The Tibetan Bodhisattva, Arya Tara

Juleigh Howard-Hobson

When Avalokiteshvara, the Tibetan Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion, looked upon this world, he cried in sympathy for all living things here. His tears pooled up to form a lake, and in this lake grew a lotus. From this lotus came the great Tibetan Bodhisattva/Goddess: Tara (also known as Arya Tara).

Although Tara is limitless and her ability to manifest is infinite, she always takes on a feminine aspect, and she generally keeps to 21 forms.  The most well-known of these forms are Green Tara and White Tara. While legends agree that, as the complete Bodhisattva, Tara was formed from the tears of Avalokiteshvara, further myth refines her origins and states that her Green Tara aspect was born of tears which fell from Avalokiteshvara’s right eye, and her White Tara from tears of his left.

As White Tara, she is the Goddess of peacefulness, long life and protection. She embodies inner peace as well as outer, bringing spiritual clarity and purity to those who seek it through her.

As Green Tara she is the personification of Mother Earth (coincidentally, the Latin term Terra means earth, as does the Irish term Tara, while the Celtic term Tor signifies a mound of earth), she is humanity’s Great Mother (again coincidentally, the name of Egypt’s Great Mother, the Goddess Ishtar, sounds rather similar to the name Tara), she protects and overcomes problems, actively saving any and all who call to her for help.

As Green Tara she is most popular, but in all her aspects Tara is open to helping and bringing her compassionate wisdom into action. As a Great Mother, she doesn’t ignore any who call upon her—even those who have called before and for the same reason. Her compassion does not end; there will not be a time when she says ‘enough’, everything about her is infinite, after all. As humans we sometimes have trouble understanding the concept of the infinite, but as a Bodhisattva, Tara does not.

As well, because of her unlimited sympathetic nature, Tara does not confine her empathy to only those of certain human faiths, even though she is usually regarded by people as a Buddhist or Hindu Goddess.  Ultimately Ayra Tara has no earthly religion; all are welcomed, all are helped.

In keeping with Tara’s infinite compassion, the most acceptable offering to be made to her is a bowl of pure water—simply because it is so compassionately simple: it is available to every person who would like to make an offering, regardless of their human status or wealth.

Green Tara’s ten syllable mantra “Om Tare Tu Tare Ture Soha” (very roughly translated as “Om. O Tara: I invoke your help. O Tara, promptly.  Hail.” and pronounced om ta-ray to ta-ray to-ray swa-ha) is composed in harmony with the celestial energies, so much so that all you need to do is to chant it with pure positive intention, (some sources say 108 times, others say there is no particular number of times needed) and you will be heeded.

All divinity is genderless, ageless, and of eternally varied form. Although Tara has chosen to be always manifest as a feminine Bodhisattva, she is actually infinite in spirit as well as aspect. Thus Tara is as much all of humanity as all of humanity is of the Divine.

Soha Arya Tara.

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