Despite all the advances of modern medicine, the safe birth of a normal human child is not something we can take for granted.
It is no surprise then that the vedic civilization, with reams upon reams of hymns asking for heroic progeny should have hymns asking for the safe birth of their children. What is surprising though is that there is just one hymn of this nature in the main family mandalas and perhaps no more than 3 in all of the Rig Veda.
Hymn 78 in the Atri family Mandala – Mandala V has 9 verses, 6 of which make very clear reading and easy interpretation. The deities invoked are the Asvin twins, clearly by the time of this Mandala, the deities dealing with health and well being.
The first three verses implore the twin deities to accept the offering and grant what is being asked for in the verses that follow:
RV 5.078.01-03 YE Asvins, hither come to us: Nasatyas, be not disinclined. Fly hither like two swans unto the juice we shed.
O Asvins, like a pair of deer, like two wild cattle to the mead: Fly hither like two swans unto the juice we shed.
O Asvins rich in gifts, accept our sacrifice to prosper it: Fly hither like two swans unto the juice we shed.
We will leave verses 4, 5 and 6 for now and go directly to the last three:
RV 5.078.07-09 Like as the wind on every side ruffles a pool of lotuses, So stir in thee the babe unborn, so may the ten-month babe descend.
Like as the wind, like as the wood, like as the sea is set astir, So also, ten-month babe, descend together with the after-birth.
The child who hath for ten months’ time been lying in his mother’s side,- May he come forth alive, unharmed, yea, living from the living dame.
These verses clearly indicate what is being asked for through this hymn. What the last verse also seems to suggest is not just the safe coming forth of the child, but also that the mother come to no harm as well – “living from the living dame”.
Verses 4 to 6 have been deliberately omitted from this analysis due to some very interesting stories embedded within them and deserving of separate articles.