The wood-and-glass cupboard creaks as it opens to reveal around 20 medals won by 7-year-old Hiya Changani. Parents Aarti and Sunil take out each medal proudly and read aloud what is written on it.
“I was very clear I wanted a child who will excel in sports. Look at her, she is a skating champion. When I was told to focus on what I desire, I made sure I focused on sports for my first child,” says Aarti.
She also concentrated on maths while pregnant, as that was her weak subject. “Hiya tops in maths now,” beams the 35-year-old.
The combo of maths-plus-sports was advised to the Jamnagar couple by the city’s ‘Ved Garbha, Garbhasanskar — Ayurvedic Antenatal Care Infertility and Panchkarma Centre’. Aarti and Sunil attended its Garbh Vigyan Sanskar programme, as advised by the RSS’s health wing Arogya Bharati. The clinic’s director and co-founder, Dr Karishma Mohandas Narvani, is an office-bearer of the Arogya Bharati, and currently chairs its meetings as unofficial national convenor.
The Changanis first went to the clinic in 2009. It has since grown, to a residential ‘Ved Garbh Vihar’ campus on the Jamnagar-Somnath road, which is set to begin taking reservations from couples in a few days.
Speaking to The Indian Express earlier this month, Dr Narvani said their target is to have Garbh Vigyan Anusandhan Kendras (facilitation centres) in every state by 2020. And that the project had already ensured 450 “customised babies”.
Such as Hiya, and her brother Rian, 4, who also “enjoys sports”.
“It is important for our future generation to follow dharma. See the children today, they go to the disco, take drugs, eat non-veg… In my house, at 5.30 am, a priest comes and both my children pray and even apply gau mutra (cow urine) if required,” says Aarti.
The entire process, from pre-conception to post-delivery, for an ‘Uttam Santati’ — or “ideal progeny” who is “strong, happy, healthy, courageous, a genius and good-looking” — cost the couple Rs 50,000 per child.
The Jamnagar clinic is located on the first floor of a three-storey building. A Warli-style painting, showing a couple doing yagna in a forest with a gaushala in the background, greets patients at the entrance. The clinic is open from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm, and later from 6 pm onwards. The queue of patients ensures it hardly closes before 9.30 pm.
“There is a one-day waiting before we can confirm an appointment. Most patients wait for a minimum one hour before their turn. At any given time, there are five patients waiting,” says Dr Narvani, who is today sitting at his Ved Garbh Vihar office.
Constantly fielding calls, he explains the process. First come pre-conception measures called ‘naadi shuddhi’ and ‘deh shuddhi’, lasting 12 days. “We start with a yagna done under the watchful eye of a cow. After that the man and woman undergo massages and follow a strict diet plan. They are taught how to meditate and pray.”
Then come “72 days for parents to think about the kind of baby they desire”. “In these 72 days they have to abstain from sex. Seventy-two days is what it takes for sperms to be formed. Then we decide a date and time when a couple should conceive. That sex is for reproduction and not pleasure. They have to pray to god or think of the kind of baby they want while indulging in procreation. The missionary position works best,” says Dr Narvani.
The time for sex is decided based on the “alignment of planets”, so that “all positive forces are helping give birth to a child who will bring greatness”, she says. As part of the programme, they guide the couples and their children till the latter are 12 years old.
Besides Dr Narvani, the clinic has Dr Hitesh Jani, Dr Jalpa Patel and Dr Jani’s daughter Dr Yatri. Dr Jani is the state president of Ayurved Vyaspeeth, an organisation working to improve Ayurveda in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa, and head of the Department of Panchakarma at Jamnagar’s Gujarat Ayurved University. He claims to have also started the RSS’s Vidya Bharati School in Jamnagar.
The clinic database shows that nearly 50 per cent of their cases are of infertile couples, followed by those of genetic disorder. While a majority of the patients are from Gujarat, numbers are growing from Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai and Bengaluru. “We also have NRI patients, around two-three a month,” says Dr Jani at the clinic office. Behind him stands a statue of a suckling calf.
Ordering some Kathiawadi chai, Dr Jani adds, “What we are doing is not genetic engineering. We are just trying to ensure that the coming generation is strong and capable. Just because Hitler spoke about something similar, why is it considered wrong?”
Repeating the objective of a “samarth Bharat (strong India)”, Dr Jani says, “The foetus is the hardware and six elements are the software. We see the soul as the sixth element. So if we work around the hardware and the software, we can get the desired babies.”
About the claim of the programme to make ‘fair babies’, Dr Jani asserts, “Fair does not mean white. Fair here means the child will have a glow, a soft, radiant glow making the complexion clearer.”
Ushering in a couple and asking them to wait, Dr Narvani shows a power point, with generous sprinkling of Manusmriti, that she plays for parents on the need for an Uttam Santati. It gives “facts” on the 450 “customised babies” of the programme, such as 79 per cent normal deliveries, 6 per cent assisted labour and 15 per cent Caesareans.
“To have people like Shivaji, we need mothers like Jijabai,” says the doctor as she starts talking to Kajal Gosrani, 32, who is four months pregnant, and husband Hasil Gosrani, who are residents of Jamnagar.
“We spent a lot of money on IVF and finally decided to opt for this programme. Now I will have a healthy and intelligent child,” says Kajal.
The Ved Garbh Vihar is the next step in the clinic’s programme, and is set to make Lakha Baval, the small, inconspicuous village where it is located, the one-stop destination for couples seeking own ideal babies.
The first-of-its-kind campus has five huts built in the traditional Kutchi style with modern amenities such as air-conditioners and bath-tubs, and a gaushala. Couples in the Garbh Sanskar programme can hire AC huts for Rs 2,000 per day, or pay Rs 1,500 for a non-AC one, which covers a diet plan containing only organic food. Apart from pre- and post-conception period, the mother and child can stay on for another 45 days here after delivery. Mobiles and laptops are a strict no-no.
At home in Vastrapur in Ahmedabad, the Mehtas show off their Uttam Santati — 29-day-old Heyanash, who lies staring at the fan, in his mother’s lap. “Can you see the tej (glow) on his face? He is glowing despite being a premature baby,” says Stuti’s mother-in-law Pragna Mehta.
Stuti and husband Hemendra, who helps out in the family construction business, got to know of the Ved Garbh programme at an RSS yog shibir (yoga camp). Both Pragna and Hemendra are RSS members.
Stuti, 25, says they first went through the programme for daughter Haveeshaa, now 3. “I would pray for my child to have qualities like Swami Vivekananda. Now look at her. Her teachers tell me she is one of the brightest children in her class. The priest of the temple in our neighbourhood gives her a flower before he places one before God,” says the mother.
In Heyansh’s case though, there was no pre-conception process as he was was an unplanned pregnancy. But she followed the rest as advised to her, Stuti says, showing her ‘file’ — including eating dry fruits, rice, curd etc in fifth month “when the brain starts developing”, wearing white “when the baby’s skin is developing” and reading stories of “vir purush (brave people)” in the third month “as that is the time certain emotions are developing”.
“I read books of Shivaji, Maharana Pratap and Bhagat Singh… Now look how brave my daughter is,” says Stuti, snatching the remote control from her daughter’s hand, just as she is about to turn on the television.
As Haveesha looks on the verge of breaking down, her grandmother opens the door and lets her out to play.