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RG Veda (聖伝-RG VEDA- Seiden: Rigu Vēda) is a manga created by CLAMP, consisting of ten volumes in all. It was first published in Japan in 1989 as their debut manga. The story features elements of Vedic mythology; the title itself imitates Rigveda, the name of one of the four Vedas. The series is known for its extravagant and richly detailed art. It was popular enough to inspire a two-episode anime OVA (which can be found on DVD).
The RG Veda manga has been translated and released in many different languages. Tokyopop has released English versions in North-America.
Three hundred years ago, the god of thunder, Taishakuten, rebelled against the Heavenly Emperor, killing both him and the guardian god King Ashura. With the help of King Ashura's wife Shashi, he usurped the throne and began his cruel reign as the new Emperor. However, a prophecy was made by the stargazer Kuyou, first to King Ashura and then to King Yasha:
"Six stars will fall to this plane. The dark stars that will defy the Heavens. And you shall undertake a journey. One that begins when you find the child of a vanished race. I cannot discern the child's alignment. I only know that it is he alone who can turn the wheels of Tenkai's destiny. For it is by Heavenly Mandate that through this child, the Six Stars shall begin to gather. And then someone shall appear from the shadows. Even my powers cannot clearly make out his figure, but he knows the future and can manipulate both evil and heavenly stars. A roaring flame shall raze the wicked. Six stars will overpower all others. And inevitably, they will be the schism that splits the Heavens."
Following this prophecy, the Guardian Warrior of the northland, King Yasha, awakens the genderless child of King Ashura, Ashura, who has slept the last three hundred years under a magical seal. Believing the prophecy to mean that the "Six Stars" together can overthrow Taishakuten, he and Ashura set out to find the "Six Stars". Over time, five of the Six Stars gather as King Yasha and Ashura, the first two stars, are joined by Souma, King Ryuu and King Karura, the other three. A mysterious character who appears and disappears quite regularly, Kujaku, gives them helpful advice, but his nature and intentions are unclear.
The gentle and childlike Ashura (who is usually referred to as "he" out of convenience, though some translations use a female pronoun) soon reveals a deadly alter-ego, a youth who delights in death and destruction, but this side remains for the longest time more or less suppressed, also by Ashura's affection for King Yasha.
Seeking to bring Taishakuten's reign to an end, the Six Stars finally enter Zenmi-jō, Taishakuten's palace. They are met there by the three remaining "Four Generals" (Shitenno) (one was killed by King Yasha earlier), warriors who swore to protect Taishakuten. The Six Stars are shocked to discover that the sixth Star, King Kendappa, their friend and ally, is among them as Jikokuten, the previously unknown general. By the meeting of all the Six Stars, Ashura's dark nature is brought to the surface. He kills his mother, the traitorous Shashi, takes the seal on her forehead and merges it with his sword Shura-tō, to awaken the true Ashura; the god of flame, blood and war, whose aim is to destroy heaven, earth, and hell.
The true Ashura proceeds to complete his awakening by killing the remaining Six Stars (some of them were killed earlier). He kills the stars one by one, absorbing their power, until only King Yasha is left. Surprisingly, Taishakuten stands against him. It turns out that his cruel reign was really a plot by him and the deceased King Ashura to prevent the gathering of the Six Stars and the true Ashura's awakening. However, it is not Taishakuten who stops Ashura, but Ashura himself. As he is about to give King Yasha the finishing blow, Ashura in the last moment stabs himself instead. He is then enveloped in a cocoon and enters into a deep sleep. Ashura is awakened hundreds of years later when Kujaku sacrifices of his own life, on King Yasha's promise that he will not let Ashura become the God of Destruction again.
Ashura is also a crossover character in another CLAMP manga, Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, where he appears under the name King Ashura as the king of Shura Country, hosting Syaoran, Sakura and Mokona during their stay in this world. His clan is at constant war with the Yasha clan over possession of a mysterious castle in the sky, which is said to fulfill its master's wish. It turns out that he was in love with King Yasha, who returned his feelings, and wished to resurrect him from the dead. He dies as the castle, unable to fulfill this impossible wish, crashes down around him.
- Another incarnation of King Yasha also appears in Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE as the king of the Yama clan who war with the Shura clan. He fell in love with King Ashura but was killed by a deadly disease. One of Sakura's feathers resurrected him until Ashura found the courage to return it to her.
- In Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, two alternate versions of Ryū-ō appear: as an Oni hunter partnering Souma in the world of Outo and also as a racer in Piffle World. In the anime, he becomes good friends with the main character Syaoran in both versions.
- An alternate version of King Kendappa appears in Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, where she is the Empress of Japan and older sister of Princess Tomoyo.
She briefly appears in the CLAMP manga Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE as a racer in Piffle world.
She is a cross-over character in the CLAMP manga Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE. She is the guard for Princess Tomoyo and is a ninja with Kurogane. She is also with Ryū in Outo world as an Oni hunter.
The Imperial Family
Taishakuten (帝釈天) Taishakuten is the villain in the manga RG Veda. In Vedic Mythology and religion Taishakuten is a deity is known in Sanskrit as Indra, or Sakra. A strong-minded man and a fearsome warrior who gained the title of "thunder god", he is in love with King Ashura and "will do anything to get what I want." Therefore, Taishakuten made a deal with King Ashura: he could have the Ashura king, but had to fulfill his wish of preventing Ashura's son from becoming a God of Destruction. This leads to the painful act of him eating King Ashura later, as King Ashura said this is the only way for him to have strength to rebel against the Emperor. Taishakuten then successfully killed the Emperor and got the title himself, becoming a tyrant just to fulfill one wish of the man he loved. According to Taishakuten, living alone without your loved one is extremely painful, as he had always suffered being without King Ashura.
Shashi (舎脂) Shashi is a human being and twin sister of Kaara. Along with Kaara, she is allowed to live with the Gods and share their power as they are mikos. Unlike the other one, Shashi is smart yet wicked and has ambition to be the Empress. Though married to King Ashura, she committed adultery with Taishakuten and helped him slaughter the Ashura clan, her own clan, as she knew it "just like her face". When Taishakuten got the title of Emperor, she became the Empress. It is later revealed that Taishakuten wanted her close to keep a watch on the sword Shurato, of which she has a seal on her forehead. She gave birth to the twin Tenou and Ashura, which she killed off the later because he's of Ashura's bloodline. She denied her own son Ashura till the very end, which led to Ashura killing her in his rage becoming the God of Destruction.
Kaara (迦羅) Twin sister of Shashi. Unlike her sister, Kaara is very gentle and has a kind heart. When the great war happened, she was found lying by Kumara, Lord of the beautiful capital Kusumabaura, which had just been destroyed by Taishakuten's army. Therefore he kept the sword Shurato at the crumble city in order to lure Ashura, for he believed that the city could prosper again if Ashura dies. Kaara is in love with him, but since she's already dead she couldn't bear him a child. She truly died together with Kumara after releasing the seal for her "young master."
King Ten (天王 Tennō) King Ten is son of Shashi and Taishakuten; therefore he is the "Crown Prince." Quite handsome, strong and has a kind heart, Tenou is different from both his mother and father. He loves the maestro King Kendappa deeply without realizing that she is the last warrior general of his Emperor father. His love is unrequited because King Kendappa loved Souma already, but he only found out about this at the end of the manga, when she revealed her true nature. When Ashura awoke as a God of Destruction, he somehow didn't kill King Ten, stating that he wants King Ten to witness all the terrible carnage he would do.
King Ashura (阿修羅王 King Ashura) King Ashura is first introduced as the god of war and guardian of Heaven under the former Emperor, who died defending his lord against Taishakuten and is revered as a hero. However, it turns out at the end of the manga that he had, in fact, engineered Taishakuten's rebellion himself: Knowing through Kuy-oh's prophecy and his own visions of his future son's true nature as the "true Ashura," he nonetheless wished for his son to be born. To change destiny and prevent Ashura's awakening, he asked for Taishakuten's help, which Taishakuten promised in return for his body. King Ashura married Shashi so she, one of the priestesses bearing one of Ashura's seals on her forehead, would be his mother, whom Ashura presumably would not wish to kill. He had Taishakuten seize the throne and rule cruelly, to prevent the Six Stars from gathering. As a last safeguard, should Ashura still awaken, he asked Taishakuten to kill him and eat his body, so he might become strong enough to kill Ashura.
In Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, King Ashura is the king of the cold world of Selece. At the beginning of the manga, he is sealed in a magical sleep by Fay D. Flourite, who then proceeds to flee from him through different worlds. It is later revealed that he collected Fay from imprisonment in another world and raised him. However, the Ashuras' nature in RG Veda is mirrored in Tsubasa: King Ashura, too, has another side, and regularly goes on killing sprees among his subjects. He took Fay in to draw his curse to kill everyone stronger than him upon himself, however, Fay's curses were both activated (the first due to Sakura, and the second after King Ashura's death). King Ashura was stabbed by Kurogane and died in Fay's arms.
Kujaku (孔雀) Kujaku first appears as a mysterious traveler that Ashura finds near the Yasha village after he falls out of a tree (supposedly from hunger). He comes and go at random but he almost always assists Yasha and Ashura's group usually in the form of information, magical aid, or light babysitting. His powers range from the highly destructive to the prophetic. But as his motives are unclear most of the six stars do not trust him. Yasha suffers him to stick around mostly because Ashura likes him a great deal; a sentiment Kujaku genuinely reciprocates. But because of his odd traits and purple eyes, he is accused of being a mazoku (a monster). In actuality, Kujaku the son of the former emperor and his younger sister Sonsei-Oh; who was also the head stargazer/priestess before Kuyou. This would imply that he and Kisshouten are half-siblings. As a child he manifested a daten (a third eye placed vertically in the center of the forehead) and a pair of black feathered wings as marks of the fact his parents committed the sin of incest.
It is revealed near the end of the final battle that Kujaku has used his powers to manipulate space and time to attempt to change fate. He explains that initially he did it out of curiosity, to see if it could be done; and then later was motivated by his affection for Ashura as they were both "unneeded children". Kujaku dies in the final pages of the manga after sacrificing himself to free Ashura from his punishment for not fulfilling the prophecy.
Karyoubinga (迦陵頻伽 Karyōbinga) Karyoubinga is the much younger sister of Karura-Oh. She appears to be about ten years old yet she is very skilled at singing and is devoted to her older sister’s happiness. However, she was born with a very weak body and is prone to fevers and other illness and so she must stay in the thinner air of the floating city of the Karura tribe to survive. Like her sister and Garuda, Karyou also has a bird familiar, in the form of a small song bird. Unfortunately, rumors of her excellent voice reach Taishakuten and he has her kidnapped to get her to sing for him (it is arguable he actually does this to control/incense Karura-Oh). She is forced to perform a concert with Kendappa-Oh in front of the assembled court and sings herself to death in the thicker atmosphere for the sake of her sister. Her body is later fed to Taishakuten’s pets. She is last seen collecting Karura-Oh’s soul after she is killed by Taishakuten.
Kuyou (九曜 Kuyō) Kuyou is the blind stargazer/head priestess of Heaven during the reign of the previous emperor. She flees the court when Taishakuten takes over so as not to be forced to use her powers for a tyrant against her friends. She hides in an old temple and only Yasha knows her whereabouts which he refuses to divulge to anyone else. He asks her to read his future, which she does not want to do as it will set the prophecy in motion but he eventually convinces her to do so. This causes him to leave in search of Ashura and while he is gone Bishamonten finds her and kills her by impaling her to the temple wall with her staff. It is shown in a flashback that Kuyou performed a similar service for Ashura-Oh. It is also eventually revealed that Kuyou was not capable of reading the prophecy in full because she was not the true heir to the stargazer position.
Hanranya (般羅若) Hanranya is the younger sister of Kuyou and performs in her place for Taishakuten after Kuyou escapes. Unlike her sister who was blind and a stargazer from birth; Hanranya attained her powers by blinding herself with a torch. Thus she is not as powerful as Kuyou and can only scry in water. She primarily uses her powers to help Taishakuten track and hound the six stars but toward the end of the last battler her she uses her water mirror to communicate with Kujaku and is able to look into the past to reveal his origins. She is both loyal and strongly devoted to Taishakuten and attempts to kill herself when she believes he has died during the final fight with Ashura. She is prevented by Souchouten and eventually ends up in the retinue of Ten-Oh, presumably serving him in the same manner she served his father.
Bishamonten (毘沙門天) Bishamonten is the most powerful of Taishakuten’s four generals. He began as a talented but low ranked officer in the service of the previous emperor but chose to side with Taishakuten in return for being given Kisshouten as his wife; with whom he is deeply in love. In a flashback, Taishakuten warns his ally that this plan will probably result in Kisshouten hating him but Bishamonten replies that he doesn’t care because all he wants is to keep Kisshouten near him and he doesn’t see any other way it would be possible. He chooses to never tell Kisshouten that all he had done, he has done so he can be near her. Bishamonten is eventually killed by Yasha in the final battle; an event that precipitates the discovery that Kisshouten was equally in love with him, despite everything he had done.
Kisshouten (吉祥天 Kisshōten) Kisshouten is the wife of Bishamonten and daughter of the previous emperor and an unnamed, unseen mother. Despite that Bishamonten wins her by conquest, she is legitimately in love with him and has apparently been so from even before he betrayed her father for Taishakuten. She is kind and gentle as well as moderately powerful, being able to command a modicum of magic to scry in a large mirror in her palace. She has also housed Souma as a servant for many years as a favor for Kendappa-Oh. She has no love for Taishakuten and so assists the six stars whenever she has the opportunity. Taishakuten does not like her either, but allows her to live as long as Bishamonten serves him. When Bishamonten dies, Kisshouten runs to his side and Taishakuten mocks her for her ignorance of her husband’s devotion and her knowledge of her father’s sins before cutting her down. She bleeds to death beside Bishamonten’s body.
Sentei (先帝) The previous emperor is never referred to by any specific name. The story begins with him being defeated and beheaded by Taishakuten. We do not know much about him other than he appeared to be well liked by his people and ruled wisely. Taishakuten, Ashura-O, and many of the parents of the six stars served under the previous emperor as his soldiers and bodyguards. It is revealed though, that he had a very dark side and it is implied that his actions were part of what caused the fate of the destruction of Heaven. Through flashbacks it is shown that he had an incestuous relationship with his younger sister, Sonsei-Oh. When she bore his child (Kujaku) he had them both locked up in a cave and abandoned them to die. Taishakuten appears to be the only other character that discovered this information before Kujaku reveals it at the end.
Sonsei-Oh (尊星王) Sonsei-Oh is the younger sister of the previous emperor and the mother of Kujaku. She is only seen in a handful of flashbacks but it is revealed that she was the head priestess/stargazer before Kuyou and so any of her children would inherit her power. It is implied that only the heir to the stargazer is able to read the prophecy completely accurately. Unfortunately, it is also revealed that she and Kujaku were locked in a cave to die by the previous emperor to hide the evidence of their relationship. During that time Sonsei-Oh goes insane and attempts to kill her son by strangling him. She declares that he is an unneeded child and if it were not for him everything would be all right. Kujaku, wishing to save his mother resigns himself to die but in a moment of clarity she cannot go through with it. She kills herself instead by stabbing herself through the chest with her staff.
Rasetsu (羅刹) Rasetsu is the younger brother of Yasha-o. He was the son of the previous Yasha-o and his wife (who died when Rasetsu was very young and appears in the flashbacks of Yama's mother) while Yama (current Yasha-o) was the son of the previous Yasha-o and another woman who was not married to him. Despite all this, Rasetsu seeks for his older brother's love and attention. He greatly idolizes Yama for his skills and power. When it is time to choose the new Yasha-o, Yama volunteers Rasetsu for the title, thinking that only the legitimate son should have the title. Later that night, Rasetsu took on a journey and leave the throne to Yama. Yama's mother was the first one to get pregnant despite that she's not the real wife of the previous Yasha-o. but despite all of this, the mother of Yama and the mother of Rasetsu get along very well that when Yama's mother was pregnant with him, Rasetsu's mother was the one who took great care for her. He died while trying to block the way of Koumokuten; Koumukuten killed him. He is the husband of Shara.