|Mantra||Om Chandramasē Namaha|
(Daughters of Daksha)
|Mount||chariot pulled by an antelope
by ten white horses / rams
In Hinduism, Chandra (Sanskrit चन्द्र lit, Kannada ಚಂದ್ರ, Telugu చంద్రుడు, Tamil சந்திரன். "shining") is a lunar god and a Graha. Chandra is also identified with the Vedic Lunar deity Soma (lit. "juice"). The Soma name refers particularly to the juice of sap in the plants and thus makes the Moon the lord of plants and vegetation.
Chandra is described as young, beautiful, fair; two-armed and having in his hands a club and a lotus. He rides his chariot across the sky every night, pulled by ten white horses or an antelope. He is connected with dew, and as such, is one of the gods of fertility. He is also called Rajanipati (lord of the night) and Kshupakara (one who illuminates the night), and Indu (lit. the bright drop). As Soma, he presides over Somvar or Monday.
In Vedic astrology Chandra represents brain and mind, emotions, sensitivity, softness, imagination, queen and mother. Chandra rules over the sign Karkaataka(Cancer), while he is exalted in Vrishabha (Taurus) and in his fall in Vrishchika (Scorpio). The waxing moon is considered to be benefic, and the waning moon is considered to be malefic. The bright moon is considered a benefic of the highest order, while the dark moon is considered a malefic. Chandra is lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Rohini, Hasta and Shravana. Chandra has the following associations: the color white, the metal silver and the gemstones pearl and moonstone. His element is water, direction is north-west and season is winter. The food grain associated with him (one of Nava Dhanyas) is rice.
Chandra (pronounced "CHUHN-drah") is a Sanskrit name meaning "illustrious." In Hindu mythology, Chandra is the god of the moon. In Hindu astrology, the moon is considered a planet, and it's considered to be one of the best planets to be born under as it promises wealth and happiness. It is also referred as Shashi (Kannada: ಶಶಿ) or Tingala (Kannada: ತಿಂಗಳ).
According to Hindu mythology Chandra has not been very fortunate in life. Chandra was born in the Ocean of Milk (the gods were churning it for millennia in order to create immortal life), and nearly blinded the gods with his bright, glowing body (hence the name that means "illustrious"). The gods unanimously decided to give Chandra the status of a planet and sent him into the cosmos.
Chandra is known for having a series of disastrous love affairs. His first lover, Tara, was the wife of Brihaspati, the planet Jupiter. From their union, Tara became pregnant gives birth to Budha (a.k.a. the planet Mercury, not to be confused with the other Buddha). Because of how he was conceived, Budha hated his father and as Chandra also knew that Budha is his illegitimate son, he began to hate his son, and their rivalry continues to this day. For the sin of abducting another god's consort, Brahma banished Chandra to the outer atmosphere. This story illustrates allegorically the prohibition of intoxicants for Brahmins. After that, Chandra, set out to marry the twenty-seven daughters of Daksha. Daksha allowed this on the condition that the moon not favor any daughter over the others. Chandra failed to do this, and Daksha placed a curse on him that took away his luster, which accounts for the moon's waxing and waning.
Dark spot on the moon
One popular story to account for the dark spot on the moon is that Ganesha, once filled with food, fell from his mouse and broke his stomach. Chandra laughed at this, at which Ganesha injured him by breaking off and throwing one of his tusks; and cursed him so that it would be forbidden to behold Chandra on Ganesh Chaturthi.
Chandra is also the word in Sanskrit, Hindi and other Indian languages for moon. It is also a common Indian name, both male and female and exists as a name in many South East Asian languages that originate from Sanskrit.
The god, the drink and the plant probably referred to the same entity, or at least the differentiation was ambiguous. In this aspect, Soma is similar to the Greek ambrosia (cognate to amrita); it is what the gods drink, and what made them deities. Soma is still coined as name for an entheogenic brew (avestic: Haoma) still in ceremonial use.
Indu, one of the other names for Chandra, is also the name of the first chakra (group) of Melakarta ragas in Carnatic music. The names of chakras are based on the numbers associated with each name. In this case, there is one moon and hence the first chakra is Indu.
In India Chandra is a common surname for example 'Anurag Chandra ' and ' Tanuja Chandra' . But in America the name has been used as a girl's name. It appeared on the popularity charts in the 1950s, peaking in the 1970s, before disappearing in the 1990s. The name has several variations including Chandrah, Chaundra, etc.
There is another story about moon (Chandra), when Indra was trying to rape Ahilya, wife of rishi Gautama, Chandra was in the form of a peacock to alert Indra on Gautama's arrival . Gautama eventually beheld the act and cursed Indra with impotency and hit Chandra (in the form of peacock) with his wet cloth (Dhoti). Those marks are shown as dark spot on moon as a result of the curse of rishi Gautama. His Egyptian counterpart is Khonsu.
Chandra the moon is actually a satellite of the planet Earth. But in Indian astrology the moon and the Sun are counted among the nine planets. Chandra is called ‘ ChandA’ or ‘ChAnd’ in Hindi and Urdu languages. Chandra is the most beloved God of the humans, at least in the tropics. Children all over India and even elders call him affectionately as ‘Chanda- mama’. Mama means the maternal uncle in both North Indian and South Indian languages. There is a very popular children’s magazine called ‘Chanda mama’ which is published from Chennai in more than twelve Indian languages, There are hundreds of nursery songs in all languages of India sung by all the mothers addressing their handsome brother Chand, while feeding their children, requesting him to bring milk, butter and curds for his sister’s child. Similarly Chandra or Chanda is the most favourite topic of songs sung by lovers. They express their happiness while making love and request Chanda mama to shine brightly and not to pass on so quickly. so that the wonderful night may continue forever. Dozens of folk songs, film songs and even titles of films are named after the Chandra or Chand. There is an interesting episode regarding the lunar eclipse in the Hindu mythology. Lunar eclipse is called Chandra- grahaN (swallowing of Chandra). Even today people believe that two great serpents named Rahu and Ketu which are counted as two other planets ( Uranus and Neptune) nurture a grudge against the planets moon and the Sun and both these serpents occasionally come and swallow the moon and the Sun gradually. When moon is swallowed partially or completely it is called Chandra GrahaN. People wait patiently for the total release of the moon and take holy bath after the end of the eclipse. Moon is the symbol of beauty in Indian literature. The beautiful face of a woman is compared to the moon by almost all Indian poets. The moon and the lotus flower are the most popular similes used while describing the face of a beautiful woman who is often called as’ Chandramukhi’- the moonfaced beauty.. Name of Chandra is attached to various Gods. For example the full name of Lord Sri Ram is Ramachandra. Similarly the full name of another Avatar Lord Krishna is Krishna Chandra. Some scholars opine that both these avatars were so called because they were perhaps born on a full moon day, a day which is sacred for Jains also Lord Shiva is called Chandrasekhar also, because he wears a crescent moon on his forehead. The crescent moon with a star is a sacred symbol of Islam also. There are also many ancient explanations and stories connected with the spots on the face of the moon. Some people say that a rabbit stays always on the face of the moon. That is why the moon is also called Shashank ( one who has a mark of a rabbit on his lap ). Some people think that a cat is sitting on the face of the moon. In Telugu language the moon is also called Jabilli.
Under the sub-title ‘other aspects’ it is stated that Chandra is the middle name of the Hindu God RamaChandrasekhara, which is erroneous. There seems to be a mix up between the names of two different Gods Sri Ram and Lord Shiva. Full name of Lord Sri Ram is Rama Chandra and not Rama Chandra Sekhara. Rama was named as Rama Chandra for reasons that are not revealed to the public. Some Scholars opine that Sri Ram was born on a full moon day and that is why he was called Rama Chandra. There was a great discussion among scholars as to why Sri Rama the illustrious son of the solar dynasty was named as Rama Chandra, Chandra being the progenitor of the lunar dynasty. Similarly the name Chandra Sekhara is given to Lord Shiva only, because he wears a crescent moon on his forehead. Name of Lord Sri Rama is definitely not Rama Chandra Sekhara, nor Chandra is His middle name
God Chandra is addressed by various names depending on his attributes. He is called Vidhu, Indu, Himansu, Subhranshu (whose rays are cool and clean), Rajaneesh,Rakesh ( Lord of the night ), Rajanikar, Nishakar ( maker of the night), Shashi, Shashank ( one who bears a rabbit on his body),Sudha-nidhi, Sudhamaya (one who is full of nectar), Kumudesh ( lover of the esculent water lily- Nymphaea esculent or the red lotus-Nymphaea rubric), Kunda Pushpojjwala( as bright as the jasmine flower-jasmine multiflora).
In the ‘Purusha Sukta’ of the Rigveda it is mentioned that Chandra was born from the mind of the virat Purusha(God symbolized as the entire universe) – ‘Chandrama manasojaatah’.
There is an episode explaining the waxing and waning of the moon during a month. It was reported that God Chandra was paying more attention to one of his 27 wives. The other 26 wives who are also the daughters of the great Prajapati Daksha brought this fact to the attention of their father. Daksha became very angry and cursed Chandra, his son in law’ to suffer from consumption. As a result the size of Chandra began to decrease gradually. Alarmed at this the daughters requested their father to take back his curse. But since a curse which is delivered once, cannot be taken back, Daksha modified his curse to the effect that the size of Chandra will decrease from full moon to new moon for a fortnight and then his size will gradually grow until the full Moon day, during the next fortnight.
Worship of the moon God in ancient Arabia: the Arabians who suffer from the excessive heat of the Sun preferred to worship the Moon God, who gives them cool breeze and dew drops, thereby helping them in farming and development of green grass for their goats and camels. That is why perhaps they were called Asuras as opposed to the Indo-Aryans who called themselves Suraas or Devas. The Suraas worshipped the Sun God. The Indian mythology is full of wars between the Suras and the Asuras.
'Sin' the moon God of ancient Arabia occupied the chief place in the astral triad. It’s other two members ‘Shamus’ the Sun god and ‘Ishtar’ the planet Venus were his children. His wife was ‘Ningal’(the great lady). ‘Nusku’ the God of Fire was his son. Even today the crescent moon and the planet Venus in the middle, is the Universal symbol of Islam. It is reported in the Wikipedia that the crescent moon has been used by the Arab religions as far back as the time of Abraham.
God Chandra and the tides: The Hindu mythology offers an explanation for the high and low tides that occur in the seas and oceans.The details areas follows.God Chandra and Goddess Lakshmi are born from the ocean during the churning of the milky ocean.( that part of the ocean where the waters and waves are sparkling white and look like milk). Being the father of Chandra the God of Ocean is overjoyed to see his son rising from the eastern horizon and rushes to greet him. Similarly the Sea God rushes towards the West when the moon God is going to set.
Chandrama in Mantrapushpam: Mantrapushpam is a sacred document available in the Taittareeya Aranyakam in which the great Rishis have conceived the connection between the human mind/ consciousness and various elements of nature like flower, water, moon, air, thunder etc. Giving great importance to the Moon God it informs in the first sloka itself that – Moon is the flower of Waters. He who knows this becomes endowed with flower, progeny and animals.
“ Chandramaa va apaam pushpam pushpavaan, prajaavaan, pasumaan bhavati “
Later the mantra says that - Moon is the support of waters. He becomes endowed with support who understands that Moon is the support of water, and similarly water is the support of Moon. Thus Moon is the support of Water and Water is the support of Moon.
“Yah Chandramasa aayatanam veda. aayatanavan bhavati. Aapo vai chandramasa aayatanam , aayatanavaan bhavati, Ya evam veda”
The mantra says that the moon and water support each other and there is a similarity between the waxing and waning of the moon and vacillation of mind between experience s of grief and happiness. Beyond this we cannot explain the meaning of this mantra because it is a Veda Mantra based purely on sound rather than meaning.
In popular culture
Chandra (and the gem supposedly on the forehead of a statue of his at Somanath) plays an important role in one of the first novel-length mystery stories in English, The Moonstone. The Sanskrit word for moon-craft Chandrayaan is used to refer to India's lunar orbiters (Chandrayan-1 & Chandrayaan-2).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chandra.|
- Graha Sutras By Ernst Wilhelm , Published by Kala Occult Publishers ISBN 0-9709636-4-5 p.51
- Graha Sutras By Ernst Wilhelm , Published by Kala Occult Publishers ISBN 0-9709636-4-5 p.50
- Mythology of the Hindus By Charles Coleman p.131
- Mythology of the Hindus By Charles Coleman p.132
- South Indian Music Book III, by Prof. P Sambamoorthy, Published 1973, The Indian Music Publishing House
- Ragas in Carnatic music by Dr. S. Bhagyalekshmy, Pub. 1990, CBH Publications