Vedanta teaches us that it is the Atman which is Self. A person is alive when Atman is in the body and dead when Atman leaves the body. At what time of conception does the Atman enter the fetus? I understand that according to the scriptures, the Atman enters the fetus around the third month of pregnancy. Is that true? In what scripture is this mentioned?
—D. Thatte, USA
Paramhansa Yogananda taught that the Atman enters the womb at time of conception. I cannot say for “the scriptures” but do understand that his teaching in this regard was not unusual in the yogic tradition. As I and many throughout the world consider Yogananda a world teacher for this year and, indeed, an avatar, I am willing to accept his teaching on this score and can imagine no better reason for a different time, such as the third month of pregnancy.
However, it is worth noting the horoscope is cast at time of the first breath. So the precept may not be cast wholly in stone or black and white. But he did teach it directly and simply, and without, so far as I am aware, any qualification. Thus also did our own teacher, Swami Kriyananda, a direct disciple of Yogananda.