WHAT IS TARA?
Tara, Tibetan Sgrol-ma, Buddhist saviour-goddess with numerous forms, widely popular in Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia. She is the feminine counterpart of the bodhisattva (“Buddha-to-be”). According to popular belief, she came into existence from a tear of Avalokiteshvara, which fell to the ground and formed a lake. Out of its waters rose up a lotus, which, on opening, revealed the goddess. Like Avalokiteshvara, she is a compassionate, succouring deity who helps men “cross to the other shore.” She is the protectress of navigation and earthly travel, as well as of spiritual travel along the path to enlightenment.
In Tibet she is believed to be incarnate in every pious woman, and the two wives—a Chinese princess and a Nepali princess—of the first Buddhist king of Tibet, Srong-brtsan-sgam-po, were identified with the two major forms of Tara. The White Tara (Sanskrit: Sitatara; Tibetan: Sgrol-dkar) was incarnated as the Chinese princess. She symbolizes purity and is often represented standing at the right hand of her consort, Avalokiteshvara, or seated with legs crossed, holding a full-blown lotus. She is generally shown with a third eye. Tara is also sometimes shown with eyes on the soles of her feet and the palms of her hands (then she is called “Tara of the Seven Eyes,” a form of the goddess popular in Mongolia).
The Green Tara (Sanskrit: Shyamatara; Tibetan: Sgrol-ljang) was believed to be incarnated as the Nepali princess. She is considered by some to be the original Tara and is the female consort or sexual partner of Avalokiteshvara. She is generally shown seated on a lotus throne with right leg hanging down, wearing the ornaments of a bodhisattva and holding the closed blue lotus (utpala).
The White and Green Taras, with their contrasting symbols of the full-blown and closed lotus, are said to symbolize between them the unending compassion of the deity who labours both day and night to relieve suffering. Under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism the different forms of Tara multiplied to a traditional 108. Tibetan temple banners frequently show 21 different Taras, coloured white, red, and yellow, grouped around a central Green Tara. The figure of the “self-born” Buddha, Amitabha, is often shown in her headdress, as she, like Avalokiteshvara, is considered to be an emanation of Amitabha.
In her ferocious, blue form, invoked to destroy enemies, she is known as Ugra-Tara, or Ekajata; as a red goddess of love, Kurukulla; and as a protectress against snake bite, Janguli. The yellow Bhrikuti is an angry Tara, with frowning brows.
in Buddhism the Tara (Sanskrit, “star”) is a Buddhist savior-goddess especially popular in Tibet, Nepal and Mongolia. In Tibet, where Tara is the most important deity, her name is Sgrol-ma, meaning “she who saves.” The mantra of Tara (om tare tuttare ture svaha) is the second most common mantra heard in Tibet, after the mantra of Chenrezi (om mani padme hum).
The goddess of universal compassion, Tara represents virtuous and enlightened action. It is said that her compassion for living beings is stronger than a mother’s love for her children. She also brings about longevity, protects earthly travel, and guards her followers on their spiritual journey to enlightenment.
Before she was adopted by Buddhism, Tara was worshipped in Hinduism as a manifestation of the goddess Parvati. The feminine principle was not venerated in Buddhism until the fourth century CE, and Tara probably entered Buddhism around the sixth century CE.
According to Buddhist tradition, Tara was born out of the tears of compassion of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. It is said that he wept as he looked upon the world of suffering beings, and his tears formed a lake in which a lotus sprung up. When the lotus opened, the goddess Tara was revealed. I truly find inspiration in spiritual based tattooing. I have often felt the power of the image and let the personal energy of the person wearing the tattoo be my guide in assembling and creating the tattoo…