Green Tara

Buddhist Goddess Representing
Compassion in Action

Tara is the Buddhist Goddess representing
compassion in action. Traditionally, males
usually represent compassion while females
represent wisdom. Tara is different. Not only
does she represent compassion but is known as
"She who saves". Her images often display her
with one leg folded in a contemplative position
while the other leg is extended demonstrating
readiness to spring into action. She is believed
to help people overcome dangers. These
dangers can be physical or spiritual.


"Om tare tuttare ture svaha", is the mantra asking for her aid.
Her mantra is a play on words and can be interrepted
as having three variations symbolizing the three progressive stages
of salvation. First, Tare is salvation from everyday emergencies
such as floods, accidents, crime and the like. Secondly, Tuttare
is the path of individual liberation from suffering. She protects
from the three spiritual factors that cause suffering: greed,
hatred, and delusion. Lastly, Ture is the arrival at the path of
the Bodhisttva. We not only work towards personal enlightenment
but also towards the suffering of others. Thus Tara helps at the
physical level, the individual spiritual level and others.

In simple terms, the myth of Tara's
enlightenment is that she was a young
princess who was able to attain enlight-
enment as a female. It should be noted
that that in Hindu and Buddhist cultures
being female is seen as a disadvantage
to gaining enlightenment. After attaining
enlightenment she was in discussion with
some monks. They suggested that she should
pray to be reborn as a male so that she
could progress on her spiritual path. She
replied that gender is an illusion and is
no hindrance to enlightenment. She vowed
to always be reborn as a female as in-
spiration to women. This makes her a 6th
century Buddhist feminist.

Tara is said to have spoken the following words
in an earlier incarnation as Jnanachandra.

Here there is no man, there is no woman,
No self, no person, and no consciousness.
The labels ‘male’ or ‘female’ have no essence,
But deceive the evil-minded world.

In terms of symbolism, Tara is rich. Her
green color is associated with the element
of air. She is the consort of Amoghasiddhi,
the Buddhist Lord of Karma (action). She is
a forest goddess. Her Pure Land is that of
the forest and therefore is lush and verdant,
filled with flowers, animals birds, waterfalls
and plant life. She holds a blue lotus, which
is a night-blooming flower. It symbolizes that
she protects during times of fear, when one
is in darkness, literally or spiritual. Her
other hand is in the teaching position. This
symbolizes that her powers for protection in-
clude teaching her beneficiaries to save them-
selves. The combination of her contemplative
position with the leg ready to step forward
to help others symbolizes the integration of
wisdom and art. Tara also is shown in colors
other than green. These manifestations
symbolize different aspects associated with
the other colors.

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Last modified: 7/1/09