Goddess Tara: A Cosmic Tale of Compassion and Spiritual Guidance

“Explore the cosmic tale of Goddess Tara—born from Lord Shiva’s tears, her narrative of compassion and enduring wisdom transcends cultures, resonating as an emblem of divine grace and enlightenment.”

Quote

"Compassion is a verb. It is something we do. It is an active word and, when practiced, can change our lives and the lives of others in remarkable ways."-Thich Nhat Hanh

Part of Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings and talks

Author

Sneha S

Sneha S is a certified yoga and pranayama teacher, and a blogger on divine feminine work. She helps women discover their inner wisdom and strength, and create harmony and balance in their lives. Sneha’s teachings are inspired by the ancient Shakta Tradition and modern psychology. She is passionate about empowering women to embrace their true potential.

More Like this

References

Ahkon Lhamo, J. (1997). Tara: The liberating power of the Green Tara. Shambhala Publications. Campbell, J. (1989). The world of myth. Penguin. Gyatso, T. (2005). The twenty-one Taras. Snow Lion Publications. Kempton, S. (2002). Tara: Liberating the feminine Buddha within. Shambhala. Thondup, G. (1998). Mind training: The Bodhisattva way of life. Wisdom Publications. Evans-Wentz, W.Y. (1927). The Tibetan book of the dead. Oxford University Press.

Further Reading

“Tara: The Liberating Power of the Green Tara” by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo: This book offers a comprehensive exploration of Green Tara, one of the most popular forms of Tara, covering her history, practices, and significance in Mahayana Buddhism. “The Twenty-One Taras” by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama: This book delves into the twenty-one emanations of Tara, each with their unique attributes and practices, providing a rich tapestry of her multifaceted nature. “Tara: Liberating the Feminine Buddha Within” by Sally Kempton: This book explores Tara from a Jungian perspective, drawing parallels between her mythology and archetypal patterns of the feminine in various cultures. Additional Resources: Wikipedia: Tara (Buddhism): https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tara_%28Buddhism%29 Buddhanet: E-books on Tara: https://www.buddhanet.net/ebooks.htm

Categories

Goddess Tara, Dasa Mahavidyas, Divine feminine, Compassion, Spiritual guidance, Cosmic emergence, Tantric traditions, Hindu mythology, Protective deity, Wisdom mother, Divine grace, Cultural interpretations, Symbolism and representation, Iconography of Tara, Tantric understanding, Mythological tales, Kali’s transformation, Universal compassion, Tibetan Buddhism, Shiva’s tears

Goddess Tara: A Cosmic Tale of Compassion and Spiritual Guidance

Lord Shiva’s tears cascade through the cosmos, each droplet a harbinger of profound sorrow, birthing Tara, the embodiment of limitless compassion. Yet, Tara is no mere deity, for her luminous presence extends beyond the mythic realm, a radiant force that harmonizes the tumultuous cosmic orchestra. As we embark on this journey through the veiled realms of Tara’s mystique, we unravel the layers of her narrative, a saga resonating across diverse cultural landscapes, beckoning us to dive into the intricate enigma of her divine grace. Her mythology intricately weaves together cosmic emergence, boundless compassion, and steadfast protection, transcending the confines of time and space, resonating profoundly across diverse cultural landscapes.

Her divine manifestation marks a pivotal juncture—a testament to the pressing need for solace and nurturing amid upheaval. Her luminosity calms cosmic turmoil, providing solace and a protective sanctuary for those grappling with distress—a manifestation of divine grace amid tumultuous times.

Tara is the Sakti who got migrated from Hindu Tantras to Buddhist Tantras and attained highest position over there. She is being worshiped in Nepal, Tibet, and Assam and in Himalayan ranges even till today. Even though all our treatises on Tantra are destroyed, most of them are preserved in Tibet. In 1000 AD, Atisa Dipamkara migrated to Tibet from Bengal and became the first Tantra guru who introduced Tara Vidya to Tibetans.

Tara, spanning Hindu, Tantric, and Buddhist traditions, embodies the archetype of the compassionate mother and protective deity. Manifestations such as Green and White Tara have symbolized dynamic compassion and serene wisdom, offering universal depictions of her guidance and spirituality.

Her name derives from the Sanskrit root “tar,” meaning “protection.” The name translates to “star” in other Indian languages. Tara’s name is derived from tri, which means “to go across.” One of her epithets is “Samsaratarini,” meaning “she who takes across the ocean of worldly existence.” Tara is, therefore, the all-gracious liberator.

My introduction to the Goddess of Compassion came through the manifestation of Goddess Kuan Yin, graciously shared by my mother-in-law, Ray. At that juncture, my exploration was not profound, but I cherished and sensed her presence through Ray.

The journey into the realm of motherly compassion deepened with the birth of my daughter. Cradling this exquisite creation in my hands became a source of profound fulfillment. While a natural part of compassion unfolded, grasping the true essence remained distant. Compassion, particularly directed inward, posed a perpetual challenge.

During life’s moments of uncertainty, I sought Tara for compassionate understanding—be it through symbolic Goddess cards, an earnest yearning of the heart, or the comforting presence of Ray. She stood by me when clarity eluded, enveloping me in a tender embrace and providing the strength to persevere.

When one is caught between two situations and is unable to reach a conclusion the worship of goddess Tara provides a resolution and also removes all the obstacles in the path. The practitioners of Tara experience the disappearance of their troubles in a trice by the grace of Goddess Tara. Goddess Tara’s main quality is to deliver from troubles.

Delving into the understanding of Shakti, the feminine essence, and its myriad attributes, Tara became a source of breath, love, and encouragement. Unbeknownst to me, Tara embodies divine wisdom, the ‘Wisdom Mother,’ in Tantra. She encapsulates Shakti’s dynamic force, empowering the cycles of creation, sustenance, and dissolution. Her teachings act as a guide for spiritual growth, steering seekers toward liberation (moksha).

Tara elevated my comprehension of Ma Kali’s compassion to profound depths. The resonance of “Om Mani Padme hum,” the mantra I devoutly chanted, still brings tranquility to my heart. Unraveling the layers of Dasa Mahavidyas (The Ten Great Wisdom Goddesses) enhances the beauty of understanding this archetype and its roots on a more profound level.

In the ancient Indian concept of the Dasa Mahavidyas, where ten goddesses personify divine feminine energies, Goddess Tara stands as the most radiant. Her tale intricately intertwines cosmic emergence, compassion, and protection, transcending temporal and spatial boundaries, echoing profoundly across diverse cultural landscapes.

Several tales within this cosmic drama merit mention, and I would like to recount a few.

The birth of the Dasa MahaVidyas

According to the Puranas, Sati, the favorite child of Daksha, marries Shiva against her father’s wishes. When Daksha organized a grand sacrifice ritual, or yajna, in which he invites celestial beings, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Brahmans, and knowledgeable individuals, but doesn’t invite her and her husband.

Sati, learning of the Yajna from Sage Narada, expressed her desire to attend. Daksha had orchestrated the Yajna to insult both Sati and Lord Shiva, a fact Sati refused to accept, compelling her to visit her father’s home. Shiva, however, declined, and tried to stop her as he knew that Daksha would humiliate her. Furious, Sati transformed into various forms of Shakti, causing Shiva to tremble. she transformed into the ten fearsome Mahavidya goddesses led by Kali, and surrounded him from the ten cardinal directions. Seeing his wife’s divine powers, Shiva allowed her to go to the yajna.

Upon her arrival she hears her husband is being mocked for his appearance. Sati is filled with rage and vows to ruin this yajna. So she jumps into the fire killing herself to protest against him, and uphold the honor of her husband.

Shiva, distraught, carried her corpse around the world on his shoulder until the other gods dismembered it to put an end to his mourning. Each of the spots where a piece of Sati’s body fell to the ground became a sacred place of pilgrimage called a Shakti Pitha (Goddess Shrines).

Sati, in her various forms, embodies the many different aspects of the goddess, from compassionate nurturer to fierce protector. The story teaches us that the divine feminine is not simply a benevolent force, but also a powerful and destructive one when necessary.

Goddess Tara saves Shiva

In Indian mythology, the churning of the cosmic ocean is a significant event that brings forth various treasures, including the potent poison Halahala. The devas, the celestial beings, feared the poison’s destructive power, and no one dared to consume it. Lord Shiva, the supreme god, emerged as the savior, willingly consuming the poison to protect the world. However, the poison’s potency overwhelmed him, threatening to consume his very essence.

Goddess Tara, the embodiment of maternal compassion, emerges, cradling the ailing Shiva and offering him her divine breast milk. The nectar neutralizes the poison, restoring Shiva to health.

Both Shiva and Tara demonstrate the power of selflessness in their actions. Shiva’s sacrifice to protect the world and Tara’s unconditional love for Shiva embody the notion that true liberation lies in transcending personal desires and serving the greater good.

Kali's Transformation

The tale of Tara’s emergence from Kali also underscores the interconnectedness of all things, demonstrating that destructive forces can be transformed through the power of compassion. The legend tells us that Goddess Kali fought the Demon Daruka fiercely, but he was too powerful for her. She began to lose control of her anger and became increasingly destructive. The gods feared that Kali would destroy the world in her rage.

Shiva, seeing the danger, transformed himself into a baby and lay down at Kali’s feet.

As Kali’s gaze falls upon the helpless infant, an instinctive maternal bond arises within her. Her ferocious aspect temporarily recedes, replaced by an overwhelming surge of love and protectiveness. Unable to resist the urge to nurture, she scoops up the infant Shiva and cradles him in her arms.

With a gentle touch, Kali offers her breast milk to the hungry child, nourishing him with the essence of her own being. This act of selfless love transforms Kali, infusing her with a profound sense of compassion. As she nurtures Shiva, she embodies the maternal aspect of the divine feminine, becoming known as Goddess Tara, and Daruka is defeated.

The transformation of Kali into Tara signifies the power of love to temper even the most destructive forces. Tara’s emergence serves as a reminder that even amidst the chaos and destruction, the transformative power of love resides within the universe, waiting to be awakened.

The Symbology and Iconography of Goddess Tara

Tara’s vibrant blue hue symbolizes serenity, wisdom, and transcendence, contrasting with Kali’s dark complexion, which represents the transformative power of dissolution and the dissolution of ego. Tara’s tangled hair, resembling dangling snakes, signifies her mastery over worldly attachments and her ability to navigate through the labyrinth of illusion.

Tara’s adornment of tiger skin, an animal revered for its strength and courage, represents her ability to overcome obstacles and protect her devotees. Her tiara with five half-moons symbolizes her connection to the lunar cycles, reflecting her nurturing and cyclical nature. Her three eyes, blazing with vermillion rage, represent her ability to perceive the world with clarity and unwavering determination.

Tara’s four arms represent her ability to encompass all aspects of existence – creation, preservation, destruction, and liberation. The lotus she holds symbolizes purity, enlightenment, and spiritual growth. The sword represents her ability to cut through ignorance and delusion. The bowl symbolizes her compassion and the fulfillment of desires. The bell symbolizes her power to awaken consciousness and attract divine blessings.

Tara’s stance upon a fresh corpse signifies her ability to transcend the limitations of physical existence and embrace the divine realm. She stands above the impermanence of the physical world, embodying the eternal and unchanging essence of the divine feminine.

Significance of the Goddess Tara

Tara’s emergence from Shiva’s tears signifies the transformative power of compassion, demonstrating that even the deepest sorrow can give rise to immense love and understanding. Her divine presence embodies the profound need for solace and nurturing amidst life’s upheavals. Tara’s role goes beyond that of a mere rescuer or guardian. Her radiant presence extends beyond mythical boundaries, offering solace and a protective sanctuary for those grappling with distress. She represents the divine grace that emerges amidst tumultuous times, reminding us of the inherent compassion that resides within the universe.

In Tantric symbolism, Tara is portrayed with the lotus and sword, embodying her fiercely compassionate nature. The lotus represents purity, enlightenment, and the ability to transcend worldly attachments, while the sword signifies her unwavering determination to cut through ignorance and delusion. Nepalese Newar Buddhism emphasizes Tara’s role as a figure of swift and prompt compassionate action. She readily responds to the needs of her devotees, offering solace and guidance in times of distress.

Tibetan Buddhism in China venerates various forms of Tara, seamlessly incorporating her energies into rituals and mantras. Her presence is invoked to seek blessings, overcome obstacles, and cultivate inner peace. The Cherokees revered Tara as the Star Woman, reflecting her association with the celestial realms and her role as a guiding light. Her connection to the Earth signifies her nurturing nature and her role in providing sustenance for all beings.

The Druids acknowledged Tara as the Goddess of their great hill, Tara, bearing her name. This association highlights her connection to the natural world and her role as a protector of the land. The Tar, a group of wise and powerful Goddess women in ancient Finland, share a link to Tara’s name. This association suggests that Tara’s presence extends across cultures and echoes through the ages, embodying the enduring power of the divine feminine.

Conclusion

From the ancient Indian concept of the Dasa Mahavidyas, where ten goddesses personify divine feminine energies, Goddess Tara emerges as beautifully radiant, transcending temporal and spatial boundaries, echoing profoundly across diverse cultural landscapes. The tales within this cosmic drama, from Sati’s sacrifice to Tara saving Shiva and Kali’s transformative journey, underscore the interconnectedness of all things and the transformative power of love and compassion.

The symbology and iconography of Goddess Tara, from her vibrant blue hue to her four arms and the objects she holds, encapsulate profound spiritual teachings. Tara’s significance reverberates in Tantric symbolism, Nepalese Newar Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism in China, and even among the Cherokees and Druids, showcasing her universal and enduring influence.

Tara’s story beckons us to recognize the transformative power of compassion and the divine grace inherent within the universe. As we embrace the profound teachings of Tara, may we, too, become beacons of compassion, fostering understanding and goodness in a world that yearns for solace and enlightenment.

Now, dear readers, let the cosmic symphony of Tara’s narrative resonate within you. Share your thoughts, reflections, and experiences in the comments below. How has Tara’s story touched your life, and what lessons do you draw from her luminous presence? Let this be a space for the continued exploration of divine wisdom and the eternal dance of the feminine mystique. Until we meet again in the realms of cosmic wisdom, may Tara’s grace guide you on your journey.

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