The Moon

The Moon

As the Sun’s champion concluded his remarks, the king led
the court in murmuring appreciation for this masterful presentation.
It then fell to the Moon’s advocate to make his case for our sky’s other
luminary. This aesthetes eyes shone with stag-like loftiness in his
sensitive, expressive, compelling face. He spoke with feeling: “Your
opinion is no doubt sagacious, 0 Sun-worshipper, but the Moon’s
power is truly beyond conception.

“The Moon is the mind of all, the lord of the senses and the
emotions, and those who worship him assiduously lose their diseases
and become happy. Among the nakshatras (the lunar constellations of
the Vedic zodiac) the Moon is God incarnate in lunar form, and his
esteem is magnified because Shiva, the lord of Mount Kailash, wears
the crescent Moon on His forehead. Some say that this makes the
Moon a one-eighth incarnation of the exalted Lord Shiva.

“Lord of the night, the Moon schedules rituals and is a
haven for the ancestors. Those who worship the gods and the
ancestors, and drink Soma at Soma sacrifices, assuredly go to the
Moon when they depart from this world. The Vedas declare that ‘the
Moon is none other than King Soma, the food of the gods.’
Whenever a sacrifice is completed, the essence of its offerings goes up
to the Moon. As the lord of plants and their growth, the Moon pours
the nectar of Soma into the world’s vegetation, that it may be
nourished and that it may nourish others. The Moon is the master of
the world’s water, and rules the salty taste; he controls the tides, and
stores and actuates the rain.

“The Moon shines with the dazzling whiteness of yogurt,
conchshell or dew, and all foods grow due to his light. He is fair,
youthful, fortunate, and watery, and his body waxes and wanes.
Peaceable and auspicious in nature and appearance, he has a slim but
round body with lovely limbs, and is intelligent, sweet and soft of
speech, lovely-eyed, and wise. He wears white clothes and white
flowers, his metal is bronze or silver, and his gem pearl. The Moon has
a Kapha-Vata constitution, and tends to be fickle. He loves to wander,
and is a Vaishya by nature. He rules the blood in the body, and
because he is of the nature of semen he is passion-filled. Whoever
seeks sexual satisfaction should worship the Moon.

“Lord of (he northwest, of Monday, and of the constellation
Cancer, the Moon is called the Golden-Gleaming Drop in the Sky
(Indu), the Luminous (Chandra), the Night-Creator, the Cool-Rayed,
the Snow-Maker, the Chief among Brahmanas, the Hare-Signed,
Soma, Husband of the Nakshatras, and the Doe-Eyed. Because
everyone loves him he is called Friend of the World. The Sun’s
Sushumna ray develops the Moon day by day during the half of the
month that the Moon waxes and makes it complete on the day of the
Full Moon. While the Sun’s rays are scorching, the Moon’s beams
soothe, cool, and nourish. Thereafter, the gods drink Soma from the
Moon during the dark half of the fortnight, while the forefathers
drink that Soma on the New Moon day. The Moon, who is of the
nature of Soma, was born from the tears of joy which flowed from
Atri Rishi, a mind-born son of Brahma.”

“Be so kind as to recount the story of Lord Moons birth,”
requested the king, pleasantly.

“It is thanks to Anasuya (‘non-spiteful’), the wondrous wife of
Atri Rishi, that the Moon took birth in our world. The chief gods of
the universe tried to test her purity by coming to her as guests and
impudently demanding that she feed them naked. When thus
challenged, that intelligent woman changed those puissant gods into
tiny babies and, removing her own clothes, nursed them from her own
breasts before returning them to adult status. Immensely pleased and
impressed with Anasuya, these cosmic lords blessed her to enjoy
unprecedented children. Thanks to Shiva’s blessing the incredibly
irascible Durvasas Rishi was born. Vishnu’s blessing resulted in the birth
of Dattatreya, that immortal being who is the first Aghori in the world.

“Brahma’s boon caused the Moon’s birth in this way: the
Rishi Atri stood with his arms upraised without moving or even
blinking for three thousand years. Then, when his body became
thoroughly perfused with Soma, he himself became Soma, and rose
up into the sky. The Soma juice filled him so full that he overflowed,
and Soma oozed from his eyes, filling the heavens with luminosity.
The goddesses of the ten directions gathered to receive that Soma into
their collective womb, but they could not hold it for very long. The
fetus then dropped to the ground and assumed the form of the Moon,
whereupon Brahma placed him in a chariot. The Moon was then
worshipped by all the celestials. He later married all twenty-seven
nakshatras, beginning with Krittika, and this was almost his
undoing,” the pundit concluded suggestively.

“Please do explain,” his majesty prompted, as if on cue.

“Although he had twenty-seven wives,” the Moon’s
champion continued, “all of whom were sisters, the Moon preferred
the one of them named Rohini, and remained always with her in her
mansion. Anyone who looked up into the skies in those days would
have seen the Moon forever full, each night, stationary in the sky in
the constellation of Rohini.

“The Moon’s other twenty-six wives were not at all pleased
with this state of affairs, for they too wanted to enjoy regular sport
with their husband, and they pleaded with him to visit each of them
as well. When the Moon in his great infatuation ignored all their
entreaties, they ran crying to their father, the Patriarch Daksha, who
twice in high dudgeon warned his son-in-law to behave.

“On the third complaint Daksha lost his temper and cursed
the Moon with consumption. Day by day he waned, losing his glow
and his juice. No sacrifice could cure him. All the world’s plants
stopped growing, and soon, bereft of nourishment, all living things
developed consumption. The celestials, alarmed at the possibility that
all life on Earth would succumb to this wasting disease, then
interceded for the Moon, and Daksha was mollified somewhat by this
supplication. Daksha promised that dwindling globe that if he
behaved himself he would be free of consumption for half of each
month. Chastened, the Moon now waxes and wanes as he visits each
wife once a month, for one day and one night at a time.

“We on Earth, 0 King,” the pundit went on, grasping this
opportunity to moralize, “must always remember this story of Lord
Moon. When we play favorites with those we have sworn to regard
with an equal eye, we open ourselves to malediction. Also, those who
overindulge in sexual intercourse lay themselves open to the frightful
malady of consumption, a malady which first appeared in the world
on the occasion of Daksha’s curse of the Moon.”

“Is it not true,” intruded King Vikrama, “that the Patriarch
Daksha, the grandfather of the Twelve Adityas, had to suffer because
of this reckless curse?”

“Indeed, 0 King,” replied the expert. “Every action
produces a reaction, as sure as night follows day. When Daksha dared
to insult another of his sons-in-law, the omnipotent Lord Shiva, he
lost his life, and was reborn only through the intercession of King

“Tell me how he came to be reborn,” directed the king.

“The great King Prithu was the great-grandfather of ten sons
who were known collectively as the Praceiases (‘the mindful ones’). These
boys acted and lived so similarly to one another that they were as if knit
together. When their father commanded them to multiply they took
recourse to the ocean, which is ruled by King Moon, to perform penance
for ten thousand years. Their penance was so successful that they received
the boon of a wife whose son’s offspring would fill the earth.

“When the ten Pracetases emerged from the sea after
succeeding at their long penance, they were infuriated to see how the
earths surface was utterly enshrouded by giant trees that seemed to
rise up to the heavens themselves. Their rage emerged from their faces
in the form of fire and wind, which began to incinerate those trees.
Seeing the forests consumed, the Moon, in his role as ruler and
therefore protector of the plants, had to step in and protect his
subjects, the trees, when they were in such danger.

“When the Moon arrived on the scene he began to assuage
the anger of the Pracetases, telling them, This wanton destruction of
vegetation is going to obstruct you in your task of peopling the world.
Besides, you are now the rulers of all, including the trees; how can you
then destroy them? They are helpless; they cannot retaliate. Make peace
with the trees that remain, so that you and they will both prosper, and
then acccept as your wife this noble girl Lotus Eye, the daughter of the

“The daughter of the trees?” queried KingVikrama.

‘Lotus Eye, your majesty, was the daughter of the Rishi
Kandu and the Apsaras Pramlocha (‘to go down, sink’). Pramlocha
dropped down to Earth from the celestial regions on a mission from
Indra, the king of the gods, to disturb Kandus austerities. She
disturbed them so well that she soon became pregnant by him. After
giving birth Pramlocha abandoned her baby girl and returned to
heaven, and the baby was adopted and brought up by the tree-deities.
When Lotus Eye would cry for milk Lord Moon, the king of
vegetation, would let her suck Soma from his finger.

“When King Moon proposed this alliance, the remaining
trees, whose fear was incalculable, gladly gave their daughter in
marriage to the Pracetases. Since in nature and conduct all ten
Pracetases behaved as one individual, and since the girl was willing to
accept them as one individual, both sides agreed and, after the
marriage, a son was born. This son was the Daksha of old,

“Hmmm,” observed the king sagaciously.

The pundit continued: “Because of Daksha’s curse the
Moon had no issue by Daksha’s twenty-seven daughters, but he did
have four sons by another wife, named Manohara (‘Mind-Robber’).
The eldest of these was Varchas, who took birth on Earth at the time
of the Great War of the Mahabharata as that warrior of
unprecedented power named Abhimanyu.

“Another son of the Moon was the planet Mercury, he of
gargantuan intelligence, and his story, 0 King, shall soon be told. In
the Moons lineage, through his son Mercury, innumerable kings and
warriors of great valor have been born, including the greatest of them
all, God incarnate on this Earth, Perfection Personified (Purnatmaka
Purushottama), the Protector of the Cows, the Beloved of the
Milkmaids: Lord Krishna Himself, the eighth incarnation of Lord

“This Shri Krishna, a true scion of the lunar race, causes
everyone who remembers Him to experience limitless bliss. I offer my
obeisance to this Moon who, like his illustrious descendant, pours
coolness onto the world, and creates ecstasy.”

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