tArakAmaya again

Georg von Simson g.v.simson at EASTEUR-ORIENT.UIO.NO
Thu Dec 18 11:03:03 EST 1997


  On Thu, 18 Dec 1997 00:08:04, D. V. NARAYANA SARMA wrote:
 >Your attempt to read tArakA=tArA based on the reading of
>`tArakAnimittas' in the edition of viSNu purANa available to you
>is unreliable because the reading occurs in a prose passage and
>the commentator could have altered the reading in order to explain
>the word `tArakAmaya'. He must have got into the dilemma in which
>we are now. In the metrical passages we have only tArA everywhere
>as I have pointed out in my earlier postings. So I think for
>the present tArakA=tArA identification is unreliable.

Since both tArakA and tArA as appellativum mean 'star', I think their
separation is a bit artificial. As you know, in sanskrit proper names are
easily substituted by their synonyms.

>You have also forgotten the explanation of the word `tArakAmaya'
>as `full of stars' based on the matsya purANa reading. It is not
>everyday that stars take part in the battles as they did in this.
>This participation might have been commemorated by naming the
>battle as `tArakAmaya'.

I agree that some purANa authors might have understood the term this way.
But is it not more probable that the expression originally was coined
because the main person in one story was called TAraka and in the other
TArA (to which TArakA could be taken as a synonym)? In this case, the term
can only be interpreted as tAraka+Amaya if referring to the TAraka-Skanda
story, because otherwise the long -a- in the third syllable would not be
accounted for. But, if you prefer, you can, of course, also in this case
stick to tArakA-maya, `full of stars': I am convinced that this story, too,
is an ancient star myth. What I primarily wanted to exclude was the
assumption that the term originated from a combination of tArA and kAma
which seems impossible to me. The one varia lectio in Mbh. (tArakAmayoH) I
would consider as the fanciful idea of a late scribe.

>At 09:44 PM 12/17/97 +0300, Yaroslav Vassilkov writes:
>>A Puranic example referred to
>>in the last contribution by D.V.N.Sarma - I mean the verse where nakSatras
>>and stars take part in the battle - may represent an intermediate stage of
>>reinterpretation when *tArakAmaya* was understood as "disastrous/fatal/
>>destructive FOR THE STARS".

>The war was not distructive to the stars. The purANAs do not say that.
>It was distrucive only to the daityAs and devAs. The interpretation of
>`tArakAmaya'as tArakA+Amaya i.e., distructive to the stars, does not
>seem to be possible. Anyway we know that they are still there in the
>heavens we see them everyday.

The first part of the compound could be understood with instrumental
function: 'disastrous through/because of the stars, or, rather: because of
TArakA=TArA=(the goddess) Star'. In the case of the TAraka-Skanda story,
the meaning could, of course, be 'resulting in the destruction of TAraka',
and I am still inclined to believe that this was the origin of the term and
that the development went as outlined by Ya. Vassilkov.

Best wishes

        Georg v.Simson



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