Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Candra included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Candra



The child born to Atri by Anasuyā. (See Purūravas). In Skandha 4 of the Devībhāgavata it is stated that it was Brahman who was born as Candra. (See Atri).

Candra led married life with the wife of his guru.

Tārā, the very beautiful wife of Bṛhaspati, preceptor of the Devas happened to reach Candra’s home during her perambulation one day. Candra and Tārā fell in love with each other at first sight and lived in conjugal happiness. And thus days passed by. Bṛhaspati, being informed of the fact on enquiry, deputed his disciples to bring Tārā back, but to no purpose. Bṛhaspati sent his disciples again and again to Tārā, but all to no purpose. Then Bṛhaspati himself went to the house of Candra and invited Tārā, this time also to no purpose. Enraged at this the Deva guru spoke to Candra as follows: "The brahmin-killer, gold-thief, drunkard, he who marries another’s wife and he who associates himself with the above three types are responsible for the most terrible five sins, and you, therefore, are not fit enough to reside in Devaloka. Unless you return my wife to me I will curse you." None of the threats of Bṛhaspati could shake Candra. He told the Devaguru that Tārā who had gone to his house on her own accord would also leave him when she was satiated with him. These words of Candra made Bṛhaspati all the more angry. He returned home and waited sometime more for Tārā’s return. But, he got disappointed, and getting impatient he started again for Candra’s house. But, this time the gatekeepers did not let him in.

Terribly angry at the cruel rebuff Bṛhaspati sought help of Indra. Indra sent word to Candra asking him to send Tārā back home or be prepared for war. Even then Candra refused to yield, and Indra started for war against Candra. But, there was somehow some difference among the devas about all this, and the news reached the asuras. At once Śukra, preceptor of the asuras and an old enemy of Bṛhaspati met Candra and assured him all support in case war broke out between Indra and Candra. He also strongly advised Candra not to return Tārā to Bṛhaspati. And, ultimately a fierce war began between Indra and Candra. All activities in the world were thrown into confusion and chaos. At this Brahmā on his haṃsa (swan) came to the scene and admonished Candra and Śukra. They could not but obey Brahmā and so were forced to stop fighting. Moreover, Candra returned Tārā to Bṛhaspati.

The quarrel and fighting thus ended for the time being, but another problem cropped up. At the time Candra returned Tārā to Bṛhaspati she was carrying, and Bṛhaspati was not aware of the fact. And at last Tārā delivered an exceptionally beautiful male child. The naming ceremony of the child was duly performed, Bṛhaspati himself acting as its father. When the news reached Candra he sent a messenger to Bṛhaspati claiming the child was his. Bṛhaspati too claimed its fatherhood. This controversy developed almost to the brink of a second devāsura war. At this stage Brahmā went to Bṛhaspati’s house and questioned Tārā as to who really was her child’s father, and she named Candra. Upon this Brahmā asked Bṛhaspati to release the child to Candra. Bṛhaspati did so. (Devī Bhāgavata, Prathama Skandha).

Wives of Candra.

Candra took twentyseven daughters of Dakṣa as his wives. (Devī Bhāgavata, Saptama Skandha). These twentyseven wives are the twentyseven stars. Candra circumambulates Mahāmeru along with these, his twentyseven wives (Stars). (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 163, Verse 33). The names of the twentyseven wives are given hereunder: Aśvinī, Bharaṇī, Kṛttikā, Rohiṇī, Mṛgaśiras, Ārdrā, Punarvasu, Puṣya, Āśleṣā, Janakaṃ, Phālgunī, Uttaraphālgunī, Hasta, Citrā, Svāti, Viśākhā, Anurādhā, Jyeṣṭhā, Mūlā, Purvāṣāḍhā, Uttarāṣāḍhā, Śroṇā, Śraviṣṭha, Pracetas, Pūrvaproṣṭhapadā, Uttaraproṣṭhapadā, Revatī.

Solar eclipse according to the Purāṇas.

The Devas and the asuras jointly churned Kṣīrābdhi wherefrom emerged Dhanvantari with the Amṛtakumbha (pot of nectar). (See Amṛtam).

But an asura māyāvī (magician) called Saiṃhikeya absconded to Pātāla with the Amṛtakumbha which nobody noticed as everybody was busy with dividing other divine objects. Only after the māyāvī’s disappearance was it noticed that the Amṛta Kumbha was missing. At once Mahāviṣṇu assumed the figure of a beautiful woman, got back the Kumbha and gave it to the devas. The devas began drinking the amṛtam when, at the instance of some other devas, Saiṃhikeya, the māyāvī assuming the form of an old brahmin reached svarga, got a share of the amṛta and began to drink it. Sūrya and Candra (Sun and Moon) who were on guard at the gates divined the secret of the 'old brahmin' and informed Mahāviṣṇu about it. He cut the throat of the pseudo-brahmin with his Sudarśana Cakra. But, half of the nectar he had drunk stayed above the throat and the other half below it. Therefore, though the head and the trunk were severed they remained alive. These two parts, in course of time, evolved as Rāhu and Ketu.

When the throat was cut some blood as well as some amṛta dropped on two places on the ground, and they became the red onion and the white onion respectively. Some vaidika brahmins used to consider the red onion objectionable for consumption as it was evolved from blood, while the white onion was considered usable as it was evolved from amṛtam.

Ṛāhu and Ketu still maintain their hatred for Sūrya and Candra who had betrayed the asura, who, disguised as brahmin tried to drink the amṛta. Eclipse is the phenomenon of Rāhu and Ketu swallowing Sūrya and Candra as and when opportunity presents itself for it. But, since the throat is severed from the body, Sūrya and Candra thus swallowed get out through the throat. That is the reason why Sūrya and Candra become visible after the eclipse in over. (Kampa Rāmāyaṇa, Yuddha Kāṇḍa and Bhāgavata Aṣṭama Skandha).

Candra besame Calf.

Once emperor Pṛthu transformed Bhāmidevī into a cow and milked from her all things and provisions. On that occasion it was Brahmā, who acted as Calf. And, following Pṛthu when the Ṛṣis milked the cow Candra served as Calf. (For details see Pṛthu).

Waxing and waning of Candra, the purāṇic story regardding it.

Of the twentyseven daughters of Dakṣa whom Candra had married he loved Rohiṇī much more than the other twentysix wives, and so kept her always with him. This annoyed the twentysix wives, who complained about it to Dakṣa. Dakṣa’s advice to Candra to treat all the wives on an equal footing had no effect on him. So, the twentysix neglected wives again complained to Dakṣa as follows: "We shall stay in the āśrama and serve you. Soma (Candra) does not associate with us, he will not accept your advice."

Though Dakṣa warned Candra a second time, that too had no effect on him. So the twentysix wives, for the third time, complained to Dakṣa. Dakṣa got angry at this and cursed that Candra should suffer from tuberculosis. Thus Candra was afflicted by consumption. Though Candra performed many a yajña to get cured of the fell disease, they did not produce the desired effect. Candra remaining a tubercular patient, the growth of medicinal plants stopped with the result that all living things contracted consumption. When people began becoming thinner, the devas asked Candra for an explanation, and he told them all the details. They then sought the help of Dakṣa, who gave Candra redemption from the curse by ordaining that if he dived in the Sarasvatī tīrtha in the western sea he would be free from consumption for half of every month. Thenceforth Candra made it a practice to dive in the Sarasvatītīrtha and that is the reason why Candra is exempted from Kṣayaroga for fifteen days. (Mahābhārata Śalya Parva, Chapter 35).

Candra—King of stars and of medicines.

During the reign of emperor Pṛthu, he changed Bhūmidevī into a cow. Later the Ṛṣis also changed bhūmidevī into a cow and milked her. It was Candra who served as calf then. Pleased at this Brahman crowned Candra as king of the stars and medicines. (Harivaṃśa, Chapter 4, Verse 2).

Other information about Candra

(1) Candra is 11,000 sq. yojanas in area, 33,000 yojanas in circumference and a volume of 5,900 cubic yojanas. (Mahābhārata Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 12).

(2) Candra presented two attendants called Maṇi and Sumati to Subrahmaṇya (Śalya Parva, Chapter 45, Verse 32).

(3) Candra once made a discourse on the superior qualities of brahmins to Śambarāsura. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 36, Verse 13, Southern Text).

(4) All welfare and prosperity accrue to him, who on full-moon day at moon-rise tenders offerings to Candra of bread in copper vessels with honey poured into it. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 36, Verse, 13, Southern Text).

(5) Candra is one of the aṣṭa-vasus. Candra had four sons, Varcas, Śiśira, Prāṇa and Ramaṇa by his wife named Manoharā. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 66, Verse 18).

(6) Abhimanyu was Candra’s son, Varcas, reborn as the son of Arjuna. (See Abhimanyu).

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