Why Moon is on Shiva's head and Moon's Waxing Curse

Prajapati Daksa, a great Sage, had 60 daughters, of which 27 of them were given in marriage to the Moon under the express agreement that he would treat all 27 wives equally – spending just one day a month with each of them. [The 27 wives are the Nakshatra.]

Initially the Moon honored his commitment to Prajapati Daksa and could be seen in he sky “hopping” from one wife to the next all month long. It was this attribute of hopping that eventually earned the Moon the name “Sasi”, a Sanskrit word which means “rabbit”.

However, as time went on, the Moon began to favor one specific wife, or Lunar Mansion, – Rohini – the most beautiful of Prajapati Daksha’s daughters. The Moon, overtaken with his senses, soon was seen lingering in Rohini’s Lunar Mansion for nights on end.

Now, the other 26 wives were not at all pleased with this state of affairs and complained repeatedly to their father, Prajapati Daksha, about not having enough time with their husband. Time and again, Daksa reminded the Moon of his original promise to treat all wives equally. But the Moon was so infatuated with Rohini that he simply ignored these warnings, continuing to stay only with her.

Outraged, the 26 sisters once again went to their father Daksa, insisting this time that the Moon be punished for such behaviour. Daksa got extremely angry and finally cursed the Moon saying, “You are so proud that you have this glow and light and all shining and attractive. So I am going to curse you so that you will not have such beautiful light anymore. And all this light will go away and you will get pock marks and you will suffer with a deadly disease and no one will be attracted to you anymore.

The Moon, being afflicted by disease and losing his light, became very concerned and eventually decided to approach Lord Shiva on this matter. Bowing to Lord Shiva’s feet, the Moon begged, “Please, help me – I am wasting away to nothingness due to both the loss of my light and the plaguing of one disease after another”. So Shiva put the Moon on his head said “I will save your life by wearing you on my head. However, I cannot reverse the entire curse – but I can modify the curse, so you will not lose your light completely. Instead, you will wax and wane throughout the month – losing your light and then regaining your light.

Shiva then added that he would give the Moon a special gift. He said, “Although you will continue to wax and wane each month, during your waxing period you will grow brighter each day and, while in this state, you will impart soma on the plants, giving them medicinal qualities. Since you have been afflicted by disease yourself, you will have the capacity to cure the diseases of others. And you will be known as a healer and have the capacity to give longevity and to cure and heal living things.”

In Jyotish, the rapid movement in the sky by the Moon makes him one of the three karakas for travel. The Moon is the karaka for day-journeys; Mercury, for short travels or journeys; Jupiter, for long-distance travel or overseas travels. In fact, when Jupiter and the Moon, or Jupiter, Mercury and Moon, are in mutual association in the chart, it can indicate someone who loves to travel or may even be in the travel industry … especially if they are in the Kendras of the chart.

The Moon finds it difficult to be impartial due to his heightened senses, thus electing to stay with the sensuous, beautiful Rohini. So the Moon represents more the emotional mind which is easily persuaded by desires versus Mercury who is more the logical, rational and intellectual mind and Jupiter, the Guru amongst the planets, our higher wisdom and knowing.

And we are told about the extreme physical beauty of Rohini. So a person who has their birth Moon in the Rohini Nakshatra – especially if the Moon is full – usually has a certain beauty to their face (the Moon being the significator of the face).

Lastly, the story explains why we see Shiva wearing the crescent Moon on his head. In fact, this is one of the reasons that Jyotisha equates the Moon with Lord Shiva and recommends as an upaya the worship of Shiva when the Moon in the birth chart is a dark, or New Moon.


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