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Child Health

Multiple Pregnancy, Twins – Ayurveda Concept – Bahvapatya, Yugma Garbha

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

1. Bahvapatya can be split into two key words, Bahu + Apatya. Bahu means multiple. Apatya means children. When more than one baby is present in the womb of the mother it is called as Bahvapatya or Bahu Apatya. This can be translated into ‘multiple pregnancy’.

2. Yugma / Yamala Garbha – Yugma/Yamala means twin. Therefore, Yugma / Yamala Garbha means twin pregnancy.


Multiple pregnancies are when a woman carries more than one baby at a time. Twin pregnancy is also a kind of multiple pregnancies since there is more than 1 baby. In this case the babies are called as twins. Therefore, if there are only two babies in the womb in multiple pregnancies it is called twin pregnancy. Multiple pregnancies also may include carrying more than 3 babies at a time. Three babies that are carried during single pregnancy are called as triplets. High order multiples are when there are more than 3 babies in the womb.
Read more about multiple pregnancies here

What causes multiple pregnancies?

  1. The Shukrartava i.e. combination of sperm and ovum – zygote comes into the uterus to get implanted therein. At this point the excessively increased vayu located in the uterus divides this combination of sperm and ovum into multiple pieces. The number of fetuses formed in the uterus corresponds to the number of pieces of zygote formed by vayu. If the vayu divides the zygote into two pieces, twin pregnancy occurs. If the vayu divides the zygote into three pieces triplets are formed. If more than 3 pieces are formed, more fetuses are formed. Therefore, Vata is chiefly responsible for the formation of multiple pregnancies. (Ref – Cha.Sha.2/14)
    Read – Essential Elements For Conception – Garbha Sambhava Samagri

This explanation of Charaka covers up the concept of all aspects of multiple pregnancies i.e. twins, triplets and high order multiple pregnancies.

Both Vagbhatas and Kashyapa too have expressed similar opinions.

  • When the antargata vayu i.e. vata located inside the womb or the vata which has entered the bija i.e. zygote divides the zygote into two fragments, two lives (babies) come into the womb. This depends on the righteous and non-righteous virtues. Since there are two lives, it is called yamala. Commentator Dalhana further clarifies that twins are formed only due to non-righteous virtues and also that one needs to perform atonement as per rituals. Atonement is indicated either to avoid twin pregnancy or that the twin pregnancy is a resultant of sins or non-righteousness if twin pregnancy has already occurred. (Ref – Su.Sha.2/37)
    Read – 15 Precautions And Benefits Of Massage In Pregnancy

This explanation of Sushruta touches upon only the explanation of twin pregnancy.

  • Master Bhela has explained both conditions i.e. yamala and bahu putrata / bahu apatya. Instead of shukrartava or bija, Bhela has mentioned the word kalala for zygote. He states – ‘when the kalala is fragmented into two by strong vayu, yamala i.e. twins are formed. When the same vata breaks the kalala into many fragments bahuputrata i.e. multiple pregnancies (more than two) are formed. (Ref – Bhe.Sam.Sha 3/9-11)
  • Master Harita gives a different theory for the formation of twins. According to him the origin of all fetal parts depends on the specific combinations of doshas and dhatus i.e. tissues. When the couple have fickle and diverted mind while at copulation, the twins are born due to instability of mind (which in turn influences the doshas). These twins become the source of amusement to others. (Ha.Sam.6th sthana, 1/38-39)
    Read – How To Balance Vata Dosha? Line Of Treatment And Reasoning

Reasons for emotions like happiness and sorrow in twins

Master Kashyapa tells that in spite of the twins being eka nabhija – i.e. born out of single placenta (uni-ovular twins) there are some similarities and dissimilarities in them.

He tells that the longevity, happiness, sorrow, health, ill-health, character, features, complexion, body parts, strength and nature of the twins are identical due to the below mentioned factors –

  • Samana karmatva – similarity in karma – i.e. division by vayu (both being divided by the same vayu)
  • Nadi ekatvam – the twins share a single nadi. Here nadi should not be taken as umbilical cord. It should be taken in the meaning of placenta. This is because the umbilical cords of twins are always different but the placenta is the same.
  • Janma ekatvam – the twins have similarity in birth.
  • Tulyam nishekad vruddescha janmanah – similarity in nourishment during intrauterine life i.e. from the day of conception up to full term development
  • Tulyam stana sevanat – similarity and equality in lactation they receive after birth

Dissimilarities – Since the twins are two different individuals their nourishment and excretion differ.
Read – Monthly Development Of Fetus – Ayurvedic perspective

Causes of specific sex in twin pregnancy

According to Charaka –

Due to relative predominance of rakta i.e. ovum, the female child is born. When there is relative predominance of shukra i.e. sperm, male child is born.

The birth of male of female child in case of twin pregnancy depends on the manner in which the zygote is divided by vata. The variants are as below mentioned –

  • Male and a female child – If the zygote is divided by vayu in such a way that one part of the zygote has predominance of sperm (shukra) and the other part has predominance of ovum (artava), a male child will be born from the first part and a female child will be born from the second part. Thus, there is a boy and a girl in this type of twins.
  • Both male child – If the zygote is divided by vayu in such a way that both the parts have predominance of shukra, both children would be male.
  • Both female child – If the zygote is divided by vayu in such a way that both the parts have predominance of artava, both children would be female.

Master Bhela and Master Arunadatta have expressed similar views.

An extended reference from Sushruta Samhita explains that during coitus if male has excess and pure semen then the woman will deliver two male children. If the female has excessive shukra during the intercourse then two females would be born.
Read – Garbhasana – Fetus In Womb Pose, Right Method, Benefits

Reasons for one healthy child among twins

The vayu influenced and directed by vayu sometimes divides the zygote disproportionally. The zygote is divided in such a way that one portion is bigger than the other. In this case, the child born from the bigger portion of the zygote will eventually be healthier. On the other hand, the child born from the smaller portion of the zygote will be the weaker one.

Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

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