Tara (Buddhism)

female Bodhisattva

Tara (Buddhism), Ārya Tārā, or Shayama Tara, also known as Jetsun Dölma is an important figure in Buddhism. She appears as a female bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism, and as a female Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism. She is known as the "mother of liberation", and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements.

Green Tara, Ladakh, India, ca. 11th century
Green Tara, Tibet, 11th century AD
White Tara and Green Tara

QuotesEdit

  • When only my names are recollected, I always protect all beings, I, O Saviour, shall ferry them across the great flood of their manifold fears. Therefore the great Seers sing of me in the world under the name of Taaraa.
    • Buddhist Texts Through the Ages, Edward Conze (ed), New York, Harper & Row, p.197. (1964)
  • Child of your lineage! As you are striving for the sake of sentient beings in the Land of Snows, intercede in their suffering, and I shall be your companion in this endeavor!
    • Quoted in The Clear Mirror: A Traditional Account of Tibet's Golden Age, by Sakyapa Sonam Gyaltsen, Snow Lion Publications. pp. 64–65. ISBN 1-55939-048-4. (1996)

Quotes about TaraEdit

  • Tārā is also known as a saviouress, as a heavenly deity who hears the cries of beings experiencing misery in saṃsāra.
  • In every age since beginningless time, it is said, out of compassion for the world, Taaraa has appeared to help living beings attain Enlightenment. In our age, so the ancient stories say, The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Regarder of the Cries of the world, looked down in compassion on the pain of humanity.... He also saw that however many beings he helped to escape from the fruitless round of mundane existence, the overall number grew no smaller - and for this he wept. The tears streamed down his face and formed a great pond. From the depths of its water sprang a blue lotus and on the lotus appeared the shimmering form of a beautiful sixteen year old woman. Her body was diaphanous and its translucent green seemed to hover between Reality and non-reality, quivering with an energy that could be seen, heard and felt. She was clad in the silks and jewels of a princess and her hands, expressing boundless giving and refuge, held deep blue lotuses. Born of Avalokitesvara's tears of compassion, she was herself the quintessence of compassion. She who is bright, she of the beautiful eyes, Taaraa, joy of starlight, had once again appeared in this world.
    • The Origin of All Rites of Tārā, Mother of All the Tathāgatas, translated by Martin Willson, in In Praise of Tara: Songs to the Saviouress, Wisdom Publications, pages 44-86, ISBN 978-0861711093, (1986) Full text
  • Reciting praises of Arya-Tara is a simple and beneficial practice that anyone can do. The only qualification needed is some degree of faith in the Goddess. As one recites, one visualizes Her either in front of oneself or above one's head, with the attributes described in texts and taught by gurus, and perhaps others one has deduced. She is not flat like a painting, but with as many dimensions as one can visualize; not static and opaque like a statue, but intensely alive and made entirely of light, brilliant and with every detail sharp yet all transparent. Even far off, one senses Her presence through the waves of calm radiated by Her perfect inner peace, making our worldly troubles seem insignificant.
  • Recite in the mind, until you're tired, this mantra of ten syllables. First we place an OM , and then after that we add TARE, After that TURE and TUTTARE, finally SVAHA.
    • In Praise of Tara: Songs to the Saviouress, by Martin Willson, Wisdom Publications, (Part Six: Sadhanas) ISBN 978-0861711093, (1986) Full text
  • Then at last Avalokiteshvara arrived at the summit of Marpori, the 'Red Hill', in Lhasa. Gazing out, he perceived that the lake on Otang, the 'Plain of Milk', resembled the Hell of Ceaseless Torment. Myriad beings were undergoing the agonies of boiling, burning, hunger, thirst, yet they never perished, sending forth hideous cries of anguish all the while. When Avalokiteshvara saw this, tears sprang to his eyes. A teardrop from his right eye fell to the plain and became the reverend Bhrikuti, who declared: 'Child of your lineage! As you are striving for the sake of sentient beings in the Land of Snows, intercede in their suffering, and I shall be your companion in this endeavour!' Bhrikuti was then reabsorbed into Avalokiteshvara's right eye, and was reborn in a later life as the Nepalese princess Tritsun. A teardrop from his left eye fell upon the plain and became the reverend Tara. She also declared, 'Child of your lineage! As you are striving for the sake of sentient beings in the Land of Snows, intercede in their suffering, and I shall be your companion in this endeavor!' Tārā was then reabsorbed into Avalokiteshvara's left eye.
    • The Clear Mirror: A Traditional Account of Tibet's Golden Age, by Sakyapa Sonam Gyaltsen, Snow Lion Publications. pp. 64–65. ISBN 1-55939-048-4. (1996)
  • In one story of her saving a wood-gatherer from the jaws of a lion Taaraa appears as a woman clad in leaves. The form of Taaraa known as Khadiravani Taaraa [Green Tara] often wears lotus flowers in her hair instead of a jeweled diadem. In another story associating her with the wind, a warrior awakes to find himself surrounded by a thousand enemy soldiers. He calls on Taaraa and 'at the same instant at which he called her name the Noble Lady herself appeared before him, arriving from the skies. From underneath her feet whirlwinds carried the soldiers off into the ten directions', enabling the man to reach safety.
  • Her widespread popularity confirms her ability to cater to the varying needs of her devotees. But, one might object, similar observations could be made about a number of Indo-Tibetan Bodhisattva forms. What distinguishes Taaraa is her explicit rejection of the exclusive dichotomy between 'male' and 'female', and this must be allowed for in any attempt to appreciate Taaraa's full significance.
  • It is important to keep in mind that, because Buddha nature encompasses all, Tara can and does appear in all aspects, depending on what best suits the needs of sentient beings. If a woman feels discouraged about gender, then Tara can appear as a woman to help serve as a role model—even Shakyamuni Buddha can appear in the female aspect in order to best encourage practitioners. In the same sense, Tara can appear as a man, for the same sort of reasons... Is Tara empowering to women? Sure, but more so, she’s empowering for anyone... Showering her rain without bias, whoever has the seed will become nourished and grow.
    • Tara and Tibetan Buddhism: The Emergence of the Feminine Divine, Allison Mull, Emory-IBD Tibetan Studies Program, Dharamsala, India (2004) Full Text 2004
  • Tārā is a female Bodhisattva born from a tear of Avalokiteśvara who is the embodiment of all the purified inner winds of all the Buddhas. She is also the incarnation of the active compassion of all the Buddha. Tārā is the most popular deity in Tibet both with the Lama and the layman. Tibetan refers to her as one who does religious service immediately. She is also a patroness, a personal deity rather than a monastic one, a mother to whom her devotees take their sorrow and on whom they rely for help. Her constant access is best symbolized in the daily repetition of her ritual rather than by any great annual ceremony. She is said to have become incarnate from rays of light that burst from the left eye of Amitabha. The image of Tārā is said to have reached Tibet during the mid-seventh century.

See AlsoEdit

Praises to the Twenty-One Taras

External linksEdit

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