Buddhist Deities Explained: Tara

tara

Tara is the goddess of peace and protection.  She is also known as the “Great Compassionate Mother” and the Buddha of enlightened activity.

According to legend, Tara was a spiritual and compassionate princess who would frequently bring offerings and prayers to the nuns and monks in her village.  Impressed by her kindness, the monks told her that they would pray that she would return in the next life as a man, so she could spread the Buddhist teachings.  She responded that attributing separate abilities to man and woman is a construct created by the weak-minded and that gender is no barrier to attaining enlightenment.  Recognizing that there were too few bodhisattvas who were women, Tara vowed in all of her subsequent lifetimes to be born a woman and to pursue the path of enlightenment, until samsara (the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth) is no more.

Another legend says that Tara was born from a lotus blossom in a lake that had formed from Avalokitesvara’s tears of compassion, which fell when he first beheld the scope of suffering in the world. In this story too, because of her essential goodness, she was granted the right to assume human form as a man, but elected instead to remain in her womanly form. In each tale, Tara insists that women are equally as valuable and powerful as men, and we might then consider her one of the world’s earliest feminists!

Tara appears in a myriad of colors–all representing different qualities–but, each version of her represents some aspect of the divine feminine who engenders and fuels all life.  The two most commonly revered versions of Tara are the white Tara, the goddess-mother creatrix of all humanity, and green Tara, the playful and action-oriented protectress.

White Tara represents the motherly aspect of compassion, offering nourishment, warmth, support, and caring to all beings, looking upon them lovingly as a mother would look upon her children.  In this maternal compassion, she offers respite and healing to those who have been wounded in any way.  She brings health, long life, and peace to all who seek her comfort.

Green Tara is the buddha-goddess of enlightened action, offering protection from fears and dangers by actively facing them.  She is playful and sometimes mischievous, encouraging those who seek enlightenment to not take themselves or their spiritual path too seriously.  She demonstrates the ability to survive stressful times, and encourages deliberate and mindful action.  She can sometimes be fierce in her determination to overcome obstacles and protect her charges, but every move she makes is conscious and with the journey towards greater compassion and enlightenment in mind. She delights in hearts and minds that are open and receptive, and encourages those qualities in those who desire her assistance.

Bring Tara’s positive energy to your favorite space with our deity wall hanging.

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4 Comments

That was quite a good information of Tara.
I heard some articles about Tara and I came to find an interesting news on Tara.
It was said that Tara was once a beautiful Goddess Moon. Later she took birth in form of a woman so that she could remove the false rumor about that only male form can attain enlightenment.
That article was quite interesting.
What do you think?

That’s a lovely version of the tale! It seems that although the story of her origins may vary, her insistence that a woman is just as worthy of enlightenment as a man remains. . . and we couldn’t agree more. We adore Tara and her message of equality! ❤

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