The Legend of Daksha Prajapati's Daughters and the Somnath Jyotirlinga

The Somnath Jyotirlinga in Gujarat is one of the most revered shrines of Lord Shiva. Its origins trace back to a famous legend from Hindu mythology about Daksha Prajapati and his 27 daughters. This legend explains how the powerful Moon God, Soma (also known as Chandra), came to be cursed by his father-in-law Daksha, resulting in the waxing and waning of the moon that we witness every month. It also narrates how Lord Shiva rescued Soma from this curse and manifested as the Somnath Jyotirlinga.

Daksha Prajapati - The Mind Born Son of Brahma

Daksha Prajapati was one of the mind-born sons of Lord Brahma. He was appointed by Brahma to help with the process of creation. Daksha married Prasuti, the daughter of Manu and they had 24 daughters. Later, Daksha undertook intense penance and pleased the deity Bhagavati. She blessed him with 27 more daughters who were reincarnations of the 24 original daughters. Daksha loved his daughters immensely. The 27 sisters shared a close bond and were inseparable from one another.

Proposal for the Moon God Soma

When the sisters came of age, Daksha became worried about finding suitable husbands for them. He wanted someone who was divinely handsome, eternally youthful, compassionate and who would treat his daughters with care and respect. He remembered the Moon God Soma, who was known for his extraordinary good looks and kind nature. Soma was born from the churning of the cosmic ocean. His glowing complexion, charming smile and peaceful aura made him the most attractive deity in the heavens.

Daksha went and proposed to Soma – he requested the Moon God to accept the hands of all his 27 daughters in marriage. Soma gladly agreed, as he was moved by Daksha’s plight as a father. Arrangements were made for the grand marriage ceremony to be held at Daksha’s homeland on the banks of the Saraswati river.

Celestial Wedding Ceremony

The auspicious day arrived. Soma arrived, decked gloriously like a royal bridegroom. The 27 sisters were given away by Daksha one by one to the Moon God. Mantras were chanted, agni was the celestial witness and the sisters became the wives of Soma. After the wedding, they left with their divine husband for their new home in the heavenly realms. Daksha was relieved to have found such a good match for his beloved daughters.

Unequal Treatment of Wives

In the initial years, Soma divided his time equally among his 27 wives. But gradually, he became more drawn towards Rohini, who was the most charming of them all. He started spending more time with Rohini, neglecting the other sisters. They felt unhappy at this unequal treatment. When Daksha heard about Soma’s behavior, he was furious. He had trusted Soma to be a caring husband but this breach of dharma was unacceptable.

The Powerful Curse on Soma

In anger, Daksha cursed the Moon God – “You have disregarded my daughters, so your brightness shall also be disregarded. Your glow will fade day after day and you will suffer the pain of losing your radiance.” The other gods tried to pacify Daksha but he was adamant that the curse take effect. Slowly, as per Daksha’s curse, the moon started waning night after night.

Impact on Nature and Life on Earth

As the moon diminished in brightness, it affected plant life which became dependent on moonlight and lunar cycles. Without the nourishing rays of the moon, vegetation growth was severely impaired. Agricultural activity was hampered, causing food shortages. Many sages and seers raised concerns as lack of food was impacting their rites and rituals. The weakening moon also affected the calendar and timekeeping. The gods were worried and they realized that Soma’s condition had to be restored for the welfare of all life on earth.

Advice from Lord Brahma

The concerned gods approached Lord Brahma to help find a solution. Brahma advised them that the powerful curse of Daksha could not be fully undone. However, its ill-effects could be mitigated to some extent. He asked the gods to direct Soma to pray to Lord Shiva, the divine healer who protects devotees in distress.

Intense Tapasya by Chandra

Following Lord Brahma’s advice, Soma undertook intense tapasya and prayed to Lord Shiva for months at a sacred spot near the ocean. He chanted Shiva’s many names and sought refuge in him to overcome Daksha’s curse. He performed difficult austerities and displayed steadfast devotion to win Shiva’s grace. Moved by the earnest prayers, Lord Shiva finally appeared before Soma.

Intercession by Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva knew Soma was repentant and his tapasya was resolute. He addressed Soma kindly – “Daksha’s curse cannot be removed completely but I shall intervene to reduce its severity. From now on, you will periodically wax and wane, but not perish. The heavenly bodies are bound by cycles and this cosmic law cannot be violated. But I bless you that the merits of your penance will sustain you through all phases. My presence will rejuvenate you eternally.”

Birth of the Somnath Jyotirlinga

Soma was relieved and satisfied by Lord Shiva’s reassuring words. On the auspicious amavasya night, he worshiped a lingam to express his gratitude to Lord Shiva. Shiva was pleased with Soma’s piety and decided to remain eternally manifest in the lingam Soma had venerated. This jyotirlinga later became renowned as Somnath, named after the Moon God Soma. By manifesting there, Lord Shiva ensured that Soma would never lose his radiance permanently.

Celestial Significance of Somnath

The enshrinement of the Somnath Jyotirlinga marked a turning point in Chandra’s mythology. The waxing and waning of the moon became tied to the presence of Somnath, which sustained the moon during its periodic cycles of paksha. The jyotirlinga is believed to be ever bright and luminous, unaffected by the phases of the moon. Its sight is said to bestow immense blessings and absolve sins. Over the ages, Somnath emerged as one of the most revered jyotirlinga shrines visited by millions of devotees annually. The timeless legend underscores Shiva’s compassion and his role as remover of obstacles caused by curses or karma.


The moving legend behind Somnath reinforces Shiva’s benevolence and his intervention to mitigate curses caused by moral lapses. Soma’s unwavering penance contains an inspiring message about the power of single-minded devotion to overcome adversity. Lord Shiva’s presence as the eternal, radiant Somnath Jyotirlinga signifies that divine grace can redeem us from blemishes, if we shed our ego and submit humbly to a higher wisdom. The cyclic beauty of the waxing and waning moon will eternally signify Shiva’s protection and the promise of renewal.