Tara- The fairy godmother of Tibetan; Growing up in a devoted Tibetan Buddhist family. My mother has the best ways telling me about the Buddhism and its philosophy. She would always tell me about her as my fairy godmother. Sometimes I always believe I am her Son not to my real mother’s.
Ever since I can remember, I have been devoted to her. Which later is realize she is my Soul Yidam. All my prayers and inspiration comes from her stories. Today I am going to write a little bit about Tara.
A little bit about Tara
Tara (Tib. སྒྲོལ་མ, Drolma; Sanskrit:तारा, tārā ) is a female Buddha, considered the most revered Bodhisattva in Tibetan Buddhism, next to Chenrezig.
In Tibetan Buddhism, we believed that Tara practice was given by Buddha Shakyamuni together with the Vajrayana teachings about the Nature of the Mind and Buddhist Tantra. It became very popular in India and later with the Guru Rinpoche was brought to Tibet.
There are a few accounts about her origin. According to the most famous story, she was a young princess who was living millions of years in the past. Her name was Yeshe Dawa, which means “Moon of Primordial Awareness”. For many thousands of lifetimes, she was making offerings to the Buddha of those times, named Tonyo Drupa. She received special instructions from him about the Bodhicitta—the consciousness of a bodhisattva. After practicing it for a long time, the monks were suggesting her that because of her high attainment, to progress further towards enlightenment, she should pray to be reborn as a male. To what she answered, that from the point of view of Enlightenment there is no separation between male or female, it belongs to the conditioned world only. Therefore she vowed to be always reborn as a female bodhisattva until samsara ends. After this, she went into the deep state of meditation for ten million years and released tens of millions of beings with the power of her meditation. Seeing this Tonyo Drupa told her she will henceforth manifest supreme Buddhahood as the Goddess Tārā in many world systems in the future.
Another story depicts Tara as being born from the tears of Chenrezig. Once, when the great bodhisattva Chenrezig out of deep compassion was looking to the sentient beings tears flow from his eyes and formed lakes with lotus flowers. When the lotus flowers opened, it revealed Tara inside. This way from the teardrop from Chenrezig’s left eye White Tara was emanated and Green Tara from his right eye.
When Guru Rinpoche brought Buddhism to Tibet, he also gave many teachings regarding Tara practice to his consort the Dakini of wisdom Yeshe Tsogyal and the first Tibetan King who was Buddhist – Trisong Deutsen.
In other believed, The incarnation of White Tara was born in China, who became a princess and mother of Tibet, the wife of King Songtsen Gampo, and the Green Tara incarnation was born as a princess of Nepal. In the coming centuries, the her practice became very popular in Tibetan Buddhism.
The Green Tara
The Green Tara is known as Buddha of enlightened activity, who provides protection from fears, she is prayed for a good luck and fortune, and protects us from 8 obscurations:
- lions ( pride)
- wild elephants ( delusion and ignorance)
- fires (hatred and anger)
- snakes ( jealousy)
- bandits and thieves ( wrong views, including fanatical views)
- bondage ( avarice and miserliness)
- floods (desire and attachment)
- evil spirits and demons (deluded doubts)
The White Tara
The White Tara is known for compassion, long life, healing, and serenity. She counteracts illness and helps to have a long life. She embodies compassion and motivation and is said to be as white and radiant as the moon. She provides relief from bad karma as experienced by ordinary beings in cyclic existence. Her meditation is often recommended for small kids who haven’t started yet the general practice.
Nature of Tara
She is associated with all qualities of the mother and mother’s love. The most widely popular forms are the White Tara and Green Tara as discussed above. But there can be many more. One of the main Tara practices in Tibetan Buddhism is Praises to 21 Tara. Which is practiced in all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, usually in mornings. As the name suggests there are 21 manifestations, each with a slightly different set of enlightened qualities. But the most popular forms are:
- Green Tāra, known as the Buddha of enlightened activity;
- White Tārā, also known for compassion, long life, healing, and serenity; also known as The Wish-fulfilling Wheel, or Cintachakra;
- Red Tārā, of fierce aspect associated with magnetizing all good things;
- Black Tārā, associated with power;
- Yellow Tārā, associated with wealth and prosperity;
- Blue Tārā, associated with transmutation of anger, also known as patroness of Nyingma tradition.
- Cittamani Tārā, a form of Tārā widely practiced at the level of Highest Yoga Tantra in the Gelug School, portrayed as green and often conflated with Green Tārā.
- Khadiravani Tārā (Tārā of the acacia forest), who appeared to Nagarjuna in the Khadiravani forest of South India and who is sometimes referred to as the “22nd Tārā”
The Tara mantra is:
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha
The mantra is the same for all forms of manifestation. Only the visualization and some tantric verses of praise may be different accordingly.
I would like to bring your attention to the Nyethang Dolma Lhakhang. This is small Temple on the outskirt of Lhasa. It is Built by Atisha’s lay student for his final resident. It is said that before departing from India, Atisha prayed for his successful mission in Tibet to Tara’s statue in Mahabodhi temple. On return to his prayer, that Status spoke and gave him the short form of Tara prayer.
This temple also has her speaking statue as the main relic