The Devotion of Tara

Devotion is a deep and overwhelming magical loyalty, a feeling that is experienced rather than expressed in words. It wasn’t until I found Tara that I was able to root into the intensity of devotion.

Her Beginning

Before Tara became a Buddha, she was a princess named Yeshe Dawa “Moon of Wisdom”, who devoted her time to a deep meditation practice. When she was close to reaching enlightenment the monks told her that she must come back (rebirth) as a man in order to reach Buddhahood. She told them, “Those who wish to attain supreme enlightenment in a man’s body are many, but those who wish to serve the aims of beings in a woman’s body are few indeed; therefore I, until this world is emptied out, work for the benefit of sentient beings in a woman’s body.” It was with her vow that she became Tara the Liberator, the first female Buddha, a Buddhist feminist.

Her Symbolism

Tara is made of light, her name meaning star. She sits or stands on a blossoming lotus, radiating compassion. She is a protector, the mother of all Buddhas, a manifestation of wisdom, meditation, and swift action. Tara holds close to herself a blue lotus, representing the three realms: past, present, and future. On her body is OM at her crown chakra, AH at her throat, and HUM at her heart chakra.

Versions of Tara

Green Tara: A mother with a vibrant energy that awakens growth, connects to the power of breath, and nourishes creativity. Earth Energy.

White Tara: A healer who embodies divine grace, compassion, and longevity. Air Energy.

Blue Tara: A protector who uses her courageous female energy to destroy obstacles manifesting truth and swift spiritual awakening. Ocean Energy.

Red Tara: A warrior who uses her enchantment to ward off evil spirits, demons, and humans who work against humanity and spiritual evolution. Fire Energy.

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha: A rough meaning of her mantra, “I bow to the Liberator, Mother of all the Victorious Ones.”

The Great Tara Statue

I recently came across a BBC video talking about the first Tara statue to be found and taken by the British Governor, Sir Robert Brownrigg, in Sri Lanka during the 1800s. She was unearthed from a field where she was probably hidden for the better part of 600 years, “marks on the surface of the sculpture suggest that she was buried at some point, perhaps to avoid her being looted by invaders and then melted down.” She was brought back to Britain and remained in Brownriggs home till later donated to the British Museum in 1830 by his wife. The museum was hesitant to put on display due to her exposed breasts and hourglass figure, so they kept her hidden in storage for thirty years. 

The bronze sculpture shows evidence that it was created during 7th-8th century AD, it would have been placed in a temple of meditation for monks and the privilege elite.  The Tara statue stands over 4 feet tall and wears a elongated crown with a hole in it, which was supposed to have held a large precious stone, possibly ruby, garnet, or emerald. To this day historians say, “It’s very rare for a statue of this scale to survive; indeed, we know of no other example of this size from medieval Sri Lanka.”

In many ways it seems that Tara wanted to be unearthed, her presence shared. Some day I hope to bow in front of this statue with reverence, listening to the meditative chants that once reflected off her body in the caves she resided in.

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