About this blog

I hope to offer some of the ideas of Vaishnava Vedanta which have particular application in revealing the bigger picture of life and the universe as well as many of the simple things of life.

Parental love, Life of the unborn child

ThoughtsPosted by Akhandadhi das Mon, June 08, 2009 23:05:10
Thought for the Day

8th November 1995

My wife had a terrible ordeal during the birth of our first child. The midwife was wonderful and well equipped with an array of high-tech facilities.

But as I constantly watched the heartbeat monitor, I felt an intimate connection with my unborn child. At times, the monitor faltered and my heart panicked. I became acutely aware of the Hindu analogy - how life hangs like a drop of rain-water on a leaf.

Remembering those hours, I felt pain for the two families whose suffering was reported yesterday over the mix-up of their specimen test results. One family, on being informed that their baby would be severely affected with Downs’ Syndrome, aborted what was later discovered to be a perfectly healthy baby.

I am never comfortable with abortion. I do recognise that, in this case, the two families had not chosen that route because of mere convenience - the eradication of an unwanted child. However, the emotions suffered by both families confirm my conviction - that parenthood begins during pregnancy.

This conclusion stems from my experiences of many families, including our own, who have lost a baby through miscarriage or during birth. The emotional attachments for that yet unknown tiny person are real. I don’t accept the views echoed recently by Polly Toynbee when she accused those who shy away from abortion of sentimental ignorance. “Don’t they realise that it is just a potential child?” she said.

But , who knows when the so-called potential child becomes a person with its own rights to life, love and opportunity? As a society, we are so cautious about pronouncing the moment when life ends. How is it we are so whimsical about identifying when life begins in the womb?

I prefer the approach of the Hindu scriptures, which explain that the foetus develops only because of the presence of the spirit soul within the embryo from the time of conception - an individual soul who has arrived from some previous life, but who must be nurtured for a new future .

Hinduism thus prescribes a variety of activities to assist a pregnant mother being peaceful in mind and joyous in spirit. She should have no worry or negative thought to transmit to the child within - only the promise of her love and care.

There’s no easy answer in deciding to cope with a child with Downs’ Syndrome. But, I suspect that those who take on such a sacrifice discover a special love that is denied to others. And the Hindu scriptures say that the unconditional love of a mother for her dependent child provides a glimpse of the quality of God’s love for us.

© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Thought for the Day” on the Today programme Radio 4.