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28 January 2013

Wojciech Jóźwiak

Taraka: What Does the Word Mean?

Category: About us

“Taraka” is a Sanskrit word which means: 'star'. But not only this; for in the Sanskrit Dictionary by Mylius (Klaus Mylius, Wörterbuch Sanskrit-Deutsch, Leipzig 1980) we read:

Meaning:

  • someone who carries out (somebody) on the other side (of a river, a ferryman?); a rescuer
  • name of a daemon; or of the children of the daemon
  • star, meteor
  • pupil (of an eye)

In another dictionary (V. A. Kočergina, Sanskritsko-russkij slovar', Moskva 1987) we find similar meanings:

  • the one who carries out, a rescuer or saviour
  • star
  • pupil (eye)

Daemons was not mentioned at this time, but you can find more about them in Encyclopedia Mythica. Apart from daemons, a clear complex of meanings arises here:

star - rescuer or ferryman - pupil

The stars in legends are agents, who connect between the sky or heaven, and the Earth; or between the realms of imagination and ideas, and the crude daily life.

The rescuer, may appear in a concrete form of a ferryman, when someone is standing on the bank of a river that is hard to cross. This scene seems to be a prototype of initiation, the main theme in all kinds of shamanic journeys.

The pupil, the black and indeed “empty” spot in the center of an eye, may serve as a metaphor of turning to the self, to someone's inner life and self-knowledge, and in shamanism, to the inner space of mind.

All the topics are of our – namely, Taraka's – main interests.


“Taraka” may be also considered as a Polish or Slavic word. It is not a word which really exists or is being used in Polish language, but it appears as a rather regular Polish word, with its phonetics and morphology. It could mean: “someone who rolls or welters or wallows”. Figuratively, the word could signify a wanderer, a rover or (another) gadabout – this is, a person who moves permanently and cannot be fixed in any solid form. Such character is very close to what we do.

The word “taraka” meaning “wanderer” was apparently used in one of Polish dialects, due to a family-name that spells: Taraka.


In diverse lands and languages, the word “taraka” has many other meanings, i.e. a species of butterfly, the title of an Indian mantra, a popular Indian masculine name, a municipality in Philippines, and so on. Taraka was also the name of an incubus designed by Ms Anna Schmitz. The same name had a female elephant who lived 41 years and died 1996 in the Opole's zoo in Poland. I was unable to guess the meaning of "taraka" in Maori language.

(W.J.)


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