Tara is one of the most important deities in many Buddhist, Hindu and other Eastern traditions. Meaning ‘Star’ in Sanskrit, she has descended from the heavens to deliver mankind from the oceans of delusion and suffering. Among Hindus she is worshiped as a manifestation of Shiva’s consort Parvati and some Buddhist stories say she was born from the weeping of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara as he observed the suffering of humanity.
His tears formed a lake in which grew a lotus flower and when the lotus opened Tara was revealed. Many worshipers are familiar with Tara in two forms, Green and White. Green Tara being born from Avalokiteshvara right eye and White Tara being born from his left. Green Tara inside a half open lotus symbolizes the night and is the embodiment of virtuous activity, while White Tara is seated in a fully open lotus representing the day, serenity and grace. When taken together, Green Tara and her sister White Tara represent the never ending compassion of the Goddess, laboring day and night to ease the misery of mankind.
Green Tara is full of youthful vigor and is known for her activity. Because of this she is considered the fiercer of the two sisters, although still worshiped as a savior and compassionate goddess. Her left hand is usually shown in the refuge granting mudra pose while her right hand is in the wish granting position. Also sometimes depicted in her hands are closed blue lotuses which represent purity and power. She is prayed to by devotees trying to overcome dangers, fears and anxiety because she is especially known for her ability to overcome the most the most difficult of obstacles. She is very compassionate and acts quickly when called upon for help by the deserving.
White Tara is called the “Mother of all Buddhas” and thought to embody the motherly aspects of compassion. Her white color is for purity, wisdom and truth. In many classic depictions she is shown with seven eyes to represent her awareness and ability to see all the suffering in the world. Most often found sitting in the lotus position with her feet pointed upward, in a posture of grace and calm. Her right hand also makes the wish granting mudra and her left hand is usually holding an intricate lotus flower with three blossoms. The first blossom is in seed, representing the past Buddha Kashyapa; the second is in full bloom and represents the present Buddha Shakyamuni; and the third is preparing to bloom and is meant to be the future Buddha Maitreya. These three blossoms symbolize that Tara is the essence of the three Buddhas. In practice people worship her for help to overcome obstacles especially associated with the path of religion and dharma. She is also associated with a long, healthy life.
A person who seeks to receive the blessings of Tara should keep her close to their heart in thoughts and deeds and try to live an example of her teachings of compassion and love.