The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “origin and development of the body (deha)” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 22 - The origin and development of the body (deha)

Vyāsa said:—

1. O dear, O great sage, for realizing the worldly detachment please mention the detailed mode of the birth of living beings and their stay in the womb.

Sanatkumāra said:—

2. O Vyāsa, listen succinctly to the essence of the sacred lore. I shall explain the excellent mode of worldly detachment which removes the bondage with the world, of a man desirous of liberation.

3-4. When we cook rice the process is as follows. In the cooking vessel the rice and water remain separate. Water is above fire. The rice is above water. The wind slowly blows against the fire beneath the water. The fire kindled by the wind makes the water boil.

5. The rice with hot-boiling water all round it becomes cooked. When cooked it becomes separated into sediment and juice.

6. (More or less a similar process takes place in the body.) The sediment in the body (deha) consists of twelve forms of waste matter. These are split and sent out of the body. The juice matter circulates in the body. Man gets nourished through it.

7. The ears, the eyes, the now, the tongue, the teeth, the penis, the anus, and the nails are the receptacles of dirt secreted by them. The phlegm, the sweat, the faeces and the urine—these together make up the twelve.

8. All the vessels scattered all over the body are joined centrally at the heart. These vessels shall be understood to convey Rasa. O sage, I shall mention their process of working.

9. Prāṇa (the vital air) places the subtle lymph at the mouths of the vessels. Then it fills the entire vessels with the lymph.

10-11. Thus filled, the vessels circulate all over the body. Then the lymph inside the vessels gets cooked by the fire in the body. There are two modes of cooking. [Probably the separation of sediment and watery part]. The skin is covered thereby. [The cells constituting the skin are generated]. Blood is produced.

12. The hair of the body and flesh are produced from the blood. The hair on the head and the sinews are produced from the flesh. From the sinews the bones are produced. The nails and marrow are produced from the bones.

13. An alternative cause of marrow, the semen itself becomes progeny. Thus the twelvefold metabolism of blood is explained.

14-16. The semen is secreted from the food eaten From the semen, the birth of another body is made possible. When the semen unalloyed is deposited in the vaginal passage during the prescribed period of cohabitation after the monthly menses, then the semen blown by the vital wind mingles with the blood of the woman. At the time when the semen is discharged the individual soul with the causal body or unit of sense-organs etc. enters the vaginal passage fully covered and urged by its past actions. The semen and blood in the unified state become foetus in a day.

17. In five nights the foetus assumes the shape cf bubbles and the bubbly mass becomes muscular mass in seven nights.

18-19. Within two months the following parts of the body are formulated in order Viz. the neck, the head the shoulders, the backbone, the belly, hands and feet, the sides the lips etc. Within three months all the joints are completed.

20. Within the fourth month the fingers are duly formed. The mouth, nose, and cars are ready within the fifth month,

21. Within six months the row of teeth, the private parts and the nails and the orifice of the ears take shape.

22. The rectum, or the penis of the vaginal passage and the navel too are formulated. Within the seventh all the limb-joints are completed.

23. O excellent sage, thus the complete child with all the limbs stays in the womb covered by the embryonic skin.

24. The child increases and develops day by day, stealthily taking in the food of the mother, of all the six tastes, through the umbilical cord.

25. Then the soul complete in this body recollects all the pleasures and sorrows and every thing done by it formerly as if in a dream.

26. “I am dead and born many times In these different births I have seen many types of wombs.

27. This time when I am born and consecrated I shall strive for welfare by means of this body so that I may not have to stay in another womb in future.

28. So thinks the child in the womb “As soon as I am released from this womb I shall seek Śiva’s perfect knowledge that repels all worldly existence.”

29. Troubled and tormented by the distress in the womb as a result of his past actions the individual soul stays there pondering over the means of liberation.

30. Just as a traveller surrounded by huge impassable mountains on all sides stands helplessly in his distress, so also the creature in the womb enveloped by the embryonic skin stays miserably.

31. Just as a man drowning in the sea is very much distressed, so also the child in the womb completely drenched by the liquid secretion in the womb is always distressed excessively.

32. Just as a person is cooked and boiled in an iron cauldron by means of fire, so also the child hurled into the pot of womb is. cooked by the gastric fire.

33. For him staying inside the womb the misery is equal to, nay, more than the misery of a person incessantly pierced by means of redhot needles.

34. There is nowhere a greater misery than staying within the womb. To all embodied souls it is full of misery, very terrible and grievous.

35. This type of misery is for the sinners. But those of virtuous intellect take birth within seven months.

36. Getting crushed in the vaginal passage as if within a machine is a misery more grievous than the stay within the womb. O Vyāsa, this takes place in regard to the sinners and not the virtuous.

37. Just as the sugarcane is crushed in the machine, the sinner is crushed and beaten on the head by the ironclub of sin.

38. Just as the gingelly seeds pressed in the oil machine become a worthless residue, so also the body becomes a waste being crushed by the muscular walls of the vaginal passage.

39-43. This body in the womb is in an unenviable position. The hands and legs are like suspended pillars. Sinews tie them up in various ways. The whole body is smeared with dirty blood and flesh. It is the receptacle of faeces and urine. It is covered with hairs and nails. It is sickly and an abode of ailments. The only great opening is the mouth. It has eight small apertures like windows. The two lips are like two doors. The tongue is the bolt for them. The body is sick due to its thirst for pleasures. It is subservient to passion and hatred and utterly deluded. The various limbs overlap one another. It is surrounded by the embryonic membrane. With very great pain and difficulty it has ṭo come out of the vaginal passage. It is drenched with urine, blood and faeces. It comes out as from a sheath. It is a mass of skeleton.

44. The bones are three hundred and sixty in number. There are five hundred muscles. The body is covered with thirty-fìve million hairs.

45. The hairs are subtle and gross, visible and invisible. The veins and vessels within the body too are so many in number.

46. The internal secretions circulate within and go out through these vessels. The teeth are thirty two in number and the nails are twenty.

47. The measure of bile content in the body is one Kuḍava. (1/4 of Prastha or 12 handfuls). The phlegm is one Āḍhaka (256 fistfuls). The vasā fat weighs 20 palas. Half of that is the tawny matter.

48. The weight of solid fat is 2½ Tulās and ten palas. Blood is three palas and it is four times the marrow.

49. The semen is half a Kuḍava. The strength of the living beings depends on it. A mass of flesh weighs a thousand palas.

50. O excellent sage, the blood is hundred palas according to which the faeces and the urine form four handfuls each.

51. Such is the transient abode, the body of the eternal soul. It is impure while the soul is pure. It is generated due to his past actions and their bondage.