Tataka

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Rama Killing Demon Tataka

Tatakā or Taraka (ताड़का) or Tadaka or Thataka (Telugu:Thataki; Tamil: Tatakai; Thai: Kakanasun, from Sanskrit Kākanāsura, "Crow Demoness"; Malay: Jagina) was a Yaksha princess-turned-demoness in the epic Ramayana. Her father Suketu, a yaksha king performed tapasya (Principle and practice of physical and spiritual austerity and discipline to achieve a particular aim) for an offspring. Suketu had desired a son, but Lord Brahma blessed him with a strong and beautiful daughter. She was a beautiful princess that was wooed by and married Sumali, an Asura King. She had two sons Maricha and Subahu and a daughter, Kaikesi.

Tadaka and Sumali schemed to marry off Kaikesi to the Rishi Vishrava in order to obtain progeny that would be all-powerful and rule over all the three worlds. They orchestrated their daughter's "chance encounter" with Vishrava, whereupon the Rishi, although already married, fell in love with Kaikesi and through her, fathered Ravana, the mighty Asura King of Lanka, Vibhishana, Kumbhakarna and Soorpanaka, all of whom would later play important roles in the immortal epic, the Ramayana

When Rishi Agastya cursed both Suketu and Sumali to death, Tadaka took it upon herself (with her son, Subahu's, aid) to wreak vengeance on the sage. This earned them both the Rishi's anger. Agastya cursed Tadaka with the loss of her beautiful physique, and transformed both mother and son into hideous demonic creatures with a cruel, cannibalistic nature (Rakshasas). The curse particularly transformed Tataka into a man-eater with an ugly and fierce figure. After being cursed by Agastya, Tataka started living in a place near the habitations of Malaja and Karusha in a forest near the River Ganges opposite the confluence of the River Sarayu. The area was came to be known as the Forest of Tataka. She terrorized the people, devouring anyone who dared to set foot in that forest.

As revenge, Tadaka and Subahu attempted to harass as many rishis as they could, by destroying their Yagnas with rains of flesh and blood. Brahmarishi Vishwamitra was especially at the receiving end of Tadaka's harassment. Unable to cope with her mischief any longer, Vishwamitra finally approached Dasaratha, the King of Kosala, for help. The King obliged by sending two of his four sons, the 16-yr-olds, Rama and Lakshmana, to the forest, charging them to protect both Vishwamitra and his Yagna.

Vishwamitra and the two princes came to Tataka's forest and the sage ordered Rama to kill the demoness to free the area from her terror. Rama was hesitant to kill her as she was a woman and initially maimed her, chopping off her hands so that she could not attack him further. Using her demonic powers, she changed form, disappeared and continued to attack them whilst remaining unseen. Sage Vishwamitra advised Rama that as a prince, he had to carry out his duties for the good of the nation, regardless of his own personal reservations. Though a woman, Tataka was terrorising the region and as a prince, it was his duty to protect the people by killing the terrorists who plagued his people. Evil has no gender, caste or creed. Rama swiftly pierced her heart with his arrows. This act gained the young princes the blessings of not just Vishwamitra but also the blessings of all of the assembled sages in the yagnashala.

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