Tara has many forms, including the 21 Taras – the manifestations of the great Female Buddha. She is often referred to as the Mother of Mercy and Compassion and embodies feminine qualities. Some tales hold that Tara was a woman called Wisdom Moon before she became a deity. She had great potential, and the monks advised her to pray to be a male when she reincarnated – this would expedite her advancement to enlightenment. Wisdom Moon renounced this idea and stated that she will benefit beings in female form. However, she is revered by persons of all genders. Perhaps Tara was one of the first feminists.
Other stories say that Tara was born from the tears shed by the Buddha of Compassion: Avalokitesvara (or Chenrezig in Tibet). His tears formed a lake in which a lotus bloomed. The lotus opened up to reveal Tara. Other versions of this story hold that White Tara was born from Chenrezig’s left eye while Green Tara was born from tears from his right eye. Her main manifestations are White Tara and Green Tara. White Tara is also sometimes referred to as the Goddess of Long Life and Healing. Green Tara is a peaceful deity who saves beings from fears and physical harm and helps them overcome challenges. Some believe that she is the manifestation of the wind element, and thus her actions (and assistance) come swiftly.
As her name suggests, she is green in color. This symbolizes her compassion and awakened activity. She is usually depicted sitting on a lotus throne. Her left leg is bent, symbolizing the meditative state. It also illustrates a withdrawal from negative emotions. Her right leg is extended. This shows her preparedness to take quick action. It may also represent the suppression of challenges. Green Tara is depicted in different positions and surrounded by various symbolic objects. There are ten common depictions of Green Tara.
These different depictions show Green Tara’s hands in various mudras or hand gestures. Often her right hand rests on her right knee in the giving or generosity mudra (lightly touching thumb to index finger). It could also be held at heart-level showing the teaching mudra. Her left hand forms the refuge mudra illustrating finding refuge in the three jewels: Buddha, Dharma (moral law), and Sangha (community). Sometimes her left hand is also in front of her heart, holding a silver vajra-bell.
Images of Green Tara usually see her dressed in jewelry and body ornaments. These illustrate her status as a divine being. It also symbolized the embodiment of perfect enjoyment. The deity is often shown with a blue lotus, called an utpala. The utpala is a flower that blooms at night. Its presence implies that Tara is there to protect us in our times of need. This includes situations when we are passing through physically perilous situations and when we are struggling with our inner darkness or shadows. Green Tara is a popular deity that brings compassion and assists persons through personal struggles while keeping them safe from harm. Chanting her mantra or even just praying to her will receive her assistance as quick as the wind
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