108 Names of the Moon: Chandra Ashtottara Shatanamavali #2

Moon

Om Sasadharaya Namah – Salutations to the one carrying the hare. The hare is a symbol of the mind and the capacity for selflessness. The hare is also a symbol of the feminine side, and access to intuition, the inner tuition the intellect can give.


glossary
shashank, shashi Hin. shashanka, shashin, shashi- San. m. ‘hare-marked’, ‘containing a hare’ – the moon. Bharathiya (people of India) see a hare (shasha), rather than a man, in the moon.


 

When the moon is waxing, from about the eighth day to the full, it requires no very vivid imagination to descry on the westward side of the lunar disk a large patch very strikingly resembling a rabbit or hare. The oriental noticing this figure, his poetical fancy developed the myth-making faculty, which in process of time elaborated the legend of the hare in the moon, which has left its marks in every quarter of the globe. In Asia it is indigenous, and is an article of religious belief. “To the common people in India the spots look like a hare, i.e. Chandra, the god of the moon, carries a hare (sasa), hence the moon is called Sasin or Sasanka var. Shashank, hare mark or spot.” 75 “Max Müller also writes, “As a curious coincidence it may be mentioned that in Sanskrit the moon is called Sasanka, i.e. ‘having the marks of a hare,’ the black marks in the moon being taken for the likeness of the hare.”

It is to be noted that Shashank is one of the names of Lord Shiva, as Shiva carries the moon in his hair. Hence, he is also the “one carrying the hare”.

The following is from a Buddhist tract; but in the lesson which it embodies it will compare very favourably with many a tract more ostensibly Christian:

“In former days, a hare, a monkey, a coot, and a fox, became hermits, and lived in a wilderness together, after having sworn not to kill any living thing. The god Sakkria having seen this through his divine power, thought to try their faith, and accordingly took upon him the form of a brahmin, and appearing before the monkey begged of him alms, who immediately brought to him a bunch of mangoes, and presented it to him. The pretended brahmin, having left the monkey, went to the coot and made the same request, who presented him a row of fish which he had just found on the bank of a river, evidently forgotten by a fisherman. The brahmin then went to the fox, who immediately went in search of food, and soon returned with a pot of milk and a dried liguan, which he had found in a plain, where apparently they had been left by a herdsman. The brahmin at last went to the hare and begged alms of him. The hare said, ‘Friend, I eat nothing but grass, which I think is of no use to you.’ Then the pretended brahmin replied, ‘Why, friend, if you are a true hermit, you can give me your own flesh in hope of future happiness.’ The hare directly consented to it, and said to the supposed brahmin, ‘I have granted your request, and you may do whatever you please with me.’ The brahmin then replied, ‘Since you are willing to grant my request, I will kindle a fire at the foot of the rock, from which you may jump into the fire, which will save me the trouble of killing you and dressing your flesh.’ The hare readily agreed to it, and jumped from the top of the rock into the fire which the supposed brahmin had kindled; but before he reached the fire, it was extinguished; and the brahmin appearing in his natural shape of the god Sakkria, took the hare in his arms and immediately drew its figure in the Moon, in order that every living thing of every part of the world might see it.” Source: The Sacred and Historical Books of Ceylon, edited by Edward Upham. London, 1833, iii. 309.

 

Hare Symbolism

Although hares and rabbits look similar, they have very different symbolism. A hare is bigger than a rabbit, has longer ears, and possesses more powerful hind legs. The two most abundant kinds are the European Brown Hare and the Snowshoe Hare. The Snowshoe Hare is strongly linked to the Snowy Owl population, such that when hare populations are down, the owls stop breeding, and even die from starvation. The hare is more solitary and tougher than the rabbit. Hares don’t live in warrens or have maternity nests. The young hares are born so well-developed that they can fend for themselves within a few hours of their birth.

Hares were considered to be androgynous or able to shift sex, sometimes with the phases of the moon. This shape-shifting belief strengthened the belief that hares were messengers or symbols of the Goddess, perhaps even the Goddess herself. The Hare can also aid people in recognising the signs around them by attuning to lunar cycles and understanding the tides of movement in their own lives.

Hares are an animal which represent illumination, intuition, promise and balance. They are strongly feminine in their energy and often come into your life when you need to look within and figure things out. The hare asks you to value what you have in life and to ensure nothing is against your personal ethics and morals. If you are being pressurised to do anything you don’t want to, this is the time take control of yourself and your mind, and be a mastermind. You are then able to take control of the situation. Om Sasadharaya Namah – salutations to the one carrying the hare

 

 

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