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On the face of it, Tara makes only a few appearances in the Ramayana. But these are moments of importance, and she is, like the other kanyas, a fount of wisdom and discernment. Described originally as the daughter of Sushena, the physician at the monkey court of Kishkinda, she is given more romantic origins in later sources. Sometimes she is described as one of two beauties who emerged at the churning of the oceans by the devas and asuras; Even her marriage to the Kishkinda king, Vali, is not typical. In certain accounts, she was his brother Sugriva’s consort first, only to be snatched by Vali; in others, she is in a polyandrous relationship with both men. What is known for sure, however, is that at different times, Tara was associated with each brother and remained queen. Vali also gave her a son by the name of Angada, who would later serve as Rama’s envoy to Ravana, and fight gloriously in the battle to rescue Sita. Interestingly, Tara is linked not just to Sita but also Ahalya—some accounts have it that her husbands were Ahalya’s sons, which would make Tara the daughter-in-law of another Panchakanya. She may lose, and she may win at times, but Tara always ensures that she will stay relevant, preserving what is hers. That is why this lady in purple too sits with the kanyas—she may wear the colour of wisdom, but she does so enthroned in a chair of power. For both sides matter equally to Tara, queen of Kishkinda.

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