tasya khila bhAho


harivamsha parva
ch 25

soma charitam
legend of soma, the moon



vaishampAyana uvAcha – vaishampAyana continued

pitA somasya vai rAja~n jaj~ne atriH bhagavAn-R^iShiH |
brahmaNo mAnasAt pUrvaM prajA sargaM vidhitsataH || 1-25-1
tatra atriH sarva bhUtAnAM tasthau sva tanayaiH yutaH |
karmaNA manasA vAchA shubhAni eva chachAra saH || 1-25-2

In ancient times brahma begot godly sage atri as his brainchild during the spell of creation of living beings, and that atri not only participated in the process of biogenesis for his own successors, but also conducted himself with all beings in a benign manner by his speech, mind and action... in that process of his biogenesis that godly sage atri begot soma, the presiding deity for the power of assimilation and taste – nectary nourisher, say the moon...

In vedic parlance soma is not chandra, the moon. There is mishmash in these nomenclatures. Here we have to continue with chandra, the moon.

ahiMsraH sarva bhUteShu dharmAtmA saMshita vrataH |
kAShTha kuDya shilA bhUta Urdhva bAhuH mahAdyutiH || 1-25-3
an-uttaraM nAma tapo yena taptaM mahat purA |
trINi varSha sahasrANi divyAni iti hi naH shrutam || 1-25-4

Once that sage atri who is non-violent towards living beings, righteous and one avowed to strict ascesis has undertaken an ascesis called an-uttaraM - mauna-vrataM – a tight-lipped ascesis i.e., sarvendriya nigraha rUpam - controlling all senses, for about three-thousand divine years, in which process he with his upraised arms looked like an unhewable log, uncollapsible wall or as an uncrushable boulder... thus we have heard...

 an+uttaram – also means - not, excelled by later time objects – unexcelled.

tatra Urdhva-retasaH tasya sthitasya animiShasya ha |
somatvaM tanuH Apede mahA-sattvasya bhArata || 1-25-5
Urdhvam Achakrame tasya somatvaM bhAvitAtmanaH |
netrAbhyAM vAri susrAva dasha-dhA dyotayat dishaH || 1-25-6

When that great being atri firmed up in rigorous ascesis, there bechanced the winkless property of gods on him, insofar as self-resplendence is concerned – sUrya Adi bAhya jyoti rashmi - issuing forth a moonlight-like luminous flux – shukla bhAsvara rUpam – inside his body, which ascended headward in the sage atri, whereby that contemplating soul himself has became silvery as in the syndrome of caterpillar-butterfly...  then that argentine effulgence rolled out of his both eyes as if it is water in the eyes, and then collecting itself into a lump that self-effulgent mass fell on the floor... that lumpy mass is the boy soma, aka chandra, the moon, who then  made all the ten directions of compass to shine with his moonshine...

taM garbhaM vidhinA hR^iShTA dasha devyo dadhuH tadA |
sametya dhArayAmAsur na cha tAH samashaknuvan || 1-25-7
sa tAbhyaH sahasaiva atha digbhyo garbhaH prabhAnvitaH |
papAta bhAsayan lokA~n ShIta aMshuH sarva bhAvanaH || 1-25-8
yadA na dhAraNe shaktAH tasya garbhasya tA dishaH |
tataH tAbhiH sahaiva Ashu nipapAta vasundharAm || 1-25-9

Seeing the pleasant boy fallen on the floor, the ten presiding deities of quarters have rushed there to take him up into their arms for foster care... though that boy is extremely chillsome, somehow the deities could lift him up into their arms, but could not handle him because of his iciness... so, they suddenly let that boy who showers chillness on the world to slip down their arms, and that boy too suddenly fell on ground owing to the disability of directional deities to hold him securely...  

Some read garbham as yet-to-be-born boy. But the boy has already emerged with tear-like moonlight shed from the eyes of sage atri. If that boy is unborn yet, ‘the deities wanted to enceinte him in their wombs... but their womb aborted the boy for his chilliness...’ would be the forced meaning - piNDitArtham.

patitaM somam Alokya brahmA lokapitAmahaH |
ratham AropayAmAsa lokAnAM hita kAmyayA || 1-25-10
sa hi veda mayaH tAta dharma AtmA satya saMgrahaH |
yukto vAji sahasreNa sitena ati hi naH shrutam || 1-25-11

Observing the boy lying on the floor the grandparent of worlds, brahma, designed a chariot for that boy for the good of the world through him, where that chariot is chiselled out the wood called veda-s and yoked with a thousand argent horses called hymns, and has an air of dharma about it; as it were... this is what we have heard...

tasmin nipatite devAH putre atreH paramAtmani |
tuShTuvur brahmaNaH putrA mAnasAH sapta ye shrutAH || 1-25-12
tatha eva a~NgirasaH tatra bhR^iguH eva AtmajaiH saha |
R^igbhiH yajurbhiH bahulaiH atharva a~NgirasaiH api || 1-25-13
tasya saMstUyamAnasya tejaH somasya bhAsvataH |
ApyAyamAnaM lokAn trIn bhAsayAmAsa sarvashaH || 1-25-14

When brahma came with such a chariot to the place where the boy is lying on the floor, the seven sages like a~Ngirasa, bhR^igu et al, who are the brainchildren of brahma, who incidentally accompanied brahma, started praising that effulgent boy with hymns from Rig-Veda, yajur-veda, and adharva-veda... while being extolled with vedic chants that boy who emerged to dissipate nectarean bliss on three worlds, made every direction glisten with his moonshine...

Epithetically moon is always reckoned as a boy, rather a mischief-making boy.

saH tena ratha-mukhyena sAgara-antAM vasundharAm |
triH sapta kR^itva atiyashAH chakAra abhipradakShiNam || 1-25-15
tasya yat chyAvitaM tejaH pR^ithivIm anvapadyata |
oShadhyaH tAH samudbhUtAH tejasA prajvalanti uta || 1-25-16
tAbhiH dhAryAH trayo lokAH prajAH chaiva chatur vidhAH |
poShTA hi bhagavAn somo jagato jagatI-pate || 1-25-17

When that boy soma took flight in that divine chariot on entire earth extending up to oceans for twenty-one times, his moonshine-like effulgence spilled onto the earth owing to the speed of that divine chariot... wherever his moonlight touched the earth there arose herbs that have grown up brilliantly... three worlds, viz., deva, pitR^i, bhU lokA-s, and four types of created beings, viz., nara, pashu, pakshi, sarIsR^îpa-s – human, animal, bird, wild animal worlds have thrived upon that moonshine... and because god soma sustains worlds with his ambrosial restorative thus, he is called lord of the worlds...

sa labdha-tejA bhagavAn saMstavaiH taiH cha karmabhiH |
tapas tepe mahAbhAga padmAnAM dashatIr-dasha || 1-25-18

When soma is shored up and extolled for his freshening exploits, he undertook an ascesis for a period of ten thousand years...   

hiraNya-varNAM yA devyo dhArayanti AtmanA jagat |
nidhiH tAsAm abhUt devaH prakhyAtaH svena karmaNA || 1-25-19

He by his own cool-all nature has become a stronghold for the deities-like spin-offs of the earth, say water, milk, herbs, oil-seed plants and the like that have an aura lunaris about them...

nidhi= aashrayam; as with the sun protecting fire, moon protects the coolant nature of water and some other items, hence waters have a haven in moon.

tataH tasmai dadau rAjyaM brahmA brahma-vidAM varaH |
bIja auShadhInAM viprANAm apAM cha janamejaya || 1-25-20 saH
abhiShikto mahArAja rAja-rAjyena rAja-rAT |
lokAM trIn bhAsayAmAsa sva-bhAsA bhAsvatAM varaH || 1-25-21

Then, oh, janamejaya, brahma has earmarked some dominions for soma to preside over; they are mainly seeds, herbs, brAhmaNa-s, and waters... and when anointed thus, that king of kings started to illuminate all the three worlds with his argentine effulgence...

rAja-rAjye = sAmrAjya vidhAnena = in a self-governing mode.

sapta viMshatim indoH tu dAkShAyaNyo mahAvratAH |
dadau prAchetaso dakSho nakShatrANi iti yA viduH || 1-25-22

dkasha-prajApati, the son of prAchetas, has then given his twenty-seven daughters as the wives of soma, aka chandra, the moon, and these twenty-seven moon-stations are known as the twenty-seven wives of indu, another name of chandra...

sapta viMshati indoH – indoH bhAryA iti sheShaH – take it as ‘wives of indu’.

sa tat prApya mahat rAjyaM somaH somavatAM varaH |
samAjahre rAjasUyaM sahasra shata dakShiNam || 1-25-23
hota asya bhagavAn atriH adhvaryur bhagavAn bhR^iguH |
hiraNya-garbhaH cha udgAtA brahmA brahmatvam eyivAn || 1-25-24
sadasyaH tatra bhagavAn hariH nArAyaNaH svayam |
sanatkumAra pramukhaiH AdyaiH brahma-rShibhiH vR^itaH || 1-25-25

And that soma, the best one among fatherly gods, on obtaining such a vast dominion performed the vedic ritual rAja-sUya, as with any other sovereign, featuring a hundred-thousand endowments in that ritual... further, that ritual had godly sage atri as hota – reciter of Rigveda and the inviter and welcomer of the deities; godly bhR^igu as adhvaryu – for reciting yajurveda and for overseeing proper conduct of all ritual actions; brainchild of hiraNya-garbha aka a~Ngira, aka nArada as udgAta – for recitation of hymns and invocations mainly from sAmaveda; brahma as brahma – the chief officiant of whole ceremony supervising all the activities; and no less than shrIhari, along with sanatkumAra et al great sages, sat in as the sadasya-s– members of inner-council of the ritual, stationed near at fire-altar supervising everything...

Here soma is taken as a pitR^i-devata; somavatAm varaH= one who is the best among pitR^i-devata-s, fatherly gods; somaH = sudha-amshu karpUra kubera pitR^i-devate – iti vishva kosha; reminding that soma receives offertories given in shrAddha only to nourish the world with them, as said in pitR^i-kalpa.

dakShiNAm adadAt somaH trIn lokAn iti naH shrutam |
tebhyo brahmarShi mukhyebhyaH sadasyebhyaH cha bhArata || 1-25-26

soma gave away three worlds as ritual dole to all those gods and sages who are the participants in that ritual... this is what we have heard...

 taM siniH cha kuhUH chaiva dyutiH puShTiH prabhA vasuH |
kIrtiH dhR^itiH cha lakSmIH cha nava devyaH siShevire || 1-25-27

As a concomitant to this ritual he conducted, nine goddesses named sini, kuhu, dyuti, puShTi prabha, vasu, kIrti, dhR^iti and lakSmi ministered unto him...

These deities can be said approximately as; sini = sinivAli= the day before no moon day –the night of caturdashi before amAvAsya; kuhu= the day later to no moon day - the night of pADyami after amAvAsya; dyuti= luminosity; puShTi = vivacity; prabha = fluorescence; vasu= brightness; kIrti= honour; dhR^iti= constancy; lakSmi= prosperity. The moon also got attendance alternately from his 27 star-wives called ashvini, bharaNi et al during the period of ritual, besides these nine goddesses.

prApya ava-bhR^itham avyagraH sarva deva R^iShi pUjitaH |
virarAja adhi-rAjendro dashadhA bhAsayan dishaH || 1-25-28

On completion of concluding ritual bath, avabhR^itha snAnam, unimpededly, he who is reverenced by all of the gods and sages equally, that soma shone forth making all the ten quarters shine with his sheen...

tasya tat prApya duShprApyam aishvaryaM muni satkR^itam |
vi-ba-bhrAma matiH tAta vinayAt anayAhatA || 1-25-29

But his rationality started to tilt otherwhere from conformance owing to the newly acquired accomplishment, which is acclaimed by sages and which is otherwise unachievable...


bR^ihaspateH sa vai bhAryAM tArAM nAma yashasvinIm |
jahAra tarasA sarvAn avamatya a~NgiraH sutAn || 1-25-30

At certain time, soma, aka chandra, defiantly spirited away with a lady named tAra, the glorious wife of godly sage bR^ihaspati, the son a~Ngira... chandra has done this with fortitude on belittling that sage...`

sa yAchyamAnaH devaiH cha yathA devarShibhiH saha |
na eva vyasarjayat tArAM tasmA A~Ngirase tadA |
sa saMrabdhaH tataH tasmin deva-AchAryo bR^ihaspatiH || 1-25-31

Though gods and godly sages beseeched him to return lady tAra to her husband, the godly sage bR^ihaspati, soma has not set her free, whereby it resulted into a skirmish between soma and the mentor of gods, namely bR^ihaspati...

ushanA tasya jagrAha pArShNim A~NgirasaH tadA |
sa hi shiShyo mahAtejAH pituH pUrvo bR^ihaspateH || 1-25-32
tena snehena bhagavAn rudraH tasya bR^ihaspateH |
pArShNi grAhaH abhavat devaH pragR^ihya ajagavaM dhanuH || 1-25-33

Then shukra-AchArya took the side of soma, because shukra was once the disciple of a~Ngirasa, the father of bR^ihaspati, and a co-student of the rivalling son of his mentor, namely bR^ihaspati... and then god rudra, taking a bow called ajagavaM took side with bR^ihaspati owing to his allegiance to bhArgavA-s, viz. bR^ihaspati and his father a~Ngirasa et al...

Because of the rivalling nature of these two, shukra and bR^ihaspati, from the days of their studentship under a~Ngirasa, the father of bR^ihaspati, bR^ihaspati became mentor of gods while shukra-AchyArya became the mentor of demons. Incidentally god rudra is also a student of a~Ngirasa and amiable to co-student bR^ihaspati, and even to the other bhArgavA-s, say other brAhmaNa-s. saH rudro bR^ihaspateH pituH a~NgirasaH shiShyaH – nk.

aja-gAvam – ajasya rudrasya; goschaH shR^ingAbhyAm nirmitam - a bow made with the horns of the bull of rudra; or, nandi, the bull-vehicle of rudra got into the state of rudra himself and attacked demons like a bow, as it were.

tena brahma-shiro nAma parama astraM mahAtmanA |
uddishya daityAn utsR^iShTaM yena eShAM nAshitaM yashaH || 1-25-34

That supreme-souled rudra then launched a great missile called brahma-shira, targeting the demons, whereby the valour of demons is brought to ruin...

tArA-saMgrAmam – star-war

tatra tat yuddham abhavat prakhyAtaM tArakA-mayam |
devAnAM dAnavAnAM cha loka-kShaya-karaM mahat || 1-25-35

Then there occurred battle with novae and supernovae called tArA-saMgrAmam, star-war, for the utter ruination of gods, demons and of their relative spheres...

tArakA-mayam – tArA nimittam saMgrAmam – a battle for the sake of regaining tAra from chandra.  

tatra shiShTAH tu ye devAH tuShitAH chaiva bhArata |
brahmANaM sharaNaM jagmur AdidevaM sanAtanam || 1-25-36

Butting into this affair, a certain kind of upright gods called tuShitA-s rushed to brahma, seeking his intervention in this affair...

tato nivArya ushanasaM rudraM jyeShThaM cha sha~Nkaram |
dadAva~Ngirase tArAM svayam eva pitAmahaH || 1-25-37

Then brahma averted the war between god rudra and shukra-AchArya, and personally arranged for the hand over of lady tAra to her husband bR^ihaspati...

tAm antaH-prasavAM dR^iShTvA tArAM prAha bR^ihaspatiH|
madIyAyAM na te yonau garbho dhAryaH katha~nchana || 1-25-38

By that time lady tAra is almost parturient. Seeing her in such a state her husband bRihaspati said this reprovingly, “At all events, it is indiscreet to contain someone’s seed in your womb, other than mine...”

antaH-prasavAM = about to deliver.

ayonau utsR^ijat taM sA kumAraM dasyu-hantamam |
iShIkA stambam AsAdya jvalantam iva pAvakam || 1-25-39
jAta-mAtraH sa bhagavAn devAnAm akShipad vapuH |

 Then she discharged that foetus onto an uncongenial mat made from sacred darbha grass-stalks; and just on taking birth that neonate-god looked like an effulgent ritual fire in his bodily glow, appeared as an enemy-slayer, and his bodily frame is putting the exquisite physiques of gods into the shade, as it were...

a+yoni= ava+sthAne= in an unbefitting place; uncongenial place for just born babies; dasyu-hantamam= atishayena dasyuunaam hantaaram = an intrepid enemy destroyer; akShipat= sva tejasaa tiraskaaram= hit back at; pay someone back in his or her own coin.  

tataH saMshayam ApannA imAm akathayan surAH || 1-25-40
satyaM bruhi sutaH kasya somasya atha bR^ihaspateH |

On seeing the features oif the boy a doubt has occurred to gods and they asked lady tAra n this way, “tell us the truth, tAra, whose son is this... whether he belongs to soma, or bRihaspati...”

pR^ichChyamAnA yadA devaiH na Aha sA sAdhvasAdhu vA || 1-25-41
tadA tAM shaptum ArabdhaH kumAro dasyu-hantamaH |
taM nivArya tato brahmA tArAM paprachCha saMshayam || 1-25-42
tat atra tathyaM tat brUhi tAre kasya sutastu ayam  |

She with consternation about the possible danger to the newborn did not reply gods candidly, even if they persisted on asking her... and on listening to her roundabout replies to gods, the newborn boy is irked and readied himself to issue a curse on his mother... but, brahma intervened again preventing curse from the boy, addressed her to clear his doubt too... “if you do not divulge your son’s cursing you will come true, tAra, hence tell whose son is he...”

Here nIlakaNTha says: mAtaram vinA brahmA api garbhasya dhAtAram na veda iti bhAva: none can know who impregnated a woman, even if he were to be all-knowing brahma, excepting that mother-to-be.

sA prA~njaliH uvAcha idaM brahmANaM varadaM prabhum || 1-25-43
somasya iti mahAtmAnaM kumAraM dasyuhantamam |

She informed this much to the boon-giving god brahma submissively, albeit embarrassedly, “...of soma...”

tataH taM mUrdhni upAghrAya somo dhAtA prajApatiH || 1-25-44
budha iti akarot nAma tasya putrasya dhImataH |
pratikUlaM cha gagane samabhyut thiShThate budhaH || 1-25-45

soma promptly took up the boy into his arms showing all his paternal affection... then that son of soma is named as budha, and he rises on the other end of galaxy, stationing himself directly facing the moon...

The moon is said here as dhAta= garbhasya AdhAyakaH = god awarding scatheless pregnancy; tataH eva prajA pati= hence the lord of progeny. We generally say first-night as garbha dAnam scene. It is neither donation, nor dole, nor any charity bestowed on the bride, but it is garbha aadadhaanam – pregnancy, bringing about; a joint effort to get good progeny with god’s grace, lest malfeasant progeny is destined. Hence, moon stands witness for it.

utpAdayAmAsa tataH putraM vairAja putrikA |
tasya apatyaM mahArAjo babhUva ilaH purUravAH || 1-25-46
UrvashyAM jaj~nire yasya putrAH sapta mahAtmanaH |

viarAj-manu’s daughter, lady ila, then gave birth to a son of budha, who is named as purUrava, and who became a great king... and this king purUrava begot seven great-souled sons from the celestial Uravashi...

c.f. chapter 10 for the legend of lady ila.

prasahya dharShitaH tatra somo vai rAja-yakShmaNA || 1-25-47
tato yakShma abhibhUtaH tu somaH prakShINa maNDalaH |
jagAma sharaNa-arthAya pitaraM saH atrim eva tu || 1-25-48
tasya tat tApa-shamanaM chakAra atriH mahAtapAH |
sa rAja-yakShmaNA muktaH shriyA jajvAla sarvataH || 1-25-49

With his impertinent behaviour soma had relations with his own mentor’s wife, namely lady tAra; whereby a consumptive illness had to bechance upon him; whereby his spheral physique started to emaciate; whereby soma had to rush to his father sage atri for a remedy; whereby sage atri had to do some doctoring; whereby the debilitating disease of moon is rid off; whereby, the moon shone forth with his propitious form, more than ever...   

evaM somasya vai janma kIrtitaM kIrti-vardhanam |
vaMsham asya mahArAja kIrtyamAnaM cha me shR^iNu || 1-25-50

Thus, I have narrated about the emergence of soma, the moon... oh, king, now I will expatiate on his dynasty, say lunar dynasty of kings...

dhanyam Arogyam AyuShyaM puNyaM saMkalpa-sAdhanam |
somasya janma shrutva eva pApebhyo vipramuchyate || 1-25-51

Listening to the legend of the emergence of soma, the moon will enhance health, longevity, merit, accomplishment of endeavours, truly initiated, and one will be absolved of his sins, too...


iti shrImahAbhArate khileShu harivaMshe harivaMshaparvaNi soma utpatti kathane
[soma charitam nAma] pa~ncha-viMsho.adhyAyaH 

Thus, this is the twenty-fifth chapter of first canto called harivamsha-parva, in harivamsha-purANa, the sequel of mahAbhArata, narrating the legend of soma, the moon.


Prev ch 24: pitR^ikalpaH - 8
 pitR^ikalpa samAptiH – legend of brahmadatta
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 ailolpattiH - legend of Uravashi-purUrava
verse-transliteration:  ks ramachandran
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verse-rendition advisor : gilles schaufelberger
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page maintained by : Harindranath Avaroth :
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translation : desiraju hanumanta rao
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E&OE - content is subject to revision : dated 30-10-07