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Green Tara - The Swift Saviouress


Tibet, 17th century


"Tara is the embodiment of the holy actions of all buddhas. By practicing Tara meditation, you can eliminate inner and outer obstacles to the development of your mind, create much merit and achieve quick succes in attaining enlightenment."

- Lama Zopa Rinpoche



Tara's Mantra: om tare tuttare ture soha

 Twenty One Praises to Tara

Homage to Tara swift and fearless
With eyes like a flash of lightning
Lotus-born in an ocean of tears
Of Chenresig, three worlds' protector.

Homage to you whose face is like
One hundred autumn moons gathered
And blazes with the dazzling light
Of a thousand constellations.

Homage to you born from a gold-blue lotus
Hands adorned with lotus flowers
Essence of giving, effort and ethics,
Patience, concentration and wisdom.

Homage to you who crown all Buddhas
Whose action subdues without limit
Attained to every perfection
On you the bodhisattvas rely.

Homage to you whose TUTTARE and HUM
Fill the realms of desire, form and space.
You crush seven worlds beneath your feet
And have power to call all forces.

Homage to you adored by Indra,
Agni, Brahma, Vayu and Ishvara.
Praised in song by hosts of spirits,
Zombies, scent-eaters and yakshas.

Homage to you whose TREY and PEY
Destroy external wheels of magic.
Right leg drawn in and left extended,
You blaze within a raging fire.

Homage to you whose TURE destroys
The great fears, the mighty demons.
With a wrathful frown on your lotus face,
You slay all foes without exception.

Homage to you beautifully adorned
By the Three Jewels' gesture at your heart.
Your wheel shines in all directions
With a whirling mass of light.

Homage to you, radiant and joyful
Whose crown emits a garland of light.
You, by the laughter of TUTTARA
Conquer demons and lords of the world.

Homage to you with power to invoke
The assembly of local protectors.
With your fierce frown and vibrating HUM,
You bring freedom from all poverty.

Homage to you with crescent moon crown
All your adornments dazzling bright.
From your hair-knot, Amitabha
Shines eternal with great beams of light.

Homage to you who dwells in a blazing wreath
Like the fire at the end of this age.
Your right leg outstretched and left drawn in,
Joy surrounds you who defeats hosts of foes.

Homage to you whose foot stamps the earth
And whose palm strikes the ground by your side.
With a wrathful glance and the letter HUM,
You subdue all in the seven stages.

Homage to the blissful, virtuous, peaceful one
Object of practice, nirvana's peace
Perfectly endowed with SOHA and OM
Overcoming all the great evils.

Homage to you with joyous retinue
You subdue fully all enemies' forms
The ten-letter mantra adorns your heart
And your knowledge-HUM brings liberation.

Homage to TURE with stamping feet
Whose essence is the seed-letter HUM
You cause Merus, Mandara and Vindaya
And all three worlds to tremble and shake.

Homage to you who holds in your hand
A moon like a celestial lake
Saying TARA twice and the letter PEY
You dispel all poisons without exception.

Homage to you on whom the kings of gods,
The gods themselves and all spirits rely.
Your armor radiates joy to all
You soothe conflicts and nightmares as well.

Homage to you whose eyes, the sun and moon,
Radiate with pure brilliant light
Uttering HARA twice and TUTTARA
Dispels extremely fearful plagues.

Homage to you, adorned with three natures
Perfectly endowed with peaceful strength
You destroy demons, zombies and yakshas
O TURE, most exalted and sublime!

Thus the root mantra is praised
And twenty-one homages offered.


   om tare tuttare ture soha   


    The word Tara is etymologically rooted in the word "star", but the most popular meaning of "Tara" is "she who saves", or "saviouress".  As a popular Buddhist deity in the Mahayana tradition--especially in Tibet--Green Tara is compassionate, wise, and quick-acting.  If one needs Tara and recites her mantra (above), it is said that Tara will quickly come to assist.  

    Mythologically, the Green Tara came into being when the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara cried upon seeing all of the suffering in the Universe.  He cried so much that a pond grew out of his tears.  Out of this pond grew a blue lotus flower, and on this flower appeared a beautiful woman.  Her translucent green color was luminous with a great energy.  She held a deep blue lotus, symbolizing limitless giving and refuge.  The color green is said to symbolize her quick action, and also her role as a forest deity.  

    Tara is usually depicted with her right leg extended, ready to spring into action, while her left leg is folded in the Buddhist contemplative position.  The right leg symbolizes compassion and the left leg wisdom.  These are the two virtues that, when developed together, lead one to enlightenment.

 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.


Sources of information:

excerpts from Ven. Thubten Chodron's Pearl of Wisdom, Book II


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