Chandra: Hindu God of the Moon

Chandra

Chandra in Hindu mythology

Chandra, in Hindu pantheon, a son of Atri and Anasuya. He is considered one of the Navagrahs, i.e. the nine planets. A lunar deity, Chandra is revered as a fertility deity, presiding over pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. He is also believed to be the god of plants and vegetation.

In Hindu mythology, Lord Chandra is believed to grant strength and provide relief to people plagued by severe challenges and health issues. Monday is generally considered his day in Hindu religion.

By the Tarakaamaya Chandra is the father of Budha. He was also the father of Varchas. He married all 27 daughters of Lord Daksha. However, he favored Rohini the most.

Quick facts about Lord Chandra

God of: the Moon, night, vegetation, and plants

Father: Atri

Mother: Ansuya

Siblings: Dattatreya, Durvasa

Consorts: 27 daughters of Lord Daksha, including Rohini, Ardra, Pushya, Bharani, and Purbashadha

Children: Budha, Varchas

Other names: Soma, Indu (bright drop), Shashin (marked by hare), Nakshatrapati (lord of the Nakshatra), Udupati (water lord), Kumudanatha (lord of lotuses)

What does Chandra represent?

Lord Chandra is said to be the personification of the Moon in Hindu religion. He is believed to be the second of the the Navagrahaas, a group of nine planets.

According to some myths, Chandra is the ruler of the zodiac sign Cancer, meaning that he represents the 4th house in the natal chart.

His other name, ‘Soma’, comes from the word Somavara, which is Monday in the Hindu calendar. Interestingly, ancient Greeks and Romans dedicated Mondays to lunar deities like Selene (Luna), Artemis (Diana), Phoebe (Shining), and Cynthia.

In the Hindu pantheon, the Moon symbolizes motherhood and childbirth. The Moon is believed to embody the feminine creative energy of the universe. It is believed to have significant influences how we think or feel. Hindus also believe that the Moon can influence one’s attachment level towards things or people. It basically gives the soul its essence.

As a Moon deity, Lord Chandra is also in charge of not just fertility and pregnancy in humans and animals, but also fertility in plants and vegetation.

Depiction and symbols

Generally, Lord Chandra is depicted as a fair and young man with two hands. In both hands, he can be seen holding a lotus and a club. In some depictions, Chandra is shown completely white while holding a mace. His antelope-drawn or ten-horse-drawn chariot is what he uses to pull the Moon across the heavens every night.

Birth and family

Chandra is the son of deva Ansuya and the great sage Atri. His mother Ansuya was said to be very well-respected and feared by the devas who were afraid that Ansuya would steal their heavenly treasures. The Trideva (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) set out to embarrass Ansuya by taking away her chastity. The Trideva appeared as a pauper in front of the house of Ansuya and her husband Atri who at the time had gone to the perform ablutions at a nearby river.

Ansuya welcomed the Trideva into her home and beseeched them to wait until her husband returned before serving them with food. However, the Trideva insisted that Ansuya served them the food and drinks immediately. They also insisted that she served them while stark naked. Ansuya complied with their request only to find out the three men had turned into babies. Atri came back and found Ansuya with three babies.

Chandra’s siblings

Upon close inspection, Atri realized that the three babies were the manifestations of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma. It was at that moment that the Trideva changed back into their real forms. Ansuya begged the Trideva to be her children as she had no child of her own at the time. The Trideva disappeared; however, a few months later, Ansuya gave birth to three sons: Dattatreya, Chandra, and Durvasa. Her three sons were said to be the avatars (i.e. incarnations) of Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva respectively.

Upon reaching the age of maturity, Durvasa went on a pilgrimage; Chandra set out to join the Navagrahas and became the personification of the Moon; and Dattatreya stayed home and manifested all the qualities of his brothers in addition to his.

Did you know: In some accounts Chandra is believed to be the earthly incarnation of the creator god Brahma?

Chandra and Brihaspati

Brihaspati and Chandra

Brihaspati is Hindu god and a guru/counsel to the devas (gods) in Hindu religion.  He is also associated with fire (Agni). Image: A painting of Brihaspati

After going through a great Rajasuya Yagna, an Imperial Sacrifice in the Vedic religion, Chandra was elevated to a very great position, i.e. an emperor status. Out of hubris, he abducted Tara, the wife of Brihapati, a fire and wisdom deity (also known as the preceptor of the gods).

Chandra then dragged Tara to the altar and forced her to marry him. When news of his wife’s abduction reached him, Brihapati went berserk and attacked Chandra, triggering a fierce war. Supported by Shukracharya (the preceptor of the Asuras), Chandra faced off against Brihaspati, who was supported by all the devas and Lord Shiva.

Chandra’s son – Budha

A great war among the gods almost broke out after Lord Chandra abducted and then forced Tara, the Hindu star goddess of happiness and optimism, to marry him. Tara, who was the wife of Lord Brihaspati, ended up bearing a son named Budha for Chandra. | Image: Budha, British Museum-13th century, Konark

Fearing that blood would be spilled in a senseless manner, Lord Brahma stepped in and ordered the two sides to halt hostilities. He commanded Chandra to send Tara back to her husband Brihaspati. However, Tara was pregnant and refused to disclose to anyone who the father was. Tara eventually budged after the child threatened to make the rest of her days miserable. Tara then revealed that the child was Chandra’s. The child ended up being called Budha.

In some accounts, Tara revealed the father of Budha after the intervention of Brahma.

Chandra and Ganesha

In one of the myth, Chandra incurred the wrath of Ganesha after he laughed at Ganesha for falling off his Krauncha. Ganesha, son of Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati, cursed Chandra, saying that Chandra will never be able to come out during the night for the rest of his life.

When Ganesha realized that Chandra was remorseful for his actions, she tried to lift the curse but to no avail. He could only reduce it. Chandra could therefore come out in the night, but he will slowly decrease in size and luminosity for about fifteen days and then completely disappear. The next fifteen days will then see Chandra increase in size until he becomes a full moon. The above myth is the Hindus way of explaining the phases of the Moon.

Before Ganesha placed a curse on Chandra, it is said that he broke off his tusk and hurled at the Moon (i.e. Chandra). This part of the story explains why the Moon has a big crater (or craters) on its surface.

Ganesha cursed Lord Chandra after the god of the Moon ridiculed him for falling off his mount. | Image: Ganesha, god of new beginnings and wisdom, is most known in Hindu religion for removing obstacles in people’s paths.

The 27 wives of Lord Chandra in Hindu Mythology

In Hindu mythology, Lord Chandra is also most known for marrying 27 daughters of Lord Daksha, a deity often associated with the creator god Brahma. The Nakshatras, which are the constellations near the Moon, are named after his 27 wives.

It’s been said that he loved all 27 women; however, he had a particular soft spot for Rohini. When the other 26 women realized this, they reported Chandra to their father Daksha. After several warnings from Daksha fell on deaf ears, Daksha cursed Chandra with a very severe disease. Fearing for the worse, the devas and rishis begged Lord Brahma to intervene. Brahma ordered Chandra to seek cure from Shiva. After performing penance, Chandra was able to get the cured by Shiva.

Common epithets and other names

Like many Hindu deities, Lord Chandra has gone by a number of names and epithets. One popular name of Lord Chandra is Soma, which means “distill”. The word “Soma” in the Vedas brings to mind an intoxicating plant drink.

Other equally famous names of this god are Indu (“Bright Drop”), Nakshatrapati (Lord of the Nakshatra), Shashin (Marked by Hare), Udupati (Water Lord), and Kumudanatha (Lord of Lotuses).

Chandra’s role in the Hindu pantheon

Chandra, the god of the Moon, is believed to possess a feminine creative energy. He is also the lord of pregnancy, childbirth, fertility, plants, and vegetation.

In Chandra Ashtottara Shatanamavali, a sacred Hindu text, Lord Chandra is associated with about 100 names. The text describes Chandra as not just the lord of the Moon but lord of wise men. It goes on to describe Chandra as the “Remover of all sins”. Worshippers pray to him to wash away the sins and curses passed on to them by their ancestors.

Another very key role of Chandra comes in his ability to grant people make people’s dreams and aspirations come to past. His worshippers believe that he has the ability to bring calm and tranquility into their lives, removing every form of sadness and pain from their daily lives. That being said, Chandra is the Hindu deity people pray to when they are short on strength (both mental and emotional).

More on Chandra in Hindu mythology

  • In both Sanskrit and Hindi, Chandra’s name means “shining” or “bright”.
  • Hindus believe that a person’s mood could vary depending on the placement of the Moon. One tends to be generally livelier and full of hope when the moon is placed in a very strong place. On the other hand, one’s energy appears to be depleted whenever the Moon appears out of position.
  • Chandra, also known as Soma, as a lunar deity can also be found in Jainism and Buddhism.
  • There are a number of temples erected in honor of Chandra in countries like Bangladesh and India. In Karnataka, a state in South India, there is a 900-year-old temple called Chandramouleshwara Temple that receives many worshippers of Lord Chandra.
  • Lord Chandra is believed to have emerged from the sea during the churning of Ocean, also known as Samudra Manthan.
  • In some Hindu texts, Lord Chandra is not the son of the sage Atri; instead, he is the son of Dharma.
  • He is believed to be the father of the planet Mercury (also known as Budha) and Varchas. He also gave birth to a number of daughters, including Bhadra.
  • There are many personalities in Hindu mythology that bear the name “Chandra”.
  • It’s been stated in some Hindu texts that the Moon is where the nectar of immortality can be found. In those texts, it is also stated that the Moon receives its nourishment from the sun.
  • Slokas and mantras – dedicated to Lord Chandra – Chandra Gayatri, Chandra Kavasam and Sri Chandra Stotram
  • The 27 daughters of Daksha that Chandra married are: Krttika, Sravana, Rohini, Hasta, Radha, Vishakha, Purbabhadrapada, Pushya, Aslesha, Magha, Svati, Chitra, Purvaphalguni, Anuradha, Jyeshta, Mula, Purbashadha, Uttarabhadrapada, Uttarashara, Uttaraphalguni, Satabhisha, Revati, Ashwini, Mrigashirsha, Ardra, Punarvasu, and Bharani.

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