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Why You Shouldn't See the Moon on Ganesh Chaturthi: The Syamantaka Gem Story

Updated on August 24, 2017
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Aravind Balasubramanya has spent more than 2 decades with Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He has studied under Baba and been his personal photographer.

The Story behind the Story

Ganesha Chaturthi (or Vinayak Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaviti), a major festival in India, is celebrated with great pomp, austerity, love, and sincerity. The festival was a rallying point for the Indians against the British rule.

There is a saying that on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi, one should not see the moon or else face false allegations in the coming year. The story behind this belief comes from Indian 'mythology' (sadly, that is what the ancient, powerful, and insightful Indian metaphors have been labelled as) and is very interesting. The story also provides a solution for how one can redeem oneself of that ‘curse.’

The story is read aloud at every Hindu home in India during Ganesha Chaturthi. Its lessons and insights are profound for all. Like all other Hindu myths, this story is metaphorical and communicates many lessons of life.

Whenever I am asked to narrate this story on Ganesha Chaturthi, the following is how I do it! I take a few liberties and make use of poetic/dramatic license in my dialogues for the story, but nevertheless, the spirit is retained.

Lord Krishna Is Downcast...

One day the celestial wandering sage, Narada, arrived at the kingdom of Ugrasena where Lord Krishna was staying. With the intent of having a Darshan of his Lord, Narada entered the sanctum. Whichever room the Lord decides to reside in becomes the sanctum sanctorum, right? When he went in, to his great shock, he found the Lord of the universe in a downcast mood!

Approaching him, Narada asked, "Lord! What is it that is bothering you so much that the eternal smile on your face seems to have faded away? Share it with this humble servant of yours."

Krishna looked up at Narada and a weak smile broke on his face. "What shall I say, Narada? The events of the past few days have been intriguing and perplexing at the same time. I do not seem to understand what is happening."

"Oh my god! Lord, if you speak in this manner in spite of being omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, then what should be the fate of ordinary people? Please divulge what happened. I know that this is all part of your drama, but I would like to play my role to perfection."

The Lord of the Universe seemed forlorn and downcast.
The Lord of the Universe seemed forlorn and downcast.

Krishna's Story, Continued

When Narada implored him thus, Krishna began his elaborate response. "You are familiar with the name Satrajit. He is a nobleman in one of our subsidiary kingdoms. More importantly, he is an ardent devotee of Surya, the Sun God. Pleased with his devotion and worship, Surya appeared before him and presented him with the unmatched Syamantaka gem."

“Ah! That gem that multiplies wealth and provides the owner with several measures of gold daily?” asked Narada.

“Exactly! The brilliance of the jewel is such that on one occasion, when Satrajit came to visit me at Mathura, people mistook him for the Sun God, Surya!”

“They cannot be blamed, my Lord,” said Narada, “when often, the celestials do come down on earth to meet you.”

“Ah yes, Narada! See, today the celestial sage has come to meet me."

“Do not pull my leg, Krishna. It is my privilege to be in your presence today. Please continue your narrative.”

“The jewel was producing about 170 pounds of gold every day. It is learned from Vedic literature that in whatever part of the world this jewel is worshiped, there is no famine. I felt that such a gem should be owned by the monarch so that the whole world could benefit. I made that request to him, but Satrajit refused and installed the jewel in a personal temple to be worshiped by brahmanas (priests) whom he engaged for this purpose.”

Narada could not contain himself. He said, “This is an instance of a less intelligent person worshiping the creation instead of the creator. Satrajit missed a golden opportunity. Instead of offering everything to the divine, he chose to go against the divine for the sake of worldly riches.”

Krishna agreed and said, “He was very proud of the gem. Not only did he wear and flaunt it, he also made his younger brother Prasena display it around his neck. One day, Prasena decided to wear the gem when he went hunting. Unfortunately, a big lion attacked him—killing both him and the horse on which he was riding—and took the jewel away to his cave. This lion thought it was its lucky day. When a bear appeared, the arrogance the gem instilled made the lion attack this bear who was none other than Jambavan, the mighty wrestler bear-king, who easily killed that lion and took the jewel away to his cave."

At this point, Narada interrupted, “You mean our dear Jambavan? The great devotee who helped you in your previous avatar (incarnation) as Lord Rama in the war against the wicked Ravana?”

“The very same, Narada. Since he is a great devotee of the Lord, he did not care much for the gem as such. He only wanted to present it to his baby son as a toy. And that is what he did. In the meanwhile, news that Prasena was missing spread like wildfire and Satrajit began to spread lies that I killed Prasena to steal the Syamantaka gem!”

“Hari Hari! What a sin! Casting aspersions on anyone without proper investigation is a sin. What to say about doing such a thing against the Lord himself!” said a shocked Narada.

“Well, Narada, here is a secret about this world: As far as God is concerned, if you are good, it is enough. But as far as the world is concerned, along with being good, you must appear good as well. Thus, I decided to set out in search of the Syamantaka gem. It was not only to clear the allegations but also to transform the heart of Satrajit. I set out with a band of soldiers. Soon I came upon Prasena’s corpse. The marks nearby led me to the lion’s carcass. Following the prints from there, I reached the cave of Jambavan where I saw his little son playing with the gem. His eldest daughter too was there and thinking me an intruder, she let out a shriek.”

“My Lord! Jambavan is very attached to his daughter. Her shriek must have angered him?"

“Indeed it did. He instantly believed that I was an intruder and came charging towards me.”

“Krishna! Did he not recognize you as his dear Lord Rama? How could he charge on you?”

“Ah! That is the point, Narada. Attachment and anger blind a person. Even though Jambavan had loyally served me during the Rama Avatar, he was blind to my reality. But even that is a part of the Masterplan, Narada.”

The two mighty warriors lock in combat...
The two mighty warriors lock in combat...

“I am now confused,” said Narada, “as to how this could be part of the Masterplan.”

“After the victorious war against Ravana I, in my Rama form, was conferring boons to all the monkeys, bears, and other creatures that had helped me in my war effort. At that time, Jambavan expressed a strange desire. He said that he wanted a wrestling match with me! I told him that my circumstances at that time did not permit me to wrestle a bear, but I promised him that I would certainly fulfill his wish.”

“What planning! So you wrestled Jambavan then?"

“Yes! For 28 days non-stop, without breaking for food, water, or rest, at the end of which Jambavan was completely fatigued. He knew that only his Lord Rama has the capacity to beat him in wrestling and so he fell at my feet to seek pardon. I told him that I was just fulfilling his own desire.”

Narada said, “Many times, we desire so many things from God, but when we look back at those desires, we feel so foolish. It is best to leave everything to the Lord. Surrender to God with the feeling that whatever happens is for the best.

“He wanted me to accept the hand of his daughter, Jambavati, in marriage, and I blessed him as per his desire again. I returned to the kingdom and when Satrajit came to know of the truth, he was ashamed of what he had done. He gave the gem to me to hand it over to the monarch, Ugrasena. ‘Let it be used for world benefit,’ he said. He also offered his daughter, Satyabhama, in marriage to me as a token of his repentance and respect.”

“So now, the gem is with emperor Ugrasena.”

“Yes, Narada. Whatever one has, one must utilize for world benefit. That is why we are taught to always pray Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavantu.

“All is well that ends well, my Lord! Why then are you still dejected?”

“Narada, I am feeling a bit low wondering why all this had to happen in the first place.

“Another of your Divine dramas? I shall play along, my Lord. Don’t you know the story of Lord Ganesha and the moon?

“Tell me about it, Narada...”

Jambavan offers his daughter Jambavati to Lord Krishna.
Jambavan offers his daughter Jambavati to Lord Krishna.

The Ganesha Connection: Why You Shouldn't Look at the Moon

“As you wish, Krishna. On the 4th day of the Bhadrapad month, Lord Ganesha, who had been well fed by his devotees, was returning to his abode on his vehicle, the mouse. Seeing the sight of the huge Lord on a tiny mouse, the moon in the sky began to laugh aloud. He was vain about his splendor and beauty, and thus he laughed. Little did he know that all his splendor was only a ‘reflection’ of the Sun God. To teach the vain moon a lesson, Lord Ganesha cursed that no light ever fall on him again. Thus, the moon had no light and disappeared from the skies.”

“Be it the moon or any other being, if one forgets that source, one gets plunged into the darkness of ignorance. What happened next, Narada?”

“The moon repented and sought pardon from Lord Ganesha. All the other beings of the world too pleaded on his behalf and the Lord acceded. However, once a curse is pronounced, it cannot be taken back, even by God. It can only be modified. Thus, we are advised to be careful about our speech in everyday life. Lord Ganesha changed the curse and said that the moon would undergo regular waxing and waning to remind him to be humble. He also added that anyone seeing him on the 4th day (Chaturthi) of the Bhadrapada month would face blame and unjust criticism.”

Lord Ganesha curses the vain moon.
Lord Ganesha curses the vain moon.

Krishna's Redeeming Boon to All Mankind: How to Avoid the Moon's Curse

“Oh! Now I remember,” exclaimed Krishna, “I happened to see the faint reflection of the moon in a pot of milk on precisely the same day you mention. Do you think that is what caused my problems?”

“Definitely, my Lord. When you take a human form, you must adhere to all the Dharma of mortals. Just imagine: If you had to deal with this difficulty because you saw the reflection of the moon, what will be the plight of mortals who commit this mistake?”

At this, Lord Krishna granted a boon to all mankind. “Narada, I hereby state this: Anyone who hears the story of how I redeemed myself of the curse after seeing the moon on Ganesha Chaturthi day will be freed of the curse themselves.”

And now that you have read this story, you are all “moon-sight” proofed! :)

May the story also serve to remind us never to make fun of anyone for their looks or mental capacities. Instead, let us remember that there is God in everyone and everything. All love and kindness reaches God alone; all censure and criticism too reaches God alone.

The phases of the moon are believed to be due the curse of Lord Ganesha.
The phases of the moon are believed to be due the curse of Lord Ganesha.

Want to post this article somewhere?

If you use this article in whole or in part, anywhere on any site, please also post the source link. Thank you. :)

© 2012 Aravind Balasubramanya


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    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 8 months ago from Ohio

      I really enjoyed this story. I enjoyed the moral even more. :)

    • profile image

      Reena 9 months ago

      Om Sai Ram

      Thanks for sharing the beautiful story. I was sad by mistake I saw the moon tonight on Ganesh Chaturthi..

      After reading the story i frel better now.

    • profile image

      Smishri 9 months ago

      very beautifully written

    • profile image

      Thejudeva 9 months ago

      Now only know the significance ,tq ........

    • profile image

      Reshma 9 months ago

      I had seen the moon yesterday and i was very scared u thought i will get cursed

    • vidaan profile image

      Nand Kishor 20 months ago from New Delhi

      Great information about ganesh chaturthi ..

    • profile image

      Umer Khalid 20 months ago


    • Yemmiganur Krish profile image

      Madugundu Krishna 20 months ago from Bengaluru

      Namaste elephant God

    • profile image

      niraj kumar chaurasiya 20 months ago

      Thanks for the nice narration and photo

    • profile image

      kranthi has 20 months ago

      What a story that which educates every human to not to laugh at any others at any cost

    • profile image

      kiran 20 months ago

      can u explain scientifically

    • profile image

      Roshnie 20 months ago

      Thanks for this wonderful story!!

    • aravindb1982 profile image

      Aravind Balasubramanya 21 months ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @Leo - I honestly don't know. I shall try to find out and shall post as a comment (or maybe add to the article itself) if I get to know.

      thank you.

    • profile image

      Leo 21 months ago

      What is the source (Puran) of the story of Ganesha's cursing moon?

    • aravindb1982 profile image

      Aravind Balasubramanya 2 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @SaiSarannaga - Please do visit my other blog where I am more active.

      I value your inputs and comments as always...

    • profile image

      saisarannaga 2 years ago from Chennai in Tamilnadu, India.

      Sairam. I wonder how I have missed reading this nice beautiful hub posted years ago. Thank god I came across it while browsing the pages.

    • aravindb1982 profile image

      Aravind Balasubramanya 2 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @Amrita - That is the faith. It works for those who have faith. :)

    • profile image

      Amrita 2 years ago

      Does reading this story truly vanish the curse?

    • profile image

      Sudhir dogra 2 years ago

      I had saw moon on fourth day of bhadrpada....

      I m afraid but now i have read this story i m relaxed...

      Thanks dear

    • profile image

      ravi kiran tenali 2 years ago

      Nice stuff my mom reads the whole story every year exactly as here

    • profile image

      hitendra 2 years ago

      thanks a lot, jai ganesh, jai krishna.

      let us leave everything in the hands of God and enjoy what he has provided to us with full regards.

    • profile image

      agastya mandappa 2 years ago

      Thank you for sharing the great story Mr Balasubramanya.

    • profile image

      KA 2 years ago

      Thanks Arvind.. Very emotively and thoughtfully written.

      Nice and very useful to read it today - Ganesh Chaturthi of Bhaadrapad masa of 2015 :).

      Best wishes.


    • profile image

      SK 3 years ago

      Very well written and exlpained

    • profile image

      geetkaran goel 3 years ago

      it is really a true story. my great granny used to teach these stories but we take it lightly. But these things really matter.

      Today after reading the story i feel relieved.


    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

      A very educational lesson, and you wrote it so beautifully!

    • profile image

      Yrona 3 years ago

      Thanks for posting/sharing this story ^^

    • profile image

      Pradeep 3 years ago

      Hey man.. Superb, seriously good... I think u have mixed an epic story n also some philosophy related to the real world.. As in "As far as God is concerned, if you are good, it is enough. But as far as the world is concerned, along with being good, you must appear good as well."

      Really good bro.. U should write books, u know.. If u r already, then well n good.. Kudos man.. God bless... :-)

    • profile image

      Rav 3 years ago

      Thank you for the post.

      Just an advise, i feel its important that we don't label our puranas and beliefs as mythological. They are historical events and people. Our puranas were labelled as "mythology" by our foreign invaders to downgrade our great civilisation and in turn to boost their own.


    • profile image

      ankoovinoda 3 years ago

      I'm glad to have read the story of the moon on Ganesh Chaturti

    • profile image

      Sai Aanchal 3 years ago

      Sai Ram Brother Sri.Aravind Sai,

      I am too late to post my comment on this post. Actually I once revealed this thing to Radio Sai Team and someone else too that I saw a moon in this particular day. I didn't know about this story. My Maa would often tell us not to see a moon on this day but as a child I saw it. I feel unless many experience they don't believe and it is only when something happens to them they start believing. I personally liked reading and I feel that you have actually written this for people like me. I also need to mention that the College where I teach there the girls are from elite families and you will just be amazed by the kind of knowledge they possess about Indian rituals. I mean those who believe will carry on irrespective of what they wear, what they look like and what they possess. There is no question of modernization or broad thinking over here. We are discussing our faith and belief. Thank you very much. I truly appreciate you for this one.

      With love and regards,

      Sai Aanchal

    • profile image

      S.Lalitha 4 years ago

      hi.......great thanks for telling krishna's story to remove the curse after looking at the moon during ganesh chaviti....It helped me a lot and hope it helps others as well..........

    • profile image

      Gopakumar c g 4 years ago

      Very good story.

    • profile image

      Manish 4 years ago

      Indeed well articulated and those divine pictures added to the charm. Thanks for making us 'Moon-Sight Proofed' :)

      OM Sai Ram..have captured the report of my trip to Sai Dhaam Shirdi, do have a look..

    • profile image

      Chandni Kripalani 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      It was very interesting to read how the lord chooses to play the role in the drama that he creates and uses his own ways to reform the world and restore balance at the end. Its also when the eyes finally ‘open’ or when ego dissipates that his divinity is revealed.

      Thank you for this beautiful story!

    • profile image

      sheshu 4 years ago

      supper ganesh

    • profile image

      Sree 4 years ago

      Thank you ..well deserved license granted by lord himself. Keep writing.

    • aravindb1982 profile image

      Aravind Balasubramanya 4 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @drvs1935 - The way you put down these "time-pass" stories in a way parades your ignorance before all. The wise often attempt to examine and then pass judgement unlike you have done.

      I agree that in its form the story seems like a nice 'imaginative' tale. But every aspect of the story is a metaphor for the greater truths in life. For instance, the moon here refers to the mind - Chandrama Manaso Jataha - as the Vedas say. It is beyond the scope to go into details here but if you are genuinely interested, I would be able to share what little I have garnered.

      In case your comment was not just a smirking remark but an inquisitive statement in the quest of truth, then I would encourage you to delve more into the wisdom of the ancients in India. For instance, you could start with this chapter in the wonderful book - Autobiography of a Yogi. (

      In case you have no interest in listening to the 'other side' and arrived here only to jeer and mock, please proceed on and let all be in peace.

    • profile image

      drvs1935 4 years ago

      All these are nice imaginative stories created for the benefit of passing time in the good old days when there was plenty of time to exchange such fanciful pleasantries. Nowadays the working ethos as well as living styles are very different. Do we still need these tales to while away our time and energy? Sun and moon are part and parcel of the Cosmos just like any other planet. Viewing another planet or satellite should not create so much fuss as this one has created.......while appreciating all the fanciful notions with which the above story is narrated.............lets us be more realistic while we are capable of landing on the moon.............

    • profile image

      Sudhir Nair 4 years ago

      Story is fantastic to read and created huge imaginations in myself. Thank you for Splendid explanation of the story.

      Sudhir Nair

    • aravindb1982 profile image

      Aravind Balasubramanya 4 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @Madhusudanvithal - Thank you. Have made the necessary corrections.

      @Ananth and Ravi Brahma - You are welcome

      @ Vaishnavi - I think you are stretching it a wee bit too much! :)

    • profile image

      soumi 4 years ago


    • profile image

      Ravi Bramha 4 years ago

      Well narrated......may the story contiue for the future generations.

    • profile image

      vaishnavi 4 years ago

      it is a very nice story but I don't understand one thing. Can we see the moon in a computer on ganesha chaturthi

    • profile image

      Ananth 4 years ago

      Nicely presented Aravind. Many thanks, Hope you have a beautiful Chathurti in Parthi. I could not stay till Sep 9 but hope to be back by Dusherra. Loving Sai Ram!

    • profile image

      harika 4 years ago

      super jay ganesha

    • profile image

      Madhusudanvithal 4 years ago

      Sairam Arvind for posting this story. My memory (from hearing / reading this story every year after doing Vinayaka Chavithi puja) is that Seeing the moon on Bhadrapada Sudha / Shukla Chaturthi / Chaviti (Birthday of Ganesha) causes one to be falsely accused, and not on Chaturdasi as stated in your version. Please do correct me if I am wrong.

    • profile image

      jayashri amar 4 years ago

      Nice story ..well narrated..thanks ..Sairam

    • aravindb1982 profile image

      Aravind Balasubramanya 4 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @Sunilkunnoth - Thank you! :) Glad that you enjoyed reading it. I have been taught by my Guru that Indian culture is rich and refined. It must be presented well...

      All misunderstandings arise among those who do not know the Indian culture because things are not presented properly!

      God bless you too brother!

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 4 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      You have illustrated the story well and deserves appreciation. The matching photos are excellent. Thank you for sharing a great epic before the public. Your efforts are worth. Let God bless you.

    • profile image

      Parmila Singh 5 years ago

      Moon being cursed. I have read and seen Lord krishnas movies and stories so so many time and could never understand so clearly as Aravind your writing and expressions.I feel the difference of swamis teachings so live and powerful and easy to understand .sairam

    • poornimasrinath profile image

      poornimasrinath 5 years ago from Midrand, Johannesburg, RSA

      Enjoyed reading your dramatic version of the story. I may sound histrionical if I say some one read that story for me!!!Immediately after listening to the beautiful talk by bro Amey in radiosai I read this post of yours. I felt bro Amey was narrating this story in his voice!...

      The way you have written the episode is very interesting indeed :)

    • profile image

      sandhya nayak 5 years ago

      Thanks again...OM SAI RAM...

    • profile image

      An Impressed Reader 5 years ago

      Ha ha thanks for making us moon-sight proofed :)

      Lovely narration brother .. It reminded me of a book titled 'Krishna Krishna' written by Indira Parthasarathy .. The book tells the story of Lord Krishna and the narration is done by Sage Naradha .. It is full of contemporory connotations and profound lessons of life evident in the story of Krishna .. Do read it if you get a chance ..

    • aravindb1982 profile image

      Aravind Balasubramanya 5 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @ Sucha07 - Thank you. I am happy to have made that difference.

      @Ratihegde - I agree with you. Every mythological story narrated is metaphorical to impart profound lessons. The story format makes them easy to remember...

      @ Shruti - Thank you! :)

    • profile image

      Shruti 5 years ago

      Very very sweet story!....

    • profile image

      Sreeram 5 years ago

      Loved your narration.

    • Ratihegde profile image

      Rati Hegde 5 years ago from Mumbai, India

      yes ... the story is all a way to remind people that laughing on others, especially based on their looks is wrong ... we find many teenagers teased for their looks, by other children. This story is an indirect way to show children that teasing or making fun of others will only bring bad luck to oneself :)

    • profile image

      sucha07 5 years ago

      Thanks Arvind..for the nice narration and the photos. We hear this every year, but reading in your style made a difference..Sairam!


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