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      Feminine aspect of the bodhisattva of compassion, "Mother of all the Buddhas," Tara protects the welfare of all beings and those who are devoted to her are especially fortunate. Tara was born from Avalokitesvara's tears of compassion.

      Tara Statue
      Green Tara
      Twenty One Taras
      The Practise of Tara
      Sponsor a Tara Image in Bodhgaya

      There are innumerable manifestations of Tara, as many as beings require bringing protection, long life and peace, overcoming obstacles and saving beings from danger.

      Tara is one of the most beloved of deities, particularly by Tibetans. Legend has it that once, many eons ago during the time of Buddha Dundubhisvara, there lived a princess by the name of 'Moon of Wisdom-knowledge'. She was a very devoted disciple and would daily set out many offerings to the Buddha and his sangha. Eventually she generated bodhicitta, the aspiration to attain enlightenment and become a Buddha herself, in order to help all living beings. Some bhikshus came to know of this, and urged her to dedicate the merits she had created to be reborn as a male. However, the princess rejected this advice, saying:

      Here there is no man, there is no woman, no self, no person, and no consciousness. Labelling "male" or "female" has no essence but deceives the evil-minded world.

      She went on to make the following vow:

      "There are many who desire enlightenment in a man's body, but none who work for the benefit of sentient beings in the body of a woman. Therefore, until samsara is empty, I shall work for the benefit of sentient beings in a woman's body."

      From that time onwards the princess dedicated herself to winning full and complete enlightenment. Once she accomplished that goal, she came to be known as Tara, the Liberator.

      (from In Praise of Tara: Songs to the Saviouress by Martin Willson, Wisdom Publications.)

      There is another story regarding Tara, which tells of when Chenrezig had been working to help sentient beings for a very long time. He had been able to help hundreds of thousands of beings become free from samsara, but then realized there were still so many more beings suffering in samsara, and began to cry. From the pool formed by his tears a lotus arose and Tara appeared from the lotus, saying, "Don't worry -- I will help you." Thus Tara is associated with Chenrezig, as well as with Amitabha Buddha (she has a tiny image of Amitabha Buddha on her crown.)

       
      Compassionate saviouress from samsara! Goddess born from the tears of Him with Lotus in Hand, by the power of the vow of Amitabha; most loving, striving for others good, ... Venerable one! I cannot describe your infinite virtues... Nargarjuna

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      Green Tara

      Green Tara is seated upon a lotus arising from the waters of a lake, just as Tara is said to have arisen from the compassionate tears of Avalokiteshvara. Her right hand is in the mudra of supreme generosity indicating her ability to provide beings with whatever they desire. Her left hand at her heart is in the mudra of bestowing refuge: her thumb and ring finger are pressed together to symbolise the united practice of method and wisdom, and the three remaining fingers are raised to symbolise the Three Jewels of Refuge - Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. In each hand she holds the stem of a blue utpala flower. Each flower consists of three blossoms indicating that Tara, the embodiment of enlightened activities, is the Mother of the Buddhas of the past, present and future.

      Tara is dressed in the silken robes of royalty. She wears rainbow colored stockings, a white half-blouse and various jeweled ornaments. These symbolize her mastery of the perfections of generosity, morality and so forth. The tiara fastened in her black hair is adorned with jewels, the central one is a red ruby symbolic of Amitabha, her spiritual father and the head of her Buddha family.

      She is seated in a distinctive posture, her left leg withdrawn to symbolize her renunciation of worldly passion and her right leg extended to show that she is always ready to arise and come to the aid of those who need her help.

      With a warm compassionate gaze she looks down upon each sentient being as a mother regards her only child. Her emerald-green color -- related to the wind element and hence to movement -- signifies her ability to act swiftly and without delay to bring benefits to sentient beings.

      (from Images of Enlightenment, Snow Lion Publications)

       
      "Tara is known as the "Mother of all Buddhas." This is because she is the wisdom of reality, and all Buddhas and bodhisattvas are born from this wisdom. This wisdom is also the fundamental cause of happiness, and our own spiritual growth comes from this wisdom. That is why Tara is called the Mother. And Mother Tara has much wisdom to manifest many aspects, sometimes peaceful, sometimes wrathful, in different colours; all to help sentient beings." -- Lama Thubten Yeshe

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      The Twenty-One Taras

      Tara has 21 primary emanations, each of which performs different activities such as pacification, increase and so forth. The different colours of these 21 Taras correspond to the 4 different types of enlightened activity, as explained by Ven. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche:

      "Tara is the female Buddha of enlightened activity, of which there are 4 types: pacifying, increasing, overpowering and wrathful. Each of these is represented by a different colour:

      • White represents the enlightened activity of pacifying, for example overcoming sickness, causes of untimely death and obstacles to success in one's life or one's practice.
      • Yellow represents the enlightened activity of increasing the positive qualities conducive to a long life, peace, happiness and success in one's Dharma practice.
      • Red represents the enlightened activity of power, or overpowering external forces that cannot be tamed through the first two activities, for example, removing obstacles to sickness, untimely death, etc., and forcefully accumulating conducive conditions for one's Dharma practice.
      • Black represents the enlightened activity of wrath, which involves using forceful methods for accomplishing activities for enlightened purposes that cannot be accomplished through other means."

      The 21 Tara's names in English and Tibetan, and their colours:

      • The Swift Heroine
        Nyur.ma.pa.mo -- red
      • Saraswati
        Yang.chen.ma -- white
        "The Great Pacifier" because she pacifies negative obscurations.
      • The Giver of Supreme Virtue
        S.nam.chog.ter.ma -- yellow (with a slightly bluish hue)
        "Tara who Increases"
      • The All Victorious
        Nam.gyal.ma -- white
        "Tara of Life Force"
      • The Giver of Intelligence
        Rig.je.ma -- red/yellow
        "Tara who Resonates with HUM"
      • The Terrifier
        Jig.je.ma -- black (with tinge of red)
        "Tara who is Victorious over the Three Worlds"
      • The Invincible
        Shen.gyi.mi.tub.ma -- black
        "Tara who Crushes Others' Forces"
      • The Conqueror of Others
        Shen.le.nam.par.gyal.ma -- red/black
        "Tara the Pulverizer of the Maras"
      • The Saviour of the Scented Forest
        Jig.ten.sum.la.gyal.ma -- white
        "Tara who embodies the Three Jewels"
      • Conqueror of the Three Worldly Realms
        Jig.ten.sum.la.gyal.ma -- red
        "The Great Subduer."
      • The Giver of Wealth
        Nor.ter.ma -- red/yellow
        "Tara who Eliminates Poverty"
      • The Auspicious
        Ta.shi.dn.je.ma -- red/yellow
        "Tara Who Bestows Auspicious Conditions"
      • The Destroyer of Opposing Forces
        Da.pung.som.ze.ma -- red
        "Tara Who Blazes in Flames"
      • The Wrathful
        To.nyer.chen -- red/black
        "Tara of Wrathful Gaze"
      • The Very Peaceful
        Rab.shi.ma -- white
        "The Great Pacifier"
      • The Blazing Light
        Bar.w.od.chen.ma -- red
        "Tara Who Saves by Means of HUM."
      • The Subduer of Countless Harmful Forces
        Pag.me.nn.ma -- red/yellow
        "Tara Who Causes the Three Worlds to Tremble"
      • The Peahen
        Ma.ja.ma -- white
        "Tara Who Eliminates Poisons"
      • The Invincible Queen
        Mi.pam.gyal.ma -- white
        "Tara Who Eliminates Conflicts and bad Dreams"
      • The Mountain-dwelling Mendicant
        Ri.t.ma -- red/yellow
        "Tara Who Eliminates Diseases"
      • Rays of Light
        d.zer.chen.ma -- white
        "Tara Who Accomplishes All Enlightened Activities"

      The Condensed Praise to the 21 Taras

      OM to the transcendent subduer, Arya Tara, I prostrate.
      Homage to the glorious one who frees with TARE;
      With TUTTARA you calm all fears;
      You bestow all success with TURE;
      To the sound SOHA I pay great homage.

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      The Practise of Tara

      The Practice of Tara from Tara the Liberator by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Wisdom Publications

      ~ OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA ~

      There are many inner obstacles to our mental development, and these inner obstacles can create external obstacles. To obtain success in our Dharma practice, to actualize the path to enlightenment, we need to rely on a special deity or Buddha, for example, Tara. All actions of the Buddha manifest in the female form, Tara, to help sentient beings successfully accomplish both temporal and ultimate happiness.

      To practice reciting Tara's mantra, OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA, you can visualize Tara in front of you, with a white syllable OM at her crown, a red syllable AH at her throat and a blue syllable HUM at her heart. As you recite the mantra, visualize rays of light flowing from these three places, and striking your three places. These purify all negative karma and obscurations of your body, speech and mind created from beginningless time.

      Alternatively, you can visualize Tara on the crown of your head, and do the visualization as above.

      Recite as many mantras as you wish. At the end, pray to Tara to help you develop bodhicitta -- your practice of ethics, and your development of bodhicitta are what please Tara the most. This is the best offering you can make to Tara, and will bring you closer to her.

      Then, Tara dissolves into light, which dissolves through your forehead (or crown) and into your heart. Feel "My body, speech and mind are now blessed to become Tara's body, speech and mind." Then dedicate the merit that you will become enlightened -- like Tara -- in order to be able to help all sentient beings.

       

      Tara's mantra is

      ~ OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA ~

      • OM represents Tara's holy body, speech and mind.
      • TARE means liberating from true suffering, the sufferings of samsara, our aggregates being under the control of delusion and karma.
      • TUTTARE means liberating from the 8 fears, the external dangers, but mainly from the internal dangers, the delusions, and also karma.
      • TURE means liberating from the ignorance of the absolute nature of the I; it shows the true cessation of suffering.
      • SOHA means "may the meaning of the mantra take root in my mind.

      Also, in the context of the graduated path to enlightenment (lam rim):

      • TARE refers to the graduated path of the lower capable being
      • TUTTARE refers to the path of the middle capable being
      • TURE refers to the path of the higher capable being

      So the meaning is that by taking refuge in Tara and doing Tara practice, we can achieve the fully enlightened state with the four kayas, which is the state of cessation of, or liberation from, the two obscurations.

      Sponsor a Tara Image in Bodhgaya


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