Categories: Hindu God and Goddess

Chandra Deva – The Moon God

Chandra Deva, also known as Soma, the Moon God, reigns over the night, plants, and vegetation, while standing prominently among the Navagraha and Dikpalas. The term “Chandra” translates to “bright,” “shining,” and “glittering” in Sanskrit, encapsulating the deity’s radiant essence. Within the intricate tapestry of Hindu cosmology, Chandra Deva commands the lunar cycles, his divine beauty and benevolence earning reverence. This article embarks on a journey to explore the myriad dimensions of Chandra Deva, his pivotal role in Vedic mythology, the symbols that define him, and his indelible influence on Hindu traditions.

Appearance and Nature of Chandra Deva

Chandra Deva

Chandra, the God associated with royal status in Vedic astrology, is depicted with a pleasing appearance and graceful, rounded features. His personality combines Kapha-Vata qualities, making him affectionate and somewhat passionate, yet also compassionate and nurturing.

He possesses strikingly large, magnetic eyes that glisten, appearing as if moistened by a veil. His speech is characterized by intelligence, softness, and a melodious tone. Chandra’s nature is pure and serene, aligning with sattvic attributes.

Interestingly, Chandra holds the distinction of being the founder of the Lunar dynasty, the lineage from which Lord Krishna emerged. It’s noteworthy that the esteemed deity associated with Chandra is Lord Shiva, whose forehead is adorned with the radiant crescent of the new moon.

Birth of Chandra Deva

Chandra’s birth story is recounted in the Srimad Bhagavatam. He is the son of Rishi Atri (one of the Saptarshi) and Anusuya.

Rishi Atri embarked on intense penance, seeking a son who could help maintain the balance of the world. Through the combined form of the Trinity Gods, a divine blessing was bestowed upon Atri and his wife. This blessing led to the birth of a son who would forever be cherished by Mother Earth and serve the needs of both humans and other living beings. Thus, three sons were born to them: Soma (Chandra), Durvasa, and Dattatreya.

The Mahabharata shares another tale of Chandra’s appearance during the Samudra Manthan, a significant event where gods and demons churned the cosmic ocean. Emerging from the ocean’s depths, along with various treasures, the moon god Chandra made his debut at the inception of the Universe’s creation.

God Ganesha’s Curse

God Ganesha, the beloved son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, had a special liking for sweets and would never turn them down when they were offered to him. Once, after a grand feast hosted by Lord Kubera, Lord Ganesha, riding on his trusty mouse, ate heartily until he was full. However, as he was making his way home, he stumbled and fell, causing the remaining sweets to scatter and his clothes to tear. This event occurred on a moonlit night.

Chandra Deva, the deity of the moon, witnessed this incident and couldn’t help but laugh at God Ganesha’s amusing appearance. Unfortunately, this laughter angered God Ganesha. In response, he placed a curse on Chandra Deva, decreeing that he would vanish from the sky permanently. Recognizing his mistake, Chandra Deva pleaded for mercy, and God Ganesha eventually lessened the curse. Now, Chandra Deva would disappear for only one day each month, resulting in the waxing and waning of the moon’s appearance. Additionally, those who catch sight of the moon on the Chaturthi day might face challenges (which can be resolved by hearing the tale of Krishna and the Syamantaka Gem). This is why we observe the moon’s changing phases and the formation of dark spots on its surface.

Lunar Phases and Symbolism

The changing shapes of the moon, called lunar phases, have always interested people. In the past, during Vedic times, humans watched how the moon’s appearance changed and connected it to Chandra Deva’s actions. When the moon looked bigger each night, it showed his growth and power. But when the moon got smaller, it meant he was becoming weaker.

Chandra Deva’s Influence on Human Life

Chandra Deva’s impact went beyond stories and traditions. In olden times in India, the moon’s calendar was very important for farming. It helped farmers know when to plant and when to gather crops. People also thought the moon’s different looks affected how they felt and acted. For example, they believed that when the moon was full, it could affect people’s minds, and the word “lunatic” comes from the Latin word “Luna,” which means moon. This was linked to the moon’s influence.

Celestial Inspiration

Besides his kind qualities, Chandra Deva’s link to the moon also made him a good god for artistic inspiration. Lots of poets and artists asked for his help before making their best works. They wanted his gentle light and creativity to guide them.

Festivals and Observances

Besides his part in stories and religious customs, Chandra Deva is linked to many festivals and traditions in Hindu culture. The biggest ones are Chandra Grahan (lunar eclipse) and Surya Grahan (solar eclipse). These are important sky happenings with spiritual meanings. During these times, followers might fast and do special prayers to stay safe from bad effects.

Contemporary Devotion

Chandra Deva’s respect isn’t just from the past; it’s still strong in today’s Hindu ways. People can still find temples for him in different places in India. They go there to pray and ask for his blessings for happiness, success, and calm minds. The Karva Chauth festival, mainly observed by married women, is a good example. They fast and pray to Chandra Deva for their husbands’ health and long lives.

Stotram of Chandra Deva

dathishagna tushaaraabham ksheeraarnava samudbhavam;
namaami shashinam somam shambhor-makuta bhooshanam.

Synonyms

dathishagna – Lord of Gifts (referring to the Moon)
tushaaraabham – Radiance like Snow
ksheeraarnava – Ocean of Milk
samudbhavam – Born of
namaami – I bow to
shashinam – Moon
somam – Nectar (referring to the Moon)
shambhor-makuta – Adornment of Lord Shiva
bhooshanam – Ornament

Translation

I bow to the Moon, who shines like a cluster of ice, arisen from the ocean of milk, the ornament on Lord Shiva’s head.

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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