moment of birth.  Many people get fundamental about this topic (fundamentalism is a disease of Ketu) but we will avoid this and try to understand the sides of each factor of determination, as well as the actual science of being born. Then we will look into details about the circumstances of birth reflected in the rashi and navamsha and what this means about ourselves.


Life starts before we are actually born. A living baby can be born premature or die within the womb-meaning it is alive. So when exactly does ‘life’ begin? There are many theories, we will try to understand this question from both a scientific and an astrological perspective. After we understand some of these theories, we will look at when ‘individual life’ begins.

Creating a new life begins with the sexual act called mithuna. The transiting seventh house shows the emotion between lovers during intercourse. If Mars is in the seventh house, then the individuals are fighting and arguing. If Saturn is present, then there is lack of satisfaction and closeness. If benefics are in the seventh house, the sex will be amorous and playful.  The karmas of the incarnating soul are attracted to the mental state of the man and woman at the time of copulation (which can be seen in the seventh house of the copulation time). The incarnating soul’s mental and physical nature relates to the predominat guna and doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) of the parents at the time of copulation. Sperm is released into the female partner. This is called the nisheka, which literally means sprinkling or infusion and in this context means ejaculation (Moon is karaka). The released sperm travel into the womb to fertilize the female ovum (egg) which can take anywhere from ten hours to five days. Every text containing the topic of nisheka begins with calculations for the menstruation cycle, and how it relates to Moon and Mars. Ovulation (Rtukala [1]) was understood to be sixteen days from the beginning of menstruation or twelve days from the end of it.

The moment of ‘conception’ is called the adhana. Adhana literally means depositing or placing as well as kindling or lighting a fire, in this context it means conception (Sun is karaka). The nisheka can be controlled by man, but the adhana is controlled by a higher power. The semantics of the English term ‘conception’ is debated and not used in scientific literature as it does not differentiate: thefertilization of the ovum (sperm meeting egg) or the merging of the sperm’s nucleus with the egg’s to make a zygote (taking about 30 hours), or the implantation of the resulting cell mass (blastocyst) onto the  wall of the uterus (1-2 days later).

When fertilization happens it is the beginning of a process, yet this actual process was started by the nisheka, and the process is still taking place. When the sperm and egg combine into a zygote all the genetic material that will be used to create that individual is then in place, yet the seed has no field to grow in. This cell mass continues to divide as it travels into the uterus. If there is no implantation then there is no pregnancy. In this regard, the Ayurveda texts define the embryo (garbha) as: the combination of sperm (shukra), ovum (shonita) and soul (jiva) when it has become stationed in the uterus (garbhashaya-stha) [2].
blastocystCaraka Samhita says the combined sperm and ovum go to the uterus and then the jiva, conjoined the mind, descends into the womb (avakrama) to create the embryo [3]. The mind forms the bridge between the physical matter which will become body and the jiva which is transmigrating. Caraka Samhita states that the gross body is a result of the subtle body (sukshmasharira) and can only manifest when associated with the subtle body guiding the formation of the gross body and mind according to the results of past actions [4]. This may seem clear but if the jiva does not enter until in the womb then how was the genetic material which will make the body according to its karma already processed before descending to the uterus [5]? The jiva had to be present even before the nisheka if it was attracted by the parent’s mental state during mithuna. Therefore when does the jiva enter the physical or is the jiva guiding the entire process in a transcendental state. These are the main issues of debate.

It makes minor differences for our calculations but it makes a huge difference relative to the abortion laws and regulations of a country; are drugs that stop implantation to be called as birth control or abortificiant? Did life begin at fertilization, or implantation? If there is no pregnancy (garbha/ embryo formation) can it be said that life has begun?

Jyotisha has various calculations to differentiate the nisheka from adhana; the nisheka is obvious as it is the finishing of copulation, the adhana has some adjustment calculations. For each of these times, a chart can be cast and indications about the pregnancy and future child can be seen. Some astrologers do not differentiate the difference between nisheka and adhana. In the case of In-Vitro fertilization, these times can be drastically different. There is a case where a woman at Israel’s Hadasa Hospital became pregnant with embryos that had been frozen for twelve years[6]. The nisheka and adhana were twelve years apart. Brihat Jataka mentions certain combinations for delayed delivery, one of which refers to twelve years [7]. The nisheka and fertilization were done at one time, then frozen. The conception/implantation/ adhana happened twelve years later.

These conception charts indicate the health of the mother during pregnancy and delivery as well as the formation of the child. For example, if at the moment of conception malefics occupy the twelfth house, and benefics don’t aspect the lagna, or Saturn occupies the lagna and is aspected by Mars the pregnant woman will pass away [8]. Most of the combinations that indicate death of the mother, will indicate delivery complications in this age. Relative to the child, when the lagna of the conception chart is occupied or aspected by a benefic planet, the child will be healthy, prosperous, and strive for all types of knowledge [9]. There are also combinations for producing a female, male, hermaphrodite, or twin children. There are simple and complicated calculations for timing delivery [10]. There are also negative combinations such as: if a malefic conjoins the Moon (with no benefic influence) in the last navamshas of Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces then the child will be born deaf [11]. There are various combinations to be avoided. For this reason in ancient times, royal families were very particular about times to conceive children. Many traditional Jyotisha texts give detailed information about determining conception time.

The Horasara states that all rules of the nisheka chart are also applicable to a prashna of the same topic. This text also gives various techniques to predict about the gender of the child and the time of delivery using prashna [12].

Conception Chart Calculation

How many people actually have their conception chart? Very few. The Rshis also had this issue and therefore discovered techniques to work backwards from the natal chart to get the conception time. A few rules have been listed below to determine the conception time from the birth chart. There are other techniques available but these are simple guidelines which give relatively accurate results.

1. Count 273 days backward from the birthdate. [This technique will not work if the individual was born premature.] A sidereal lunar month is 27.3217 days. This multiplied by 10 months is 273 days. (Thirty days in a solar month multiplied by nine results in 270 days).

2. Notice whether the lagnesha is in the visible (dRshya) or invisible (adRshya) half of the zodiac. The invisible side is the middle (15º) of the ascendant to the middle of the seventh house. If the lagnesha is in the invisible side then the the birth took less time while if it is in the visible portion it took more time.

3. Saturn and Gulika are the karakas for the papa-karma, un-wholesome action, which leads to your re-birth. They represent suffering and its results. Calculate the difference in degrees between Saturn and Gulika, then reduce by multples of thirty to have a number under 30. Turn these degrees into days and either subtract or add this to 273 days depending on whether the birth took less time or longer.

4. The Moon at conception should be in kendra to the natal Moon. This is used to rectify the day calculation to the appropriate Moon sign.

5. The lagna of the conception chart is the seventh from the child’s Janma Lagna. That which was the seventh house of the conception chart becomes the lagna [or navamsha lagna] of the individual. There is a great revelation hidden in this technique. The seventh house of the conception chart shows the mental and emotional qualities between the parents at the moment of creating the individual. This seventh house sign then becomes the rashi or navamsha lagna of the individual’s birth chart. In this way, the guna (levels of rajas and tamas) and doshas (levels of the elements) of the parents dominant at the time of conception influences the nature of the child as stated in the Ayurveda texts.

180px-Views_of_a_Foetus_in_the_Womb_detailCreating the Perfect Child

How to make the child you want to have. If only there was a good recipe that was sweet and simple. Can you control the birth time? Or at least the circumstances of the birth?

As you will see below, there are all types of combinations showing the nature of the individual soul and how this reflects in the circumstances of birth. One such combination in the child’s chart shows whether the father was present at the birth or not, so then is that the father’s decision or the child’s. My wife’s father was in the delivery room for many hours waiting for her arrival. After the night had passed he left to get a morning coffee. When he returned twenty minutes later, his daughter had been born. In her chart, the Moon does not aspect lagna or lagnesha. He missed the birth even though he was right there trying to be present.

In my own daughter’s navamsha chart, Sun and Ketu were conjunct and in trine to Jupiter. Wow, if Jupiter could be in the navamsha lagna and Sun and Ketu in the fifth, then she would be an incredible astrologer. I put the ghee lamp in the northwestern direction to allow the Sun to be in the fifth. There were complications during labor and we had to go to the hospital for final delivery. Now, with that Jupiter in the navamsha seventh and in trine to Sun and Ketu she’ll marry a good astrologer.

An associate of mine was consulted by a gentleman who wanted a chart to have his child born through cesarean (when the doctor surgically removes the child). He asked for a chart best for politics and wealth. There was no reason for the mother to have a cesarean birth except that the father was trying to control the child’s destiny. In these cases, negative combinations show up in the chart which were overlooked by the astrologer, or other such things happen. We must be careful how we try to control destiny- as destiny is daiva, which comes from the devas, and it is not our job to play god.

We get what our karma gives us. A child is only the power of ones own fifth house. Caraka says that the child resembles those things which the mother thinks in her mind during conception[13]. Therefore instead of trying to control the destiny by fixing the lamp in the room in a certain way or manipulating the birth we must instead focus on inner cultivation of ourselves. Everything in our life is just a reflection of our own growth and consciousness- therefore we must clean the dirt from ourselves not from the mirror. Garbhadhana-samskara is the purification process done before two prospective parents decide to conceive.

Tradition teaches us that before conceiving we should do various sadhanna and rituals to purify and prepare ourselves. In our Jyotisha tradition, the paramguru fasted for forty days and went on pilgrimage to the temple of the kuladevata (family deity) before conceiving. In this way, Freedom Cole says that one must perform spiritual penance, and pray to the divine for a child. How to get an artist- pray to the goddess Sarasvati and perform her rituals. In this way, we ask destiny (daiva) to bless us and we earn this blessing. The moment of nisheka is also to be performed with intention and at a beneficial muhurta. Then you surrender (prapatti) and trust in the Supreme. Muhurta is like archery. You take your time, eye the target, watch your breath and mind, and at the right moment you release the arrow. Once it is released there is nothing you can do but surrender, if the wind blows or you didn’t aim properly then the arrow will miss. It is the intention and action at the beginning that determines the outcome. In this way we strive for the proper intention when we create a child.

When people come to the astrologer with the wrong intention, it is almost impossible to find a good muhurta. While people of good actions with pure intention choose beneficial muhurtas by chance. So what happens when a pregnancy comes by accident? We often end up with a child who does not know their purpose in life. Their intention for creation was accidental and unconscious and this lack of clarity gets reflected in their life. The fifth house (which is the basic representation of offspring) is our mindfield (chitta) and desires, therefore what we create. As individuals we need to be conscious of what we are trying to create in this world, where we are headed, and what we are trying to achieve with our life. An individual who prays to Vishnu everyday to be of service to the Lord and offers their life to the betterment of the world, or one who prays to Sarasvati everyday to create things that bring more light into this creation are sure to have their creations blessed and guided by a higher power. Therefore, an accidental birth of such an individual will carry the same intentions. In this way, to create a wonderful child, we purify ourselves; our actions and desires.

The complete article is available in Jyotish Digest Vol. V/Issue 1 or as Chapter 6 in Science of Light Vol II

[1] Rtukala refers to the time of the female ovulation each month as well as the time of life between puberty and menopause when a woman is capable of child-bearing.

[2] Caraka Samhita, Sharirasthanam III.3, Sushruta Samhita, Sharirasthanam IV.3, and Prasuti Tantra IV.1

[3] Caraka Samhita, Sharirasthanam III.1 yada canayostathayukte samsarge sukrashonitasamsargamantargarbhashaya-gatam jivo’vakramati sattvasamprayogat tada garbho’bhinirvartate|

[4] Caraka Samhita, Sharirasthanam II.36

[5] Rigorous research has not confirmed that there was a proper understanding of the uterus, the fallopian tubes, or the female ovum within the ancient Ayurvedic texts. There is mention of uterine veins, and ducts, etc., but their function has not been described satisfactorily for modern correlation. See The Origin of the Life of a Human Being by Rahul Peter Das, p14-29 for more on this topic.

[6] Revel, Human Reproduction, p. 238

[7] BRhat Jataka 4.22

[8] BRhat Jataka 4.6

[9] Jataka Parijata III.20

[10] See Sathanam, R. Essentials of Predictive Hindu Astrology, Chapter 23: On Prenatal Epoch,  or refer to Jaimini Upadesha Sutra 4.3.3-9

[11] BRhat Jataka 4.18

[12] Horasara IV.22-28

[13] Caraka Samhita, Sharirasthanam II.25