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Soma: The Lord of the Night

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 11:43 PM
Soma is also known as Chandra, Rajanipati and Kshuparaka (one who illuminates the night). According to the ‘Srimad Bhagawat’ Moon-god is the son of Maharishi Atri and Anasuya. He is considered to be all pervading. In Hindu Mythology, Lord Shiva is called Chandra Shekara, which literally refers to the 'Person who wears the moon'. Lord Shiva wears the moon in his matted locks, Chandrama is considered by some to be a one-eighth the incarnation of the Destroyer. He is dazzlingly fair and youthful in appearance. He is wise, peaceable and auspicious, who has a slim but curvy body with lovely limbs. He wears white apparel and white flowers. Lord of the night, Soma (Chandrama) is responsible for scheduling rituals. He holds a mace in one hand and generally represented seated on a lotus which is carried by a shining white chariot pulled by seven powerful white horses. All the horses are divine, incomparable and are quick as the mind. The eyes and ears of the horses are white. According to the ‘Matsyapurana’ the horses are as white as a conch.

Soma or Chandra is entirely identified in Hindu belief with the moon, though one of the explanations of his origin still equates him with amrita, for it claims that he was produced from the churning of the milk ocean. More common accounts of his lineage say that he was the son of Dharma; or that he was the son of Varuna, lord of the ocean from which the moon arises. Yet another account links Soma with Surya, though it is not clear whether Surya is the father of Soma; or, taking Surya as female, Soma is said to be married to Surya. More certain is the belief that Surya nourishes the moon with water from the ocean when Soma is exhausted by the many beings who feed upon his substance. For during half the month thirty-six thousand three hundred divinities feed upon Soma and thus assure their immortality, while during the remaining half of the month the Pitris feed upon Soma; Soma also nourishes humans, animals and insects; not only does the moon give them pleasure, but the watery nectar of its light also sustains the vegetable life on which mortal creatures feed. This account neatly combines the two aspects of Soma; as the amrita or nectar from which the gods derive their strength; and as the moon, whose substance waxes and wanes according to the calendar.

God Soma or Chandra was married to the twenty seven daughters of the sage Daksha, who were personifications of the lunar asterisms. But Daksha had as much trouble with this son-in-law, Shiva. Soma showed such a preference for one of his wives, Rohini (Hyades), that the others became wildly jealous, and went to their father to complain. Daksha's remonstrances were of no avail, so the sage pronounced a curse on Soma which afflicted him with consumption and childlessness. Despite their earlier anger, however, Daksha's daughters soon grew sorry for their husband and went back to their father for advice. Daksha was unable to retract the curse completely but he succeeded in modifying it, so that Soma should suffer from consumption only periodically, for fifteen days at a time. He soon proved himself to be free of the curse of childlessness. He performed the great horse sacrifice, which both demonstrated and procured universal dominion and fertility. Protected by the influence of the sacrifice, Soma became arrogant and daring and one day abducted Tara, wife of Brihaspati. Brihaspati was the sage and preceptor of the gods and often associated with the planet Jupiter. Despite Brihaspati's great occult power he was unable to do anything. None of his entreaties or the sermons of the other sages in any way affected Soma, who with his assurance of universal dominion felt himself quite secure. Brihaspati appealed to Brahma but not even he could persuade Soma to return Tara. Brihaspati then turned to Indra, who decided that the only way would be to take Tara by force. But Soma heard of these plans and promptly made an alliance with the demons (asuras). He was also supported by the sage Usanas, who had an ancient feud with Brihaspati. Brihaspati commanded the support of most of the other gods, under the leadership of Indra. Though the war produced many fierce clashes, during one of which Soma was cut in two by Shiva's trident, it was inconclusive. 

Brahma then made another appeal to reason, and again asked for the return of Tara. By this time Soma had become bored with her and to every one's surprise agreed to send her back to Brihaspati. But it was then seen that she was pregnant. Brihaspati refused to accept her back until the child was born, so Brahma, in order to have done with the affair, commanded this to happen at once. When the gods beheld the infant they were dazzled by its great beauty, and both Soma and Brihaspati at once claimed parentage. Only Tara could say who was the true father but she was reluctant to speak out. Finally, after a great deal of coaxing, she admitted that the child was Soma's. He was named Budha, and was to become the ancestor of the lunar race. Brihaspati, naturally, was enraged with his wife and cursed her to be reduced to ashes but Brahma felt the punishment to be too severe and revived Tara. Varuna punished Soma for his behavior, disinheriting him. But Lakshmi, who since she also was born out of the milk ocean was Soma's sister, decided to campaign on his behalf. She approached Parvati, and asked her to enlist Shiva's support. Shiva agreed and to honor Soma he wore the crescent moon on his forehead. But when Brihaspati caught sight of Shiva thus arrayed at the next assembly of the gods, he declared that Shiva was dishonouring the company by his presence. A great dispute arose between them which had to be referred to Brahma for settlement. Brahma declared in favor of Brihaspati and Soma was thereafter relegated to the outer atmosphere and forbidden entry into heaven. As Soma travels about in the atmosphere, he is represented as a copper-colored man, trailing a red pennant behind his three-wheeled chariot. He is also the master of the world's water and is hence responsible for controlling fecundity.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.
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Company Overview

Art of Legend India has the distinction of being one of the best in the Indian Handicraft Industry. We are about 75 years old handicrafts manufacturer & exporter. We are having team of more than 500 craftsman.

We are having our business offices in India, USA & Germany to ensure our best services.

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