Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Tara: Powerful Feminine Force in Buddhism

Tara: Powerful Feminine Force in Buddhism

Tara, called Jetsun Dölma, is a significant figure in Buddhism. She is mainly revered in Tibetian Buddhism. In Mahayana Buddhism, she appeared as a female bodhisattva. If it comes to talk about Vajrayana Buddhism, she appeard as a female Buddha. We know her as the "mother of liberation," who is the symbol of virtues of success in the field of work & achievements. In addition, people know her as Duōluó Púsà in Chinese Buddhism. However, people in Japan know her as Tara Bosatsu .

Tara, who is Tibetian Sgrol-ma, a Buddhist saviour goddess, is very famous in Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia. People consider her as bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara's feminine counterpart. People believed that there is a story behind her existence. The story is one day, a tear of Avalokiteshvara has fallen to the ground and has formed a lake. In its water, an opening lotus rose up which revealed the Goddess. She is considered as a compassionate deity who helps the people who are in distress.

Origin as a Buddhist Bodhisattva:

You can find multiple stories that give different explanations of her origin as a bodhisattva. This story tells about a young princess spending her life in another world system. She is Jnanachandra or Yeshe Dawa, meaning of which is the "Moon of Primordial Awareness." She was offering that world system to the Buddha for an era. The system was known as Tonyo Drupa. He gave her instructions related to bodhicitta which is Bodhisattva's compassionate mental state. Later a few monks came to her to give suggestions. They said that she should pray so that she could be reborn as male in her next life to get progress. Then, she told the monks that "weak minded worldlings' ' think that gender is a barrier and women can't progress in life.

However, later, she noticed that only a few were there who wanted her to work for the well-being and prosperity of sentient beings in the form of a female. That's why she decided to be reborn always as a female bodhisattva, but until samsara is no more. Later she starts meditating in a palace for nearly ten million years. Her power of these practices helped to heal the health issues of many people. Then, Tonyo Drupa, told her that she can manifest supreme bodhi in the upcoming world system as the Goddess Tārā.

Symbols and Associations:

Generally, the term Tārā's refers to "star" or "planet," and based on that, this goddess is connected with travel and navigation. The goddess is known as "she who saves" in Tibetan. While there are one hundred and eight names of Holy Tara, she is the 'Leader of the caravans ..... who showeth the way to those who have lost it'. However, she is known by the name Dhruva also. Remember that Dhruva is the Sanskrit name for the North Star. Miranda Shaw who considered motherhood as the central to Tara's conception, gave some titles to her including "loving mother," "supreme mother," "mother of the world," "universal mother" and "mother of all Buddhas."

Mostly she appeared with her blue or night lotus (utpala). These flowers release the fragrance when the moon appears. Therefore, it is considered that Tārā has connections with the moon & light. In addition, she is a forest goddess who appears in the form of Khadiravani , a "dweller in the Khadira forest." Her life is connected to plant life, flowers, acacia (khadira) trees, and the wind. As she is connected with nature and plants, she is known as a healing Deity. In addition, she is known as the deity of nurturing quality and fertility.

People have described her land in Mount Potala as covered with many manifold trees and creepers. While chirping of birds can be heard, the forest allows the people to enjoy the murmur of waterfalls. Different kinds of flower species can be seen growing everywhere.

Tara Emergence as a Buddhist Deity:

In Tibetan Buddhism, this goddess is renowned as the symbol of action and compassion and considered as the female aspect of Avalokiteśvara.

Finally, Avalokiteshvara reached the summit of Marpori, in Lhasa. We know the Marpori summit as the 'Red Hill' also. On Otang, he realized that the lake called the 'Plain of Milk’ looks like the Hell of Ceaseless Torment.

There, the myriad beings faced many challenges like burning, boiling, hunger, thirst, etc., but still, they did not perish, sending forth grievous cries of distress all the while.

Once he viewed this, his eyes filled with tears. Then, one drop of this tear from his right eye fell to the plain. As soon as the tear falls, it becomes the reverend Bhrikuti.

After the declaration of Bhrukuti, the princess got reabsorbed into Avalokiteshvara's right eye. Later, Bhrukuti was reborn as the Nepalese princess Tritsun. When a teardrop fell upon the plain from the left eye, it became Tara. After that, she was reabsorbed into the left eye of Avalokiteshvara.

The goddess Tārā appears in various forms. In Tibet, Green Tārā appeared as the Nepalese Princess named Bhrikuti. White Tārā appeared as the Chinese princess Kongjo (Princess Wencheng).

As a Saviouress:

The Statue of this deity, in Nepal, is20.25" tall and consists of gilt copper inset full of precious stones. While this goddess has several characteristics of the feminine principle, we know her as the Mother of Mercy and Compassion.

This goddess gives birth to compassion, warmth, and relief. She has the same sympathy as a mother for all her kids. The form Green Tārā protects all beings from unfortunate circumstances. On the other hand, White Tārā represents maternal compassion. She can heal the health issues of all beings, especially those who are wounded physically or mentally.

The form of Red Tārā lets us learn discriminating awareness about any incident and how to convert raw wishes into love & compassion. If it comes to talk about Blue Tārā (Ekajati), remember that this form is a protector in the Nyingma lineage. This form expresses a formidable, female energy that can be invoked for destroying dharmic obstacles. You should know that each form is linked to any color and energy. Every form includes feminine attributes.

Forms of Tara:

There are several forms of Tārā. We know Green Tārā as śyāmatārā. This form indicates peacefulness and enlightened activity. It is the central aspect of Tārā from which all forms emanate. We know the Green form as Khadiravaṇi-Tārā, also known as Tārā of the acacia forest. She came to Nagarjuna in South India's Khadiravani forest to protect all beings from eight fears. Mārīcī and Ekajaṭā, her two attendants, give her accompany.

Sarvajnamitra says that this goddess has a universal form also, and we call it visva-rupa. This form encompasses living beings. There are other forms of Tārā also including:-

White Tārā (Sitatārā): 

We call the form The Wish-fulfilling Wheel, or Cintachakra, whom we know as the deity of healing and compassion. In this form, we can see that her two arms are seated on a white lotus, whereas the eyes are on hands and feet. The third eye is on the forehead, due to which she is called "Seven eyed."


She appears in a red-colored form where she holds a bell and vajra, bow and arrow, wheel, conch, sword, and noose in her eight arms. We know her as "Tārā Swift and Heroic" also.

Kurukullā (Rigjema): 

It is a form of red color and fierceness that can magnetize good things.

Black Tārā (Ugra Tārā): 

She is famous for power.

Yellow Tārā or Golden colored Tārā: 

These have connections with wealth and prosperity. Yellow Cintamani Tārā is considered a "Wish-Granting Gem Tara" because she is holding a wish-granting jewel. Besides, there is another form "Vajra Tārā" with eight arms. The other form, golden "Rajasri Tārā" , holds a blue lotus.

Blue Tārā (Ekajati): 

In this form, she has a lot of heads and hands, referring to a connection with the transmutation of anger. A few authors said that this form has similarities to Ugra Tārā and Ekajati.

Cintāmaṇi Tārā: 

At the Highest Yoga Tantra level in the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism, this form of Tārā is worshipped. This form is portrayed in green color.

Sarasvati (Yangchenma): 

This form is renowned for arts, knowledge, and wisdom.

Bhṛkuṭītārā (Tronyer Chendze): 

She is known as "Tārā with a Frown." This form is renowned for protecting from the spirits.

Uṣṇīṣavijaya Tārā: 

This form is called White Tārā or "Victorious Uṣṇīṣa." Hence, she has three faces and 12 hands in this form. Remember that this form symbolizes long life.

Golden Prasanna Tārā: 

In this form, she wore a necklace of bloody heads. Besides, in his 16 hands, she holds many weapons and Tantric attributes.

Yeshe Tsogyal: 

She is known as "Wisdom Lake Queen" in this form.

Rigjay Lhamo: 

We know her as "Goddess Who Brings Forth Awareness."

Sitatapatra Tārā: 

She protects against supernatural danger.


The Tibetian branch of Vajrayana Buddhism worships this meditation deity, Tara, for developing inner quality. Moreover, this deity is worshipped for understanding inner, outer, and secret teachings like compassion known as Karunā, loving-kindness known as mettā, and emptiness known as shunyata. You can understand the depth of the term Tārā by realizing various aspects of the same quality. The reason for this is we often consider bodhisattvas as the personifications of Buddhist methods.

There is a text named Praises to the Twenty-One Taras, which is a vital text in Tibetan Buddhism. Tantra is one of the essential texts that describes All the Functions of Tara, Mother of All the Tathagatas. For both Hindus and Buddhists, the primary Tārā mantra is the same, which is: oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā. Buddhists & Tibetans follow the Tibetan traditions and pronounce them as oṃ tāre tu tāre ture soha. If it comes to talk about the the literal translation, the answer will be O Swift One, So Be It!"

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is Tara the goddess of?

In Buddhism, people worship the Goddess Tara as the goddess of compassion and protection. In Hinduism, the goddess appears in a primordial female energy form and we know her as shakti. The root of the word tara is the Sanskrit word "Tar" which indicates "protection." But in other languages, the term means "star."

Q. Why is Tara important for Buddhists?

She is a saviour deity liberating souls from suffering.

Q. Is Tara a Buddhist?

She is a Buddhist goddess and saviour, Tibetan Sgrol-ma, who has many forms. She is mainly renowned in Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia.

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