The word Tara itself is derived from the root 'tri' (to cross), hence theimplied meaning:' the one who enables living beings to cross the Ocean ofExistence and Suffering'. Her compassion for living beings, her desire tosave them from suffering, is said to be even stronger than a mother's lovefor her children.
Legend has it that Tara was born from the compassionate tears ofAvalokiteshvara (The Buddha of compassion):
''Homage! Tara, swift, heroic! With a glance like flashing lightning, bornfrom a blooming lotus sprung from the tears on the face of the Lord of theWorld!''
The above verse refers to the legend of Tara's origin. Avalokiteshvara waslooking down from his heaven on the world of suffering beings, and he weptto see that more and more of them were in pain. From the tears streamingdown his face two Taras were born, a peaceful white one from the left and afierce green one from the right. Tara is thus also often referred to asAvalokiteshvara's consort.
Green Tara is Tara's most dynamic manifestation. Her color symbolizesyouthful vigor and activity. The Buddhist Lord of karma (action),Amoghasiddhi, is also associated with the green color, thus signifying thatthey belong to the same family. This is a further affirmation of theperception that Green Tara is a goddess of action.
She is depicted in a posture of ease with right leg extended, signifying herreadiness to spring into action. The left leg is folded in the contemplativeposition on the lotus pedestal, the two together thus symbolizing theintegration of wisdom and art.Her left hand, in the gesture of granting refuge holds the stem of a lotusthat floats over her left shoulder as a symbol of purity and power. With herright hand she makes the boon-granting gesture (varada mudra) and holdsanother lotus.
She is shown seated on a lotus pedestal.
The followers of Green Tara believe that her special powers will helpovercome dangers, fears, and anxieties, and that she will grant wishes. Sheis also believed to help one cross over from danger to safety or fromsuffering to happiness. Her femininity imbues her with soft andcompassionate feelings, and she acts very quickly and directly as asavioress. Representing active compassion, she is particularly worshippedfor her ability to overcome the most difficult situations. As the firstDalai Lama puts it, just by being called to help, she instantaneously savesthe faithful from attacks by the following eight calamities:
lions and pride
wild elephants and delusions
forest fires and hatred
snakes and envy
robbers and fanatical views
prisons and avarice
floods and lust
demons and doubts.
This description by Nitin Kumar, Executive Editor, Exotic India.
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