by Krishna Kanta Handiqui | 1956 | 159,632 words
This page relates Description of the rising moon which is canto 22 of the English translation of the Naishadha-charita of Shriharsha, dealing with the famous story of Nala (king of Nishadha) and Damayanti (daughter of Bhima, king of Vidarbha), which also occurs in the Mahabharata. The Naishadhacharita is considered as one of the five major epic poems (mahakavya) in Sanskrit literature.
Canto 22 - Description of the rising moon
2. He set himself upon a couch with a bed ready in the middle, which had been just left by his beloved, when she went forward to receive him. He caused her to sit as well, and described the evening twilight in verse.
4. “From the lofty summit of the sky, fallen is the sun, a rock of red chalk tom asunder. The dust raised by it, when it was dashed to pieces by the fall, now emerges as the evening glow.
6. “Look, the Evening twilight now takes up her position as doorkeeper of the night, the day being debarred from entry. She holds a cane painted with vermilion, the rays issuing from the swiftly setting sun.
7. “Śiva the great dancer, after meditating on the mighty goddess of the evening twilight, bright as red arsenic, now perhaps dances in the glow of the (setting) sun; his body, the sky itself, garlanded with rows of stars.
8. “Look, the moon-crested Śiva, the dancer of the eve, decorates the horizon with the broken pieces of his ornamental wreath of bones tom asunder in dancing; these now assume the guise of myriads of stars.
9. “Death the Hunter slew the day, an elephant whose scarlet dots are clearly visible. The beautiful evening twilight is his streaming blood, while the stars are the pearls which were inside his temples.
10. “In times of yore, while marrying Pārvatī, the mighty Śiva, whose clothing is the regions of the sky, wore, I ween, the region rosy with the evening glow, at the festal time of assuming flower-dyed crimson attire.
11. “Fair-eyed one, while marrying Satī and Pārvatī, did the sky-clad Śiva acquire as his attire both the red regions, east and west, in order to use the two twilights as flower-dyed crimson vesture?
12. “The mendicant sun wanders through all the regions, taking with him a ‘stick.’ Like an ascetic, he hath put on a scarlet robe, the evening sky, plunging into the ocean at dusk.
13. “Selling that lump of gold, the sun, that was tested on the touchstonelike Mount of Sunset, the evening glow being the trail left by the abrasion, the sky hath taken in return cowries, the stars!
14. “Death hath plucked yonder ripe pomegranate, the orb of the sun. Eating the seeds, he cast off its rind, the evening twilight; while he seems to have thrown out the starry stones of the fruit.
16. “Look, the sky is decked with splinters of crystal rocks flying up from the Mount of Kailāsa, owing to the impact of Śiva’s feet lighting upon it, while he danced at the end of the evening rites.”
17. Thinking the evening twilight had departed, as if from shame caused by such a description, Nala said again, looking at the sky furrowed with stars and gloom.
18. “O thou with eyebrows like Cupid’s bow, it is not the sky; it is the ocean with fishes and conchs mixed up with sharks. The ocean in bygone times upward shot, owing to the acute pain in its vitals, wounded by Rāma’s arrows.
19. “The stars, I ween, are the (flowery) arrows loosed by Cupid for the infatuation of gods and nymphs. Verily the word ‘five’ in the name of the ‘five-arrowed’ Cupid means ‘wide’ as in the ‘wide-faced’ lion.
20. “The stars are tear drops shed by female Cakravāka birds living on the banks of the celestial river, whelmed with grief at separation from their mates at night; while streams of their tears come down in the form of descent of stars.
21. “Methinks those stars are water animals frequenting the river of the gods—alligators, dolphins and crabs. Clearly we discern them at the bottom of the river from here, diving deep for fear of the gods sporting in its waters.
22. “Is it Cupid’s conch that shines in the sky, to be blown in celebration of his conquest of the worlds? What other warrior could play music upon starry flowers?
23. “Is the night a woman, adept in mystic rites, who hath given life to Cupid, and made the day lotus faint? Yonder conch, detached yet adhering to the sky, doth indeed proclaim her great mystic power.
24. “The night, a votary of nihilistic thought, declares the world to be false, though clearly visible, by pointing to the stars, the flowers of heaven, which are eclipsed during the time of right knowledge, the day.
25. “The emblematic deer in the moon of thy face was severely wounded by Cupid, who doth flash on thy face, and hath thy eyebrows for his bow. The deer went to the sky, with Cupid’s arrow attached to him, visible in the form of a starry wreath of flowers.
26. “The vault of the universe gleams, a primeval pavilion, serving as the abode of the worlds. Throughout its regions are the stars, looking like incisions made by insects on timber, and emitting heaps of dust, their own beams.
27. “Look, Damayantī, in the region that is Śacī’s co-wife, thickly doth darkness spread; as if it were a flood of the streaming ichor of Indra’s elephant. The flood breaks loose, because its dam, the day, hath burst.
28. “The buffalo, carrying the god of death, assumes the form of darkness, pervading the region where Rāma’s bridge looks like a line of hairs. Seeing it from afar, the sun seems to have departed, taking away his terrified steeds.
29. “The orb of the sun was perhaps a ripe Mahākāla fruit on the slope of the Mountain of the West. Positively I know, the expanses of darkness are the (black) seeds of this fruit, split when it tumbled on the rocks.
30. “The musklike darkness of the region, which has pictorial designs painted on its body, namely, the garden of Kubera, forms the disgrace of the Himalayas, neglected by the sun; since it revolves round the mountain of Sumeru.
31. “The sky was held aloft during the day, as if by the thousand hands of the thousand-rayed sun. That same sky, descending sunless, is coming to the closest proximity. How can there be darkness here?
32. “Yonder lamp, the sun, had left soot in the sky which resembles a vessel placed above it, mouth downward. Has the soot now dropped on the earth as darkness, becoming heavy with its growing volume?
33. “Damayantī, thou mightest be jealous. At this moonless hour of the night the bashful regions of the sky, looking like maidens setting out to meet their lovers, are coming towards me. The darkness is their musk paint; the blue sky their apparel; and the stars the flowery arrows of Cupid hovering above them.
34. “Slender one, darkness we call the eyelashes of Viṣṇu, while he swiftly closes his solar eye, with both the lids pressed one against the other. They surpass the lunar spot with the grace of their sombre hue.
35. “It seems that the sun took away the rays of men, also called eyes, which happened to be mixed up with his own thousand rays. Verily this blindness is due to that, not to the evening gloom.
36. “O thou with beautiful thighs, in the quest of the nature of darkness, the Vaiśeṣika doctrine seems to me to be sound. Verily it is said this system of philosophy was propounded by an owl; hence it is able to determine what darkness is.
38. “Verily the light, in which the sheen of the stars is overshadowed by the radiance of the sun, the king of planets, was seen by the owls in the form of a clear-shaped darkness amid the day.
39. “The darkness had employed shadows, attached to diverse objects, as its spies, in order to find out the movements of things during the day, its enemy. It hath now recalled them as if to question them (on the work they have done).”
40. The king then described in verse the rising moon, as if with a desire to appease it. It was red like a Japā flower, being enraged at his having thus described the darkness, its foe.
42. “Imagine, the borders of the trees are maidens seeking their lovers. They came to the trysting place under cover of darkness. Discarding their blue robes, the shadows, they now depart, wearing scarves suited to the light of the moon.
43. “O thou with thighs rounded as banana stems, with thy eyes, beauteous-shining as the night lotus, drink thou deep the moon, a mirror of the beauty of thy face; it is feeding the Cakora birds with its beams.
44. “The moon while living in the ocean doubtless emerged from the mountain that churned the ocean in bygone times. For even now it seems to us to rise from a mountain, though it abides in the sea.
45. “Did the moon’s younger brother, the elephant carrying Indra, the lord of the east, take the moon on his vermilion-painted head when it came as a guest to the east? Is it for this that the moon emerges with a crimson hue?
46. “Indra’s mistresses kissed the moon with loving mouths, because it resembled their faces. So it rises with its orb reddened like a Bimba fruit, in contact with the crimson paint of their lips.
47. “Does the Creator fashion the faces of women, with their eyes and other features clearly visible, by means of yonder mould of gold, the moon, where eyes and like features are hard to discern, owing to the designs being carved in an inverted form?
49. “A while ago the eastern sky was in the jaws of night. Coated with powdery moonbeams, surely it hath now assumed a crimson hue.
52. “Dusk the Impostor gave a counterfeit gold coin, the reddening moon, to the sky; and took possession of the sun, heaven’s radiant gem. Forthwith the coin turned out to be a pale piece of silver.
53. “The orb of the moon is like a flashing silver top, let go by such a child as the time of evening is. In the course of its career it is discarding its redness, like a silken cord covering a top, getting loose in course of its whirl.
54. “While the moon erased the panegyric of darkness, which the night had written on the black sky in starry letters of chalk, its own rosy lustre paled.
55. While here the moon shines white, elsewhere it rises with a reddening hue. And so who knows the secret of radiance and pallor in the moon, the abode of arts?
56. “With moonbeams, the best of sandal, the maiden regions of the sky gradually have painted their bodies, which were burnished with the saffron rays of early eve, and bore the musk paint of gloom.
57. “Cutting and cutting the winter days, the Creator, with their inmost layers, makes the moonlit nights. If it were otherwise, why are these nights similar to winter days, and why are the winter days short in duration?”
58. At the end of these words Nala said to his bride, who in listening to his beautiful utterances was silent with rapt attention, “Why, beloved, art thou silent about the moon, as if in dejection at the moon’s jealousy of thy face?
59. “Flood thou my ears with a wreath of words on this thesis of the moon, a golden jar of the sentiment of Eros. Verily the sugarcane is an imitation of grass growing on. the bank of that stream of emotion, thy charming voice.
60. “On this very matter I desire now to hear from thee also words like honey.” Thus exhorted by her beloved, she then began, to praise the glory of the moon.
61. “In order to increase the tide of the ocean, how much water does the moon, I wonder, extract from moonstones, and how much from the eyes of Cakravāka maids mourning their separation from their mates!
63. “The gleam of the smiles of night lotus blossoms, all of them, made the world, I fancy, white as milk; for, during the day, when they are not in bloom, the world shines not so, though the moon is still there.
64. “Living on the matted hair of the Death-conquering Śiva, the moon never dies; death being far away for fear of Śiva: nor does it grow, terrified by those Rāhus, the severed human heads in Śiva’s wreath, which the moon’s own nectar restores to life.
65. “The moon doth thrive, giving its beams to the Cakora bird, its nectar to the gods, and even a lunar digit, a part of its own body, to Śiva. Yet all this is scant charity on the part of one who is brother to the Wishing Tree.
66. “Though Śiva honours the sixteenth digit of the moon by placing it on his head; (the moon) that carries a piece of musk, the lunar spot, and is purified by its nectar: yet he is not worth even a sixteenth part of the moon; (Śiva) whose neck is black with poison, and who is white with the ashes of cremation grounds.
67. “The moon with a black and white surface was made of Cupid’s half burnt bones. For, though carried by Śiva, enemy to Cupid, on his head, it does what gratifies Cupid and strengthens his power.
68. “Verily the monster Rāhu swallows the moon out of greed for the deer therein. But the moon, even at the risk of its own life, surrenders not the deer sleeping in its lap. So with pleasure doth Rāhu let go the moon.
70. “Yonder moonshine, in its plenitude looking like the River of Heaven, and filling up the borders of the four regions of the sky, dispels the moon’s grief caused by the termination of its life amidst the tides of the Ocean of Milk.
71. “Let this moonshine, the moon’s daughter, be dance-teacher to the ocean; let it be food to the Cakora bird, and friend to the eyes of men. Yet it is something beyond value to the night lotus bloom; its very name Kaumudī says it is so.
72. “The rays emitted by the white portion of the moon are gleaming upon the earth, with a lustre blended with the blue light coming from the lunar spot; for the moon’s rays have gaps in them, disguised as the shadows of the objects located on the earth, which is milky white with the light of the moon.
73. “Just as a certain portion of the sky hath been cleared up by the moon, dispelling the gloom, so hath it been blackened by the waters of the briny ocean stirred up by the selfsame moon.
74. “Why should the moon not be subject to waxing and waning, which are attributes of its ultimate source, the ocean? Strange that it exhibits them at intervals, and not daily like the ocean.
76. “Yonder orb of the moon, with its store of plenty meant for the enjoyment of the gods, is pure as a sacrifice. But just as the latter has an impure aspect, the killing of animals, so has the moon an unclean portion, its stain.
77. “The deer in the moon was the steed of the Pravaha Wind; he got loose from his chariot, desiring to drink. With an ever-sipping mouth he is in the desert sky, drinking the nectar-drops oozing from the moon.
78. “But there was no deer in the moon while it was a child. When it grew to be a youth, its mistresses, the herbs, sent the deer as a present. The moon, I fancy, held him on its bosom, as a message from the woods.
79. “The deer lives happily as the lunar spot, feeding on the leaves of the plants that come to attend on the moon; while he drinks the streams of nectar shed by it.
80. “Yonder deer, I fancy, took shelter in the moon, thinking it was the crown gem of Śiva, when he saw in terror the distressed ‘Starry Deer’ far away in the sky, chased by Śiva’s arrows.
81. “My lord, if thou dost think there may be a deer on the back of the moon like the one in its lap; do thou ascertain the truth from thy face, for it saw the moon’s back in a contest of beauty.
82. “Reason declares that the white-bellied hare, the emblem of the divine moon, has his face turned towards heaven. On account of this, I would all the more believe that the divine cows, too, go about, facing heavenward, as told in the Vedas.
83. “Verily the redness of the fur on the back of the hare, though it actually exists, is not visible to us; because those who are afar off see only blueness in a thing that is red and blue.
85. “The ocean must have produced the moon in the same dimension as it is produced by the new moon night. The smallness of the moon taken up by Śiva on his head, when it rose from the ocean, is evidence here.
86. “If yonder moon with leaf-shaped digits is imagined to be a Ketaka flower, the image will correspond with truth, owing to the redolence of the musk in the navel of the deer serving as the emblem of the moon.
87. “The moon was globular as taught by the science of astronomy. Evidently it became flat, being reduced to the condition of an oil-cake, when its nectar was extracted by the crushing wheel of Rāhu’s jaws.
88. “The moon is not Cupid’s friend, for there is no resemblance between the two. Surely camphor known as ‘the moon’ is his friend; for the burnt Cupid and camphor when burnt both prove stronger than in their former state.
89. “Or, perhaps the friendship of the moon and Cupid is quite fitting. Cupid was merged in Śiva’s burning eye; the moon is merged in Viṣṇu’s eye, the sun, when the sun visits the Amāvāsyā day.
90. “When, in times of yore, the moon became the lotus eye of the Primeval Being, the lunar spot looked beautiful, as if it were the bee-like pupil of his eye.
91. “That very god rightly employed the moon as his eye, and Garuḍa as his conveyance, having observed the similarity between the two. Both are ‘two-winged’; both ‘lords of the twice-born’; and both ‘resorted to by Hari’.
92. “Methinks, those who inferred the existence of fire in snow, on account of the lilies being consumed by snow, opined also that the dark spot of the snow-rayed moon was a volume of smoke issuing from this fire.
93. “Pervaded by rivers, as if they were streams of perspiration, the earth, wearied by the world’s weight over it, loses its fatigue, plunging into the moon, an ocean of nectar, in the guise of its shadow.
94. “Such is my inference—the Golden Mountain (Meru) hath turned blue with the formation of a blue rust in the course of the ages. Otherwise its yellow surface would have been reflected in that portion of the moon which consists of the shadow of the earth.
95. “The moon whose radiance makes the day lotus shrink may not enjoy the charm of being worshipped with blossoming day lotus flowers. But, I fancy, it enjoys that charm, being adorned with the eyes of the deer serving as its emblem.
97. “The dark night, a mistress of the moon, would shine most in the company of a husband who was white; while the moonlit night, another mistress of the moon, would shine most in the company of one that was dark. So the moon assumes a black and white form, as if with a desire to look beautiful before both.
98. “The moon I know to be a full-grown mushroom among those tiny mushrooms, the stars, which grow on yonder mass of timber, the regions of the sky, long exposed to rain and heat.
99. “Since the sun sank low all of a sudden, at the end of the day, the eyes of the universe traverse the expanse of darkness, a river of peril, with the help of the moon at night.
100. “Does not the moon exist even in our eye, a glimmering luminous dot, momentary and small? But proper it was that, in the eye of the great Atri, it was greater in size, and liable to destruction at the interval of a month.
101. “Neither the herbs with their (medicinal) power nor the Brāhmaṇas with their mystic formulas could save their lord, the waning moon; nor could the ocean with its gems save it, the ocean’s child; nor could nectar with its virtues save it, nectar’s own home.
102. “Or, perhaps it is false that moonbeams consist of nectar; perhaps this nectar prevents not old age and death; otherwise, why is it that the Cakora birds are not free from old age and death, although they drink in the rays of the moon?”
103. With these mature expressions, Damayantī made the king benumbed with joy; and, for a moment she imbued him with a sense of wonder, like a cascade of snow.
104. “From this mouth arose this speech, sweet as a stream of nectar.” Thus saying, he kissed the orb of her moon face, closely resembling day lotus blooms in beauty.
105. When her beloved thus lovingly spoke to her, she who was a pearl of the royal dynasty of Vidarbha emitted a jet of ray, her smile, like a shooting star descending from heaven.
106. She said to the king, “It is proper that thy moonlike mouth is wholly indifferent in praising the moon, having employed me to do so. For it is not proper for one to describe oneself.”
107. Induced by the fair one, Nala, the noblest on the earth, and dear to her as her life, spoke to the lucky maid words brimming with the spirit of jest, smiling as he spoke, about to describe the moon.
108. “Having listened to the erstwhile song of thy mouth, yonder deer in the moon, eager to hear it again, wishes never to forsake the moon, mistaking it for thy face, I know.
110. “Oppressed by heat, Sound the Traveller travels not in day as much as he does at night, owing to his being refreshed by the rays of the moon, or on account of the coolness produced by the woodland of gloom.
111. “Having reached the climax of the enjoyment of sweetness, by listening to thy songs even from afar, the moon doth surely throw away its store of nectar, its beams, as if in disdain.
112. “Slender maid, the moon gives us no cause for wonder that it became the (left) eye of Viṣṇu. It is its nature, in keeping with its origin, born as it was of the sage Atri’s eye.
113. “Slim-waisted maid, Night the Cleanser hath washed off in a moment yonder blue tint of the sky formed by the darkness, with these moonbeams that are like streams of milk.
114. “O thou with beautiful thighs, the autumn that removed the black of the clouds could not in the least wipe off the dark tint of the lunar spot.
116. “Slender maid, if another moon, without spot, were made by fusing together thousands of stars, it would have the beauty of thy face.
117. “Gazelle-eyed one, the hostility, I ween, between the day lotus and the moon is caused by their desire to have the selfsame object; for both the lotus and the moon wish to acquire the charm of thy face.
118. “Having drunk the nectar of the lips of thy moon face, the nectar which even the lord of the gods could never drink, I have a disdain for the nectar of yonder moon, reduced to dregs by the gods, drinking it up.
119. “Bearing on his head this very moon, the lord of medicinal herbs, Śiva swallowed the terrible ocean-born poison, and carries serpents about him, free from fear.
120. “See, no degradation did the moon suffer, though he had amorous relations with his teacher’s wife. Worldly actions fetter not those who have the Self for their light, and have reached the final stage of physical being.
121. “The moon’s nectar decked with the hue of the lunar spot is but the water, variegated with sesamum seeds, and purified by faith, which offered by sons to their Manes, reached the moon; for it is the abode of the Manes.
122. “Look, on the waters of thy pleasure brook, easily perceptible by standing in this lofty edifice, a female goose is kissing the reflection of the moon, mistaking it for its mate which is long in the water, having dived into it.
123. “Yonder moon, made empty in the day by the gods drinking up its nectar, seems to lie immersed in thy brook in the guise of its reflection, being replenished with nectar at night.
124. “In this pleasure brook, the night lily’s flowery hand hath come into contact with the moon’s hand, its light; and the spray of the honey of the flowers, like the ceremonial gift-water, seems to declare the nuptial gaiety of moonlight and lily.
125. “Yonder night lily growing on the water is a hind living in the woods, with eyes, its flowers, blossoming, blue and large. She is looking at her mate, the deer, which she thinks is in the moon of thy face, high up here.
126. “During the break up of the meditations of the night lotus blossoms, performing austerities in the midst of the waters, the moon, I am aware, is the face of a nymph, the night; (a face) with nectar for its nether lip, and beautiful with ray smiles.
127. “The moon is Cupid’s pool. The small lunar spot is the ooze of the pool, while the moon’s nectar is its water. Cupid carries as his emblem a fish of this pool. It is deathless even in the absence of water, for it drinks the nectar of the moon.
128. “The sky clearly declared itself to be a form of Śiva. The stars are its decorative bones. It upholds the moon and the celestial Gaṅgā. It has a lustre brightened with ashes, the rays of the moon, and wears a necklace, the serpent Vāsuki, disguised as the galaxy.
130. “Gazelle-eyed maid, since yonder orb of the moon is Cupid’s parasol beaming white, the decay of the moon that follows the full moon night, is verily the decay of Cupid’s sovereign power.
131. “Sensitive maid, the moon that could not be conquered by Rāvaṇa in times of yore, even though he had conquered the worlds, has yonder stain attached to it, being outmatched in beauty by thy face.
132. “All these days the moon hath been seen to wax. But when, being full, it vies with thy face, immediately wilt thou see its decay.
133. “Just as Paraśurāma, the great Brāhmaṇa, after he had defeated all the Kṣatriyas, suffered defeat at the hands of the Kṣatriya Rāma; similarly the moon, after vanquishing all the day lotus blossoms, is now defeated by thy lotus face.
134. “Watchful maid, look, a white outline adorns the border of the moon. Look, the figure of a deer darkens its centre.” Thus did Nala show to Damayantī now the border, now the centre of the moon.
135. “Is the moon called ‘twice-born’, because it was born of two, the ocean and the sage Atri’s eye? And, being thus born of (the Brāhmaṇa) Atri, has it finally attained the rank of a Brāhmaṇa?
136. “Slender one, because Brahmā made the lunar orb, an abode of snow, with a deer in the middle, (and set it) in the sky, the pleasure ground of the stars, he became an ornament to the denizens of heaven, with Viṣṇu’s assent, by virtue of that pious act.
137. “O thou with a face resembling in beauty the orb of the moon, because the moon is called mere straw, compared with thy face, yonder deer clings to the moon owing to the eagerness of deer (for grass). In the consciousness of animals the influence of delusion never vanishes.
138. “The Nectar of the moon was harrassed by Rāhu with threats that he would forcibly drink it up. So it left the moon, and resorted to thy nether lip ruddy with betel. It now hides its emblem of whiteness with the lip’s crimson hue.
139. “The moon was defeated by thy lotus face; the moon that serves as Viṣṇu’s left eye, and was born of the region that is Indra’s wife; the moon whose body hath been fattened by a deer or perhaps a hare cast into its bosom. But the defeat of the moon was like that of a single person at the hands of a multitude numbering millions. Rāhu alone is a (fitting) adversary for the moon.
140. “Beloved, if it is true that the lotus with an indescribable beauty is thy face, the lotus which the lotus-born Brahmā adored with his lotus eyes; then what is yonder moon? It is a crane living among the reeds in the wood along the bank of the celestial river, which abides on the head of Śiva, the hunter who killed the Sacrifice disguised as a deer.
141. “Methinks, in the bosom of the spotless moon wandering in the east, all of whose digits are unanimously held to be white, the lunar spot resembling a blue lotus came into being by chance; perhaps because the moon came into contact with the drops of ichor issuing from the cheeks and temples of the Airāvata elephant owned by Indra, the conqueror of Bala.
142. “The sixteenth part of the moon is called a digit, but only fifteen digits round off the moon, growing from the new moon to the full moon night. Was then the remaining digit, which had no lunar day allotted to it, taken out of the moon and made an ornament for Śiva? And, in its place, do I see in the moon a dark cavity, namely, the lunar spot?
143. “Fair one, the moon desires to prevent thy face from surpassing it in beauty, because thy face has beautiful eyes. So it feeds the young Cakora with its rays, in the hope of obtaining from the bird its long-drawn eyes; the bird being cajoled into submission by the moon, which seems to have the purpose of husbanding its resources. The moon tends also a deer in its bosom with care, in order to acquire its eyes as well.
144 “Thy face was made with the full measure of beauty, and the moon with what little remained of it in the vessel of beauty, and that, too, half soiled; because it was obtained by scouring the vessel. Having made the moon and thy face, the Creator surely washed his hands with water; and even now, with the particles of that beauty settling in the waters, lotus blooms are made.
145. “Thy face was made with the whole measure of beauty, and the moon with what little remained of it in the vessel of beauty.......
......A mere digit of the moon, priding itself on its beauty, became Śiva’s crest jewel; while the night and the day lotus became each the abode of beauty, because they resorted to water, the resting place of the moon.
146. “Surrounded by the assembly of stars, the moon hath become a jar of sunstone for the convivial drinking bouts of the stars. Look, beloved, poets who use the figure ‘Poetical Fancy’ can easily describe the moon as carrying a bowl of sapphire, namely, the hare in the moon, designed to draw its nectar with.
147. “Fair lady, thy face was made, I fancy, by extracting from the lunar orb all its excellence; that is why yonder moon is called ‘a storehouse of defects.’ A pair of charming eyes, I see, was then set in thy face, by removing them from the deer in the moon. Indeed, if the deer had eyes, would he abide in the moon while thy face was here?
148. “Slender lady, dost thou not think those numberless white-rayed stars on the surface of the sky look like the footprints of the horses of the sun’s chariot, filled up by the nectar oozing nightly from the bottom of the moon?
149. “Set about the worship of Cupid. Let me be thy aid. Starry flowers are at hand. Offer the moon as a present; it looks like a rice-cake stuffed with sesamum.
150. “May the divine moon delight our hearts! In the gay festival of ceremonial bathing forming part of the marriage of Cupid with Rati, the moon, looking like a jar with a thousand apertures, showers nectar, its beams, which fall through the holes bored in it by Rāhu’s jaws, each time he comes to gorge the moon.”
Śrīhīra etc. In the epic, The Story of Nala, composed by him who is also the author of a Campū on the life of Navasāhasāṅka, the twenty-second canto, brilliant by nature, is at an end.
Footnotes and references:
Lit. which held.........
The top of the Mountain of Sunset (astācala) is fancied as being occupied by Śabara tribes with tame fowls in their houses.
Lit. Look at the exercise of authority by the evening twilight in her position as door-keeper........., from which the day is debarred.........
i.e., after the evening rites.
The sky is one of the eight forms of Śiva. Evening being the time for Śiva’s dance, he is described as dancing in his sky form, the twinkling of the stars being the rhythm of his dance.
In the case of the day, lotuses. The day being figured as an elephant, the lotuses are likened to the scarlet dots on the face and trunk of an elephant.
Lit. with a view to the two twilights, i.e., with a view to using the morning and evening twilights as ceremonial dress in the two marriages. See Vocab. under “puṣpasindūrikā”.
The sun has an attendant named Daṇḍa (lit. stick) who is here fancied as the sun’s travelling stick.
i.e., the stars are the stones ejected from the mouth after eating the fruit. Lit. he cast off the evening twilight, like its rind, etc.
The splinters of crystal rocks refer to the stars.
Lit. owing to the acuteness of the pain caused by the wounding of its vitals by Rāma’s arrows. The ocean is said to have shot upward to crave Rāma’s mercy, when it was wounded by his arrows at the time of his throwing a bridge over it to reach Laṅkā. The stars are fancied as fishes and conchs, and the darkness as sea animals like whales and sharks, which were thrown up at the time.
Lit. streams of tears fall in the shape of (downward) shiftings of the stars. The shooting stars seem to be fancied as streams of tears shed by the Cakravāka birds living on the banks of the celestial Gaṅgā. The word “saṃkramaṇa” may be taken also in the sense of ‘reflection’. In that case, the unsteady reflections of the stars on the waters of rivers and pools would be referred to as tear drops fallen from the sky.
The Viśākhā star mentioned above. Conch might here refer also to the moon. Cf. 19. 56. The mysterious ‘conch’ is fancied as being upheld by the Yogic power of the night.
The world is declared by the nihilistic school of Buddhists (śūnyavādī) to be a universal void. It is fancied that the night, too, does the same by citing the example of the stars (tārāḥ nidarśayantī), which are visible at night, but invisible in the day; i.e., just as the stars, though they appear to have a real existence under cover of night, are found to be non-existent in the day, similarly the phenomena of the world, though they appear to be real in the state of ignorance, are found to be unreal when right knowledge dawns upon the mind. The stars have been purposely called here “khapuṣpāṇi”: ‘flowers of the sky’. A “khapuṣpa” is ‘something which does not exist’, ‘a mare’s nest’.
Or, ‘the deer in the form of the lunar spot’.
Damayantī’s face is the moon, but as the deer associated with the moon is not perceptible on her face, it is fancied ṃat Cupid who is ever present on Damayantī’s lovely face shot at the animal one of his flowery arrows; and the deer with the star-like flowers of the arrow attached to his body fled to the sky where he became the constellation known as Mṛgaśīrṣa ‘deer’s head’ or simply as Mṛga ‘deer’. See also Vocab. under “tārāmṛga”.
“anukāṣṭham” means also: on the wood, i.e., on its wooden frame. The vault of the universe is figured as an age-worn, dilapidated wooden building. The rays of the stars are fancied as the whitish yellow dust issuing from the incisions made by insects on old timber.
i.e., the east regarded as Indra’s wife.
A kind of wild fruit, red in colour, with black seeds.
The north, of which Kubera is regent, is meant.
Soot is allowed to accumulate in a vessel placed over a lamp, mouth downward, for the purpose of preparing collyrium.
i.e., the eyelashes. The sun being Viṣṇu’s right eye, the evening is fancied as being caused by his closing of his right eye, while the deep black of the eyelashes is imagined to be the gloom of the night.
Lit. eyelashes (sing, in the original) which conquered the lunar spot, etc.
There is a pun on the word “go” which means ‘cow’, ‘ray’ and ‘eye’. The imagery is that of a cowherd who drives away not only his own cows, but those of others mixed up with his herd. The setting sun takes away his own rays as well as the ‘rays’ or eyes of men, i.e., their power of vision.
“darśana” means also ‘eye’. The sentence means also: Verily they say, the eye of the owl is capable of determining the nature of darkness.
The idea is, the Vaiśeṣika system discusses the nature of darkness; and as this system is called Aulūka (lit. propounded by an owl), it is quite proper that the problem of darkness should engage its attention.
The verse may also be translated thus: Verily the light that is the lustre of the sun, the king of the planets, (the light) that overpowers the sheen of the stars, was seen by the owls as (a sort of) diurnal gloom assuming a definite shape. See also Notes.
Lit. How do these fare during the day, my enemy?
i.e., the evening shadows. Lit. caused them to enter (the house).
Cakora birds are believed to feed on moonbeams. Cf. 12.6.
The borders of the trees enveloped in darkness prior to moonrise are fancied as young women secretly coming to meet their lovers, wearing blue clothing which makes them invisible in the darkness. After moonrise the borders glistening with moonlight are fancied as the maidens returning home with white scarves on, which now make them invisible in the light of the moon. The shadows cast by the trees are imagined to be the blue clothing discarded by the maidens when they changed for white. Lit. having discarded blue clothing in the guise of shadows.
i.e., the Airāvata elephant who during the churning of the ocean came forth after the moon.
A mere repetition of Verse 47.
The moon is the king of the world of departed ancestors. The story of Kārtavīryārjuna killed by Paraśurāma is referred to in XXI. 68.
The rising moon is compared to Śūrpaṇakhā’s bloody face, without ears and nose which were cut off by Lakṣmaṇa. The compound: “lakṣmaṇābhibhūtaḥ”: ‘overpowered by a dark stain’ is designed to mean at first sight ‘vanquished by Lakṣmaṇa’, which makes vivid the allusion to Sītā.
Lit. a cord covering made of silk threads discarded in course of its whirl. The ruddy film that appears to cover the rising moon is fancied as the coil of a red silk cord twined round a top; the moon casts off the red film, just as the top in motion discards the red string.
Also: hand. The imagery is that of the hand coloured white while erasing writings in chalk.
‘Lady’ or ‘woman’ would be more exact.
Lit. on account of the moon.
These are believed to part with their mates in the evening.
The expanse of moonbeams is the island, and the moon the lamp.
Lit. they being with their mouths closed.
The reference is to the new moon on Śiva’s head, which neither waxes nor wanes. See Verse 85 and 11. 92.
Both the moon and the Wishing Tree rose from the ocean during the churning.
The love-inducing moon is fancied as being made of the bones of the god of love. Nārāyaṇa refers to a popular belief that he who takes shelter with another and yet helps the latter’s enemy is in his next life made of the bones of that enemy. Here, the ungrateful moon lives on Śiva’s head, but helps to reanimate Śiva’s enemy, Cupid. Hence the surmise that the moon was made of the bones of Cupid.
It will be remembered that the moon was churned out of the ocean.
The moon is consoled by the fact that the white expanse of its light looks like its lost home, the ocean of milk.
Moonlight which makes the night lotus bloom is called Kaumudī which means literally “something belonging to the night lotus (Kumuda)”.
The shadows looking like gaps in the moonshine are imagined to be a kind of dark light emitted by the lunar spot.
The apparent meaning is: It is strange that though beautiful like a mirror, the moon does not possess a form beautiful like a mirror; though its abode is on the Three-eyed One, it originated from one who did not have three eyes. means both ‘visible’ and ‘beautiful’; “ādarśa” means a mirror, but in the second line it has to be construed as “ādarśam—darśamamāvāsyāmabhivyāpya atrinetra” means both “na+trinetra” and “atri+netra”.
Ref. to Pravaha Wind. For “pravaha” see Vocab.
When the sacrifice of Dakṣa was broken up by Śiva, the Sacrifice ran away in the form of a deer and ultimately became the constellation known as “mṛgaśīrṣa” or Deer’s Head. See Vocab. under “tārāmṛga”. It is here fancied that another deer saw this and took refuge in the moon, thinking it would be able to protect him from Śiva who honoured the moon, having placed it on his head.
i.e., when the moon turned its back as a sign of defeat.
Lit. turned upward. The idea is that it is the grey back of the hare that is visible from the earth.
Lit. facing upward. Cf. 2. 105.
The verse explains why the fur on the back of the hare in the moon appears to be blue, and not red and blue, as it really is.
Śiva bears on his head a single digit of the moon; hence the inference that the moon emerged from the ocean in this form; for it was at this time that Śiva took it up on his bead.
i.e., if the deer in the moon gives out any smell, it must be like that of the Ketaka flower owing to the resemblance of the lunar digits to its white, elongated petals.
i.e., Cupid, though burnt by Śiva, is more powerful than ever; and camphor, too, diffuses a stronger scent when burnt. It will be noted that words signifying the moon are used also in the sense of ‘camphor’.
Cupid was burnt by a flame issuing from Śiva’s third eye.
The sun is regarded as Viṣṇu’s right eye: and on the moonless Amāvāsyā night the moon is supposed to be merged in the sun. Cf. 3.33.
The moon is regarded as Viṣṇu’s left eye.
An artificial similarity is sought to be established between the moon and Garuḍa by means of puns. Applied to the moon, ‘two-winged’ (ubhayapakṣabhāk) means ‘resorting to the two pakṣas or fortnights.’ In the case of the moon, “dvija”:’twice-born’ means Brāhmaṇas, of whom the moon is supposed to be the king; in the case of Garuḍa, the word means ‘birds’, Garuḍa being the king of the birds. Lastly, “hariṇāśrita”: ‘resorted to by Hari’ i.e., as his conveyance, is true of Garuḍa only. Applied to the moon, it is to be construed as “hariṇa+āśrita”: ‘resorted to by a deer’ i.e., the lunar spot.
The lunar spot is sometimes supposed to be the shadow of the earth falling on the moon.
The lunar spot being the shadow of the earth falling on the moon, the golden Meru mountain reflected in the moon along with the earth would have left a yellow patch in the dark portion of the moon, had it not been covered with a blue rust.
i.e., the lotus-like eyes of the deer take the place of day lotus blossoms.
Cf. Verse 69.
The Airāvata elephant and the Uccaiḥśravas horse were churned out of the ocean and given to Indra.
“taraṇi” means both ‘the sun’ and ‘a boat’, and “uḍupa” both ‘the moon’ and ‘a raft.’
The luminous halo that seems to appear at one corner of an eye when the other comer is pressed with a finger is here fancied as a miniature moon, which is contrasted with the full-size moon said to have come out of the sage Atri’s eye.
The moon is the king of the Brāhmaṇas and of the vegetable world (cf. Verse 78).
See Verse 69.
The moon is called Sudhākara ‘a reservoir of nectar.’
Lit. thy face which is fit to be approached.
Lit. Did thy two ears become a noose, being about to bind?
“ardhacandra”: ‘a kind of arrow with a semi-circular blade.’ Cupid’s arrows are described as crescent-shaped.
The day lotus shrinks at moonrise.
Cf. Verse 78.
Lit. having come.
Lit. the shower of gift-water in the guise of honey. The “hands” of the night lily and the moon coining in contact with each other are fancied as those of a bridal pair during the ceremony of “pāṇigrahaṇa” or marriage. The dripping lotus honey is the ceremonial water confirming the giving away of the bride in marriage. It will be remembered that the moon is called the husband of the night lily.
Lit. the deer present in thy moon-face. The night lily is fancied as a hind who mistakes Damayantī’s face for the moon and looks in it for the deer supposed to be in the moon.
The night lotus blossoms with their petals closed are fancied as ascetics engaged in austerities with eyes closed. The night, at the advent of which the flowers open, is imagined to be a nymph coming to disturb these ascetics in their meditation.
The sky is one of the eight forms of Śiva. White ashes, decorative bones, the moon and the celestial Gaṅgā, snaky necklace etc., are all associated with Śiva who is here figured as the sky.
i.e., the pupil of the eye. The reference is to Atri.
i.e., the twenty-seven main stars regarded as the wives of the moon.
The story is found in the Rāmāyaṇa (Uttarakāṇḍa) in a Canto regarded as an interpolation. See fourth N. S. ed., p. 1012.
Lit. even after conquering.
Lit. So many days the moon has been seen to surpass its former condition.
i.e., by making them shrink.
Usually the moon is called ‘twice-born’, because once ‘born’, it dies, and is ‘born’ again. Here a different explanation is suggested.
The moon is said to have issued from the sage Atri’s eye. It is regarded as the king of the Brāhmaṇas. The second line may mean also: And, being thus born of two (dvi+ja), why has it finally become (known as) born of Atri (alone)? There is, however, a pun on “atrija” and the sentence is designed to mean at first sight: Being thus born of two, has it finally become known as ‘not born of three’ (a+tri+ja)?
The verse contains a reference to Buddhist ritual. It means also: Slender one, because in the shrine of the goddess Tārā, Brahmā made a circle of camphor, (like) a snowy tract, redolent with musk, he became an ornament to the denizens of heaven for that pious act, in conformity with Buddha’s doctrine. The making by Brahmā of the orb of the moon, with a deer in it, in the midst of the stars is compared to the Buddhist ceremony of making a white circle of camphor mixed with musk in the shrine of the goddess Tārā.
“tārā” means (1) the stars, (2) the goddess of that name.
“vihārabhūḥ” means (1) a pleasure ground, (2) a Buddhist shrine.
“candramayī maṇḍalī” means (1) the lunar orb, (2) a circle of camphor.
The idea is, people are wont to call the moon “bahutṛṇa”: “slightly unfinished grass”, “grass-like” (i.e. mere straw, worthless) in comparison with Damayantī’s face. But the more explicit meaning of “bahutṛṇa” is “abounding in grass”, misled by which the deer in the moon is still clinging to it in order to reap some day a harvest of grass in the moon! The word “mṛgatṛṣṇā” lit. the thirst or desire of a deer (in the present case, for grass), means really a mirage which points to the illusion of the animal.
i.e., the east presided over by Indra.
i.e., the moon is fit to have, as its rival the monster Rāhu, not the beautiful face of Damayantī.
The “anvaya” is:
The idea is, the contest of the moon with Damayantī’s face is like that of one fighting against many. “haryakṣa” means also ‘a lion’, and “padma” in the third line means also ‘an elephant’. By puns the verse conveys also the imagery of an elephant defeating a lion in spite of the latter being gorged with a deer or a hare.
“athaca haritā haridvarṇayā hareḥ siṃhasya patnyā siṃhikayā prasūtasya, tathā mṛgaṃ śaśaṃ vā yaṃ kaṃcana paśuṃ jaṭhare nikṣipya bhakṣayitvā sthitasya, ata eva saṃjātapuṣṭaśarīrasya, ata eva haryakṣībhavataḥ siṃhatāṃ prāpnuvato'sya tvanmukhādyaḥ parājayo'j[?]ani sa ekākinaḥ kevalāt padmādgajādeva parājayaḥ | siṃhasya gajādbhaṅgo yathā tadvadetanmahaccitramityarthaḥ[?]”
Brahmā was born of a lotus growing out of Viṣṇu’s navel. The lotus being his progenitor, he worships it with his own lotus-like eyes serving as the requisite flowers.
While destroying the sacrifice begun by Dakṣa, Śiva cut off the head of the Sacrifice when the latter attempted to flee in the shape of a deer.
Lit. the creation of all whose digits is based on the unanimity about its whiteness.
Indra is the lord of the east. So the moon would come across the Airāvata elephant owned by Indra.
Ref. to the digit of the moon on Śiva’s head.
Lit. desirous of making thy face equal (to it) also in respect of the beauty of eyes.
Cakora birds are described as drinking the rays of the moon.
Lit. as if to increase its capital
Lit. to touch (or possess) that very thing.
The moon tries to acquire a pair of beautiful eyes in order to surpass Damayantī’s face, and for that purpose tends a foolish bird and an equally foolish animal in order that it may snatch away their beautiful eyes on a suitable occasion.
Same as above.
The word “pada” is purposely used as it means both ‘foot’ and ‘resting place’, giving literally the sense: ‘the night lotus and the day lotus became the abode of beauty, because they touched the moon’s feet.’ A hierarchy of beauty is established with Damayantī’s face at the top, the moon and the lotus following in a descending order.
Lit. on account of the joviality due to drinking together.
The moon is a white jar of nectar and its black spot is a blue bowl from which the jovial stars drink the nectar.
Lit. Being non-blind, would it abide in the moon (or take delight in the moon)?
As the eyes of the deer in the moon were taken away to serve as Damayantī’s eyes, the animal became blind, and being thus unable to appreciate her beauty, chose to abide in the moon, though all its beauty had been taken away from it to create Damayantī’s face.
Lit. the moon that has a shower of ray-nectar falling through the holes originating from the boring tool of Rāhu’s jaws etc.