tArakAmaya again

Georg von Simson g.v.simson at EASTEUR-ORIENT.UIO.NO
Wed Dec 17 13:45:25 UTC 1997

Sarma wrote:
>At 01:44 PM 12/15/97 +0100, you wrote:
>>2. There does not seem to have been any fight
>>between the two lovers of TArA, Brhaspati and Candra, at all. I do not know
>>all the Puranic versions of the myth, but should like to refer to Vettam
>>Mani, Puranic Encyclopaedia (Delhi 1975), p. 786, s.v. TArA II: "... The
>>Devas were very angry when they found the wife of their preceptor staying
>>with a disciple of his. Brhaspati sent word to her to return home, but she
>>did not heed. At last the Devas decided to fight against Candra. Then they
>>came to a compromise and TArA was sent back to Brhaspati. ..."

>This is not so according to purANAs.

Vettam Mani seems to follow the BhAgavatapurANa. You are right: the older
purANas know indeed of a battle about TArA (though I cannot see that
BRhaspati himself takes part in the fight), and they call this battle in
the same way as the battle against the demon TAraka "tArakAmaya- (yuddha-
or saNgrAma-)". You find the apparently oldest, common purANa-version of
the story in W. Kirfel, Das PurANa PancalakSaNa, p. 352 (vs. 34):
tatra tad yuddham abhavat prakhyAtaM tArakAmayam ...
The more specific explanation of the term tArakAmaya is not to be found
here, but in the prose paraphrase of the ViSNupurANa: evaM ca tayor
atIvograH sangrAmas tArakAnimittas tArakAmayo nAmAbhavat, making it clear
that the author reads the name TArakA=TArA into the term.
(Thereafter follow the lines quoted by you:
>"tatazca samastazastrANyasureSu rudrapurOgamA dEvA, dEvESu cazESadAnavA
>mumucuh. Evam dEvAsurasamkSObhakSubdhahRdayamazESamEva jgadbrahmANam
>zaraNam jagAma. tatazca bhagvAnabjayOnirapyuzanasam sankaramasurAndEvAnzca
>nivArya bRhaspatayE tArAmAdApayat."    viSNu purAN 4.6.16-19)

I still do not believe that -kAma- can be considered as an original
component of tArakAmaya-. I would rather support the idea you express in
connection with your quotation from the MatsyapurANa (23.40):

>"nakSatradaityAsurasainyayuktah zanaizcarAGgArakavRddhatEjAh"
>In the above slOkAs we find another explanation for the word `tArakAmaya'.
>Stars and some planets took part in the battle on the side of candra.
>This can be another possible explanation for calling it tArakAmaya.

Indeed, as tArA and tAraka may mean 'star', it seems probable that both the
Skanda-TAraka- and the Soma-TArA-myth have an astronomical background.
Kirfel gives in ZDMG 102 (1952), p. 66-90) a detailed analysis of the
purANic TArA-myth. Following the suggestion of the astronomer H. Werner, he
identifies TArA with the zodiacal constellation Virgo, whose brightest
star, Spica (alpha Virginis), is identical with the nakSatra Citrå (p. 82
f.). Werner/Kirfel point to interesting connections between Spica and the
planets Mercury (TArA in our myth becomes the mother of Budha) and Jupiter
(BRhaspati) in Babylonian astral myths. But even if this might have been
the original astronomical background of the story, I suspect that in India
it has been transferred from the nakSatra CitrA to PuSya, because this
latter is governed by BRhaspati and the story may now point to the full
moon visiting PuSya once a year, about the winter solstice and thus
sullying the bed of his guru.
   Does anybody know of an astronomical interpretation of the Skanda-TAraka

Best regards

   Georg v. Simson

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