vandhu yedhirndha thaadakaithan uratthaik keeri
varukurudhi pozhithara venkanai onrevi
mandhirangol maraimunivan velvi kaatthu
We are in Tataka Vanam. Vishwamitra and the two princes came to a forest located across the river which was in terrible position. Seeing the Forest Ram said, "Gurudeva! How horrible is this forest! Wild animals like Lions, tigers, elephants etc. are making voices in all the directions. The sunlight can not dare to penetrate the darkness due to denseness of this forest. What's the name of this very difficult forest?"
Vishwamitra replied, "Hey Raghav (another name of Lord Rama), At a time instead of this terrible forest there were two flourishing cities here the name of which were Maladam and Karusham. The states were having big residences, more than sufficient money and well maintained roads. Traders from various states used to come there for business purpose. But a "Yaksh" (demigod) girl, named Tataka, destroyed those states. Tataka is not an ordinary woman. She is wife of the demon Sunda, son of Jambha Raksas and mother of the demon Maricha. She is very strong and powerful having strength equivalent to the strength of thousand elephants in her body. After destroying the states she and her son Maricha killed and devoured all the people there. Now due to their fear nobody can dare to come here. If by mistake somebody comes here, he can never go back alive. I have brought you here for the slaughter of Tataka."
In Valimiki Ramayana Verse 1-26-14:
svasti raaghavayoh astu jayam cha eva abhyabhaasataMeaning: But the Brahma-sage Vishvamitra daunted sounded her off and said to Rama and Lakshmana, "let you be safe, and be victorious."
The above verse shows us the Vishwamitra's (Devotee's) love and affection on Rama (Lord). Surprised Rama asked, "Gurudeva! How Tataka got the strength of thousand elephants? Definitely there is some secret, as generally the women are so soft and vulnerable." Viswamitra said, "Vats (Son)! You are correct. In fact there is a mystery behind this. At a time there was a Herculean "yaksha" (demigod) named Suketu. He was childless. He performed austerity of Lord Brahma to get child. Pleased with his penance Brahma gave him blessing and as a result birth of Tataka took place. Suketu also got blessing of Brahma for marvelous strength of Tataka and she got strength of thousand elephants. When Tataka got suitable age for marriage Suketu married her with a demon named Sunda and She gave birth to Maricha and Subahu. Like his mother Maricha also was strong and powerful. Even being the son of Sunda (a demon) he was not a demon since his childhood he was very unruly. He used to torture the Rishis and Munis unnecessarily. Being sad due to his torture Agastya Muni cursed him to be demon. Sunda became very angry and ran to kill Agastya Muni as his son converted into a demon due to his curse. Rishi Agastya immediately burnt him into ashes by cursing him. To avenge the death of her husband, Tataka pounced to Agastya Muni. As a result Rishi Agastya cursed her also and she became ugly as her beauty was destroyed due to his curse. Tataka has resolved to destroy the ashram of Agastya Muni to to avenge her ugliness as well as the death of her husband. So, Ram! I command you to slaughter Tadka. Nobody else can kill her, only you can slaughter her. Do not think that she is woman and I should not kill her. She is a felony in form of woman and to destroy felony is not a sin. Leave all the hesitation and slaughter Tadka. This is my order."
pitur vacana nirdeshaat pitur vacana gauravaat
vacanam kaushikasya iti kartavyam avishankayaa
When I started, what did my father say? He said, "Act according to what Visvamitrar says. Listen to what he says". I will not go against my father's words. Not only that. My father does not even have to tell me. It is not that I will do only if my father says, and will not do if you say it. Even if you alone tell me, I will do that also. Can my father earn a bad name that he has a son who does not listen to the words of elders?
After narrating the story of Tataka, Viswamitra asked Rama to kill her. The Sastras forbid the killing of women by a warrior. How then could the sage ask Rama to kill Tataka? Viswamitra, knowing that Rama would hesitate to kill a woman, reminded Rama of the duties of a king. A king's duty is to uphold dharma and eliminate those who pose a threat to dharma. There was no room for mercy, just because the perpetrator of atrocities on innocent people happened to be a woman. Viswamitra gave Rama examples of women who had thus been killed. Indra had killed Manthara, the daughter of Virochana, and Lord Narayana had killed the wife of the sage Bhrigu. When the need of the hour was to save the innocent, it was the duty of the king to kill those who were evil. What is implied in the Tataka episode is that it is the Lord alone who can eliminate our ignorance. We will have to seek His help to kill the ignorance in us and to light the lamp of knowledge.
Ram said, "Gurudeva! Your permission is acceptable to me. I definitely will kill Tadka for the welfare of the people." After saying that Ram made "tankar" (loud sound of bow) by pulling the string of his bow up to the ear. The sound echoed thought the forest province and scared wild animals ran away around. Due to unprecedented commotion Taka became very angry. When she saw Ram ready with his bow, she thought that this strange boy wants to dominate my entire empire and went mad with anger. She speedily pounced for invasion on Ram. Seeing her action, Ram said to Lakshman, "Look brother! This female demon having hideous face like giant palm trees is how ugly. Just seeing her face, it appears that she is very violent and enjoys killing innocuous living-beings and drinking their blood. Please be aside carefully and see how will I send her to hell."
Showing her big teeth and expanding her hands, hideous bodied Tadka ran with lightning-fast speed toward Ram and Lakshman. Ram was ready for this terrible attack, he sieved her heart applying his arrow. A current of hot blood flowed from her chest. Without giving any more chance for attack to her, Ram left another arrow which rooted into her chest. Suffering from dizziness she fell to the ground died immediately. Seeing fighting skills of Ram and death of Tadka Viswamitr felt very happy. He blessed Ramchandra by heart.
With the order of Guru all took night rest there. Next day morning they found that the forest was freed from terror, fearfulness and awfulness due to the death of Tadka. For some time they enjoyed the beauty of that forest and then, after completing the daily routines, they started to walk towards ashram of Vishwamitra.
Here demon Tataka signifies rajo gunam (made up of desire). And her two sons Maricha and Subahu signifies Kama and Krodham. Here Lord Rama destroys the Rajo Gunam. We should tell this Tataka story to our kids, since it is more like a cartoon, animated film.
This entire place is known as Siddhashram. "Kousalya Supraja Rama" sloka was born somewhere on the way to this Ashram. In coming articles we will be seeing Siddhashram.