Tara, also known in Tibetan as “Dolma” or Mother of Mercy and Compassion, is a Bodhisattva embodying compassion whose practice is used by practitioners of the Tibetan branch of Vajrayana Buddhism (the Diamond Way) to develop certain qualities and understand inner, outer, and secret teachings about emptiness and compassion.
In Tibetan Buddhism, females are usually representative of wisdom more than compassion. Nevertheless, She is one of the unique exceptions where compassion is more of a dominant characteristic.
The Goddess also embodies many of the qualities of the feminine principle, and is the source, the female aspect of the entire creation, which gives birth to compassion, warmth, and relief from negative karma as experienced by ordinary beings in Samsara (cyclic existence).
She has 21 principal forms, each of which has a different spiritual attribute and color. Of these forms, two are particularly popular among Tibetan people — Green Tara, who is attributed with abundance, protection, and enlightened activity, and White Tara, who is attributed with long life and compassion.
Dolma is very active and steps down to help all sentient beings. However, the only thing needed is that we have to let go of our clinging to a precise outcome, because to cling to a precise outcome is frequently self-defeating, as it creates agitation and unhappiness (which leads to greater suffering), especially when it involves other people.
The Mother of Mercy and Compassion is seen as guarding against the Eight Great Terrors – wild elephants (ignorance and delusion), lions (pride), snakes (jealousy), forest fires (hatred), robbers (wrong views, including fanatical views), prisons (miserliness and greed), floods (attachment and desire) and demons (doubts caused by delusion).
The First Dalai Lama described the demons against which the Goddess offers protection as being our self-consuming spiritual doubts.
Whether the Tara figure originated as a Hindu or Buddhist goddess is ambiguous and remains a source of inquiry among Buddhist scholars. Mallar Ghosh believes that She originated as a form of the Goddess Durga (the Mother Goddess) in the Hindu Puranas (sacred religious texts).
Another story of Tara’s origin recounts that eons ago She was born as a king’s daughter. A compassionate and spiritual princess, which regularly gave prayers and offerings to the ordained nuns and monks.
Hence, She developed great merit, and the monks and nuns 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 female and no male, that nothing existed in reality, and that She wished to remain in female form to serve other sentient beings until everyone reached enlightenment, thus indicating the shortfall in the monk’s wisdom in presuming only male preachers for the Buddhist religion.
Independent of whether the Goddess is classified as a Buddha, a deity, or a Bodhisattva, She remains very popular in Tibet (in 7th-century Tibet, Dolma was considered to be incarnated in every pious woman), Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, and is worshiped in a majority of Buddhist communities throughout the world.
She is represented as a beautiful, often voluptuous, sixteen-year-old woman. In visual arts, She is usually illustrated with one leg out of the lotus position, extended down for a quick and decisive response when needed.
The Goddess holds a blue lotus (symbolizing power and purity) in her right hand (which is held at chest level) in the vitarka, or teaching mudra, and the left hand is in the varada mudra, or gesture of giving.
”Om tare tuttare ture soha.”
Translation in English:
“OM! O, Tara! I entreat you, O Tara! O swift one! Hail!
“I prostrate to the Liberator, Mother of all the Victorious Ones.”
Green Tara mantra – Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha meaning:
Om – represents the speech, body, and mind qualities of all the Buddhas. Om has no conceptual meaning and is the sacred sound representing the entire universe, past, present, and future.
Tare – represents salvation from suffering and mundane dangers. The word is translated as ”the Swift One.”
Tuttare – represents the protection from all our fears and the deliverance into the spiritual path, conceived in terms of individual salvation.
Ture – represents the fulfillment of our spiritual path. Meaning we want to develop all of the positive qualities and we want to purify all our negativities.
Soha – translates as ”so be it”, ”may it be like that” or “May a blessing rest on.”
According to a Buddhist teacher Sangharakshita (founder of the Triratna Buddhist Community), a traditional explanation of the mantra is that the variations of her name represent three progressive stages of salvation.
Chanting Green Tara mantra benefits:
By chanting this powerful mantra with a sincere motivation, one will be able to invoke the blessings of Goddess Tara and request for her protection from danger and from our fears.
In addition, the Buddhist mantra is used to overcome mental, physical, or emotional blockages and also blockages in relationships. Reciting the mantra daily can eliminate disease, fear, anxiety, suffering, disasters, troubles, and negative karma.
According to the high lamas, no one ever attained Enlightenment without the help of Goddess Tara. When you chant this potent mantra with intense devotion, the mantra is transformed into a powerful wish-fulfilling prayer.
Chant one mala (108 repetitions) of this mantra each morning (brahma muhurta) and each night. When you chant the mantra, visualize Green Tara Goddess in space in front of you, level with your forehead, at a comfortable distance of about one body-length.
Sadhanas in which Goddess Tara is the yidam (a chosen meditation deity) can be extensive or quite brief. Most all of them include some introductory homages or praises to invoke Her presence and prayers of taking refuge.
By taking refuge in Tara, doing practices such as chanting of the Green Tara mantra, and practicing the path contained in that mantra, you can achieve the fully enlightened state, liberated from the two obscurations.
Note – you are not supposed to be drinking alcohol or eating meat before you do the Green Tara practice.