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.
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