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Imagining the FetusThe Unborn in Myth, Religion, and Culture$
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Jane Marie Law and Vanessa R. Sasson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195380040

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380040.001.0001

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Life in the Womb: Conception and Gestation in Buddhist Scripture and Classical Indian Medical Literature

Life in the Womb: Conception and Gestation in Buddhist Scripture and Classical Indian Medical Literature

Chapter:
(p.73) Life in the Womb: Conception and Gestation in Buddhist Scripture and Classical Indian Medical Literature
Source:
Imagining the Fetus
Author(s):

Robert Kritzer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195380040.003.0005

The classical Indian medical texts all contain detailed chapters on embryology, and many Indian religious works also discuss the topics of conception and gestation. Although much of the content of the medical and religious accounts is similar, the attitudes revealed are, not surprisingly, quite different; the medical treatises maintain a neutral tone and seek to promote the birth of healthy male babies, while the religious texts dwell on the suffering of both mother and fetus and on the undesirability of rebirth. The Buddhist Garbhāvakrāntisūtra contains an unusual week-by-week account of gestation, which in this chapter is compared to a month-by-month account found in the medical text Carakasaṃhitā.

Keywords:   Garbhāvakrāntisūtra, Carakasaṃhitā, Indian embryology, religious embryology, janmaduḥkha

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