Homage to the Supreme Mother Tara
A Story of Tara
Tara is a Buddha and meditational deity. Tara is the most popular goddess in the Buddhist pantheon. She is considered to be the Goddess of Universal Compassion who represents virtuous and enlightened activity. The word Tara itself is derived from the root ‘tri’ (to cross), hence the implied meaning: “the one who enables living beings to cross the Ocean of Existence and Suffering”. Her compassion for living beings, her desire to save them from suffering, is said to be even stronger than a mother’s love for her children.
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. Thus Tara might be considered one of the earliest feminists.
Another legend of Tara is that she was born from the compassionate tears of Avalokiteshvara. With a glance like flashing lightning, born from a blooming lotus sprung from the tears on the face of the Lord of the World! It refers to the legend of Tara’s origin. Avalokiteshvara was looking down from his heaven on the world of suffering beings, and he wept to see that more and more of them were in pain. From the tears streaming down his face two Taras were born, a peaceful white one from the left and a fierce green one from the right. Tara is thus also often referred to as Avalokiteshvara’s consort. In a historical sense, Tara is associated with the two pious and virtuous wives of Tibet’s first great religious king, Songsten Gambo. White Tara is associated with his wife from imperial China, Wen Cheng, and Green Tara is identified with Bhrkuti, his Nepalese wife. To the Buddhists the symbolism of color is of great import. The sadhanas are very particular in stipulating the colors of the deities visualized. This color is intended not only to unfold the nature of the deity represented but also to indicate the functions to be performed by that deity. Specifically colors are used in the paintings under a definite mystic scheme, based on the psychic experiences of the worshipper (sadhaka). No wonder then that her devotees visualize Tara in a myriad variety of colors: “Some have a vision of you (Tara) as red as the sun with rays more brilliant and red than the lac and the vermilion. Others see you blue like the sapphire. Some again see you whiter than the milk churned out of the milky ocean. Still others see you golden. Your visva-rupa is like a crystal which changes its color with the change of the things around it.” (Arya-Tara-sragdhara-stotra). The most popular of all the known forms of Tara are the widely worshipped Green 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.
Green Tara is Tara’s most dynamic manifestation. Her color symbolizes youthful vigor and activity. The Buddhist Lord of karma (action), Amoghasiddhi, is also associated with the green color, thus signifying that they belong to the same family. This is a further affirmation of the perception that Green Tara is a goddess of action. She is often depicted in a posture of ease with right leg extended, signifying her readiness to spring into action. The left leg is folded in the contemplative position on the lotus pedestal, the two together thus symbolizing the integration of wisdom and art. Her left hand, in the gesture of granting refuge holds the stem of a blue lotus that floats over her left shoulder as a symbol of purity and power. With her right hand she makes the boon-granting gesture.
“On a lotus seat, standing for realization of voidness, (You are) the emerald-colored, one-faced, two-armed Lady In youth’s full bloom, right leg out, left drawn in, Showing the union of wisdom and art – homage to you! Like the outstretched branch of the heavenly turquoise tree, Your supple right hand makes the boon-granting gesture, Inviting the wise to a feast of supreme accomplishments, As if to an entertainment-homage to you! Your left hand gives us refuge, showing the Three Jewels; It says, ‘You people who see a hundred dangers, Don’t be frightened – I shall swiftly save you!’ Homage to you! Both hands signal with blue blue utpala flowers, ‘Samsaric beings! Cling not to worldly pleasures. Enter the great city of liberation!’ Flower-goads prodding us to effort -homage to you!” ~First Dalai Lama (1391-1474).
In visual arts she is shown as resembling an exceptionally lovely human being in everything but the color of her skin and the splendor of her ornaments. The slender, long proportioned body of the goddess is shown dusky olive green in color and her coloring reverberates against the striped cushion of her throne back. The painting technique itself is extremely refined, the pigment flat and thin, and it does not emphasize linear outlining except in the most subtle way. The mysterious and intriguing nature of Green Tara is marvelously captured in the medium of painting by the ingenious blending of the typical iconographical setting with the color scheme. As for jewelry, beautiful golden, red and green jewels adorn her. Her jewelry includes white bracelets, several necklaces with many pendant gems, and a multi stringed, long jewel chain that sinuously falls around her body and over her right arm.
“In a heavenly mansion shaped by the artist of the gods, Inconceivable celestial wish-granting gems, Most beautiful, wrought into fascinating ornaments, Fully adorn you-homage to you! Like an emerald mountain clothed in rainbows, Your upper body is draped in heavenly silks, Your lovely supple, slender waist supports A skirt of five bright colors – homage to you!” ~First Dalai Lama(1391-1474).
White Tara is often referred to as the Mother of all the Buddhas. She represents the motherly aspect of compassion. Her white colour indicates purity, but also indicates that she is Truth, complete and undifferentiated. She has seven eyes: the two usual eyes, plus an eye in the centre of her forehead and eyes in each of her hands and feet. These indicate that she sees all suffering and all cries for help in the human world using both ordinary and psychic or extraordinary means of perception. They thus symbolize the vigilance of her compassion. White Tara has a lovely, young face. Her ornaments are covered in jewels. Her silk robes and scarves are painted in an exceptionally lively manner. Her tight fitting garments are embossed with large, rich floral designs. These filmy garments; bright gauzy silks fluttering from the shoulders and a series of many hued silken skirts – leave the slender torso and smoothly rounded breasts uncovered in the manner of ancient India. The whole effect is so ravishing that she might well arouse the very passion she is frequently invoked to calm, were it not that she inspires the kind of exalted reverence a palace guard might be expected to feel for a young and lovely princess entrusted to his care. With her right hand she makes the boon granting gesture and her left hand, holding the stem of a white lotus flower between her thumb and fourth finger, is in the protection position. The elaborate lotus flower, held in the left hand is called Utpala. It contains three blooms: the first, with seeds, symbolizes the past Buddha Kashyapa; the second in full flower, symbolizes the present Buddha Shakyamuni; and the third, ready to bloom, symbolizes the future Buddhas Maitreya. This signifies that White Tara is the essence of all the three Buddhas of the past, the present and the future. She sits with both legs raised and crossed in the vajra (diamond) position and regally displays both grace and calm. This is the interesting story of Tara, Hindu mythological Goddess and Buddha meditational deity. Tara can appear in many forms not limited to just our version or mind but in any form to suit the particular being She is connected to.
Praises to the 21 Taras
Offering of the 21 Homages
Recite each phrase once and/ or offer prostrations with the following visualisations. With each praise and prostration, imagine that a replica of each respective Tara manifests, arising from the one before it like simultaneous sparks of fire, and sinks into you.
From your sublime abode at the Potala
O Tara – born from the green letter TAM
Whose light rescues all beings –
Come with your retinue, I beg you.
The gods and demi-gods bow
To your lotus feet, O Tara,
You who rescue all who are destitute
To you, Mother Tara, I pay homage.
OM Homage to the Venerable Arya Tara.
OM JE TSUN MA PAG MA DROL MA LA CHAG TSEL LO
1. Praising Tara by her life story
Homage to Tara, The Swift One, The Heroine,
Whose eyes are like a flash of lightning,
Who arose from the opening of a lotus,
Born from the tears of the Protector of The Three Worlds.
CHHAG TSHÄL DRÖL MA NYUR MA PA MO
CHÄN NI KÄ CHIG LOG DANG DRA MA
JIG TEN SUM GÖN CHHU KYE ZHÄL GYI
GE SAR JE WA LÄ NI JUNG MA
2. Praising Tara by the brightness and radiance of her face
Homage to you with a face like a hundred full moons in autumn,
Gathered together into one,
Blazing with brilliant light,
Like a thousand constellations.
CHHAG TSHÄL TÖN KÄI DA WA KÜN TU
GANG WA GYA NI TSEG PÄI ZHÄL MA
KAR MA TONG THRAG TSHOG PA NAM KYI
RAB TU CHHE WÄI Ö RAB BAR MA
3. Praising Tara by her colour, what she holds and her causes
Homage to you who are bluish gold,
Your hand perfectly adorned with a lotus flower;
Who arose from practicing Giving, Moral discipline,
Patience, Effort, Concentration and Wisdom.
CHHAG TSHÄL SER NGO CHHU NÄ KYE KYI
PÄ MÄ CHHAG NI NAM PAR GYÄN MA
JIN PA TSÖN DRÜ KA THUB ZHI WA
ZÖ PA SAM TÄN CHÖ YÜL NYI MA
4. Praising Tara by her being honoured by the Conquerors and the Bodhisattvas
Homage to you who surmount the Tathagathas’ Ushnishas,
Whose victorious actions are limitless
Who are greatly honoured by the Sons of Conquerors,
Who have attained every perfection.
CHHAG TSHÄL DE ZHIN SHEG PÄI TSUG TOR
THA YÄ NAM PAR GYÄL WAR CHÖ MA
MA LÜ PHA RÖL CHHIN PA THOB PÄI
GYÄL WÄI SÄ KYI SHIN TU TEN MA
5. Praising Tara by her subduing unfavourable conditions
Homage to you who with letters TUTTARA and HUM
Fill the realms of desire, direction and space.
With the seven worlds beneath your feet,
You are able to draw all beings to bliss.
CHHAG TSHÄL TUTTARA HUM YI GE
DÖ DANG CHHOG DANG NAM KHA GANG MA
JIG TEN DÜN PO ZHAB KYI NÄN TE
LÜ PA ME PAR GUG PAR NÜ MA
6. Praising Tara by her being worshipped by the great worldly gods
Homage to you who are worshipped by Indra, Agni, Brahma,
Vayu, and the other mighty gods;
And before whom the host of evil spirits,
Zombies, smell eaters and givers of harm respectfully offer praise.
CHHAG TSHÄL GYA JIN ME LHA TSHANG PA
LUNG LHA NA TSHOG WANG CHHUG CHHÖ MA
JUNG PO RO LANG DRI ZA NAM DANG
NÖ JIN TSHOG KYI DÜN NÄ TÖ MA
7. Praising Tara by her destroying opponents
Homage to you who by saying TRA (trey) and PHAT
Completely destroy the obstructions of the enemies.
You suppress with your right leg drawn in and your left extended,
And blaze with a fierce and raging fire.
CHHAG TSHÄL TRAD CHE JA DANG PHAT KYI
PHA RÖL THRÜL KHOR RAB TU JOM MA
YÄ KUM YÖN KYANG ZHAB KYI NÄN TE
ME BAR THRUG PA SHIN TU BAR MA
8. Praising Tara by her purifying demons and the two obstructions
Homage to TURE, extremely fearsome one,
Who completely destroys the chief of demons,
With a wrathful expression on your lotus face
You vanquish all foes without exception.
CHHAG TSHÄL TURE JIG PA CHHEN PO
DÜ KYI PA WO NAM PAR JOM MA
CHHU KYE ZHÄL NI THRO NYER DÄN DZÄ
DRA WO THAM CHÄ MA LÜ SÖ MA
9. Praising Tara by the object she holds in her right and left hands
Homage to you whose fingers adorn your heart
With the mudra symbolising the Three Precious Jewels,
Adorned with a wheel of all directions,
Whose radiant light outshines all.
CHHAG TSHÄL KÖN CHHOG SUM TSHÖN CHHAG GYÄI
SOR MÖ THUG KAR NAM PAR GYÄN MA
MA LÜ CHHOG KYI KHOR LÖ GYÄN PÄI
RANG GI Ö KYI TSHOG NAM THRUG MA
10. Praising Tara by her crown ornament and the sound of her laughter
Homage to you whose very joyful and shining crown ornament
Radiates a garland of light.
Who with your mirthful laughter of TUTTARA,
Subdue the demons and worldly gods.
CHHAG TSHÄL RAB TU GA WA JI PÄI
U GYÄN Ö KYI THRENG WA PEL MA
ZHE PA RAB ZHÄ TUTTARA YI
DÜ DANG JIG TEN WANG DU DZÄ MA
11. Praising Tara by her accomplishing divine actions through the ten directional guardians
Homage to you who are able to summon
All the directional guardians and their retinues.
Frowning and shaking, with the letter HUM,
You rescue all from their misfortune.
CHHAG TSHÄL SA ZHI KYONG WÄI TSHOG NAM
THAM CHÄ GUG PAR NÜ MA NYI MA
THRO NYER YO WÄI YI GE HUM GI
PHONG PA THAM CHÄ NAM PAR DRÖL MA
12. Praising Tara by her crown ornament
Homage to you with a crescent moon adorning your crown,
And all your ornaments shining brightly;
With Amitabha in your top-knot
Eternally radiating light.
CHHAG TSHÄL DA WÄI DUM BÜ U GYÄN
GYÄN PA THAM CHÄ SHIN TU BAR MA
RÄL PÄI KHUR NA Ö PAG ME LÄ
TAG PAR SHIN TU Ö RAB DZÄ MA
13. Praising Tara by her wrathful posture
Homage to you who dwells amidst a garland of flames
Like the fire at the end of an eon.
With your right leg extended and left drawn in,
You destroy the hosts of obstructions of those who delight in the Dharma Wheel.
CHHAG TSHÄL KÄL PÄI THA MÄI ME TAR
BAR WÄI THRENG WÄI Ü NA NÄ MA
YÄ KYANG YÖN KUM KÜN NÄ KOR GÄI
DRA YI PUNG NI NAM PAR JOM MA
14. Praising Tara by the light that radiates from the letter HUM
Homage to you who strike the ground with the palm of your hand,
And stamp it with your foot.
With a wrathful glance and a letter HUM
You subdue all seven levels.
CHHAG TSHÄL SA ZHII NGÖ LA CHHAG GI
THIL GYI NÜN CHING ZHAB KYI DUNG MA
THRO NYER CHÄN DZÄ YI GE HUM GI
RIM PA DÜN PO NAM NI GEM MA
15. Praising Tara by her Dharmakaya Aspect
Homage to you who are happy, virtuous and peaceful,
Within the sphere of the peace of Nirvana,
Fully endowed with SOHA and OM,
You completely destroy heavy evil actions.
CHHAG TSHÄL DE MA GE MA ZHI MA
NYA NGÄN DÄ ZHI CHÖ YÜL NYI MA
SVAHA OM DANG YANG DAG DÄN PÄ
DIG PA CHHEN PO JOM PA NYI MA
16. Praising Tara by her divine actions of peaceful and wrathful Mantras
Homage to you who completely subdue the obstructions
Of those who delight in the Dharma Wheel,
Rescuing with the array of the ten-letter mantra
And the knowledge letter HUM.
CHHAG TSHÄL KÜN NÄ KOR RAB GA WÄI
DRA YI LÜ NI NAM PAR GEM MA
YI GE CHU PÄI NGAG NI KÖ PÄI
RIG PA HUM LÄ DRÖL MA NYI MA
17. Praising Tara by her divine actions of wrathfully shaking the three worlds
Homage to TURE, stamping your feet
Born from the seed in the aspect of HUM
Who cause Mount Meru, Mandhara and Vindhya,
And all three worlds to shake.
CHHAG TSHÄL TURE ZHAB NI DEB PÄ
HUM GI NAM PÄI SA BÖN NYI MA
RI RAB MANDHARA DANG BIG JE
JIG TEN SUM NAM YO WA NYI MA
18. Praising Tara by her divine actions of dispelling internal and external poisons
Homage to you who hold in your hand
A moon, the lake of the gods
Saying TARA twice and the letter PHAT,
You completely dispel all poisons.
CHHAG TSHÄL LHA YI TSHO YI NAM PÄI
RI DAG TAG CHÄN CHHAG NA NAM MA
TARA NYI JÖ PHAT KYI YI GE
DUG NAM MA LÜ PA NI SEL MA
19. Praising Tara by her divine actions of dispelling conflicts and bad dreams
Homage to you who are honoured by the kings of the hosts of gods,
And the gods and the kinnaras,
Through your joyful and shining pervasive armour,
All conflicts and bad dreams are dispelled.
CHHAG TSHÄL LHA YI TSHOG NAM GYÄL PO
LHA DANG MI AM CHI YI TEN MA
KÜN NÄ GO CHHA GA WÄI JI GYI
TSÖ DANG MI LAM NGÄN PA SEL MA
20. Praising Tara by her divine actions of dispelling diseases
Homage to you whose two eyes are like the sun and the full moon,
Radiate a pure and clear light
Say HARA twice and TUTTARA
You dispel the most violent, infections diseases.
CHHAG TSHÄL NYI MA DA WA GYÄ PÄI
CHÄN NYI PO LA Ö RAB SÄL MA
HARA NYI JÖ TUTTARA YI
SHIN TU DRAG PÖI RIM NÄ SEL MA
21. Praising Tara by her divine actions of subduing evil spirits and zombies
Homage to you who have the perfect power of pacifying
Through your blessings of the Three Thatnesses;
Subduer of the hosts of evil spirits, zombies and givers of harm
O TURE, most excellent and supreme!
CHHAG TSHÄL DE NYI SUM NAM KÖ PÄ
ZHI WÄI THÜ DANG YANG DAG DÄN MA
DÖN DANG RO LANG NÖ JIN TSHOG NAM
JOM PA TURE RAB CHHOG NYI MA
Thus concludes this praise of the root mantra
and the offering of the twenty–one homages.
TSA WÄI NGAG KYI TÖ PA DI DANG
CHHAG TSHÄL WA NI NYI SHU TSA CHIG
Mantra: OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA
The following is a request prayer to Tara, A Song of Longing for Tara, the Infallible (Tib: Dung bo lu may ma) written by Lama Lobsang Tenpey Gyaltsen.
It was translated by Lama Thubten Yeshe in February 1979, when he gave the Cittamani Tara initiations and teachings to a group of people at Kopan Monastery. In Lama’s style, this may not be a literal translation, and words may be added to clarify the meaning. These verses deeply touches a person to show you Tara’s qualities and ability to be in our lives if we invite Her.
Lama Lobsang Tenpey Gyaltsen was born in 1836 and was recognized as the incarnation of Gomgan of Hormo. I find it amazing that he wrote these verses when he was 18 or 19. His mind was in a completely different place than the minds of many at that age. He clearly had meditation experience and a strong connection with Tara. In fact, he speaks of her here as his personal guru, friend, protector and yidam as well as confidante…
Colophon: This prayer to Venerable Tara, in heart words making his own requests and also non-deceptive to others, was composed by the Buddhist monk, Lobsang Tenpey Gyaltsen, in his nineteenth year, the Water Mouse year (1852), on the third day of the miracle month (second month of the lunar calendar) at Bengar Namgyal Ling. It is sure to have great benefit.
A Song of Longing for Tara, the Infallible
By Lobsang Tenpey Gyaltsen
From my heart I bow to Divine Mother Tara, essence of love and compassion, the most precious objects of refuge gathered into one. From now until I reach enlightenment, hook me with your great love and kindness to liberate me.
By the witness of the Three Jewels, not just from my mouth but from the depths of my innermost heart and bones, I pray to you morning and evening. Show your blissful face to me, Loving One. Grant me the nectar of your speech.
Great gurus and small gurus cheat us with their made-up teachings, selling Dharma, teaching without comprehension, not observing who is qualified and who is not, being concerned about their own happiness and the eight worldly concerns. Since I can no longer trust friends of this degenerate age, you are my principal guru. Inspire me, Divine Mother, essence of love. Arouse the great power of your compassion and think of me.
I take refuge in you, Tara; like you, no Buddha could ever deceive me. But understanding the odd character of these times, most Buddhas have gone into the bliss of nirvana. Even though they have great compassion, we have no connection. Since for me there are no other deities, you are my principal deity. Bestow realizations upon me, Divine Mother, essence of love. Arouse the great power of your compassion and think of me.
Most Dharma protectors do not show their powers. Tired of those who invoke them, they do not act. Other protectors, lacking insight but proud of their power, may be friendly for a while but will later do me harm. Since I cannot rely on other protectors, you are my principal protector. With divine action, Wisdom Mother, essence of love, arouse the great power of your compassion and think of me.
To ordinary view the names of objects are the same as their meaning. Like this, they produce afflictions and bind us to samsara. When it is time to die, unless I understand the true nature, could a wish-fulfilling gem enable me to carry even a sesame seed with me? Since I do not trust in illusions, you are my real richness. Please grant my desires, Divine Mother, essence of love. Arouse the great power of your compassion and think of me.
I cannot rely on non-virtuous friends for even a day. They pretend to be close to me and all the while have in mind the opposite. They are friends when they wish it and enemies when they don’t. Since I cannot trust in this kind of friend, you are my best friend. Be close to me, Divine Mother, essence of love. Arouse the great power of your compassion and think of me.
You are my guru, my yidam, my protector, my refuge, my food, my clothes, my possessions and my friend. Since your divine quality is everything to me, let me spontaneously achieve all that I wish.
Although I am overwhelmed by my habitual, uncontrolled mind, please cut these self-centered thoughts so I will be able to give my body and my life millions of times without difficulty to each sentient being. Inspire me to be able to develop this kind of compassion to benefit all.
Empower me to cut the root of samsara, self-grasping, and to understand the pure doctrine, the most difficult middle way free from the errors of extremes.
Inspire me to practice as a bodhisattva, turning away from what is worldly, dedicating all my virtues to teaching living beings, never for even one instant thinking of just my own happiness. Let me wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all.
Empower me to actualize as much as possible the most subtle vows and to keep them without a careless mind, thus becoming the most perfect bodhisattva.
Outwardly, let me be simple in my practice, while inwardly, actualize the depth of the diamond vehicle with the strong wish to practice the two stages. Inspire me to attain enlightenment quickly for the benefit of all.
Divine Wisdom Mother Tara, you know everything about my life— my ups and downs, my good and bad. Think lovingly of me, my only mother.
I give myself and all who trust in me to you, Divine Wisdom Mother Tara. Being completely open to you, let us be born in the highest pure land. Set me there quickly with no births in between.
May the hook of your compassion and your skillful means transform my mind into Dharma and transform the minds of all beings, whoever they are. They have all been my mother, the mother of one unable to follow the Conqueror’s teachings.
By reciting this prayer three times a day and by remembering Divine Wisdom Mother Tara, may I and all beings who are connected to me reach whatever pure land we wish.
May the Three Jewels and especially the Divine Wisdom Mother, whose essence is compassion, hold me dear until I reach enlightenment. May I quickly conquer the four negative forces.
If, as long as you live, you recite this prayer three times every day, not just from the mouth (in words only) but strongly linked with your mind, you will have close connection and will see Tara’s face. No hindrances will be experienced and all wishes will be fulfilled. You will have a close relationship with all Buddhas and bodhisattvas, and they will hold you dear. If you recite the Homage to the Twenty-one Taras and this prayer, you will attain the Divine Liberating Mother.
I highly recommend these two prayers to Tara (A Song of Longing for Tara the Infallible and Praises to the 21 Taras) daily. If you already do not have a main practice recommended by a teacher then these two are very good to do along with Tara’s mantra. You do not need initiation or any oral transmission to start. You can begin immediately. They are very effective and filled with blessings. Tara is a supreme Buddha to follow and devote yourselves to. Important is to trust Tara from your heart and the depths of your soul. ~Tsem Rinpoche
Information, pictures and writings gathered from various random places on the internet. No copyright infringement intended. Just wished to share information on Tara.
To download more beautiful pictures of Mother Tara, click here.
For more interesting information:
- Heroic Red Tara (Suryagupta Lineage)
- Cittamani Tara
- Spectacular White Tara……
- Sadhana & Prayers
- A Gift from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche
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