Pasche Guignard, Florence: Without Violence: Frédérick Leboyer’s Significant Encounters in and with India, in Bornet, Philippe und Cattoni, Nadia (Hrsg.): Significant Others, Significant Encounters: Essays on South Asian History and Literature, Heidelberg: Heidelberg Asian Studies Publishing, 2023, S. 93–113. https://doi.org/10.11588/hasp.1155.c16212

Identifier (Buch)

ISBN 978-3-948791-50-6 (PDF)
ISBN 978-3-948791-51-3 (Hardcover)




Florence Pasche Guignard

Without Violence

Frédérick Leboyer’s Significant Encounters in and with India

This chapter examines a selection of works by Frédérick Leboyer (1918–2017) that engage with Indian cultures and spiritual traditions. Leboyer was a French gynaecologist-obstetrician most famous for promoting “childbirth without violence” (Pour une naissance sans violence, 1974) in Francophone and international contexts, as well as a poet, photographer, and filmmaker. This contribution situates Leboyer’s life and work as a micro-history example of an encounter between Europe and India. Leboyer visited India several times in the 1960s onwards and became a disciple of Neo-Vedanta teacher Svāmi Prajñānpad (1891–1974), whom he writes about in Portrait d’un homme remarquable (1991). The Frenchman acknowledges a sacred and spiritual dimension of childbirth in many of his works. At a time when few dared question medical protocols enforced on birthing women, Leboyer insisted on the importance of breathing and called attention to the baby as a significant person in the process. He also contributed to the dissemination of techniques such as baby massage and prenatal yoga. The recontextualisation of Leboyer’s individual trajectory presented here focuses on his encounter with his spiritual master and with two mothers in India. It argues for the significance of such encounters in the broader circulation of practices between India and Europe at the intersection of well-being, spirituality, religion, medicine, and maternal health.

Keywords religion, mother, childbirth, obstetrics, India