It is a truth universally acknowledged that a married couple in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a whizkid. In today’s hyper-competitive world, harried parents are incessantly searching for and investing in innovative methods to secure the ultimate edge for their bewildered toddler. In the mad rush to turn the child into the next Einstein, one area which seems to have been overlooked is the time before childbirth. Few seem to have asked the question : can the pre-natal period be exploited to pre-select a genius? The answer is yes, and it can be done without exorbitantly priced genetic engineering; all you need is just conscious aspiration and prayer. Read on…
That first passage was tongue-in-cheek 🙂
On a serious note, there are instances of gifted children being born as a result of the conscious aspiration and post-natal preparation done by their parents. Frank Lloyd Wright‘s mother aspired for a child who would build beautiful buildings. She decorated his nursery with engravings of English cathedrals to create an atmosphere which would shape his outlook. More recently, we have the case of Keshav Dahanukar, a seven-year-old child with no formal training who played the tabla(hand-drums) at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He learned the intricacies of the musical instrument merely by watching the hand movements of another tabla player. His mother Gopika, speaking of the pre-natal period, says, “I feel a deep connection to Krishna – I was singing many songs to Krishna before he was born. Keshava was my favourite name of Krishna and I dreamt that my son should be born with curly hair and it happened.” 
Let us read what various sages have to say on such cases of precocious children.
Ramana Maharshi on the effect of past-life development
A young prodigy was mentioned. Sri Bhagavan remarked that latent impressions of previous births (purva janma samskara) were strong in him.
Disciple: How does it manifest as the ability to cite well-known saints? Is it vasana (subconscious impression) in the form of a seed only?
Ramana: Yes. Predisposition (samskara) is acquired knowledge and kept in stock. It manifests under favourable circumstances. One with strong samskara understands the thing when presented to him much quicker than another with no samskara or weak samskara.
Disciple: Does it hold good with inventors also?
Ramana: “There is nothing new under the sun.” What we call inventions or discoveries are merely rediscoveries by competent men with strong samskara in the directions under consideration.
Disciple: Is it so with Newton, Einstein, etc.?
Ramana: Yes. Certainly. But the samskaras, however strong, will not manifest unless in a calm and still mind. It is within the experience of everyone that his attempts to rake up his memory fail, whereas something flashes in the mind when he is calm and quiet. Mental quiet is necessary even for remembrance of forgotten things. The so-called genius is one who worked hard in his past births and acquired knowledge and kept it in store as samskaras. He now concentrates his mind until it merges in the subject. In that stillness the submerged ideas flash out. That requires favourable conditions also. 
The occult mental formations which gifted children can embody
(Why do children suddenly develop talents and begin to fluently mimic virtuosos of yore? The Mother Mirra Alfassa says such cases occur when the children subconsciously tap into and embody occult mental formations which were fashioned by past savants.)
Authors, writers, who were inspired and serious in their creative work, that is to say, who were concentrated in a kind of consecration of their being to their literary work, form within themselves a sort of mental entity extremely well-constituted and coordinated, having its own life, independent of the body, so that when they die, when the body returns to the earth, this mental formation continues to exist altogether autonomously and independently, and as it has been fashioned for expression it always seeks a means of expression somewhere. And if there happens to be a child who has been formed in particularly favourable circumstances—for instance, the mother of this little girl is herself a poetess and a writer; perhaps the mother herself had an aspiration, a wish that her child would be a remarkable, exceptional being—anyway, if the child who is conceived is formed in particularly favourable circumstances, an entity of this kind may enter into the child at the time of birth and try to use him to express itself; and in that case, this gives a maturity to the child’s mind, which is quite extraordinary, exceptional and which enables him to do things of the kind we have just read.
There are similar examples, for instance, among musicians. There are pianists who have individualised their hands and made them so wonderfully conscious that these hands are not decomposed— not the physical hands: the hands of the subtle physical and vital—they are not decomposed, do not dissolve at the time of death. They remain as instruments to play the piano and always try to incarnate in the hands of someone playing the piano. I have known some cases of people who, as they were about to play, felt as though other hands entered into theirs and started playing really marvellously, in a way they could not have done themselves.
I saw the same thing in someone who used to play the violin and another who played the cello—two different cases —and who were not very wonderful performers themselves. One of them was just beginning his studies and the other was a good performer, but nothing marvellous. But all of a sudden, the moment they played the compositions of certain musicians, something of that musician entered into their hands and made their performance absolutely wonderful.
There was even a person—a woman—who used to play the cello, and the moment she played Beethoven, the expression of her face completely changed into Beethoven’s and what she played was sublime, which she could not have played unless something of Beethoven’s mind had entered into her. 
The aspiration of parents before childbirth also plays a role.
Question: Sweet Mother, is it possible for the mother and father to give birth to… to ask for the soul they want?
Mother Mirra Alfassa: To ask? For that they must have an occult knowledge which they don’t usually have. But anyway, what is possible is that instead of doing the thing like an animal driven by instinct or desire and most of the time, without even wanting it, they do it at will, with an aspiration, putting themselves in a state of aspiration and almost of prayer, so that the being they are going to form may be one fit to embody a soul which they can call down to incarnate in that form. I knew people ― not many, this does not often happen, but still I knew some ― who chose special circumstances, prepared themselves through special concentration and meditation and aspiration and sought to bring down, into the body they were going to form, an exceptional being.
In many countries of old ― and even now in certain countries ― the woman who was going to have a child was placed in special conditions of beauty, harmony, peace and well-being, in very harmonious physical conditions, so that the child could be formed in the best possible conditions. This is obviously what ought to be done, for it is within the reach of human possibilities. Human beings are developed enough for this not to be something quite exceptional. And yet it is quite exceptional, for very few people think of it, while there are innumerable people who have children without even wanting to.
It is possible to call a soul, but one must be at least a little conscious oneself, and must want to do what one does in the best conditions. This is very rare, but it is possible. 
Kahlil Gibran on children.
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
- Little Keshava’s tabla journey began at 2. Hindustan Times. October 11, 2010 http://www.hindustantimes.com/Little-Keshava-s-tabla-journey-began-at-2/Article1-611321.aspx (Accessed Dec 5 2010)
- Talks with Ramana Maharshi, Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 2000, p 365.
- The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 8. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1979, pp 319-320.
- The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 8. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1979, p 201.