Graha epithets (tArA,tArakA and tAraka)

Dominique.Thillaud thillaud at UNICE.FR
Wed Dec 10 14:42:30 UTC 1997

At 17:27 +0100 9/12/97, Yaroslav V. Vassilkov wrote:

>        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...
>        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.

        I know my hypothesis is weak and your irony is welcomed. But your's
one has too some weak points.

1) your 'of course' is uniquely based on the fact YOU (after other ones)
read tArakA in tArakAmaya. That's not a proof this reading is right. Never
found *tArakA isolated give undoubtly some suspicion.
2) you don't explain the 'why not *tArikA ?'. Even if we consider a dubious
*tAra giving the name of the Goddess, the feminine, tArA or *tArI suppose a
'i' and/or a 'H2' who can't disappear so easily. Except in archaic
vocatives (ambA, ambikA, amba!) but, if that's the case, it woul'd be very
strange to add -kA after a vocative !
3) if Amaya give an acceptable meaning for the asura, that's not the case
for the Goddess. Undoubtly, a derivation from kAma 'desire' would be better.

        About delocution.

        Benveniste introduce the term for the verbs who come not from a
noun or an other verb, but from an enonciation.
        He gives examples in Latin: 'salvere', different from 'salvare', is
'salve! dicere'; 'quiritare', 'autumare', 'necare' are from 'Quirites!',
'autem', 'nec'.
        In Greek formula 'khairein tini legein', 'khairein' has not the
usual meaning, it comes from 'khaire!'.
        In French, the verb 'remercier' (ancient Fr. 'mercier') is 'dire
        And the English and the American know verbs as 'to hail', 'to
encore', 'to yes'.

        The nature of this derivation explain the possible use of
imperatives and vocatives as bases. In Sanskrit, I've just thought to
'bhovAdin' but I suppose there are other examples of vocatives as first
part of a compound.
        But, today, I reject this interpretation of tArakAmayayuddha.

        About *kAmaya.

        That's truly a bit strange but kAmayA itself is strange. It appears
as a feminine instrumental, but kAma is a masculine and (s.v. kAma), MMW
give kAmA with 'only instr. kAmayA' !!! Again a snake biting his tail!
        Why not a Vedic compound *kAma-yA ? Compare:
RNa 'obligation', RNa-yA 'demanding fulfilment of obligations'
eva 'quick, course, earth', eva-yA, said of viSNu
tura 'quick', tura-yA 'going quickly'
deva-yA 'going to the Gods'
        The connotation 'going to obtain' is not excluded. Moreover,
MacDonell (A Vedic grammar for students, p.78, n.16) precise that the
neutral form of such words is shortened to 'a'. Hence, a *kAmaya 'quest of
love' is possible and kAmayA could be truly an instrumental, but an old one
from kAma-yA or kAma-ya:
        kAmayA me brUhi 'say me, searching my love'.

        About *tAra.

        To find how the weak form of tArA could be *tAra, we must simply
part of one fact: tAra, coming from tRR- 'to cross over', is a thematic
agent noun 'saviour'. Early, the gender of such nouns was just 'animate'
without distinction between masculine and feminine. And, actually, MMW
begins tAra by 'mfn.'. It's probable that the first name of the Goddess was
tAra; later with the extension of H2 feminine forms, analogy cause a
refection (not allways, we have examples of Greek Goddesses names in -os)
and the common form becomes tArA, except in some fixed outdated syntagms (a
very common phenomenon in every languages).

        About *tAra-kAma-ya

        We have at least an other example of an epic named as the quest of
the love of a woman: the Irish 'Wooing of Etain'.

        Better ?

Dominique THILLAUD
Universite' de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France

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