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Story of Tataka in the Ramayana

Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Rama to destroy the demons on earth headed by Ravana. The first demon that Lord Rama killed in the epic Ramayana was Tataka or Tadaka. In fact, she is a demoness or rakshasi. Who was this Tataka? The villains in Hindu mythology too have a good past and a reason for their present villainous activities. Similarly, Tataka was a wife of a good ‘yaksha’ before becoming a demoness.

Sage Vishwamitra narrates the story of Tataka to Lord Ram. Tataka was the daughter of a powerful ‘yaksha’ named Suketu. (Yakshas are supernatural beings – some good some evil. ) Suketu had no sons and therefore he performed intense austerities. Pleased with him Lord Brahma appeared before him. But instead of sons, Brahma granted Suketu a daughter with the strength of thousand elephants.

Suketu did not complain and brought up his daughter Tataka like a son. She grew up into a beautiful woman and was married to Sunanda. And the couple had a son named Maricha.

After few years, Sunanda, the husband of Tataka, passed away and this changed the character of Tataka. She and her son started harassing sages. Once they went to the ashram of Sage Agastya and started their usual activity of harassing the sages. But on seeing Sage Agastya, Tataka changed her intentions and wanted to make love with him.

Sage Agastya could not tolerate her behavior and cursed her to become a demoness or rakshasi. Agastya cursed “You will lose these attractive feminine looks and you will be ugly and formidable. You will eat human flesh and be despised by all.”

Tataka then occupied two small countries named Malada and Karusha and killed everyone and converted it into dark forest named Tatakavana.

And this Tataka was the first demon or demoness to be killed by Lord Ram. But Lord Ram was first hesitant to kill a woman. Sage Vishwamitra explained that the duty of a kshatriya is to protect the oppressed and the good and it is not wrong to kill an evil woman for a common good.