Saturday, September 3, 2011

Phases of the Moon

Mythology has stories for everything. Every scientific fact or event has an explanation, and sometimes, even multiple explanations…. One such story relates to the phases of the moon.

The first story concerns Ganesha….

Bhalachandra - Ganesha with the moon on his forehead
(Image from the internet)

Once, Ganesha, after an exceptionally heavy dinner, decided to go on a round. He mounted his vehicle, the mouse, and set off. Suddenly, a snake came in their path, and the mouse panicked. Ganesha fell off, and his stomach ruptured! Nonplussed, Ganesha simply picked up the snake and tied it around his waist like a belt!
This scene was witnessed by the moon, Chandra, who found it extremely funny and laughed aloud! Ganesha, who, till then hadn’t been bothered, was extremely angry that the moon had laughed at him. He cursed Chandra that he would lose his luster at once! Chandra realized his folly and apologized, and as the moon continued to wane, putting earth in jeopardy, Ganesha relented.

Lifting the moon, he placed it on his forehead, and the contact made the moon regain his luster slowly. This began the process of waxing and waning, which continues till today, reminding us not to laugh at others. This incident also gave Ganesha the name – Bhalachandra – the one with the moon on his forehead!

The second story concerns Lord Shiva…..

Shiva with the moon
(Image from the internet)

Daksha was a Prajapati – one of the creator gods. He had many daughters, among whom some were married to the Gods, while some were married to sages. His favourite daughter Sati was married to Shiva (more about that story later).  Apart from these, he had twenty seven daughters married to Chandra, the moon. These were the 27 nakshatras (called lunar asterisms in astrology).

Chandra loved all of them, but he had a special attachment to Rohini. The other 26 resented this, and complained to their father. Daksha, always easily excitable, especially when it came to his daughters, at once cursed Chandra that he would lose his luster. As the moon waned, earth began to suffer, but Daksha showed no sign of relenting. Chandra approached Shiva and begged him for help. Chandra’s wives too asked for clemency for their husband, and Shiva agreed. He gave Chandra a place on his matted locks, which would keep him safe, but till today, the moon waxes and wanes, affected by Daksha’s curse and rejuvenated by contact with Lord Shiva. This is why Shiva is called Chandrashekara – the one with Chandra on his head!


WhatsInAName said...

Awesome Anu! Where do you get time to do so much research and type it herE? I love both your blogs!

Anuradha Shankar said...

@WHatsinAName: THanks so much!! havent actually done much research... these stories have all been so well drilled in over the years that i just have to check up a few details before putting them down! actually doing it is another matter, which is why this blog is rarely updated :)

Tell-A-Tale said...

Very nice stories. Had been looking for stories on the waxing and waning of moon. These are perfect

Unknown said...


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