Graha epithets (tArA,tArakA and tAraka)

Georg von Simson g.v.simson at EASTEUR-ORIENT.UIO.NO
Tue Dec 9 18:17:23 UTC 1997

  Yaroslav Vassilkov wrote, quoting me first:
>>So the term tArakAmaya might mean <(the fight) concerning tArA's (ex)change
>>of husband>. Wouldn't this make good sense? Or am I pushing the button too
>        The explanation seems to me very elegant and helpful, but there is
>still one serious obstacle: *Amaya in the meaning of <exchange> is at least
>a very rare word, never used, as far as I can judge, by the epic tradition
>(while Amaya in the sense of <disease, sickness> is common and in the sense of
><destruction>, though rarely, but still used; see below).
>        But it is easier, of course, to criticise others' suggestions than
>to offer one's own acceptable one. So I am going now to try my own guess at
>the origin of the expession tArakAmayayuddha (or: samgrAma).
>        Meanwhile D.V.Sarma made the important contribution to the discussion
>(see his letters dated Dec. 7 and 8) by citing relevant purANic passages. They
>prove that there is really something strange in the alternation of the forms:
>tArA / tArakA. Separately the name is always tArA, but as a part of the formula
>it is tArakA. The reason, I suppose, is that the formula was borrowed from
>another mythological context due to the similarity of names and confusion
>of two
>different myths.
>        In the VIIIth of the MahAbhArata (KarNaparvan) two variants of one
>formula are used:
>        saMgrAme tArakAmaye  - VIII.6.42d
>        saMgrAmas tArakAmayah   - VIII.24.3d.
>        I would like to stress that both times NOT the fight for tArA's
>hand or tArA's love is meant -  but the fight of the gods against asura tAraka
>(male, last vowel short). And of course tArakAmaya in this case is to be cut
>(as Georg von Simson suggested) into tAraka + Amaya - the last word being
>Amaya in the sense of <destruction>. The whole expression means <the battle
>fatal/destructive/disastrous for asura tAraka>.
>        In purANic passages, quoted by D.V.Sarma, tArA (used separately) and
>tArakA (in *tArakAmaya) are understood, of course, as synonymous (and that is
>why they are viewed at as two forms of one name in the dictionaries), but
>historically the bards evidently applied to the story of tArA the formula
>borrowed from different myth (of asura tAraka and his war against the gods).
>The mistake was caused probably by the fact that the word Amaya in the sense
>of <destruction>, being rather rare, had not been understood any more
>by the PurANic bards or writers.

Yes, you are right; the Karnaparvan-passages decide the case. And my
explanation was, after all, a little far-fetched. I should have consulted
Soerensen's Mahabharata Index, p. 675, s.v. Tårakåmaya: "causing evil to

Best regards,
                        Georg v.Simson

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