The image of a heavenly body sparkling in the distance springs to mind at the utterance of the syllables of Tara. In a lot of Sanskrt-origin languages it means ‘star’, and is a name that conveys beauty and glamour. However, the root of the word ‘tar’ is to deliver, so Devi Tara is one who delivers the truly devoted across the stormy rivers of samsara (earthly life). The murti that you see on this page depicts the Devi White Tara, one of the twenty-one forms of the Bodhisattva, steepd in profound samadhi (yogic contemplation).
The highly characteristic stance of Devi Tara. A stately back, a regal bearing of the neck upon the same. A handsome, angularly sculpted face that tilts subtly sidewards and downwards - a hint of the nimnamukhi - as if She leans in to listen to the cries of Her devotees for succour. Her half-shut eyes as She is absorbed within and the length of Her wizened earlobes are indicative of the eons preceding Her Bodhisattvahood.
A five-spired crown of gold. Sprigs of seductive vines flanking Her bust, mysterious flowers nestling amongst them. The karnakundalas of Devi White Tara rest delicately upon Her clavicles. Full, firm breasts upon a slender waist; long, supple legs gathered in a fine padmasana. She raises the left hand and the right hand She rests on Her knee, the fingers of both hands in dharmachakra mudra, the palms facing outwards.
White Tara is the goddess who grants the boon of healthy longevity.
White Tara is often referred to as the Mother of all the Buddhas. She represents the motherly aspect of compassion. Her white colour indicates purity, but also indicates that she is Absolute Truth, complete and undifferentiated.
She has seven eyes: the two usual eyes, plus an eye in the centre of her forehead and eyes in each of her hands and feet. These indicate that she sees all suffering and all cries for help in the human world using both ordinary and psychic or extraordinary means of perception. They thus symbolize the vigilance of her compassion.
White Tara has a lovely, young face. With her right hand she makes the boon granting gesture and her left hand, holding the stem of a lotus flower between her thumb and fourth finger, makes the gesture which grants protection to her devotees..
The elaborate lotus flower, held in the left hand is called Utpala. It contains three blooms: the first, with seeds, symbolizes the past Buddha Kashyapa; the second in full flower, symbolizes the present Buddha Shakyamuni; and the third, ready to bloom, symbolizes the Future Buddha Maitreya. This signifies that White Tara is the essence of all the three Buddhas of the past, the present and the future.
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