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The word Tara itself is derived from the root 'tri' (to cross), hence the implied meaning:' the one who enables living beings to cross the Ocean of Existence and Suffering'. Her compassion for living beings, her desire to save them from suffering, is said to be even stronger than a mother's love for her children.
Legend has it that Tara was born from the compassionate tears of Avalokiteshvara (The Buddha of compassion):
"Homage! Tara, swift, heroic! With a glance like flashing lightning, born from a blooming lotus sprung from the tears on the face of the Lord of the World!"
The above verse refers to the legend of Tara's origin. Avalokiteshvara was looking down from his heaven on the world of suffering beings, and he wept to see that more and more of them were in pain. From the tears streaming down his face two Taras were born, a peaceful white one from the left and a fierce green one from the right. Tara is thus also often referred to as Avalokiteshvara's consort.
Green Tara is Tara's most dynamic manifestation. Her color symbolizes youthful vigor and activity. The Buddhist Lord of karma (action), Amoghasiddhi, is also associated with the green color, thus signifying that they belong to the same family. This is a further affirmation of the perception that Green Tara is a goddess of action.
She is depicted in a posture of ease with right leg extended, signifying her readiness to spring into action. The left leg is folded in the contemplative position on the lotus pedestal, the two together thus symbolizing the integration of wisdom and art. Her left hand, in the gesture of granting refuge holds the stem of a lotus that floats over her left shoulder as a symbol of purity and power. With her right hand she makes the boon-granting gesture (varada mudra) and holds another lotus.
She is shown seated on a lotus pedestal.
The followers of Green Tara believe that her special powers will help overcome dangers, fears, and anxieties, and that she will grant wishes. She is also believed to help one cross over from danger to safety or from suffering to happiness. Her femininity imbues her with soft and compassionate feelings, and she acts very quickly and directly as a savioress. Representing active compassion, she is particularly worshipped for her ability to overcome the most difficult situations. As the first Dalai Lama puts it, just by being called to help, she instantaneously saves the 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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