Astronomically, the moon is the earth's only known natural satellite. It revolves round the earth from west to east in about 291/2 days with references to the Sun or about 271/2 days with reference to the stars and has a diameter of 2160 miles and a mean distance from the earth of about 238,857 miles, a mass about one eightieth that of the earth and a volume about one forty-ninth.
The people of the Indian subcontinent have bestowed on the planets powers both good and evil since ancient times and that belief is still current. The Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike share in this belief and in all three religious systems the planets are deified and they given a form, attributes and mount or vehicle.
There are many legends pertaining to the origin of the Moon-god. According to one version, chandra is the child of the sage Atri (conceptual offspring of Brahma). Another legend makes moon one of the emergents from the mythical milky ocean, when it was churned by the gods and anti gods. Thus he is the brother of Lakshmi, who also emerged from the ocean on the same occasion. A Purana mentions that chandra had married the twenty-seven daughters of Daksha, but was exclusively in love with one of them, Rohini. Incensed by the complaint of his other daughters, Daksha cursed chandra to be afflicted with a consumptive disease (kshaya). Later the curse was modified that during one fortnight in the month he would wane and during the other wax. Another account tells of chandra having performed a penance in Avimukta-Kshetra, for which Shiva rewarded him with a place on his own head and thenceforth he (Shiva) came to be known as Chandrashekhara.
Chandra or Moon god is the guardian of the north-west direction. His complexion is white. The sojourning spot of chandra is water as he and Shukra move about in water. The bodily constituents associated with the chandra-Deva are vata, pitta and kapha. He produces happiness in the life of creatures.
Icono-plastically he has been represented in many material postures and gestures. Here he has been shown seated on an antelope, placed on a pedestal. He has four hands; the upper right hand is holding a noose(?), while the lower one is in varada-mudra (gesture of charity). He is adorned with a crown, necklace, earrings, armlets, bracelets, anklets and waist-band. He is also wearing a scarf and dhoti which is decorated with designs. There is a halo behind the head. The saddle on the back of antelope is incised with stylized designs.