Yaroslav V. Vassilkov yavass at YAVASS.USR.PU.RU
Fri Dec 19 15:27:02 UTC 1997

>From yavass Fri Dec 19 16:47:51 MSK 1997
Dear colleagues,
        here is what NIlakaNTha has to say on the problem of tArA=tArakA.

Mbh, Crit.ed. III.166.24 = Bomb. ed. III. 169.24: munis sing praise to Arjuna
with sweet voices, like they praised Indra tArakAmaye.
        nIkakaNTHa comments: tArakAmaye tArArthe saMgrAme //

Mbh, Crit.ed. II.22.16 = Bomb.ed. II.24.17: kRSNa is said to drive the chariot
which had been previously used by zakra and viSNu in the tArakAmaya [battle]
        N.'s commentary: tArakAmaye tArakA tArA bRhaspatibhAryA
sai'va Amayavat vinAzahetur yasmin Amayo rogaH //

        This leaves, I think, no doubt that in the eyes of Mbh's most popular
commentator, tArA and tArakA were synonims (as two names of the wife of
bRhaspati) and that he considered the epithet tArakAmaya to consist of
tArakA + Amaya.

        Our discussion was long and very useful, at least for me. Is not it
now the high time to stop and to realize that there is no simple, one-syllable
answer to the question "Are the names tArA and tArakA synonimous, or not?".
The answer to it is complex. I would say that everyone of us is right in
one's own way. D.V.N.Sarma demonstrated that the separate name of the Goddess
is always tArA, and the form tArakA is always used only as a part of the
compound. It was a strange fact which needed an explanation. Eventually this
led us (first of all, Georg von Simson and me) to the conclusion that the
epithet had been borrowed and transferred to the story of tArA from another
myth. So, we partly agree with D.V.N.Sarma, accepting that tArA and tAraka
(in "tArakAmaya") ORIGINALLY WERE NOT SYNONIMOUS. Most of the Mbh passages
containing the word "tArakAmaya" (if not all of them) originally referred
(in spite of nIlakaNTHa's interpretations) to the myth of the battle with
asura tAraka. But in the late period of Epic's and PurANas' growth singers
or compilers started to use the epithet tArakAmaya in association with
tArA's name. Now tArA and tArakA WERE understood as SYNONIMS.
This is evidenced by the VP passage where tArakAmaya is explained
as "tArA-" or "tArakAnimitta", and by the above-quoted nIlakaNTHa's comments.
As you can see, it was not easy for nIlakaNTHa to explain the meaning of
"tArakAmaya"; after all, it still remained a "borrowed plume", a constant
epithet misplaced.
        And then, in the same late period, when the original meaning of the
compound was long forgotten and the reinterpretation did not seem
convincing for everyone, somebody suggested a new one: tArakAmayoH. I was
particularly impressed by the fact that first D.V.N.Sarma had suggested the
existence of such form theoretically, and then Dominique Thillaud had found
this very reading in the Critical edition apparatus. There were surely some
people in Ancient and Mediaeval India, who understood the meaning of the word
this way too.
         So, by our joint effort we managed to reconstruct the history of the
epithet, to elucidate different, historically heterogeneous aspects of its
meaning. Truth is always a complex thing, not simply "It is so, and it ever
was so".
        With my best wishes to the participants and all listmembers
                                        Yaroslav V, Vassilkov

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