Kissaa Kahaani

July 23, 2014

Hindu Mythology: Why do Babies Suck Thumb

In Mahabharata there is a reference to King Mandhata, the child of the Golden Age.  There is an interesting story about how he was born.

There was a king, King Yuvanshva of Ikshvaku Clan. He had several wives and concubines but sadly he was not blessed with a child. He requested the sages to prepare magical nectar which would enable his wives to bear his children. The sages invited him to the Ashram, after travelling many days the king reached the ashram. He was weak due to thirst and hunger and upon reaching the ashram he saw a pot of water and drank it, unaware that the water was actually the magic potion created for his wives by the sages. He ended up being pregnant and upon the completion of gestation period he experienced labor pain.

Due to lack of female organs, there was no way he could give birth to the baby. He invoked The Ashwini Kumars- the divine physicians. They cut open his thighs and Yuvanshva gave birth to Mandhata. Now the problem arose of nursing the child as the king was incapable of breastfeeding. Indra, the king of Devas, came to his rescue. The Deva King, cut open his thumb and out flew the milk, as in the veins of Devas flow milk and not blood as unlike humans. The infant Mandhata sucked on to the thumb and sought comfort. That is why babies suck on to their thumbs as it is considered in Hindu Mythology and Legends that babies, until they understand and speak human languages, are  reflections of Gods and hence their thumb has milk.

The King Mandhata was called as one who belonged to the Golden Age, as he was born of a man; his midwives were divine physicians and his wet-nurse was the King of Devas.

Reference: The Story of Mandhata was retold in Mahabharata twice. In genealogical lists of Puranas, Mandhata was ancestor of Rama- both belonging to Ikshvaku clan.

special thanks to Devdatta Patnaik’s Shikhandi.

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