“ jAta” means “immediately after birth” and “karma” means “action”. As soon as a child is born, the first samskAram to be performed is जातकर्मा/जातकर्मन् jAtakarmA / jAtakarman.
jAtakarmA is performed:
1. to generate intelligence or wisdom for the child. (मॆधाजनन medhAjanana)
2. to secure long life for the child. (आयुष्य Ayushya )
3. to seek the blessings from dEvatAs and the nAndee pitRUs.
4. to ward off evils and diseases that may affect the child.
ManusmRuti 2.27 says
गार्भैर्हॊमैर्जातकर्मचौडमौञ्जीनिबन्धनै: बैजिकं गार्बिकं चैनॊ द्विजानामपमृज्यते
baijikaM gaarbikaM chainO dvijaanaamapamRujyate
The vEdic hOmA rites of garbhAdana (the consecration of the womb), the jAtakarmA (post- natal rite), choodAkaraNa (tonsure), the maunjee bandhana (upanayanam-initiation of the gAyatree) destroys the sins relating to the “seed and the womb” of the twice born ones.
The kartA of this samskAra is the father of the new born child. The priest initiates this karmA. Most of the procedures in this samskArA are prescribed mainly for the male child.
AshvalAyana gRuhya sootram, adhyAya 1, kaNDikA 15, Verse 12
आवृतैव कुमार्यै ।
The rite should be performed without the mantra.
So the jAtakarmA rite should be performed even for the girl child but with some changes in the mantrAs which the priest would know.
1. jAtakarma is performed as soon as the male child is born but before the navel string is cut.
The pAraskara gruhya sootrA (shukla yajur vedis), khaNDa 1, khaNDikA 16
जातस्य कुमारस्याच्छिन्नायां नाड्यां मेधाजननायुष्ये करोति ।
jAtasya kumArasyAchChinnAyAM nADyAM medhAjananAyuShyE karOti |
When the boy child is born, the father performs the rite of medhAjanana (production of intelligence) and the AyuShya (seeking long life) for the child, before the navel string is cut off.
2. If it is not posssible to perform this samskArA immediately after birth, then it can be performed before the end of the day of the birth of the boy child.
जातॆ पुत्रॆ पिता स्नात्वा पुत्र तॆश दिनान्तरम् ।
मुच्यते पैतृकात्तस्मात् सद्य एव द्विजॊत्तमा: ||
तत्र दानं प्रकुर्वीतं यथाशक्तयनुसारत:
jAtE putrE pitA snAtvA putra tEsha dinAntaram | muchyate paitRukAttasmAt sadya eva dvijOttamA: || tatra dAnaM prakurveetaM yathAshaktayanusArata: |
On the birth of a son, the father should have a bath and do nAndeee shrAddham and give dAnaM (gifts) following the rules of the dvijAs, according to his ability within that day.
It is performed in the house where the parents of the new born child live as it is a gruhya smArta karmA.
The debt towards the pitRus is cancelled as soon as a boy is born. The day the boy is born, pitRus visit the house and bless the family. So doing nAndi shrArdham and dAnam before the umblical cord is cut brings eternal good results.
VashiShTa SmrRuti, Chapter 17, Verse 1
ऋणमस्मिन् सन्नयति अमृतत्वञ्च गच्छति । पिता पुत्रस्य जातस्य पश्यॆच्च जीवतॊ मुखम् ॥
RuNamasmin sannayati amRutatvancha gachChati |
pitA putrasya jAtasya pashyEchcha jeevatO mukham ||
The father throws his debts on his son and acquires immortality as soon as he sees the face of a son born alive.
The following is the procedure described in the Apastamba sootram, PaTala 6, khaNDa 15. The priest conducts the function.
1. The father of the child must have a bath immediately on hearing that his son is born. He must then give gifts (dAnam) according to his varnAshrama. anugyai is taken and vignEshwara pooja is performed.
2. अभिमर्शनं abhimarshanam :- सू.१ ” जातं वात्सप्रॆणाभिमृश्य”
“abhimarshanam” here means to touch the child. The father repeats after the priest/pandit the following 11 mantrAs given by “vatsapree Rushi” found in the “taittireeya samhitA, kANDA 4, prashna 2, anuvAkA 12” and then touches the child for the first time. These mantrAs are in praise of “agni dEvatA” which are normally recited in the morning and evening by an agnihOtri in the normal course. Here the father of the son prays to agni and seeks his blessings first because he is the most important of the vedic gods in virtue of being the only carrier of messages to all the other dieties, to bless the child and grant him and his family with eternal strength like that of His.
1. दि॒वस्परि॑ प्रथ॒मञ्ज॑ज्ञे अ॒ग्निर॒स्मद्द्वि॒तीयं॒ परि॑ जातवॆ॑दा: । तृ॒तीय॑मफ्सु नृ॒मणा॒ अज॑स्र॒मिन्धा॑न एनञ्जरतॆ स्वा॒धी: ।
1. Oh! agni in the sky, you first appeared as sun, then came to earth as agni. In sea, it is present as pAdapAgni. If we pray to agni in all these three forms, agni bhagavAn blesses us. So let me daily keep the agni glowing with my sacrificial offerings.
2. Oh! agni, you have many names like gArhapatyam, Ahavaneeya, dakshinAgni. We also want to understand your place of origin when you come down in the form of lightening.
3. Oh! agni, you are the one in the sea, in the water and the one in tejOmanDalam in honour of whom the vEdis do yAgam. I also join them in increasing your brilliance.
4. Oh! agni, you are the one in the sky that protects the clouds and the trees without increasing your heat. Your rays give life’s joy to the world.
5. Oh! agni, you are eternal, you wipe away sins (pApa). agni is made for the benefit of mankind, with dhoomam he doesn’t affect our eyes, jvAlA glowing upwards.
6. agni is instrumental for the formation of clouds in the sky. As soon as agni is born, he pervades the sky. He is very pivotal for the world to sustain and he is worshipped by all the four rithviks.
7. agni is the one that makes yAgam secure, gives wealth right from cows and is the thunder while it rains, who glows in the agnihotri’s homam and who comes out of arani when churned.
8. Oh! agni who has great tejas, who accepts havis (offering), and who is ever youthful, bestow your best of blessings on the “yajamAna” (the kartA of the Homa).
9. Oh! agni, make me sincere in the practice of the vaidika shAstras. May my service towards agni and soorya bless me with sons and grandsons.
10. The hOtRus (those who do yAgam) live only with your help as they sincerely perform yAgas and do other prescribed karmas only to show their obeisance to you. They pray to you for providing strength and material wealth to continue to do their karmas well.
11. दृ॒शा॒नॊ रु॒क्म उ॒र्व्या व्य॑द्यौद्दु॒र्मर्ष॒मायु॑स्श्रि॒यॆ रु॑चान: । अ॒ग्निर॒मृतॊ॑ अभव॒द्वयॊ॑भि॒र्यदॆ॑न॒न्द्यौरज॑नयथ्सु॒रॆता॓: ॥
11. Oh! agni, the one who glows like gold. Nobody dares to disrespect you who has become eternal by accepting the havis (offering). The dwellers of the devaloka say you are endowed with strong virility.
3. Taking the child in the lap:- सू.१ “उत्तरॆण यजुषॊपस्थ आधाय”
The following mantrA is recited to take the child in the lap.
अ॒स्मिन्न॒हस॒हस्र॑ं पुष्या॒म्यॆध॑मान॒स्स्वॆ वशॆ॓ ॥
May the child grow up freely and fulfill my wishes.
4. सू.१, २ , ३, – ” उत्तराभ्यामाभिमन्त्रणं मूर्धन्यवघ्राणं दक्षिणॆ कर्णे जाप: ।” नक्षत्रनाम च निर्दिशति । तद्रहस्यं ।”
The father then smells the forehead of the son and tells the name of the nakshatra/star in which the baby was born in the right ear of the baby secretly. The mantras uttered here are:-
अङ्गा॑दङ्गा॒थ्संभ॑वसि॒ हृद॑या॒दधि॑ जायसे । आ॒त्मा वै पु॑त्र॒नामा॑सि॒ स जीव श॒रद॑श्श॒तम् ॥
अश्मा॑ भव पर॒शुर्भ॑व॒ हिर॑ण्य॒मस्तृ॑तं भव । प॒शूनां त्वा॑ हिन्का॒रॆणा॒भिजि॑घ्राम्यसौ ॥
Oh! little one. You are born from each of my body part and from my heart. You are named “putra” and you are a part of my soul (AtmA). May you live for hundred years (autumns), be so stable like a stone (sthiravAn) and blemishless like gold. As the cows smells the calf, I do the same. This is your nakshatra/star like rOhiNee, rEvatee, chaitra, etc.etc.
5. मॆधाजनन mEdhAjananam :-
सू.४ – मधुघृतमिति संसृज्य तस्मिन् दर्भॆण हिरण्यं निष्टर्क्यं बध्वाऽवदायॊत्तरैर्मन्त्रै: कुमारं प्राशयित्वॊत्तराभि: पञ्चभि: स्नापयित्वा दधिघृतमिति संसृज्य कांस्यॆन पुषदाज्यं व्याहृतीभिरॊन्कार चतुर्थाभि: कुमारं प्राशयित्वा उद्भिश्शॆषं संसृज्य गॊष्ठॆ निनयॆत् ।
(a) The father mixes together little honey and ghee in equal parts. He then dips a piece of gold (a golden ring or a small golden cup) which he has tied with a noose to a Darbha/kusha grass into the mixture and gives it to the child to eat. He says the following mantras before that:
मॆ॒धान्तॆ॑ दॆ॒वस्स॑वि॒ता मॆ॒धां दॆ॒वी सर॑स्वती । मॆ॒धान्तॆ॑ अ॒श्विनौ॑ दॆ॒वावाध॑त्तां॒ पुष्क॑रस्रजा ॥
त्वयि॑ मॆ॒धां त्वयि॑ प्र॒जां त्वय्य॒ग्निस्तॆजॊ॑ दधातु॒ त्वयि॑ मॆ॒धां त्वयि॑ प्र॒जां त्वयीन्द्र॑ इन्द्रि॒यं द॑धातु॒ त्वयि॑ मॆ॒धां त्वयि॑ प्र॒जां त्वयि॒ सूर्यॊ॒ भ्राजॊ॑ दधातु ॥
Meaning: May savitA dEva bless the child with intelligence. May Saraswati dEvee grant wisdom. My the ashwini devatAs wearing tAmarasa garland confer intelligence to you . May agni dEvata also confer intelligence and progeny on you. May Indra also bless you thus and so also Soorya dEvata.
(b) The following mantras are recited and the child is given the bath for the first time.
क्षॆ॒त्रि॒यै त्वा॒ निर् ऋ॑त्यै त्वा द्रु॒हॊ मु॑ञ्चामि॒ वरु॑णस्य॒ पाशा॑त् । अ॒ना॒गसं॒ ब्रह्म॑णॆ त्वा करॊमि शि॒वॆ तॆ॒ द्यवा॑पृथि॒वी उ॒भे इ॒मॆ ॥
शन्तॆ॑ अ॒ग्निस्स॒हाद्भिर॑स्तु॒ शं द्यावा॑पृथि॒वी स॒हौष॑धीभि: । शम॒न्तरि॑क्षस॒ह वातॆ॑न तॆ॒ शन्तॆ॒ चत॑स्र: प्र॒दिशॊ॑ भवन्तु ॥
या दैवी॒श्चत॑स्र: प्र॒दिशॊ॒ वात॑पत्नीर॒भि सूर्यॊ॑ विच॒ष्टॆ । तासा॓ं त्वा ज॒रस॒ आद॑धामि॒ प्रयख्ष्म॑ एतु॒ निर् ऋ॑तिं परा॒चै: ॥
अमॊ॑चि॒ यख्ष्मा॓द्दुरि॒तादव॑र्त्यै द्रु॒ह: पाशा॒न्निर् ऋ॑त्यै॒ चॊद॑मॊचि । अहा॒
अव॑र्ति॒मवि॑दथ्स्यॊ॒नमप्य॑भूद्भ॒द्रॆ सु॑कृ॒तस्य॑ लॊ॒के ॥
सूर्य॑मृ॒तं तम॑सॊ॒ ग्राह्या॒ यद्दॆ॒वा अमु॑ञ्ज॒न्नसृ॑ज॒न्व्यॆ॑नस: । ए॒वम॒हमि॒मं क्षे॓त्रि॒याज्जा॑मिश॒॒साद्द्रु॒हॊ मु॑ञ्चामि॒ व॑रुणस्य॒ पाशा॓त् ॥
May this child be protected from the genius of the pishAchas called “nirRuti” and the dangers of death arising from water (varuNa pAsha). May he be free of all terminal diseases. May you be free of all pulmonary diseases (yakshma rOgam). Thus may the child be sinless and qualify to learn the vedAs. May the pancha tatvas of space, earth, water, fire, air, the sun and the four directions support you in your endeavours during your life. May you thus live long and enjoy all happiness.
(c) The father then mixes little curd and ghee in a bronze or bell-metal cup (kAnsya) and feeds it to the child while uttering the vyAhrutis and OmkArA in the last. He gives the mixture once to the child and the balance in the cup to a cow.
भूस्स्वाहा॒ । भुव॒स्स्वाहा॒। सुव॒स्स्वाहा । ओं स्वाहा॓ ॥
6. First feeding of the child :-
सू.५ – उत्तरया मातुरुपस्थ आधायोत्तरया दक्षिणं स्तनं प्रतिधाप्योत्तराभ्यां पृथिवीमभिमृश्योत्तरेण यजुषा संविष्टम् ।
1. The father places the child on the mother’s lap. 2. He then makes her give the child the right breast. After the child has fed on the mother, 3. The child is put to sleep or rest on the floor (earth) and then 4. the father touches the child. The following mantrAs are recited :-
1. मा तॆ॑ कुमा॒र रक्षॊ॑ वधी॒न्मा धॆ॒नुर॑त्यासा॒रिणी॓ । प्रि॒या धन॑स्य भूया॒ एध॑माना॒ स्वॆ गृ॒हे ॥
1. May the rAkshashas not come to kill this child. May the cows in my house not go away. Let them live here willingly with love.
2. अ॒यं कु॑मा॒रॊ ज॒रां ध॑यतु धी॒र्घमायु॑: । यस्मै॒ त्व स्तन॒ प्रप्या॒यायु॒र्वर्चॊ॒ यशॊ॒ बल॓म् ॥
2. May the child feed on the mother’s milk peacefully which would give him long life. May the milk flow sufficiently. Thus may the child beget Ayush (long life), varchas (vigour), yashas (respect) and balam (stamina)
3. यद्भूमॆ॒र्॒हृद॑यं दि॒वि च॒न्द्रम॑सि श्रि॒तम् । तदु॑र्वि पश्य॒ं माऽहं पौत्र॒मघ॑रुदम् ॥ यत्तॆ॑ सुसी॒मॆ हृद॑य॒ं वॆदा॒हं तत् प्र॒जाप॑तौ । वॆदा॑म॒ तस्य॑ तॆ व॒यं माऽहं पौत्र॒मघ॑रुदम् ॥
3. Oh! bhoomi (भूमि देवता earth), Behold and protect the child and bless our family to keep seeing you until long. May we not cry for our child or his child for any reason.
4. अ॒यं कु॑मा॒रॊ ज॒रां ध॑यतु धी॒र्घमायु॑: । यस्मै॒ त्व स्तन॒ प्रप्या॒यायु॒र्वर्चॊ॒ यशॊ॒ बल॓म् ॥
4. This child will never cry or have any diseases in this place where the child has been laid down or put to sleep.
7. RakshA hOmam for 10 days of dOshA/pollution period :-
The father then performs a hOmam for 10 days for the protection of the child.
सू.६,७ – उत्तरेण यजुषा शिरस्य उदकुम्भं निधाय सर्षपान्फलीकरण मिश्रानञ्जलिनोत्तरैस्त्रिस्त्रि :
प्रतिस्वाहाकारं हुत्वा संशास्ति प्रविष्टे प्रविष्ट एव तूष्णीमग्नावावपतेति । एवमहरहरानिर्दशताया : ।
(a)The father then places a water-pot (udakumbhaM उदकुम्भं) near the child’s head and says:-
आप॑स्सु॒प्तॆषु॑ जाग्रत॒ रक्षा॑सि॒ निरि॒तॊ नु॑दद्ध्वम् ॥
Oh! water (ApO dEvatA आपॊ दॆवता ). Keep awake and watch the child when we are asleep and drive away the rAkshashas.
(b) He then performs a hOmA to protect the child from evil. For this purpose he sacrifices mustard seeds ( सर्षप sarShapa) and rice-chaff/ ( फलीकरण phaleekaraNa ) 3 times each at the end of the following 8 mantrAs into the fire lit at the time of delivery which is called the सूतकाग्नि sootakAgni.
अ॒यं क॒लिं प॒तय॑न्त श्वा॒नमि॒वॊद्वृ॒द्धम् । अ॒जां वाशि॑तामिव मरुत॒: पर्या॑द्ध्व॒॒ स्वाहा॓ ॥
शण्डॆ॒रथ॒श्शण्डि॑केर उलूख॒ल: । च्यव॑नॊ॒ नश्य॑तादि॒तस्स्वाहा॥
अय॒श्शण्डॊ॒ मर्क॑ उप॒वीर॑ उलूख॒ल: । च्यव॑नॊ नश्य॑तादि॒तस्स्वाहा॥
कॆ॒शिनी॒श्श्वलॊ॒मिनी॒: खजा॑पॊ॒ऽजॊप॑काश्सिनी: । अपॆ॑त॒ नश्य॑तादि॒तस्स्वाहा॥
मि॒श्रवा॑सस: कौबॆर॒का र॑क्षॊरा॒जेन॒ प्रॆषि॑ता: । ग्राम॒॒ सजा॑नयॊ गच्छन्ती॒च्छन्तॊ॑ऽपरि॒दाकृ॒तान्थस्स्वाहा॑ ॥
ए॒तान् घ्न॑तैतान् गृ॑ह्णी॒तॆत्य॒यं ब्रह्म॑णस्पु॒त्र: । तान॒ग्नि:
पर्य॑सर॒त्तानिन्द्र॒स्तान्बृह॒स्पति॑: । तन॒हं वॆ॑द ब्राह्म॒ण: प्र॑मृश॒त:
कू॑टद॒न्तान् वि॑कॆ॒शाँल्ल॑म्बनस्त॒नान्थ्स्वाहा॓ ॥
न॒क्त॒ञ्चा॒रिण॑ उरस्पॆ॒षाञ्छूलह॒स्तान्क॑पाल॒पान् । पूर्व॑ एषां पि॒तॆत्यु॒च्चै
श्रा॓व्यक॒र्णक॑: । मा॒ता ज॑घ॒न्या॑ सर्प॑ति॒ ग्रामॆ॑ विधु॒रमि॒च्छन्ती॒ स्वाहा॓ ॥
नि॒शी॒थ॒चा॒रिणी॒ स्वसा॑ स॒न्धिना॒ प्रॆक्ष॑तॆ कुल॓म् । या स्वप॑न्तं बॊ॒धय॑ति॒ यस्यै॒
विजा॑ताया॒म्मान॑: । तासा॒ं त्वं कृ॑ष्ण॒वर्त्म॑नॆ क्लॊ॒मान॒॒ हृद॑य॒ं यकृ॑त् ।
अग्नॆ॒ अक्षी॑णि नि॒र्दह॒ स्वाहा॓ ॥
Oh! mAruts, I pray unto you to keep the child away from the ill-effects of the “kali dEvatA”. I pray to agni to keep the child secure from the effects of the disease giving rAkshashAs called chanDEradan, chanDitEran, ulookalan and shevanan. I pray to agni to wipe off asurAs like ayOmukhan, sanDan, markan, ulookalan, shevanan and upaveeran who cause diseases to infants. I pray to agni to ward off pishAchas like kEshini, shvalOmini, kajApa, ajOpa and kAshini. Let the spirits who come to the village along with their wives, to cast their spell on boys who have not had their upanayanam vanish. Oh! agni drive away all the pishAchas who come home with dreadful long teeth and huge chests. Oh, agni, Destroy the ghosts holding skulls in their hands and waiting to eat the child. Oh, agni, Burn those sisters of the ghosts, who roam around at midnight, peep into the child’s room, disturb the sleep of the inmates.
Saying thus, the father offers hOmam 3 times and then gives the balance mustard seeds as bali.
(c) When the wife was going to be confined to labour a portion of the house would have been demarcated and enclosed for the purpose of labour. This maternity room was called sootikA gRuha सूतिका गृह. Once the delivery is successful, a fire called sootakAgni सूतकाग्नि was lit in the corner of the room. The wife and the child stay there for a period of 10 days post labour because it is an impure period for the mother. The paternal family also has the “janana Ashoucha” i.e. the impurity due to birth for ten days. Purity for all members then regains on the 11th day after bath and puNyAhavAchanam. The father alone has a bath and does the jAtakarma rite immeditatley after bath because impurity does not prevail before the cutting of the navel cord. Some seers say that once the jAtakarmA starts, he is said to be pure for that full day.
After the jAtakarmA rite is over, the father tells the people who enter the sootikAgRuha to strew silently without the above mantrAs, mustard seeds mixed with rice-chaff, on the fire called sootakAgni सूतकाग्नि. This is to be done daily for the 1st ten impure days so that the fumes keep the room warm and also act as a gaurd against illness to the child and the mother.
8. Conclusion:- After the 1st rakshA hOmA is over, a nAndee shrAddhA is performed. Then a “punyAhavAchanaM” पुण्याहवाचनम् (purifying ceremony) is done and bRuhaspati sambhAvanA is made.
1. The general rule says that bath, dAnam and shrArdham at night is not advisable, except during grahaNam or sankramaNam. But, Before cutting umblical cord, bathing, getting dAnam (gifts) or giving dAnam or doing ShrAddham when the child is just born is not a sin. This brings eternal good results. Taking bath during night should be done with the water collected during day with a golden ring in it.
2. While taking bath, water must be splashed around by jumping or with the hands as pitRus expect the splashed water and they are pleased. Gold, land, cow or grains can be received or given as dAnam. Generally after food, taking bath is not advisable. But when a boy child is born, bath can be taken even just after eating food. One ishThee has to be done for those who follow agnihOtram.
A patient reading of the procedure of the jAtakarmA reveals the care with which our great sages formulated this samskAra for the benefit of the new born children.