Green Tara the Bodhisattva
"Over my years of meditation on the goddess-Bodhisattva Tara, she has provided me with Refuge and, guiding star that she is, given me a direction by which to steer." -Dharmachari Purna
Tara's Bodhisattva Vow
Tara was once just an ordinary person, but after many lifetimes of practicing the Bodhisattva Path, she attained perfect enlightenment and vowed to stay and help all other creatures on their paths to enlightenment. The interesting thing about Tara is that she vowed not only to be a bodhisattva, but to do this in the form of a woman. Typically, in Buddhist thought, a Bodhisattva takes the male form. Tara's vow is striking because it went against traditional teaching. Her inspiring independence, along with many other qualities, has lead her to be perhaps the most popular Bodhisattva in the Buddhist tradition besides Avalokitesvara.
The story of Tara's origin, according to the Tara Tantra, recounts that aeons ago she was born as a king's daughter. A spiritual and compassionate princess, she regularly gave offerings and prayers to the ordained monks and nuns. She thus developed great merit, and the monks told her that, because of her spiritual attainments, they would pray that she be reborn as a man and spread Buddhist teachings. She responded that there was no male and no female, that nothing existed in reality, and that she wished to remain in female form to serve other beings until everyone reached enlightenment, hence implying the shortfall in the monk's knowledge in presuming only male preachers for the Buddhist religion.
Tara's Qualities as a Bodhisattva
Another characteristic of Tara is her title "Mother of All the Buddhas". This represent her perfect wisdom, and also symbolizes the feministic quality of wisdom. (In Buddhist tradition wisdom is represented by the female while compassion by the male.) And, as we are all to be Buddhas eventually, Tara is also our Mother. Thus we should think of Tara lovingly.
The last characteristic of Tara as a Bodhisattva is her role of saviouress. She leads all beings across the river of samsara to the shore of enlightenment. She is also called "She Who Leads Across". Tara herself says, "I, O Lord, shall lead beings across the great flood of their diverse fears..." So not only does Tara help those who seek Nirvana; actually a major role she plays, and the reason for her major popularity, is the protection she offers from the eight great fears. These are the fears of lions, elephants, fire, snakes, robbers, imprisonment, drowning, and demons. Of course in modern times we rarely fear snakes and elephants, so these outer fears are only symbolic of the eight inner fears, which affect us all. The inner fears are: pride, delusion, anger, envy, wrong views, avarice, attachment, and doubt. Tara will help all those who suffer from these inner negative emotions.
These three characteristic of Tara; her vow to be a female Bodhisattva, her infinite wisdom, and her role as saviouress, compromise Green Tara, the Bodhisattva.
Here is Tara saving a man from a lion:
Here is Tara saving people from a burning house:
Tara as a Bodhisattva
Tara as a Deity
Tara as a Buddha