Tara is the great Liberatress of the Buddhist tradition. Tara is not a Goddess, She is a Buddha and in this way delineates Herself from the Vedic Pantheon of Goddesses. Buddhas are emanations of our highest qualities – dynamic aspects of Compassion or Activity. The Buddhist deities are believed to be ‘highly symbolic representations of aspects of Awakened Mind’ (Ken Mcleod) or as I like to put it, Divine Presence.
Tara means Star in Sanskrit. Although there are 21 forms, the most popular are Green Tara and White Tara. Green Tara is the embodiment of Compassion – who protects all those who ask Her for help. White Tara helps with Long Life and overcoming disease. Her distinguishing characteristic is she is all-seeing as she has 7 eyes. Her constant vigilance protecting those who chant Her Mantras. The Tibetan Buddhists simply refer to Tara as The Mother.
Tara is known around the world – In Ireland, where I come from, Tara is a beautiful goddess, the ancient Finnish speak of a Goddess Tar. Even the Native Americans speak of the ‘Star Woman’ who fell to earth from heaven out of whose body came all the food they needed.
There are so many stories out of Tibet during the the great fleeing of monks and nuns into neighboring India and Nepal. Many of the stories tell of the fleeing Tibetans coming to a place where the path diverges and one of the party getting a message in a dream to take one path that Tara tells them to do. Then later they find out they narrowly missed the Chinese patrol. So many stories of warnings in dreams and meditations aiding the Tibetans in the hour of need bring to life how active Tara is now and can be for us.
So as Tara is a Buddha, when we chant Her Mantra, we are really asking that those aspects of Compassion for all beings, Activity, Protection develop within us. Her Mantra is:
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SWAHA
OM AND SALUTATIONS TO SHE (TARA) WHO IS THE SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS
OM – The Primordial sound, TARE TUTTARE TURE are all liberating Mantras. TARE means liberating from cyclic existence. TUTTARE indicates liberation from the eight dangers – the various disturbing emotions like pride, ignorance and jealousy. TURE liberates us from disease. SWAHA offering our devotion to the up to Divine Presence.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Tara Sadhana is considered advanced. So take it gently, but know the Divine Mother is the fountain of compassion and love.
Aly M. Good