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by Stephen T. Naylor
In Hindu mythology, Tara was an astral goddess who was the wife of Brihaspati. A heavenly adventure was played out in the night sky when Soma, the moon, lusted after and abducted Tara, who was the pole star, from Brihaspati, the planet Jupiter. Soma kept Tara hostage, not releasing her at either the urging of Brihaspati or even Brahma. The gods rallied against Soma, who called on the asuras to be his allies, and a mighty war erupted. Before both sides could wipe each other out, Brahma again tried to intervene, and this time Soma listened and freed his captive. She returned to her husband, but she was pregnant, and would not say who the father was. Brihaspati refused to accept her back until the child was born. At that moment, the child heard the ultimatum and was born instantly. He was brimming with power and beauty, and both Soma and Brihaspati claimed the child as his own son. The boy became tire of the bickering over him, and was ready to utter a curse, but Brahma once again came to the rescue. He calmed the child down, then gently asked Tara who the father was. Tara confessed that it was Soma. Soma welcomed his son and named him Budha, who became the planet Mercury.

In southern India, Tara was an important aspect of the Mother Goddess. When the Buddhists came into their own, they made this Tara one of their most important goddesses, and her name came to be an appellation to most female deities. She had many different colors, and can be gentle or dangerous, depending on her hue. If she was white or green, she was loving and tender, but if she was red, yellow, or blue, then it was best to stay out of her way.

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