Graha epithets (tArA,tArakA and tAraka)

Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YAVASS.USR.PU.RU
Tue Dec 9 16:27:01 UTC 1997

>From yavass Tue Dec  9 11:36:25 MSK 1997
On Dec. 8 Dominique Thillaud, explaining the origin of the compound
*tArakAmayayuddha, wrote:

        > kAmayA is an old syntagm, coming from a 'formula'
>(see E. Benveniste, Problemes de linguistique generale 1, chap. 23, on the
>delocutive forms). Hence, not necessarily submitted to the standard rules !

> Moreover, there is the possibility of using case forms in
>compounds. If we believe to a delocution, tAra can be an old vocative (see
>ved. amba!).
>        Following blindly the rules is not the right way : If rAdhA /
>rAdhikA, why tArakA and not *tArikA ? If the last A of tArA is not coming
>from an H2 (A/i), the nude form tAra is not impossible.

        And a very nice compound it makes: its first element is a vocative,
and the second - an instrumental with a wrong ending...But if we agree
not to follow blindly any rules, it is impossible to raise any objection.
So, it's OK, OK...Especially because I do not know what the delocution is.

        But our more conservative colleague Georg von Simson still follows all
the rules:

>tArakA as synonym for tArA would indeed be a little bit strange - one would
>expect tArikA. I think we have to take tAraka as an adjective derivation
>from tArA, like aumakA from umA or aurNaka from UrNA (cf.
>Wackernagel/Debrunner, AIG II, p. 145). The meaning would then be
><belonging to or concerning tArA>. The second element of tArakAmaya can
>then not be -maya. It is, I believe, Amaya; thus already Apte,
>Sanskrit-English Dictionary I, p. 345, with reference to RAm. 6.4.54
>devAnAm iva sainyAni saNgrAme tArakAmaye. But the meaning given by Apte
><damage, hurt, distruction> does not seem to fit, as tArA is not hurt at
>all in the story. I would, therefore, take Amaya (from A-minAti, A-mayate)
>as <exchange>, because this is what it is all about: tArA changes her
>husband: first it is BRhaspati, then Soma, and in the end BRhaspati again.
>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.
        Best regards to all
                                Yaroslav Vassilkov
                                St Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies,
                                Russian Academy of Sciences.

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