Moon and Cycle of death and rebirth

Georg von Simson g.v.simson at EAST.UIO.NO
Wed Jan 3 04:46:41 EST 2001

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan wrote:
>.................................................... I was looking for
>similar to the following.
>"In this world around which the moon god revolves demonstrating to even
>ignorant ones so that they learn that there is decrease (like waning) and
>there is increase (like waxing) ; there is dying (like setting) and there is
>being born (like rising)...". Thanks in advance.
The moon was indeed considered as an example of death and rebirth. One of
the classical Vedic riddles (brahmodya) was the question: "Who is born
again", to which the correct answer was: "the moon", see George Thompson in
JAOS 117 (1997): 14. (See also the Yaksha's questions to be answered by
Yudhishthira, Mahabharata 3.297.47). Thus, the moon could be used to
illustrate the endless cycle of death and rebirth, e.g. in a passage of the
Shantiparvan of the Mbh. (in a context of epic Samkhya philosophy), Mbh.
(Crit. Ed.)12. 293, in Ganguli's translation 12.305, where it is said that
in consequence of ignorance, jIva, like Candramas (the moon), has to wax
and wane thousands and thousands of times. ... Candramas has in reality
full 16 portions. Only 15 of these are subject to increase and decrease.
The sixteenth (i.e. that portion which remains invisible and which appears
on the night of the New-moon) remains constant. This 16th part is then
compared with the 16th part of jIva which is cit in its purity.
As you see, death and rebirth is here not compared with the setting and
rising of the moon, but with its waning and waxing.
I would be very much interested in getting more anwers to Palaniappan's
Best regards,
Georg v. Simson

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