Tara, a female Buddha and meditational deity, is arguably
the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon. She
is considered to be the goddess of universal compassion
who represents virtuous and enlightened activity.Tara
was once just an ordinary person, but after many lifetimes
of practicing the Bodhisattva Path, Tara 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
view that the divine bodhisattva known by the name Tara
assimilates the various characteristics and qualities
of several goddesses of the Himalayan regions, from tribal
snake deities to the great Shakti of Hinduism, and of
other goddesses from farther afield, is not a novel one.The
Sanskrit root târ-means "to traverse"
or "cross over" as in using a bridge to ford
a stream. In the orthodox Indian sacred tradition, Târâ
refers to the second of Ten Means to Realization. And
as Shri Tara Devi she is the deification of that Mahavidya,
according to Hindu tantra. As a Târîni, she
carries you across; she serves as a bridge for you to
get to immortality. But the root tar- can mean "tree,"
and "particularly," and it is also related to
"star" and to "pupil of the eye."
Tibetan, she is called Dolma or Do'ma, though often we
see Drolma because it follows the Tibetan spelling (a
little more; if we transliterate, it is actually sgrolma.)
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
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.
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.
order to be a tantric deity, a being must have, at some
point in time, attained perfect enlightenment and become
a Buddha. But paradoxically, Tara is also a Bodhisattva.
How can a person who puts off enlightenment in order to
help others become enlightened be also a Buddha? Actually,
the only way to become a Buddha is to become a Bodhisattva.
One who strives for his or her own enlightenment without
concern for other's enlightenment is still attached to
a concept of a self, and therefore could never be fully
enlightened. So because Tara remained in order to help
others, she reached enlightenment even more quickly. Because
she has already attained Nirvana, and still remains to
help others, she is the most perfect of Bodhisattvas.
Tantric practice, a person tries to identify his or herself
with a deity--they actually try to become the deity through
meditation. Tara's presence as a female is very important
in relation to this idea, because she exemplified the
fact that women too can attain enlightenment and become
Bodhisattvas. Traditionally, Buddhists did not believe
a female form could practice the highest stages of Tantra
and become enlightened because the female form was not
conducive to spiritual practice. It was taught in both
the Mahayana and the Hinayana Sutras that only a male
form can reach a very high spiritual level. Buddha taught,
in the Pali canon, that "It is impossible, it cannot
happen that a woman Arahant should be a Complete and Perfect
Buddha." It was only due to Tantric thought that
Tara came to be accepted as a female Buddha; because in
Tantra, women are revered as the source of wisdom. Guru
Padmasambhava, who introduced Tantra to Tibet, once said,
"The basis for realizing enlightenment is a human
body. Male or female--there is no great difference. But
if she develops the mind bent on enlightenment, the woman's
body is better." Therefore Tara can give women great
inspiration to become a Bodhisattva and a Buddha. Perhaps
she can also be considered as one of the earliest feminists.
three characteristic of Tara; her vow to be a female Bodhisattva,
her infinite wisdom, and her role as saviouress, compromise
Green Tara, the Bodhisattva.The most popular of all the
known forms of Tara are the widely worshipped Green Tara
and White Taras. It is believed that the first artists
modeled Green Tara on a young virgin, and the White Tara
on a physically mature, voluptuous woman. Thus traditionally
whereas the Green Tara is visualized as young girl having
a mischievous and playful nature, the White Tara is represented
as a mature woman, full-breasted and wise. This tradition
survives to the present times.
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tara statues with the previlege given by HimalayanMart.com
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