Pumsavana

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Pumsavana literally means ‘extraction for the sake of a male child’.

Significance of Pumsavana

Pumsavana is one of the minor rites included in the group of ṣoḍaśasamskāras.[1] It is a rite performed on the pregnant wife to ensure the birth of a male offspring. The desire for male children and prayers for the same seem to have been quite common from ancient times in the world. The Atharvaveda[2] and the Sāmaveda-mantra-brāhmana[3] contain such prayers.

Time for Performance of Pumsavana

The time for the performance varied from the third to the eighth month of pregnancy. As regards with its performance, whether to be done only for the first pregnancy or for every one, there seem to be differences of opinion.

Performance of Pumsavana

The actual rite is as follows:

  • The wife has to fast for three days and then partake a meal of curds mixed with two beans and barley given by her husband.
  • Another aspect of the rite is inserting three or four drops of a juice prepared out of a banyan shoot crushed with milk in the right nostril. This is supposed to prevent abortion and also ensure the birth of a male child.

Mantras for Pumsavana

Generally the mantras chanted during this rite are from the Ṛgveda.[4][5][6] They express a desire to have a good and great son. Sometimes a homa is also performed during this rite.


References

  1. Ṣoḍaśasamskāras means sixteen purification rites.
  2. Atharvaveda 3.23.3.3
  3. Sāmaveda-mantra-brāhmana 1.4.8 and 9
  4. Ṛgveda 1.1.3
  5. Ṛgveda 3.4.9
  6. Ṛgveda 9.3.9
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore