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Taraka

by Stephen T. Naylor
Taraka is the name of a powerful demon who threatened to subjugate the world. He was able to grow so powerful because he had followed his austerities to such an extent that he became more powerful than the gods. Fearing his power, the gods went to Shiva, imploring him to help them against this terrible threat. Shiva created a champion, Karttikeya, to combat the foe. When he was ready, Karttikeya went forth and the two battled. Karttikeya was able to destroy the demon, and so rescued the world.

Taraka is also the name of a female Rakshasa whom Rama kills with his bow in his epic the Ramayana. At first he is reluctant to slay a woman, and just shoots off her arms. But then she becomes invisible. Using her magic, she hurls rocks and boulders at Rama and his companions, and they are hard-pressed to ward off her attack. Finally Rama closes his eyes and aims by sound only. He lets his arrow fly, and pierces the evil spirit through the heart.


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