There have been different opinions about
how to determine the birth time of a baby.
As per Vedic astrology,
the appearance of the head (seershodaya)
is not the time of birth.
The fall on the earth (bhoo-patana)
is not the time of birth.
The start of the first breath (pratama swasa)
is to be considered as the birth time.
Since death is marked by the cessation of breathing,
birth is marked by the start of the breath.
Since it is not easy to know when the child starts breathing,
the first cry (pratama rodhana)
is to be noted as the start of ‘time’ for the baby.
'Time' starts for this baby!
If the first breath can be detected when it happens, its fine.
When the first breath can not be known,
it is to better rely on the first cry.
From this perspective we can derive answers for other issues.
One such issue is birth by caesarian.
The time of taking out the baby
or the cutting of the umbilical cord
does not determine the birth time.
The first breath,
which happens when the baby cries,
thereby expanding the lungs,
marks the birth time.
Another issue is this.
If counting of life time starts with the first breath,
whatever happens to the baby in the womb (as fetus)
-say, a voluntary abortion,
can not be construed as deplorable.
After all the baby’s life starts with its breath
that happens only after it is delivered.
It can be argued like this.
This issue can be answered in two ways.
One is that the actual time starts for the baby
right at the moment the egg is fertilized.
“Pindayurdaya” is that which takes into account
the time of formation of the ‘pinda’- the mass of cells in embryonic form.
Bhattothpala, the commentator of Varahamihira’s works had said,
that a person’s life term is determined, among other factors,
by pindayurdaya – the time of conception.
The life events are determined right from that time.
Since we in this time of Kali yuga
have no power know the time of conception,
we don’t take that into account.
The Maharishis of yore were able to determine that time.
Western astrology has a way to determine this time,
which is done as part of ‘birth time correction’.
The rationale of this is that
the natal or birth time horoscope / chart and
the horoscope of the conception time bear
By this, the ascendant of the natal horoscope
and the moon’s position at the time of conception
will be the same or in direct opposition (180 degrees apart).
Or the moon at birth and the ascendant at conception
will be the same or in opposition.
This can be determined by going backwards from the birth time
by 270 days and identify the time
that satisfies any one of the above mentioned two co-relations.
The co-relation does exist when we analyze in this way.
Thus the conception time is the prime determinant of birth time,
though it is the birth time which is the easy one to be determined.
Going by this rationale,
the work of destiny starts for the baby at conception time.
So any harm to it by way of voluntary abortion
is tantamount to murder of the baby.
The second way to look at this is that
though the baby has not yet started breathing in the womb,
it is endowed with all signs of life.
The basic instinct of life is survival.
It is known from experiments that
the baby shows all signs of survival, fear and pangs of death
when faced with such a fate.
(I don’t feel like mentioning outwardly.
The purananuru verse “aanin mulai arutthal”
comes in my mind –
in which the poets of yore even avoided
telling about the murder of cows in explicit terms.
Since they could not say in words,
they resorted to telling in a different way.
They said ‘cutting the udder of the cow’
in the place of ‘the killing’ of the cow).
This part of the explanation holds relevance in
the Niketa – Haresh Mehta case.
The fetus which is not a breathing one
is part of the mother.
Harming it is akin to harming a part of the mother.
It will be a pain to harm or devour one’s own part.
In any case the pain will remain-
losing a part of oneself deliberately, or
living with it and enduring it for as long as it survives.
The former case is the worst,
because it invites twin pains –
the pain of losing it
and also the prospect of inviting a painful verdict
for deliberately removing it.
The verdict of Destiny is
-for any action
there must be an equal and opposite reaction.