Tara was born out of the tears of Avalokitesvara. A lake formed as he wept upon seeing the suffering of others. From this sprang a lotus which unfolded to reveal Tara. She is worshipped as Avalokitesvara’s consort.
Tara embodies the sacred feminine in Buddhism. Her presence in Buddhism can be traced back to the 6th century CE, prior to which there were no female bodhisattvas.
Why two Taras ? Tibet’s first Buddhist King, Srong-brtsan-sgam-po had two wives, from Imperial China and Nepal. These virtuous queens are thought to have inspired the notion of two incarnations.
Green Tara is a youthful and sprightly figure; in Buddhism, her color represents energy and vigor. She sits in contemplative grace, with one limb ready to spring into action. She is quick to her followers’ rescue in times of difficulty, the one who will allay their fears and worries.
White Tara sits on a fully blooming lotus, symbolic of day. Her color stands for truth, integrity and wisdom. She is maternal compassion incarnate. Buddhist iconography sometimes portrays her with seven eyes, evocative of her encompassing vision of universal suffering. She removes obstacles in the path of her followers, especially ones which hinder spiritual practice.
Seated in the lotus position, White Tara exudes grace and serenity. In her left hand is a three-bloomed lotus plant. They represent the past, present Buddhas, Kashyapa and Sakyamuni and the yet to be born Buddha, Maitreya.