The Divine Origin of Tara Statues
The inspiration behind Tara statues is a renown Buddhist deity that first appeared in the Buddhist text “Prajnaparamita”. The meaning of Tara statues found in the Prajnaparamita was vague and coincided with the rapidly evolving popularity of Mahayana Buddhism. However, about 5 centuries later her essence evolved to become expressed as the “compassion of perfected wisdom”.
As a result, the first identifiable Tara statue appeared in the 7th century A.C.E. This standing Green Tara statue is still viewable today at cave 6 in the Ellora Cave complex located at Maharashtra India. Although this stone image is rather plain, the character and appearance of Tara statues would soon become much more elaborate.
Evolution of Tara Statues
The worship of Tara statues spread rapidly with the rise of the Pala Empire in 8th century India. Additionally, Tantric Buddhism would play an important role in the evolution and growing popularity of the Bodhisattva Tara.
As Tantrism evolved with the Pala Empire it was introduced to Tibet by Padmasambhava in the 8th century. It is in Tibet that the character and physical appearance of Tara would become much more complex. Additionally, in Tibetan Buddhism Tara was adopted as a fully enlightened Buddha, whereas in Mahayana she remained a Bodhisattva.
Tara Statues & Tibetan Buddhism
In Tibetan Buddhism, Tara was born from a teardrop that fell from the eye of Avalokitesvara. Tibetan Buddhists also believe that she is the female aspect and consort of Avalokitesvara. Additionally, as a result of Tibetan Buddhism Tara statues developed into 21 different emanations.
In fact, Tara is believed to represent an entire class of deities. Each is depicted with a different color or shade of the same color. Also, Tara statues are depicted standing or seated in different postures such as full lotus, half lotus and sometimes one one leg extended. Furthermore, she can be depicted as wrathful, semi-wrathful and peaceful.
Green Tara Statues – “Khadiravaṇi”
The most common and popular embodiment of Tara is known as “Green Tara” or Khadiravaṇi. In this form she is known as a forest goddess. Her pure land in Mt Potala is described as a lush evergreen paradise with waterfalls, birds, flowers and trees.
Green Tara is also associated with quickness of movement and she is always ready to come to the aid of suffering life. As a result, seated Green Tara statues are depicted with one leg extended and the other leg pulled in to reflect meditative contemplation.
Additionally, the Green Tara story is strongly associated with protection from fear and the eight obscurations of pride, delusion, hatred, jealousy, wrong views, avarice, desire and deluded doubts. As a result, many Green Tara statues are shown depicting the Abhaya mudra. This is known as the mudra of fearlessness and protection. However, Green Tara statues display the Abhaya mudra with the left hand, in contrast to Shakyamuni who uses the right hand.
Green Tara is also strongly affiliated with the blue lotus flower (uptala). This flower has a special characteristic in that it releases it’s fragrance at night with the moon. Thus, she has become affiliated with the moon and night time. Green Tara’s affiliation with the moon draws a parallel with White Tara symbolism. This is because White Tara is believed to glow with the brightness of a thousand white moons.
The Green Tara statue meaning is further enhanced by displaying the “gift giving” Varada mudra with the right hand. Additionally, she is commonly depicted with 2 uptala (lotus) flowers growing over each shoulder. One of them remains closed to entice devotees to reach for the unopened rewards of Nirvana that awaits them.
Green Tara Mantra Meaning
The Green Tara mantra is “oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā“. The English translation means “I prostrate to the Liberator, Mother of all the Victorious Ones.” “Mother of the Victorious ones” refers to the belief that Tara is the mother of the Tathagatas (Buddhas). The Green Tara mantra benefits induce strength in devotees to overcome their fears and the above mentioned obscurations. It is one of the most common mantras used in Tibetan Buddhist practice to induce a deep meditative state.
“7-Eyed” White Tara Symbolism
White Tara symbolism is believed to glow with the radiance of a thousand full moons. She is associated with healing, longevity and compassion for all sentient life. It is believed that her compassion for sentient beings exceeds that of their own mothers. Each White Tara statue for sale is depicted with seven eyes.
Indeed, White Tara statue meaning is much enhanced with an extra eye in the middle of her forehead, between the brows and one eye on each of her hands and feet. As a result, all of her thoughts and actions are governed with the ultimate compassion and wisdom.
White Tara is also known as “Cintachakra” or the wish fulfilling wheel. White Tara symbolism is strongly affiliated with longevity and in Tibet, she is believed to be one of the three deities of long life. The other two deities of long life are Amitayus and Namgyalma.
In contrast with Green Tara, White Tara statues sit in full lotus or diamond pose. On a similar note, White Tara statues display the Varada mudra with her right hand and the Abhaya mudra with the left. Additionally, in Tibetan Buddhism White Tara is believed to be a fully enlightened Buddha.
One common method of venerating White Tara is to recite her mantra: “Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jñana Pustim Kuru Svaha”. The White Tara mantra benefits will inspire devotees to defeat the defilements and overcome their resultant bad karma.
Dancing Red Tara Statues – “Kurukulla”
Red Tara statues depict a wrathful emanation of Tara. Additionally, this deity is known as “Kurukulla” and she is a deity of enchantment. As a result, her devotees believe that she can give them the power to bend people to their will. For example, gratuitous recitation of her mantra can influence a politician, estranged lover of even a King.
Her mantra is recited as “Om Kurukulle Hrih Svaha” – 10,000 recitations will fulfill your desires, 30,000 recitations will subdue a government minister and 100,000 can subdue a King. However, a condition of the mantra’s effectiveness is that the intentions of the inducer must be virtuous and not evil.
Kurukulla has a very frightening appearance compared to both White and Green Tara statues. Red Tara statues are depicted with 4 arms and a frightening countenance. Additionally, she is usually standing in Dakini pose on a human corpse which symbolizes the death of negativity. Red Tara statues are surrounded by a ring of flames that represent pristine awareness. Kurukulla holds a flower bow and arrow that is drawn back and ready to fire. In her other hands she holds a flower noose and flower goad.
World Class Tara Statues
I hope you enjoyed my brief introduction to the venerable Buddhist deity – Tara. Please enjoy our world class selection of Tara statues that we have on display in our gallery. All our Tara statues were handmade by highly skilled artisans and each statue is unique and original.
Our sculptors use the traditional lost wax sculpting method for each statue creation. Therefore, all of our Tara statues display the Green Tara meaning and White Tara symbolism with pristine accuracy. When you purchase one of our Tara statues rest assured that you have procured a monastic quality statue. Indeed, our statues were created by the same artisans who have supplied the Tibetan monasteries for many centuries. All statues come with free shipping worldwide and your satisfaction is guaranteed.