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The Rabbit in the Moon



In the Bhagavad Gita (XI:39), the King Arjuna praises the might and majesty of the God Krishna in the following words:


“You are the Wind God, the God of Death, the God of Fire, the Lord of the Ocean, a Rabbit….”


A Rabbit??!


The actual Sanskrit word is “Śaśānka” or “the gray one”, which refers to a rabbit, but what does this term mean?

In the culture of India, the Rabbit refers to the Moon. So Arjuna is praising Krishna as the greatest of the heavenly bodies seen in the night sky (see also Bhagavad Gita verse XI:21).



Many cultures have seen pictures in the patterns of light and dark on the Moon’s surface. These varying shades of gray are caused by light reflecting off of the mountains, plains and depressions on the moon’s surface. (See Figure 1) The darker gray color is generally from the depressions which are called ‘Mare’ from the Latin word for ‘sea’ although these ‘seas’ never held water.


Figure 1

The Moon’s Surface



In the West, they refer to the “Man in the Moon”; the Aztecs saw a Woman; and the ancient Indians visualized a Rabbit.

In Figure 2 below, the Man can be seen at Moonrise, the Woman at the Zenith, and the Rabbit at Moonset.


Figure 2

The images seen in the moon at different times


Figure 3

The images in the moon pointed out


Source of images: National Geographic Map of the Moon




Other useful maps for Eurasian studies:

Afghanistan/Pakistan, Caspian Region, Middle East, China, Russia, Asia, Europe




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