Just ten to fifteen years ago doctors were stating that this belief that intercourse during the last days of pregnancy could bring about the death of the baby was false and a superstition. But in the years since then, research has indicated that the belief may well be true, because when a woman is making love, her heart-rate increases, and when she reaches her orgasm, the amount of oxygen in her body changes dramatically. These disturbances can affect the supply of oxygen to the child in her womb. The unborn child is still very delicate, and the total effect of all this chaos may well be harmful to the child. Recently published research is saying that the superstition may be true, because the whole chemistry of the women’s body changes at the moment of orgasm. The body perspires, the heart beats faster – the whole body is as though caught in a sudden fever! And the unborn child is fragile, and utterly dependent on the mother. The child still cannot even breathe for himself – the mother’s breath is his breath, and in such a fierce tempest her breathing may be so disrupted that the infant’s oxygen supply is cut off and it may die.
Gandhi was deeply troubled by what had happened. “My child died, my father died, and my sexual desires were such that I could not restrain myself even though my wife was at the peak of her pregnancy, and even though my father was dying!” It was thus that a deep feeling of repentance, guilt, hatred and condemnation of sex entered Gandhi’s mind. But in that moment when the passion for his wife possessed his mind, he forgot the whole world. He forgot that his father was breathing his last, he forgot that his wife was in an advanced stage of pregnancy.
Whenever any desire catches hold of the mind, consciousness falls asleep. Or it can be said the other way round: whenever consciousness falls asleep, only then some desire catches hold of the mind. They are interrelated. Taste is just symbolic; the opening of the door to any of the senses is the closing of the door to consciousness.
Hindus have told this story so that you don’t get lost in the momentary and forget the eternal. Does the moment have the capacity to drown the eternal in forgetfulness? This has been a matter of great debate among Hindu thinkers. They ask, “How is it that maya, the illusory, can obscure brahman, the ultimate reality? How is it that darkness, the unreal, can cover up the light? How is it that rootless ignorance sets the supreme conscious and blissful soul wandering? How could this ever have happened? If maya is illusion, how have we remained lost because of it?”
This is exactly what has happened, and you will understand it if you understand this story. brahman disappears in the same moment precisely that we disappear. Our sleep is its disappearance. It is just like closing your eyes when the sun is rising. Compared to the sun, the eye has very little power, but even in its powerlessness it can shut out the sun. Can the power of the eyelids be compared to that of the sun? They are so small, but they can shut out the sun! Close the eyes, and the sun disappears. You can face the Himalayas, but the moment you close your eyes, the Himalayas disappear. A tiny dust particle can cause your eyes to close – a tiny particle can bring about the disappearance of the Himalayas!
Brahman is in its place, but for us it disappears when our eyes are closed. And all our sense organs are ways to make us go to sleep. The interest of the senses is in sleep, in unconsciousness. That is why there is such objection to tamas, the state of unconscious living. Tamas means the attitude of sleepiness; it means the sleepy state, or unconscious living. Anything that draws you into tamas enhances the world for you.