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Texto Bokar Rinpoche Tara the Feminne Divine

Texto Bokar Rinpoche Tara the Feminne Divine

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TAR A

The Feminine Divine
Bokar Rinpoche
Tara
The Feminine
Divine
Immanent nature of samsara and nirvana
the clear light.
The saintly Lama shows the mode of being
the clear light.
May the fortunate ones who practice
the mahamudra-clear light
become buddhas in the heart of awakening
the clear light.
BOKAR RINPocHE
To Juanita Halt
May the reflection of her kind heart shine and benefit all
beings. .
Publisher's Acknowledgement
The publisher gratefully acknowledges the generous
help of Rosemary Gilpin, Karen Graham, Derek Smith,
Elson Snow, Carolyn Sumrall, Isa9 and Sets Tanaka.
Tara
The Feminine
Divine
Bokar Rinpoche
English Translation
Christiane Buchet
ClearPoint Press
San Francisco, California
Tara the Feminine Divine
Published by:
ClearPoint Press
PO Box 170658
San Francisco, CA 94117
The original text of this book was published in French
and was titled Tara Ie divin au feminin
Copyright reserved for all countries:
Association Claire Lumiere
5 avenue Camille Pelletan
13760 Saint-Cannat, France
Copyright © 1999 English Edition ClearPoint Press
Printed in Canada
Book printed on 'acid-free paper
Third Printing 2007
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number:
ISBN: 978-1-930164-00-0
Cover: Representation of Green Tara in silk applique
from Bokar Rinpoche's Drolkhang.
Table of Contents
Introduction ....... ... .... . ................. . . . .... . .. 7
A Different Way of Thinking . . ... ............. .... ....... 7
Bokar Rinpoche and Tara ..... . ....... . ..... . ...... .. .... 7
Genesis of this Book . . ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 8
1- Tara the Divine ................. .. .... .. ......... . .. 9
The Play of Ultimate and Relative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 9
A Means and a Reality . ... .. ......... .... .. .. .... . .. . .. 11
Toward the Body of Enjoyment .. . .. ......... .. . .. ..... .. 12
The Divine Coming from the Human ............. . . . . . . . . . 15
Absolute Tara ..... . . . ................. ... ....... ...... 17
From Woman to Deity ................................. 19
Tara's Help Against Fear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 21
The Eight Great Fears .... ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 25
Tara and the Toothache ... .. .. .. . .. .............. ..... . 26
Tara's Judicial Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Tara Reunites a Family .... .... ...... .... . . .. . . . . . . . . . .. 30
Tara Protects the Caravan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 32
Tara's Snow ... ... . .......... ... .. .. . ............... " 34
The Sahib with a Rainbow Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 36
Wondrous Representations .. ............................ 38
Various Tara Aspects ........ .. . . ............. .. ....... 39
White Tara ....... . ...... . .... . . ..... . . .. . ...... .... . 41
White Tara Orders Statues ... . ............... ........ .. . 41
Tara's Symbolism .. ... .. .. .. .. ......... ..... ..... . ... . 42
Green Tara . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
White Tara . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 45
2- Tara's Tantra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 47
What Is a Tantra? .. ... .. . .. .. .... . . ...... . ... . . .. .... . 47
Encrypted Language of the Tantras ... . ........ . .......... 49
Origin of the Tara Tantra ...... .. ............ .. .. . ...... 51
Uttering of the Tara Tantra by Shakyamuni Buddha . . . . . . . . . .. 52
Tantras among Human Beings ...... ..... .. .. . . . ... ...... 53
Hayapala's Lineage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 55
Atisha and Tara ... .. ......... . .. . ....... ..... . ....... 56
Miraculous Transformation . .. .. .... ... . .. . ..... .. .. . 56
Choosing Ethics ........... . .......... ..... ........ 57
How to Make Amends for a Fault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 57
The Yogini's Message . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Tara's Warning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 58
- 5 -
3- Invocation of Tara .... . ...................... . ..... 63
Function of Rituals . ....... . ... .. .. . .... . .............. 63
Tara Ritual .... . .. . .............. ... ................. 65
Outer Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 66
Inner Practice .......... . .......... .. ........... ....... 70
Secret Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 71
The Simple Prayer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 74
Empowerments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 79
Tara Empowerment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 80
4- The Praise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 83
Origin of the Praise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 94
How to Recite the Praise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 95
Explanation of the Praise .............. . ............. .. . 96
5-- Buddhism and Women. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 123
Men and Women: a Unique Potential ........... . . . . . . . . .. 124
Remarkable Women in Indian Buddhism ...... .. ....... . .. 126
Gelongma Palmo .. . .. . .. . ..... . .................. 127
Mandarava . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 128
Niguma . . .. ......... . ............... . . . ........ 129
Sukhasiddhi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130
Remarkable Women of Tibetan Buddhism . . ........... . ... 133
The Two Spouses of Songtsen Gampo ......... . ....... 133
Yeshe Tsogyal ......... . ....... . . . ..... . ......... 134
Machik labdron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 136
Personal Encounters . ... . .. . .... . ........ . . . .......... 138
Ugyen Tsomo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 138
Drikung Khandro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 139
Ani Yesang . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 139
6-lconography . ...... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
The Twenty-one Taras .... ... ........ . ...... .. . ' . . . . . . .. 146
Taras Who Protect from the Eight Fears ... . .. . ... . . . . . . . .. 157
Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 161
Glossary ....... . ...... . ............ . .. . ............ 165
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 173
Index ............. .. ............................... 174
- 6 -
Introduction
A DIFFERENT WAY OF THINKING
This work is not a study of Tara and the context of the deity as they
would be envisioned by a Western scholar but rather a presentation of
the way a Tibetan understands things. To understand will require some
effort on the reader's part.
Our approach to history and what science tells us about the reality
of the world instill habitual ways of thinking that dare not go beyond
what our senses and reason allow us to perceive. The Tibetan traditional
mind moves in a larger world. According to it, perception of senses and
intelligence have some value but are too limited to sufficiently describe
reality. Thousands of years of history form only a split second in relation
to the infinity of time. The Earth is only a grain of sand among the
immensity of worlds; and beings that we see-human and animal-are
only a small part of the possibilities of existence. It easily envisions as
real what we consider without hesitation as belonging to the domain of
myth and legend. For the traditional Tibetan mind, historical truths and
mythical truths are not contradictory, they are intertwined and complete
each other gracefully.
Who is right? Westerners and their belief in what can be seen or
Tibetans and their belief in what cannot be seen? It is perhaps an endless
debate in which we will not participate here. It is certain that readers not
used to the Tibetan way of thinking will be surprised and pOSSibly
distressed at the manner in which things are presented in this book.
Without any doubt, they will have the feeling of completely wandering
in mythology or in fairy tales, in a universe with which they are not
directly concerned. However, if the readers make the effort to enlarge
their vision of the world, it will not be without benefit; not only will
they be able to understand how a thought other than theirs functions,
but they will gain entry to larger, more diverse, and mysterious worlds.
Where is reality? Who knows?
BOKAR RINPOCHE AND TARA
Bokar Rinpoche has the deepest devotion to Tara. Already in his
monastery in Tibet, Bokar Rinpoche in a previous incarnation
consecrated a shrine to Tara. in Mirik, India, where Bokar Rinpoche
founded a new monastery, he reserved a room for Tara, the
Drolkhang-a shrine devoted to Tara.
It is in the Drolkhang that Bokar Rinpoche spends most of his time.
Behind him on the wall, hangs a White Tara thangka painted with gold.
On each side of this thangka, there are thangkas of other life deities such
as Amitayus (Tsepame) and Ushnishavavijaya (Namgyalma). On the
- 7-
wall facing Bokar Rinpoche, there is a representation of Green Tara in
silk applique from Tibet. But above all, on Bokar Rinpoche's left (the
visitor's right) there is a vast and magnificent shrine containing many
statues of Tara gathered in tiers. The central statue is the size of a
human being and adorned with precious and fine ornaments. In its
heart, Bokar Rinpoche has placed a small Tara statue that he inherited
from his previous incarnation. This statue, carved out of a meteorite, is
famous for not having been made by human hands but dropped from
the sky. It is supposedly traced to the ancient Nalanda University which
sheltered several thousand monks when buddhism was blooming in
India, more than 1500 years in the past. When Bokar Rinpoche visited
the Nalanda and Sarnath museums, he noticed statues dating from this
time, and they were very similar to his statue.
Bokar Rinpoche carries a reliquary, as all Tibetan lamas do, which
contains another Tara statue from the 18th century that he considers
very precious. It was given to his previous incarnation by the 11th Situ
Rinpoche, a great lama who had his monastery in Kham. When Bokar
Rinpoche travels, he always takes this reliquary with him, and it is not
unusual for him to use it to give bleSSings while reciting Tara's praise.
Finally, in the recently constructed retreat center of his monastery,
Bokar Rinpoche has also reserved a special shrine to Tara, which
contains many beautiful statues.
. When Bokar Rinpoche speaks of Tara, he does not merely impart
intellectual knowledge. While keeping in his deepest heart the secret of
his relationship to the deity, he cannot hide the beauty of the pure love
that links him to her.
GENESIS OF THIS BOOK
In 1990, Bokar Rinpoche produced a book on Avalokita (Chenrezig) to
answer the demand of his disciples. This book proved valuable not only
for understanding this deity but also for understanding the foundations
of Vajrayana. Seeing how beneficial this book was, Bokar Rinpoche
wished to dedicate a second book to Tara. This was realized during a
sojourn in Mirik in the Fall of 1996. Bokar Rinpoche delivered oral
teachings in Tibetan during several encounters. This explains why part
of the text appears as a dialogue whose style we preferred to retain.
May this work, in spite of the passage from oral to written, the
translation defects and the imperfection of the translator, reflect some
radiance of Tara the divine! -Fran .. ois Jacquemart (Choky Senge)
Note
Deities are mentioned by their Sanskrit names followed by their Tibetan names
in parentheses.
Some general dharma terms in the text are given in Sanskrit in parenthesis. When
it is a Tibetan word, it is preceded by "Tibetan."
- 8 -
1 - Tara the Divine
Buddhism, as it was introduced to Tibet, contains
many deities- Tara is one of them-tied to the tantric
tradition. Tibetans who, in their childhood, start to
evolve within this divine world seldom question its
nature. They are naturally drawn toward these
familiar faces and accomplish rituals and meditative
practices associated with them.
Westerners, however, find themselves in the
presence of a new universe which seemingly has no
equivalent in their culture. This leads them to ask
many questions. Before trying to define who Tara is,
it may be useful to first understand what the deities
are-both on the ultimate level of their essence and on
the relative level of their manifestation.
THE PLAy OF ULTIMATE AND RELATIVE
Deities, as we see them, are not essentially superior
individuals living in faraway worlds that sometimes
come to the rescue of human beings, even if their
manifestations may give that impression.
In truth, if we realize the true nature of our
minds/ the deities reveal themselves as being not
different from our own minds: As long as we do not
realize it and live in the duality I/other, the deities
enter the play of duality and a relationship is
established between these two poles of manifestation,
I and the deity.
- 9 -
Let us suppose that in a dream we meet a deity.
We would be sure of the individual existence of that
deity. Also, we would be sure of the reality of the "I"
who, upon seeing the deity, would feel joy and
devotion. However, in truth, the person perceiving the
deity and the deity would both be manifestations from
the same inexpressible essence, the mind itself. In the
same way, for those who live on a relative level, the
deities appear on a relative level without being
separated from their essence, which is none other than
the essence of the mind.
To understand the true nature of deities, we must
always remind ourselves of the two levels of reality:
- Ultimate truth, beyond notions of subject and object,
I and other, beyond concepts and words, truth is
always present and always "true," but it is not
experienced by ordinary beings. .
- Relative truth, "false" in essence but "true" for the
people who experience it, a truth founded on the
fallacious perception of subject and object, of an "I"
and another. .
If, from our point of view, there is an "I" and the
"deity," from the point of view of the deity, there is
neither an I nor another, neither subject nor object.
This does not imply the absence of manifestation, but
that this manifestation is without duality. It lacks a
"center and circumference."
The true nature of the mind is the nature of the
mind as it is, free from any psychological elaboration
and free from all mistakes and illusion, subject and
object.
Why is the nature of the mind called "divine"?
This is because it is without suffering, pure of any
disturbances, and because it is superior bliss. This
- 10 -
happiness is different from the relative happiness that
we experience in the ordinary world. It is not a
transitory happiness depending on objects or
depending on relationships of an "I" and "another,"
but a happiness inherent to the mind itself, beyond all
duality. This happiness cannot be altered by any fear
or suffering. This genuine and immutable happiness is
itself the deity.
A MEANS AND A REALITY
Deities in a relative sense, as we have sketched above,
are the deities as they now appear to us in various
forms and colors, adorned with diverse attributes and
ornaments.
Although these deities are not located on an
ultimate level, from the point of view of our mode of
perception, they are not separated from the ultimate.
In effect, their nature is such that practicing with
deities leads to the realization of the ultimate deity,
that is, the mode of being of the mind. In this sense,
they constitute a means. However, this does not mean
that the deities are simply an artifice.
In reality, they are what is called the "Body . of
Enjoyment of Awakening" (Sambhogakaya
2
); in other
words, an extremely subtle level of manifestation. This
Body of Enjoyment is not separate from the Absolute
Body (Dharmakaya), the awakened mind beyond
manifestation that does not differ from the ultimate
deity. The Body of Enjoyment is an expression of the
dynamics of the Absolute Body, an expression that is
never separated from its origin. Deities are linked to
the ultimate essence of the mind, not only as a means
of accessing it, but by their very nature.
- 11 -
From the point of view of the path leading to
awakening, these deities appear as external to our
mind, as an expression of the buddhas to help us in
our progress, because of our dualistic thinking.
From the point of view of fruition-that is, once
we have fully realized the nature of the mind-deities
are no longer seen as external but as the
manifestation of the Absolute Body, beyond duality,
beyond any notion of "I" and "another," the Absolute
Body with which our mind has merged.
TOWARD THE BODY OF ENJOYMENT
Let us take Tara as an example. Now, when we
practice Tara meditation, we must make a mental
effort to imagine her as she is, green in color, hands
making certain mudras, legs in a definite position,
adorned with various attributes, and so on. In a
certain way, Tara is then the creation of our psyche,
and we remain, at least partially, prisoners of the idea
that there is "me" on the one hand and Tara on the
other. This mental creation is not useless. As a
reflection of the Body of Enjoyment, this mental
creation is linked with it and allows us to approach it.
Once the ultimate realization is obtained, this same
Tara is no longer the fruit of any mental effort.
Without her form disappearing, she reveals herself as
a spontaneous expression of the Absolute Body, a
clarity of the mind in which there is no subject and no
object.
There is also a difference between the deity as we
imagine it, and as she exists in the reality of the
Awakened Mind.
It is also said that the Body of Enjoyment does not
serve to benefit a bud.dha but it benefits others. From
- 12-
our point of view, it is true. However, from the point
of view of a buddha, there is no I and no other. This
means that a buddha does not think he or she must
produce Bodies of Enjoyment or must help others. As
we have seen, the Body of Enjoyment is a spontaneous
expression of the Absolute Body. The activity that is
exerted is spontaneous, lacking will and effort, lacking
also the notion of a reality inherent to the
manifestation, and the idea of an "I" who helps and
"another" that is helped.
That the deity may first appear as external, then
reveal itself as inherent to the nature of the mind
without idea of external or internal, may seem difficult
to understand. The difficulty comes from a dualistic
conceptual approach. For us, there is an "I" or another,
external or internal, and if we cannot imagine that it
can be otherwise, we cannot really understand what
matters. Only the realization of the nature of mind
will give us direct experience of this reality.
Question: The Absolute Body of a buddha is emptiness in
essence and is not subject to interruption. Does the Body of
Enjoyment, that is, the expression of the clarity of pure
mind, manifest in a permanent or intermittent way?
Answer: Emptiness and clarity cannot be conceived as
two separate entities. They are undifferentiated. There
is no longer a moment when emptiness would be
associated with clarity than a moment when it would
not. Emptiness and clarity are only a way to describe
a unique reality. Therefore, it is not possible to say
that the manifestation of the Body of Enjoyment is
intermittent. It is why the Body of Enjoyment is
qualified as "permanent."
- 13 -
Question: The Body of Enjoyment manifests in extremely
various aspects tlult we see represented in the form of
various deities. Is the diversity necessary?
Answer: On the one hand, this diversity derives from
the nature itself of things. The possibilities of
expression of a buddha or clarity of the nature of
mind are infinite. This is why the forms of the Body of
Enjoyment are infinite. Nothing can limit them. For
this reason, it is also called "Body of All Forms." All
forms are possible. All colors, all ornaments, and all
attributes are possible. It is also said that limitations of
an ordinary body do not apply to the Body of
Enjoyment. The hand of a Body of Enjoyment cannot
only touch objects but it can also see, hear, experience
taste, think, and so on. This applies to any part of the
body.
From the point of view of practice, on the other
hand, the diversity that is proposed to us is a means
to fight our strong tendency to believe in the reality of
phenomena as we are able to perceive them. The
multiplicity of forms tends to show us that what they
really are is bigger than our understanding. If there
were only one deity, only one form of the Body of
Enjoyment, this would lead us, without any doubt, to
implicitly accord to the deity a level of reality similar
to ours. We conceive ourselves as an entity limited to
a body and we would probably conceive the deity as
an entity limited to a body. The diversity of forms and
the understanding that they all are the various
expressions of the unique nature of the mind, the
Absolute Body, help us not to fall into this flaw in
understanding.
- 14 -
THE DIVINE COMING FROM THE HUMAN
We have explained that, to benefit beings, fully
awakened beings, such as the buddhas, spontaneously
assume, in a nonintentional way, various forms on the
level of pure manifestation normally inaccessible to
ordinary human beings. They are called the Body of
Enjoyment. These forms can be diversified: male,
female, peaceful, wrathful, and in several aspects.
These deities come directly from the compassionate
activity of the buddhas. If the deities have a feminine
appearance, they are called goddesses.
From a relative point of view, however, some
deities are considered the result of a human ascending
to the divine. There are men or women who have
embarked on the dharma path, rid themselves of all
imperfections of the ordinary state, and have seen the
qualities of the awakened state bloom within
themselves. They have reached a divine state and
become" gods" or "goddesses."
Tara may be seen as belonging-at least from the
point of view of pedagogical truth-to the latter
category. As we will see, she was first an ordinary
being, then she passed through all of the levels of the
path, and she finally attained the result and became a
goddess.
Question: Do masculine deities more represent the skillful .
means, that is, the compassionate activity, the dynamic pole
of awakening, and feminine deities the "knowledge," the
static pole?
Answer: At the level of representation, in some way,
yes. These representations conform, in fact, to our own
habits of perception. As we perceive the human
gender divided into men and women, deities are also
- 15 -
presented in masculine or feminine forms to which we
attribute certain characteristics. However, from the
point of view of the reality of the Enjoyment Body,
means and knowledge are always indiscriminately
uni ted to the essence of the deity.
Question: Deities are often called "yidams" 'in Tibetan.
What does it mean?
Answer: Yidam is a term referring to practice done
with a deity. This designates the deity corresponding
to our wish, to our aspiration, the one with whom we
have a connection.
Question: Does it mean that everyone must choose his or
her yidam or that the lama may give a particular yidam to
each individual?
Answer: In most cases, no. In reality, all yidams serve
the same function, and it is not certain that we have a
strong connection with any particular one. However,
we can say that our karmic predispositions made us
meet one of the great orders of Tibetan buddhism in
particular. The same predispositions make us situate
ourselves within a framework where we will be led to
practice this yidam rather than another. Kagyupas
practice three great yidams, Vajravahari (Dorje Pamo),
Chakrasamvara (Korlo Demchok) and Jinasagara
(Gyalwa Gyamtso). Gelukpas practice Guhyasamaja
(Sangwa Dupa) and Yamantaka, the Sakyapas Hevajra
(Kyepa Dorje), and so on.
However, it may happen that an individual feels a
particular aspiration to practice a certain yidam. In
this case, the person will practice this yidam
regardless of the school it is associated with. It can
also happen, although it is not frequent, that a lama,
- 16 -
having discerned a special connection, gives a
particular yidam to a disciple to practice.
This was the case for Birwapa who first began
practicing Chakrasamvara. After some time, he had
such bad dreams that he preferred to give up all
practice. He was then requested to practice Hevajra, a
practice through which he quickly attained realization.
This does not mean that Chakrasamvara was a bad
yidam, but that Birwapa in his past lives had a weak
connection with Chakrasamvara whereas he had
already acquired a great practice of Hevajra. This
made the result happen sooner. It was then necessary ·
for him to give up Chakrasamvara to practice Hevajra.
Generally, connections are not that obvious.
Question: Among the yidams mentioned, we do not find
Tara. What is her place?
Answer: Tara (Drolma), like Manjushri Gam pal yang)
and Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) are yidams common
in all orders and for all Tibetan buddhists.
Question: Are male yidams more appropriate for men and
female yidams for women?
Answer: Not particularly. A man may very well
practice a female yidam, a woman a male yidam, and
vice versa.
ABSOLUTE TARA
What we have said about deities in general also
applies to Tara. T ~ r a ' s identity, as with that of other
deities, may be envisioned from two different points
of view, that of "pedagogical truth" and "certain
truth." Pedagogical truth complies with our ordinary
mode of thinking and certain truth goes beyond that.
- 17 -
This double identity of Tara is not a contradiction:
One does not negate the other.
From an absolute point of view, because of her
nature itself as an awakened deity, Tara could not be
other than the nature of our own mind.
Let us clarify what this nature of the mind is. It is
beyond any concept, beyond any mental elaboration,
and beyond notions such as:
- existence and nonexistence
- nothing and something
- material and immaterial, and so on.
Beyond concepts does not mean nothingness. The
nature of mind is the domain of awareness itself, of
the experience itself of pure awareness. No intellect,
no reasoning, no word can grasp it or· express it.
However, it is present and cannot be negated.
This awareness, inherent in everyone beyond any
mental elaborations, also is Tara in the ultimate
domain.
Other names are used to designate the ultimate
Tara. She is notably called "perfection of knowledge"
(prajnaparamita).
The perfection of knowledge has no form, it is
emptiness of the Absolute Body (Dharmakaya). This
emptiness, however, as we previously explained, has
the capability to manifest itself purely as the Body of
Enjoyment (Sambhogakaya). It is on the level of the
Body of Enjoyment that feminine deities such as Tara,
Vajravarahi (Dorje Pamo), and many others appear ..
All of them are in essence the perfection of knowledge
or the nature itself of our mind.
It is also said that Tara is the "Mother of all
Buddhas," which refers also to her essence. The nature
of mind, perfection of knowledge, and emptiness are,
- 18 -
in fact, equivalent terms. All past buddhas have
attained buddhahood by realizing emptiness (or
realizing the nature of the mind). It is the same for
present buddhas and it will be the same for future
buddhas. Thus, Tara- the Tara beyond time, space,
and all concepts-is the mother of all buddhas.
FROM WOMAN TO DEITY
Even if it seems disconcerting, the existence of Tara on
an ultimate level as we have described it, . does not
hinder or contradict her existence on a relative level,
also called the level of "pedagogkal truth."
According to stories of this pedagogical truth,
known through the work of Tananatha/ a 16th-
century lama of great realization and scholarship, Tara
was a woman before becoming a deity.
Her story began incalculable ages ago, in a world
called "Multicolored Light," where the Drum Sound
Buddha dwelled. One of the king's daughters at this
time, called Wisdom Moon, possessed great faith and
devotion to this buddha. For many years, she made
immense offerings to this buddha and his entourage
of monks.
One day, she decided to take the bodhisattva vow
in the presence of the Buddha Drum Sound, that is, to
promise to attain awakening to benefit beings in
infinite ways. The monks rejoiced greatly at her
decision, and considering that she would accumulate
great merit by this activity, advised her to pray in
order to obtain in a future life the body of a man. This
would allow her to benefit beings and the dharma
better than in a female existence.
- 19 -
Wisdom Moon, distressed by their narrowness of
mind, answered them from the point of view of the
ultimate nature of all things:
Here, no man, no woman,
no I, no individual, no categories.
"Man" or "woman" are only denominations
created by confusion of perverse minds
in this world.
She added that there were many who followed the
path in a man's body, few in a woman's body. "As for
myself," she said, "as long as samsara is not emptied,
I will benefit beings appearing in a female body."
Such was her promise.
Her practice then allowed her to realize ultimate
truth. Having become a goddess, she has placed
millions of beings on the path of awakening each day.
Dwelling for some time in a particular state of
concentration called "concentration that frees beings
from samsara," she was known as "Savioress," or
"Tara" in Sanskrit. It is said that she liberated an
infinite number of beings in the morning and an
infinite number in the afternoon.
In another cosmic era, the kalpa of Perfect Victory,
when Buddha Amoghasiddhi lived, Tara entered
another state of concentration to protect beings from
danger, fears, and demons. This state is called the
"concentration that completely vanquishes demons."
Again, she benefited many beings, providing help as
soon as they called upon her. Because of the swiftness
of her activity, she was known as "Swift and '
Courageous."
Later, during the kalpa Without Beginning, there
lived a monk called Stainless who received the
empowerment of compassion of all the buddhas'
- 20 -
mind. He became the deity Avalokiteshvara
(Chenrezig). The five Victors, the buddhas who reign
over the five families of awakening, gave him a special
empowerment. This caused Tara to arise from his
heart, coming through this mode of manifestation to
accomplish the buddhas' wishes and work at
benefiting beings during that kalpa. (In some versions,
Tara appears from Avalokiteshvara's tear drop.) For
this r e ~ s o n , Tara also has the name of "Daughter of
the Worlds' Sovereign," that is, daughter of
Avalokiteshvara.
Tara, the Swift and Courageous Daughter of the
Worlds' Sovereign, has been benefiting beings during
many kalpas by manifesting in various ways and
accomplishing various activities through particular
states of concentration.
Such is Tara's story in the domain of manifestation.
Question: Generally, a "pure land," a paradise, is attributed
to the deities and they dwell in it. What is Tara's pure
land?
Answer: Tara dwells, as A valokiteshvara, in the pure
land of Potala, manifested on Earth by a mountain in
Southern India. Nevertheless, a pure land is attributed
to Tara. It is a particular domain, called "Harmony of
Turquoise Leaves.,,4
TARA'S HELP AGAINST FEAR
Having infinite compassion for suffering beings,
bodhisattvas make wishes that lead them to act in one
way rather than another to actualize their wishes.
Likewise, Tara's main activity is to brush away fear
and danger.
- 21 -
What is fear? How does Tara help deal with it? It
is what we will try to understand now.
During our existences, we face two kinds of fear.
- The first fear is not obtaining what we wish.
- The second fear is not being able to eliminate
danger, threat, or circumstances painful for us.
Because of one or another of these reasons, we
often find ourselves afraid at various levels, from
worry to fright.
If we look closely, we see that the real cause of fear
is none other than the ego itself, or more exactly,
attachment to the ego, the "I." The greater this
attachment, the more numerous are the fearful states.
All that threatens "me" in one way or another
engenders fear. All that "I" risks to lose engenders
fear. Fear and a belief in the reality of "I," fear and
attachment to oneself are very closely related.
On this profound cause, various factors are grafted
such as circumstances of existence but also some
karmic predispositions. The karmic predispositions
sometimes engender fear apparently without reason,
or a state of almost permanent worry that no outer
event can justify.
The correlative to any feeling of fear is the desire
to find help and protection. However, the outside
world is often impotent to provide us any of the help
we want, to such an extent that fear leads to despair.
What the world cannot give us, the reality that
transcends this world, incarnated by the buddhas and
bodhisattvas, can give us. Particularly, the activity of
all the buddhas directed toward elimination of fear
and danger is found within the divine person of Tara.
- 22 -
Tara has the power to help us. However, this
power is effective only if we trust it. For Tara to help,
we must pray to her and call upon her from the
bottom of our hearts without reserve or doubting her
intervention. The deity's response depends on the
strength of our trust. If doubt inhabits our mind, there
is a small probability that Tara's blessing and
protection will come to us, whereas a trust without
reserve and a complete conviction, will insure that
they will certainly come.
In reality, all worldly appearances are a
manifestation of our mind. Fear, apprehension, and
danger are also a manifestation of our mind, just like
in a bad dream the mind creates both the threat and
the one who feels it.
- 23 -
The creative faculty of our mind is very strong. It
is this strength that exerts itself in the fervent prayer
addressed to Tara. Together with Tara's immense will
to help beings, this strength makes possible the
protection. The help that we receive is the fruit of the
meeting of these two factors, the force of our devotion
and Tara's compassion.
We must understand that if phenomena had reality
in themselves, no change would be possible. By the
fact that they are empty in nature, they are only
expressions of the deep conditioning of our mind that
can be changed. This explains the efficiency of our
prayer and Tara's answer.
It is also why, when the nature of the mind is
realized, all fear disappears.
- 24 -
THE EIGHf GREAT FEARS
Traditionally, it is said that Tara protects against the
eight great fears or eight great dangers such as
elephants, lions, snakes, fire, water, thieves, fetters
(imprisonment), and demons. These eight dangers
were certainly the greatest challenge one could meet
in ancient India. Nevertheless, the list is not
exhaustive. Tara protects against all dangers whatever
they are when we call upon her to help us and pray
to her with confidence.
There is another interpretation of the eight great
fears. Firstly, they may refer to physical dangers in
our life, secondly, they designate the afflicting
emotions in our mind, which are major dangers
because they may lead us to accomplish negative acts.
They are the causes, because of the karmic
consequences of these acts, of all our future suffering.
The following equivalences have been established:
- elephants = blindness
- lions = pride
- fire = anger
- poisonous snakes = jealousy
- thieves = erroneous philosophies
- imprisonment = greed
- water = desire and attachment
- demons = doubts
To protect us from inner fears, Tara dissipates the
afflicting emotion itself, which is the cause of, as well
as the suffering that is the result.
Many stories from ancient times report Tara's
intervention to save a person from a threatening
snake, another from the danger of fire, another from
the demons' attacks, and so on. However, for those
who pray to her, the helping activity of Tara remains
- 25 -
today what it was in the past. Some contemporary
stories illustrate that.
TARA AND THE TOOTHACHE
When Kalu Rinpoche
5
was at Palpung retreat center in
Kham-he was probably 17 or 18 years old at the
time-he had a terrible toothache. Tara appearing to
him in a dream said, "You have no particular
devotion to me nor do you do my practice. However,
I will give you a mantra to recite 10,000 times, and
you will be healed." Kalu Rinpoche complied and the
next day was completely relieved of his toothache.
He thought that Tara's intervention was because of
a connection he had with her in a past life since he
had not placed any importance on her until then.
From that time on, he was much devoted to Tara.
TARA'S JUDICIAL SUCCESS
Travelers passing through Darjeeling may have seen
the Bellevue Hotel at the top of the city. The hotel
belongs to Mr. Lhawang, a Tibetan whose mother had
great devotion to Tara. Everyone called her II Amala,"
"Mother."
Every day, Amala recited the praise to the deity,
and each year made a large donation to monasteries
sponsoring recitation of 100,000 praises. She did not
know the dharma very well but her faith in Tara was
extraordinary.
She belonged to a family of Tibetans who had
settled in India a long time ago, and her husband had
important responsibilities in the colonial British
administration. At the time of independence, most of
the British decided to leave India quickly so many of
her husband's British friends sold their houses in the
- 26 -
Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas to her at a cheap
price. The wealth of Amala's family was, and still is,
well-known in Darjeeling.
Later, the validity of the property rights was
contested, resulting in litigation. Amala was an
educated woman, a lawyer, who could speak and
write fluently in English even better than in Tibetan,
which she could write phonetically when needed.
However, during these trials, Amala relied more on
Tara's protection than on her skills as a business
woman. She gladly admitted that she prayed to Tara
before every court trial, and never lost a single one.
One of the trials, in particular, concerned a great
sum of money, 100,000 rupees held by a bank
(equaling at that time 10,000 US dollars, which was a
considerable amount in India). Amala spent several
months in Calcutta awaiting the trial. The day before
the judgment, a young woman appeared to her in a
dream and told her, "Do not worry, tomorrow
everything will be fine."
The next day, not only was the judgment favorable
but because of a procedure she was never able to
explain, she received not 100,000 rupees but 300,000!
For her, there was no doubt that the young woman
who came to comfort her in the dream was none other
than Tara, and that the multiplication of rupees was
also due to the deity's astuteness.
- 27-
~
I
{
Tara's torma
The .deities ' tormas (or tentor) are symbolic figures made of
dough or clay, adorned with circular ornaments chiseled in
colored butter, They represent the deity's presence on the shrine.
- 28 -
In Sonada, Kalu Rinpoche's monastery in India
near Darjeeling, Amala donated a great Tara statue
surrounded by smaller representations of twenty-one
Taras that can still be seen in the temple. Her devotion
to Tara was so exclusive that, Kalu Rinpoche, having
a Padmasambhava statue placed above them for a
while, was told by her that this was not acceptable.
For six years, Amala was the benefactor of the two
Sonada retreat centers, providing food and all that
was necessary for the twenty or thirty meditators
there. She herself stayed in retreat for three years in a
small house at the foot of the monastery. There, she
assiduously prayed to Tara. She would sit, not facing
the shrine, but perpendicularly to It. One day, she
came to see Khenp06 and myself requesting that we
quickly go to her retreat house. As she would talk a
lot about unnecessary things, we doubted the
importance of what she wanted to communicate.
However, we followed her. She ushered us inside,
asked us to close the door and said, "Look at my
shrine!" In fact, something extraordinary had
happened. Tara's torma, instead of remaining in its
normal position, had spontaneously turned very
slowly toward Amala.
Amala died at an old age while visiting her
daughter who was working at the Indian Embassy in
Madrid.
Amala's story is filled with teachings. Most of her
life, she was a woman attached to worldly wealth and
money, praying ceaselessly for Tara to conserve or
increase what she owned. Her motivation was neither
deep nor generous. She was not thoughtful of others
or her future destiny. However, by continu(;>us
devotion to Tara and by keeping the deity in her
- 29 -
heart, she received Tara's blessing, and her mind
changed little by little. Toward the end of her life, she
met Kalu Rinpoche. She had no lama to guide her
until then: She detached herself from material
belongings, sincerely turned to the dharma, and
remained in retreat. Up to that time she was tied up
with her wealth, but then she made large offerings to
the Sonada monastery and retreat centers.
Such is Tara's blessing, that it turns her devotees
toward their own good beyond their limited wishes.
TARA REUNITES A FAMILY
At Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, there lives 50-year-
old Khenpo Gyurme Tsultrim who testifies to the
protection Tara gave to his family.
In 1960, Kham (the eastern province of Tibet) was
invaded by the Chinese. As a young boy, Khenpo had
to flee the area in company of his family and others.
It was a difficult and long trek.
One day, they found themselves facing a
contingent of Chinese troops in a narrow valley. They
could not avoid the troops and decided to press
forward, ready to die if necessary. They swallowed
sacred pills that they carried with them, checked that
. the sacred objects they had were secured, and
launched their horses. Rifles rang out. There were
people dead on both sides.
Of the hundred Khampas in the small caravan,
seventy made a successful escape and gathered on a
nearby mountain. Khenpo K yurme Tsuitrim, his
father, and one of his sisters were among them. His
mother and another sister were missing. His father
and other men went to look for them but were
- 30-
unsuccessful. Were they killed? Were they made
prisoners by the Chinese? No one knew. .
One year later, after much difficulty, Khenpo
Gyurme Tsultrim, his father, and his sister finally
arrived in India where they obtained refugee status.
For twenty years, they heard nothing of the mother
and sister who remained in Tibet. They believed them
to be dead.
Actually, they had been arrested by the Chinese
and led back to Kham. Without any protection, they
lived as best as they could working for almost nothing
for people who needed their services. The Chinese law
against religious practice at that time was extremely
severe. Anyone caught whispering prayers or reciting
mantras was immediately punished. Khenpo Gyurme
Tsultrim's mother, however, had great faith in Tara.
As often as she could, she secretly recited Tara's praise
and mantra. Notably, when she watched over sheep
and yaks, she arranged to give something to eat to the
children who went with her and asked them to watch
the animals grazing nearby. As soon as she was alone,
she recited prayers and humbly asked Tara to find her
lost husband and children. At night, while others were
asleep, she prayed even more.
After months and years of supplication, a young
woman appeared in her dream and told her, "Have no
fear, you will find your husband and children."
Time passed. At the beginning of the eighties, the
Chinese loosened the shackles imposed on Tibet a
little. They opened the borders and allowed exiled
Tibetans who wished to visit their motherland to
return. Khenpo Gyurme Tsultrim and his father
learned through other relatives that the mother and
sister were still alive and lived in a certain place.
- 31 -
As soon as they could, they went to Tibet and
returned to India with the two women who had been
lost for so long. Prayers had been heard and the
young woman's prophecy in the dream had been
realized.
Surrounded by their family, Khenpo Gyurme
Tsultrim's mother and father passed away seven or
eight years later.
TARA PROTECTS THE CARAVAN
In 1958, I had to go to Tsurphu, the Karmapa's seat in
the Lhasa area. It was there that I studied when I was
13 to 16 years old. The Karmapa
7
asked me to come
back to accomplish the traditional three-year retreat on
my twentieth birthday. To go from Bokar monastery
isolated in the high Western plateaux to Tsurphu
would take two months for a caravan.
In the Lhasa area, brown sugar was rare and well
appreciated. For Western nomads, it was easy to
acquire some by exchanging wool and butter at the
Ladakh border. My previous incarnation used to offer
a block of this sugar to every monk when he went to
Tsurphu. This made the monks very happy.
Consequently, I told myself that we should follow this
custom, and we prepared a large quantity of sugar to
take with us.
Besides this precious treat, our caravan carried
many presents for the Karmapa, offerings for rituals,
and all that was necessary for my three-year stay. In
all, not counting horses, we had about thirty mules
and a hundred yaks loaded with two big bags each,
most of them containing fifteen blocks of sugar.
In 1958, the road to Lhasa was extremely
dangerous. We did not fear the Chinese but the
- 32-
Khampas troops who were fleeing with no other
means of subsistence than to take flocks, horses, and
food by force, when they were passing a nomad
encampment or caravan. Given all the animals in our
caravan, as well as food, clothes, and valuable objects
that we carried, we represented an ideal prey for the
Khampas, an encounter beyond their expectations!
To obey the Karmapa, it was indispensable that we
go to Tsurphu however dangerous it might be. Who
could protect us better than Tara? To be assured of
her help, I asked the monks of the monastery, the
nuns of the neighboring nunnery, and the lay people
to come together if they could and recite 100,000
praises. A hundred people showed up, and it took us
about ten days to accomplish the recitation. .
Then, we left. On our way, on several occasions,
we could not avoid crossing the · route used by
Khampas' troops. By changing our itinerary, we were
able to avoid them most of the time. Nomads that we
met were warned of their coming. They tried as much
as possible to save their belongings and herds by
hiding them farther away. Generally, it had no effect
because the Khampas violently forced them to reveal
their hiding places. Talking with the nomads, we also
knew that horsemen from the East would soon arrive.
Although we had been warned, it was impossible
for us to evade them. We went off the path to set up
our encampment but it was not sufficiently hidden to
avoid being seen. From where we were, we could see
clearly the Khampas coming, menacing, and
demanding ransom from the nomads who had given
us a warning. It should have been inevitable for them
to see us. Our white tents, impressive number of yaks,
mules, and horses could only attract attention. For
- 33 -
inexplicable reasons, however, they did not see us!
Certainly we were scared but we never ceased to pray
to Tara and recite her praise.
We took advantage of night to continue on our
way. We finally reached our destination without
further incident.
Even now, when I recall this road to Tsurphu, I am
convinced that our safe journey was due to Tara's
blessing and her kind protection.
TARA'S SNOW
Because of the troubles caused by the Chinese, I did
not stay in Tsurphu to accomplish the three-year
retreat as had been previously decided. I resigned
myself to return to my monastery and prepare to flee
Tibet. Before leaving, again I asked people to recite
100,000 Tara praises.
We took the path to Nepal. About sixty people,
monks and laypeople, accompanied me with horses,
mules, yaks, goats, sheep, and as much luggage as we
could carry.
After three days on the road, and having set up
camp for the night, some men from our caravan
informed me of the presence of Chinese troops ahead
of us. They had just been warned by fleeing Khampas
who had to turn back after an encounter with the
Chinese during which they lost many horses and yaks.
What were we to do? Were the Khampas telling the
truth? Would the Chinese remain in their position? An
alternative road was possible, but was it safer than the
original one?
We accomplished the ritual of Tara and of the
protectors. I then decided to proceed to a "divination
by the dough." In this method, the various
- 34 -
possibilities are written on small pieces of paper and
rolled into some dough balls of the same shape. Then,
a ritual is held during which one holds in one hand a
saucer upon which the balls are placed and makes the
balls turn until one falls on the ground. That ball gives
the answer. In this case, we had written two answers
referring to the route we should normally follow,
"danger" and "no danger." The ball containing
"danger" fell first.
Therefore, we had to take the other road, which
was longer, required going through a very high pass,
but was apparently less risky. When we reached the
pass, snow began to fall, causing us many great
difficulties. We had trouble moving forward and many
animals died. We lost several bags. In spite of this, we
were able to get over the pass and finally arrived at
Mustang, a small kingdom of Tibetan culture within
Nepal.
Later, I learned that the Chinese were really
pursuing us and we were close to being caught. Only
the snowstorm hindered them from overtaking us. For
us, the storm made everything difficult. Just after we
passed through, the route was impassable. If the snow
had not fallen or had fallen slightly earlier or slightly
later, we might have been caught.
I could not help thinking that this timely
snowstorm could only be Tara's blessing; Tara, whose
help we did not cease to invoke.
Many Tibetans think that they owed their safety
only to Tara's protection when they were forced to flee
their country. The savioress' intervention in favor of
those who pray to her is not a rare incident
concerning isolated cases. Many people report the help
they have received from her.
- 35 -
Question: Tara IS activity is to protect. There are also
"protectors" like Mahakala and others whose function is
also by definition to protect. What is the difference between
them?
Answer: The protection that happens is slightly
different in the two cases. Mahakala and other
protectors have as a main activity to specifically brush
away obstacles to the practice and diffusion of the
dharma, whatever outer or inner circumstances that
would harm the dharma. Tara's protection is more
personal if we can say that. She watches over us in all
difficult circumstances in our lives.
THE SAffiB WITH A RAINBow BODY
Question: Sometimes, Westerners think that some cultural
differences prevent them from entering as easily as the
Tibetans themselves into the practice of Tibetan buddhism,
especially in regard to deities. They may believe, for
instance, that Tara IS protection is more accessible to a
Tibetan than to a Westerner. Is there really a barrier?
Answer: Kunu Lama Tenzin Gyatso, who passed away
at a very old age in the seventies, was a learned and
respected lama. Because he was born in the Kunu
area, between Kashmir and Ladakh, he was called
"Kunu Lama." Besides. the Tibetan language, he knew
Sanskrit and had perfectly studied the doctrines of all
the lineages of Tibetan buddhism as well as Hindu
doctrines. The Dalai Lama himself received many
teachings from him. At the same time, Kunu Lama led
a simple life. He had no monastery, not even a
servant, and discreetly dressed like the pundits of
Northern India where he spent the greatest part of his
life.
- 36 -
During a teaching Kunu Lama was glvmg in
Bodhgaya,s he told the following story. In the mid
forties, he was living in .Kham where he was in
retreat. His residence was a two-story house. He lived
on the first floor, and the second floor was occupied
by a Westerner who also practiced buddhism. At this
time, that was a very rare occurrence. Both were
receiving instructions from a Nyingmapa lama called
Khenpo Shenga. Kunu Lama and the local people
habitually called the foreigner "Sahib," using the
respectful term used by Indians for Westerners.
Who was this sahib? From where did he come? I
do not know if Kunu Lama ever precisely answered
this. Maybe he was someone who fled from India
during World War II, maybe he was a
missionary-there were a few of them in Kham-who
had entered Tibetan buddhism.
It happened that no one had seen the sahib for
several days. Finally, someone noticed rainbows
stemming from his window. Puzzled, Kunu Lama and
a few others went to the second floor, opened the
door, and sure enough, in the sahib's place, they saw
only rainbows. They shook his clothes from which
more small rainbows escaped falling like rain! Of the
sahib, only nails and hair were left.
It is what is called obtaining the "rainbow body,"
an extraordinary result of the practice that ends with
the dissolution of the body in rainbows at the time of
death.
If a sahib from the twentieth century was able to
obtain a rainbow body, then access to Tibetan
buddhism is not limited by cultural barriers. From the
very moment they practice diligently, Westerners can
certainly obtain results. Especially, they can pray to
- 37-
Tara being certain to be heard. Tara's blessings do not
know any borders.
WONDROUS REPRESENTATIONS
In Tibet, many stories relate of Tara's statues or
paintings that miraculously have spoken out.
One of the most famous stories is that of a fresco
representing White Tara painted on the wall of the
main temple of Tashi lhunpo, the residence of the
Panchen Lamas in the city of Shigatse.
Following the passing away of one of the Panchen
Lamas, monks were performing rituals in his honor.
Their throats choked with sadness, they had
difficulties uttering his name when it occurred in the
text of a praise concerning him. It is said that Tara's
fresco, taking over and encouraging them, uttered
very loudly the name of the Panchen Lama every time
it was required.
Another extraordinary phenomenon linked to Tara
is the appearance of "spontaneous sculptures," that is,
representations of the deity, which appear by
themselves on rock walls without intervention of a
human hand.
One of them is very recent. It is in Nepal, west of
Kathmandu, beneath Yanglesho cave (famous for
having sheltered Padmansambhava).
The first time I went on a pilgrimage to Yanglesho,
in 1972, Tara's appearance on the rock wall had not
yet begun. Now, after a slow unexplained process, the
form of the deity thirty centimeters high appears more
and more clearly, exiting out of the rock. A small
temple has been built to protect and honor it.
Why does this statue produce itself today? Maybe
it is a kind of response to the prayer that many
- 38 -
buddhists address to Tara requesting her protection in
these difficult times.
VARIOUS TARA AsPECTS
Tara's main aspect is that of Green Tara, peaceful, a
form with two arms, one face, and two legs. We have
seen that her main activity is to protect beings from
fear and danger.
There are indeed many other forms of Tara such as
the twenty-one Taras corresponding to the twenty-one
stanzas of the praise, the eight Taras each protecting
against one of the eight great fears, Tara Yogini, and
so on. These various forms are not, however, other
Taras, but various aspects taken on by the same deity
according to circumstances.
Although there are specific rituals for certain forms
of the deity, when we pray to Tara, we simply address
Green Tara thinking that she accomplishes all the
activities we are requesting.
Other deities as Bhrikuti (Thronyerchen), Kurukulla
(Kurukulle), Sitatapattra (Dukkar), Ushnishavijaya
(Namgyalma), Vishvamata (Natsok Yum, Kalachakra's
consort), Naraitma (Damema), and so on are also
sometimes seen as Tara's manifestations.
Truly, if forms vary, feminine deities are all of one
essence, all being the Prajnaparamita, perfection of
knowledge.
- 39 -
Bhrikuti. ·
Bhrikuti, "the One who frowns her eyebrows," appeared at the same
time as Tara from Avalokiteshvara's (Chenrezig) teardrop and is often
considered as an aspect of the deity.
- 40 -
WHITE TARA
Among various Taras, White Tara occupies a special
place beside Green Tara. She enjoys great popularity
because of her activity, which is to provide a long life.
That is the reason why her empowerment is sought
and her practice performed when one's health is
threatened. Also, a thangka or a statue of White Tara
is offered to a lama as a prayer for his or her long life.
White Tara is not a deity different from Tara. There
is no separate story recounting her origin, and her
activity is only a particular aspect of the protectioh
granted by the deity. .
Her mantra is also the same as Green Tara's, OM
TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA, even if we add to it an
ending particular to the request of long life, MAMA
AYU PUNYE JNANA PUTRIN KURU SOHA.
White Tara is also called Chintamattra Chakra, the
"Wheel Accomplishing All Wishes." This name comes
from the way the root mantra is placed in her heart.
The ten letters are effectively placed. vertically on the
ten spokes of a wheel placed horizontally, eight of
them going from the hub to the rim as the spokes of
an ordinary wheel, the other two exiting
perpendicularly on each side of the hub. On the
highest spoke, there is the syllable OM, under the
lowest spoke, the syllable HA, on the other spokes the
eight other mantra's syllables, TA RE TUT TA RE TU RE
SO.
WHITE TARA ORDERS STATUES
The following story illustrates the specific activity of
White Tara.
A Kadampa Geshe dreamed that he saw the sun
rise in the West and set in the East. He mentioned the
- 41 -
dream to a lama who told him that the dream was
unauspicious, that it was a sign of death. Worried, the
Geshe consulted a palm reader. Observing the lines of
his hands, the palm reader declared to the Geshe that
he had only three years to live.
Fearful of this prediction, the Geshe thought that
from now on he had no more time for studying or
engaging in other activities and that he must devote
himself exclusively to practice. He went to see a lama,
told him of his dream and the indications of the lines
of his hands, and explained that he wanted to devote
whatever time he had left to live to a practice that will
quickly bring him near awakening.
"Your worry is useless," answered the lama.
"There is a White Tara practice that prolongs life. Do
it, and everything will be fine."
The Geshe followed this advice so well that he
soon had a vision of the deity who declared that he
would live to be sixty years old.
As his sixtieth birthday approached, the Geshe
turned his mind to Tara. Tara again appeared to him
and said that if he was to make a statue of her, he
would add ten more years to his life. So he did. Ten
years later-at the age of seventy-the same process
was repeated. Requested to realize a new statue, he
obtained ten more years.
Finally, on his eightieth birthday, fifteen more
years were all that was left for him, so he lived to be
ninety-five years old before he died.
TARA'S SYMBOLISM
The deity's form, colors, and attributes are associated
with a symbolism called the "pure sense."
- 42 -
Green Tara
- 43 -
The symbolism of Green Tara and White Tara are as
follows:
Green Tara
Her green color is that of the awakened activity, active
compassion (Tara is also the consort of Amoghasiddhi
who reigns over the activity family). Green indicates
that Tara acts for the benefit of those who pray to her
with the swiftness of wind.
The left bent leg represents renouncing conflicting
emotions. The right half bent leg shows that Tara is
ready to stand up to provide help to beings. The
symbolism of the legs tells us that Tara, although
totally free from the imperfections of samsara, remains
. in samsara to help all those who suffer.
With the right hand, she performs the giving
mudra, signifying that she bestows ordinary
accomplishments (supernormal powers) and sublime
accomplishments (realization of the nature of the
mind). Her left hand accomplishes the refuge mudra,
thumb and ring finger are joined to symbolize the
union of skillful means and knowledge. Her other
fingers are held up to represent the Three Jewels:
Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
The stems of the lotuses she holds with her hands
indicate that all the qualities of realization have fully
bloomed within her.
Her charm and beauty reveal that she is the
mother of all buddhas and her compassion for all
beings . is uninterrupted.
The ornaments (silks and jewels) she wears bear
witness of her masterful qualities and activity.
Her straight back shows that her meditation is
similar to the diamond that never falters.
- 44 -
The moon behind her symbolizes the fullness of
inexhaustible happiness.
White Tara
White Tara differs from Green Tara. Besides the
difference in color, she has seven eyes. Three are on
the face, two on her palms, .two on the soles of her
feet, and she sits in the vajra posture. The symbolism
of these particularities is as follows.
• White color: absence of the two veils (conflicting
emotions and dualistic knowledge)
• Seven eyes: She sees reality through the three doors
of liberation (emptiness, absence of characteristics,
absence of wishes) and generates compassion by
means of the four unlimited qualities of the
bodhisattvas (love, compassion, joy, and equanimity).
- 45 -
White Tara.
On the thangkas, White Tara is recognized at first glance by her color.
When we face a statue or a drawing, it is easy to distinguish White
Tara from Green Tara. Green Tara's legs are in the Bodhisattva Posture
(right leg in front) and she has only two eyes; White Tara sits in the
lotus posture and has seven eyes including one on her forehead.
- 46 -
2- Tara's Tantra
What we know of Tara and the practices linked to her
originally comes from the tantras. These are not texts
revealed in an ordinary way but in circumstances
where the buddha takes an aspect of the Enjoyment
Body and addresses human beings less than gods,
celestial bodhisattvas and a host of beings with whom
ordinary beings do not usually communicate. These
' texts are the foundation of Vajrayana practice,
empowerments, visualizations of deities, and recitation
of their mantras.
WHAT IS A TANTRA?
The word tantra (Tibetan, gyu) means "continuity." In
a literal sense, the term refers to the nature of mind,
the mind beyond any psychological elaboration, in all
its purity. This notion of continuity underscores that
the nature of mind is not something new to obtain,
something that could not exist now and would come
into existence at the end of practice. Continuity is
present at the base (what we are now), path, and
result. Whether it is veiled or revealed, it is always
there without discontinuity, as the union of emptiness
and clarity.
Within the framework of the sutras, the continual
presence of this emptiness-clarity at various stages is
expressed in the following way.
- 47-
- at the level of the base: the two truths (relative and
ultimate)
- at the level of the path: the two accumulations (merit
and wisdom)
- at the level of result: the two Bodies (Absolute Body
and Formal Body)
Within the framework of the tantras, it is said,
- at the level of the base: body and mind
- at the level of the path: the creation and completion
phases
- at the level of result: the two Bodies of Awakening
(Formal Body and Absolute Body).
Gyu
Tantra: "continuity"
of the nature of mind
Base, path, and result are terms that take the
nature of mind as a reference point. When the nature
of mind is impure (that is, veiled) it is the base. The
path indicates purification and the result the purified
mind. Outside this process of purification, the essence
of the mind does not change. It is the same during the
three steps. Such is the continuity or "tantra" in its
true sense.
- 48 -
By extension, the verbal expression of this
continuity and the means to realize it are also called
"tantra." It is why the Vajrayana texts are called
tantras. Traditionally, it is said that there are two sides
to the tantras:
- "tantras of words," which expresses the unchanging
nature of the mind
- ultimate or "real tantra," which is this unchanging
nature.
Buddhas are those who have realized the real
tantra. When they utter the tantras of words in one
way or another, they show how the nature of mind is
found covered by ignorance and various conflicting
emotions (base) for the beings of
then they give the means to purify it (path), and they
describe the qualities of an entirely purified mind
(result).
ENCRYPTED LANGUAGE OF THE TANTRAS
Tantras, as texts, are extremely difficult to understand
because the words they use cover various levels of
meaning. A literal expression can sometimes be
revealed as completely erroneous. Tantras are said to
have a total of ten" levels of interpretation gathered in
two groups, the "six possibilities" and the "four
modes."
• the six possibilities:
- pedagogical meaning
- definitive meaning
- with intention
- without intention
- in a known language
- in an unknown language
- 49 -
Let us take the example of the meaning "with
intention." If we encounter a phrase in a tantra stating,
1/ Animals must be killed," this really means "make
conflicting emotions disappear."
• the four modes:
- common meaning
- hidden meaning
- literal meaning
- definitive meaning
"Common meaning" signifies that the sense of the
word used is common to the sutras and tantras.
"Hidden meaning" is that which is applied to some
notions inherent in the subtle channels and winds, as
they are used in the practice of the six yogas of
Naropa, for example. "Definitive meaning" implies
that the word must only be understood in the context
of ultimate truth, mahamudra, or maha-ati.
Understanding tantras requires studying them
under a qualified teacher able to decipher their
meaning. Otherwise, even if we grasp the apparent
meaning of the words, our understanding will remain
far from the true meaning. Even a Tibetan scholar who
has done no special study of the tantras cannot
understand them. A khenpo or a geshe very
knowledgeable in grammar and logic who would have
studied all the mysteries in the sutras, the philosophy
of madhyamika, or the epistemology of abhidharma
would not be prepared to know the ,tantras.
For example, the. tantra considered to be the root of
all others is the Tantra of Enunciating Manjushri's
Names (Manjushri Nama Samgiti Tantra) .
The clarification of this text may be done on many
various levels. There are treatises explaining it on the
levels of Kriya Tantra, others at the level of the
- 50 -
Charya Tantra, Yoga Tantra, the creation phase of
Anuttara-yoga Tantra, the completion phase of the
Anuttara-yoga Tantra, and so on. Without specific
study of these various facets, the text will remain
mysterious to us.
Furthermore, to truly understand a tantra, a mere
intellectual approach is not sufficient. A good personal
Vajrayana practice and the Lama's blessing are
necessary.
In the Tibetan tradition, studying tantras has been
and remains reserved to a small number of
individuals. In the Gelugpa order, for example, only
the best of the geshes have access to a tantric
university where they may study more particularly
Guyasamaja, Chakrasamvara, and Yamantaka Tantras.
In the Kagyupa order, only a small number of lamas
or khenpos study the tantras, mainly the
Hevajra Tantra or the Zamo Nangdon (Profound Inner
Meaning), a tantric text written by the Third Karmapa.
ORIGIN OF THE TARA TANTRA
The origin of Tara Tantra, as with that of all tantras,
cannot be located in time. Tantras belong to the
omniscience of the buddhas who utter a tantra as it is
needed in a given epoch. Therefore, it is impossible to
give them an origin. They are eternal in reality.
Likewise the Tara Tantra, which resides in the eternal
knowledge of the buddhas, had already been revealed
during many past kalpas before being revealed in our
time.
As far as our kalpa is concerned, the Tara Tantra
was revealed many times by A valokiteshvara in his
Pure Land, the Mount Potala, long before the arrival
of Shakyamuni Buddha.
- 51 -
Our kalpa is divided in four parts:
- totally endowed designates the beginning of kalpas,
when human beings lived an extremely long time,
completely and easily enjoyed all necessary material
goods and experienced great happiness due, notably,
to right thinking and a great love for one another.
- endowed with three-quarters: life duration, material
goods, and happiness start to decrease.
- endowed with two-quarters: decreasing is accentuated.
- endowed with conflicts: the difficult epoch in which we
are (to which belong, in fact, all our history and even
before) when the lifespan of human beings is limited
to one hundred years and there is only a quarter of
the original happiness.
Avalokiteshvara revealed the Tara Tantra the first
time in the "totally endowed" epoch in a form
comprising 800,000 stanzas; a second time in 600,000
stanzas in the "three-quarter endowed" epoch; a third
time in 12,000 stanzas during the two-quarter epoch;
and finally, a fourth time in 1,000 stanzas during the
conflict epoch when Shakyamuni Buddha had not yet
appeared in this world.
UTIERING OF THE TANTRA BY SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA
These Tara Tantras uttered by A valokiteshvara are not
those we now have. Ours are those of Shakyamuni
Buddha, who revealed them in the following
circumstances:
The night preceding his awakening, while sitting
under the Bodhi tree, Shakyamuni was attacked by a
horde of demons attempting to divert him from his
goal. At that moment, Tara appeared and with eight
great laughters made the demons fall to the ground
and stopped them from doing harm. The Buddha then
- 52-
placed his mind in a state of perfect meditation and at
dawn attained awakening. After that, he uttered the
Tara Tantra. However, it was not the time when the
tantra was being communicated to human beings.
Many more centuries would be necessary for that to
happen.
When the tantras were uttered by the Buddha, they
were not addressed to human beings but to a host of
bodhisattvas, gods, nagas, and other beings. Most
often, it was not in human places but in other
domains of manifestation like Avalokiteshvara's
Potala. Most tantras, including that of Tara, were
placed under the guard of Vajrapani (Chana Dorje),
who for this reason is called the Guardian of the
Secrets. Before there were human beings, there were
other categories of beings able to receive tantric
teachings and spiritually benefit from them.
Texts for the Tara practice would appear long after
the Buddha's time though divine revelation. Likewise,
the scholar Chandragomin received 108 texts of
practice during visions he had of the deity.
TANTRAS AMONG HUMAN BEINGS
The first communication of tantras to human beings
was made through the intermediary of King
Indrabhuti, a contemporary of Shakyamuni Buddha.
He obtained these tantras in two ways. Sometimes,
they were revealed to him by Vajrapani or other
bodhisattvas, and he wrote them down as soon as he
heard them. Other times, he received them directly in
a miraculous way, the text having already been
written. However, Indrabhuti kept these texts secret,
locking them in trunks and transmitting their contents
- 53 -
only to a few predestined disciples. Time was not ripe
for full propagation.
History tells us that the Tara Tantra especially was
communicated to human beings only three centuries
after Shakyamuni Buddha's passing away (around the
3rd century BeE).
If one makes an exception for the brief and
confidential episode of King Indrabhuti, only the
teachings of the Smaller Vehicle were made available.
Without talking about the Vajrayana, even the
teachings of the Greater Vehicle were not propagated.
It is only in this epoch that sutras of the Greater
Vehicle and all the teachings of the tantras, which had
been kept by celestial bodhisattvas, began to reach
especially pure beings. They were transmitted during
visions of Avalokiteshvara or Manjushri, or as in the
case of Indrabhuti, through miraculous gifts of a text
presented by a deity.
Revelation of all the tantras began in the same
way, thanks to visions, like that of Vajrapani.
Relatively few individuals followed the tantric path
because transmission was done from a teacher to a
disciple solely in an individual context. Practices were
kept very secret, and no one could say with certainty
that such and such a person was a tantric adept.
Tara was one of a number of deities who were
secretly practiced. Some stories are related to this time,
reporting Tara's intervention to save her followers
from danger. Let us give two examples. The first one
refers to danger caused by enemies and the second to
that of lions.
The son of a king fell asleep in a park when a
group of enemies who had sworn to assassinate the
prince surrounded him. The prince suddenly woke up
- 54 -
and saw that there was no way to defend himself but
to pray to Tara. From the bottom of his heart, he
called upon her for help. Tara then manifested herself,
emitting from the soles of her feet a mighty wind that
dispersed all the enemies.
In the other story, a man walking in a forest met
with a starving lion (it seems that there were lions in
India up to a certain time). Our man prayed to Tara.
A young woman came by carrying a load of leaves. It
was none other than the deity's emanation and she
protected him from the lion.
HAYAPALA'S LINEAGE
The principal propagation of the Tara Tantra was
done by a Bengali monk called Hayapala who
belonged to the Brahmin caste. After having
assimilated many teachings of the Great Vehicle, he
met the Brahmin Guhyashila who had received
instructions on Tara from Vajrapani directly. From
Guhyashila, Hayapala received the Tara
empowerment, and under his direction performed the
practice of the Liberating One. This led him to his
realization.
Hayapala then went to Uddiyana (northwest India)
where dakinis transmitted various tantras to him as
follows:
- Fundamental Tantra on Tara's Origin
- Violent and Wrathful Tantra
- Secret Tantra of the Sublime Unsurpassable Vajra
- Tantra of Producing Heruka
He then returned to India and stayed in the city of
Tipurar where he built a temple especially to house
these tantras. He transmitted the Prajnaparamita
teachings and the sutras of the Greater Vehicle to his
- 55 -
ordinary disciples. To the gifted disciples, he
transmitted the Tara practice through which many of
them achieved realization.
Hayapala then transmitted Tara's lineage to his
disciple Hayagosha who passed it on to Nagarjuna. It
is because of the Tara practice that he attained
realization. Then, the transmission went on
uninterruptedly.
The Tara practice was later introduced to Tibet
through many channels. Taranatha, our main source
of information on the origins of the Tara Tantra,
received transmission from a disciple of the Indian
teacher Chiwa Bepa who had also come to Tibet.
Before Taranatha, Atisha, who had bonded with
the goddess, played an important role in the
propagation of the practice in Tibet.
AnsHA AND TARA
It is interesting to note that Atisha's life was marked
by a profound bond to Tara. This bond seems related
to his coming to Tibet. His relationship to the deity
will illustrate for us how Tara manifests her activity.
Miraculous Transformation
As soon as Atisha was born, the goddess clearly
4Ldicated that she would protect the child. Atisha was
born in 982 CE, the second son of a royal family from
Bengal. His parents named him Chandragarbha, Moon
Essence. While the newborn was sleeping in his cradle
on the upper floor of the palace, the king and queen
heard mysterious music coming from outside. The
queen saw a lotus fall from the sky and land in front
of the cradle. At the same time, the child's face was
transformed into Tara's face. Everyone concluded from
- 56 -
this that Tara had been his tutelary deity for many
lifetimes.
Choosing Ethics
When Atisha became a teenager, his father, the king,
organized many great parties in which many
princesses and their entourages participated. All of
them, charmed by the beauty and attitude of the
prince, looked upon him with desire. A pale blue
goddess who was none other than Tara appeared and
admonished Chandragarbha.
"If, like an elephant sinks deeply in mud, you, a
hero, sink into the quagmire of desire, would not this
stain the robes of ethics you have worn for 552
previous lifetimes in which you were always a scholar
without defect, a perfect monk? Like the swans
looking for lakes adorned with lotuses, you must seek
ordination in this life!"
Having become a monk at the age of 29, Atisha
ardently devoted himself to study and practice.
In time, his fame spread and he was invited several
times to Tibet where the persecutions against
buddhism by King Langdarma had created a critical
situation. However, Atisha was reluctant to abandon
his monastic responsibilities as Vikramashila's Abbot
and to go to this reputedly difficult Northern country.
Several interventions by Tara were necessary to
convince him.
How to Make Amends for a Fault
One day, Atisha approved the expulsion of the monk
Maitrepa from Vikramashila University. Maitrepa's .
behavior was slightly out of the norm but his yogic
- 57 -
realization was immense. A little later, Atisha had a
dream in which Tara appeared and told him:
"The monk you have expelled is a bodhisattva. It
is not permitted to act against a bodhisattva even
involuntarily. Anyone not knowing how to rectify a
mistake like this will be reborn with a body as large as
Mount Meru t,lpon which thousands of birds and
insects will feed."
"How can I avoid that disastrous consequence?"
asked the frightened Atisha.
"You must go to the Northern country and devote
yourself to propagating Mahayana teachings there,"
answered Tara.
The Yogini' s Message
Tara appeared again to Atisha in a dream and
requested that he visit a certain temple where he
would meet a yogini who had something important to
tell him. The next morning, he went to the temple and
met the yogini. Having offered her some flowers, he
told her. "I was invited to go to Tibet. Will my
mission be successful?"
"Your journey to Tibet will be very fruitful,"
answered the yogini. "Besides, you will meet a lay
person (Drom Tonpa) there who will be a tremendous
help to you."
Tara's Warning
When the Tibetan King J angchub 0 sent emissaries to
invite him to his country, Atisha again consulted Tara
on the opportunity to accept. The deity told him. "If
you go to Tibet, it will be extremely useful. However,
your life will be shortened."
"How many years?"
- 58 -
"If you do not go to Tibet, you will live to be 92
years old. If you go, you will die at the age of 73."
"Twenty years of my life are not really important,"
thought Atisha. "If I sacrifice them, I can work to
benefit beings and spread the doctrine."
Thus, at the age of 59, Atisha left the warm plains
of India to reach the high plateaus of Tibet buffeted by
icy winds. He devoted the rest of his life to teaching
in Tibet and died there.
By this story we see not only how Tara was an
inspiration for Atisha but also we see her ardor in
leading her beloved child to the Land of Snow.
From the eternal omniscience of the buddhas to
their transmission in the Land of Snow, passing
through the celestial worlds and the great realized
yogis of India, such was the path followed by the
revelation of the Tara Tantra.
Question: The history of propagation of the Greater Vehicle
and tantras as presented by the Tibetans, and as we have
just seen it, often leads Western scholars to doubt the
authenticity of these teachings. They note that the texts do
not date from the Buddha's lifetime, that when they
appeared, several hundred years had passed since the
Buddha lived. Their introduction to human beings, after
having remained in divine worlds, seems to be a
mythological artifice to disguise their time origin. For them,
Greater Vehicle and tantras are creations that came long
after Shakyamuni's original teachings upon which they
were improperly grafted. What can the Tibetan tradition
answer to these arguments?
Answer: It is difficult to give a satisfactory answer to
these Western scholars. Their method of working and
the framework in which they place their thoughts do
- 59 -
not permit the acceptance of the Tibetan vision of
things. From their strict point of view, they are not
wrong. With no belief in the deities' existence, how
could they understand that great practitioners
effectively communicate with deities, receive
instructions from them, and even obtain texts, which
miraculously fall from the sky? What proof is there to
give them? For them, proof would be only what
everyone could see or observe. However, in the
spiritual domain, very subtle experiences depend on
one's own karma and inner development. Such a
practitioner cannot prove to others that he or she
perceives the visions allowed to come because of the
purity of his or her mind.
In fact, science places laypeople in the same
situation. We cannot verify ourselves the claims of
scientists because of our lack of study or insufficient
intellectual capabilities. When they tell us about
atomic power, for example, we believe them without
being able to really see the proof for ourselves. Only
if a bomb explodes can we have this proof; if not, we
subscribe to scientific affirmation like blind people.
In the Vajrayana, it is somewhat similar. As long as
we have not 'attained the result, the realization by an
individual practice, we are blind. Only realization
provides us with the proof of truth of what is taught.
Another reason that makes understanding difficult
for Western scholars is the conception that they have
of the Buddha. For them, Buddha was a man, a man
like any other, even if he was endowed with great
wisdom. Therefore, his teaching is limited to the time
and space provided by an existence in a human body.
It is a narrow vision of what a buddha is. It is said
that the nature of a buddha is an "inconceivable
- 60 -
secret." At the same time, a buddha's body, speech,
mind, qualities, and activity are covered by this
inconceivable secret. "Inconceivable" well means what
it means. The thought of an ordinary being cannot
grasp what it is. The buddha's reality spreads in an
infinite way and cannot be confined to the limits of
common understanding. Otherwise, it would be
" conceivable."
If the being of a buddha were limited to human
life, it is true that the transmission of teachings in the
celestial worlds and all these extraordinary things
would lack meaning. But the being of a buddha is far
from being locked in simple human appearance.
In fact, it is natural for everyone to hold to one's
own point of view. In buddhism itself, during the
course of time, various philosophical schools have
been opposed to each other. Only a higher point of
view allows · us to see that the more narrow
conceptions are not false but partially true. Likewise,
when we study a science, the more subtle subjects
analyzed at the end of the study do not destroy the
validity of more simple things learned in the
beginning.
We really are prisoners of our psychological
constructions, which veil reality. The function of the
Buddha's teaching is to rid ourselves of illusion
created by thoughts and belief in the reality of
phenomena. To do so, many approaches are proposed
such as the Smaller Vehicle, Greater Vehicle,
Vajrayana, pedagogical truth, definitive truth, and so
on. All · have the unique goal of eliminating mental
constructions leading to the false conception of
phenomena as having a reality of their own. Once we
- 61 -
are totally liberated from mental elaborations, we are
a buddha.
'Outside of a spiritual way, the efforts of thinking
or the exercise of the psyche do not 'allow us to
achieve this result. They only add new constructions
to the preceding ones. It is true, however, that in the
three vehicles, we find methods which are also
founded on psyche activity, but it is a skillful use of
the psyche leading to the progressive elimination of
these elaborations.
- 62 -
3-Invocation of Tara
FUNCTION OF RITUALS
A ritual is a means to accomplish a deity practice and
to develop a deep bond with this deity. It is
comprised of various phases, which are elements
allowing us to establish this relationship, such as deity
visualizations, making offerings to the deity, prayers,
recitation of the deity's mantra, and so on. Through
the ritual, our mind is imprinted with the deity's
presence and blessing.
In buddhism, there are many types of rituals
corresponding to various levels of practice.
The sutra tradition likewise possesses its rituals,
such as those addressed to Shakyamuni Buddha or
Baisajaguru (Sangye Menla, Medicine Buddha).
The Vajrayana tradition is divided into four groups
of tantras, each having its own rules as to
accomplishing rituals.
Rituals may be extremely long or very brief,
collective or individual, but their function remains the
same: recalling the deity to mind and allowing the
deity to leave a profound and beneficial imprint on us
through deity meditation, mantra recitation, and other
components.
This imprint is formed by using all elements of our
personality, body, speech, and mind.
- Physically, we prepare the shrine, place the
offerings, and make sure that the shrine room is clean
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and orderly: our body takes the meditation posture
and is put to use in doing the mudras (hand gestures
symbolizing offerings, inviting deities, and so on). It is
also the body which makes music offerings by playing
the bell or other instruments. These various physical
acts have no goal other than to increase the immersion
of our mind in the ritual by the complete involvement
of our person.
- Our speech recites the text and mantras, which serve
as support to the activity of the mind. Words allow us
to evoke what is conceived by the mind.
- Our mind, the main agent of the ritual, remains
concentrated and present to what it does during all
the phases: taking refuge,. developing motivation of
awakening, consecrating the offerings, inviting the
deity, visualization, offerings, praising, reciting
mantras, asking forgiveness for errors made during
the ritual, the departure of the deity in his or her
support, dissolving the visualization, and dedicating.
Understood in this way, the ritual acts upon our
mind. On the one hand, it helps us to purify ourselves
from the veil of ignorance and other veils. On the
other hand, especially through the offering and praise,
it allows us to accumulate merit and to create a
positive karmic potential. Finally, it prepares the
manifestation of the Body of Enjoyment, the
manifestation of the true deity, inseparable from our
own mind.
Question: During the rituals, we sometimes imagine the
deity's presence facing us. Sometimes we imagine that we,
ourselves, are the deity, or moreover that we are the deity
at the same time the deity is in front of us, as is the case in
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the Tara practice. What is the function of these vario.us
approaches?
Answer: In the beginner's mind, the belief in an "I"
really existing is strongly anchored. This leads to the
belief in the real existence of "another." This duality
Ilother rules all our perceptions. Imagining that we
are the deity and visualizing the deity in front of us at
the same time is a first step, a means to progressively
rid ourselves of this dualistic tendency. When we
attain a very good level of practice through
meditation, at that time, although the deity appears in
two different forms, both are perceived as unique in
essence. We finally arrive at a stage where it is no
longer necessary to imagine two forms of the deity, it
is sufficient to consider ourselves as the deity, an
essence in which all manifestation participates.
Rituals in the sutra tradition or in the first or
second group of tantras, the Kriya Tantra and Charya
Tantra, only contain the deity visualized in front of us;
whereas rituals of the third group, the Yoga Tantra,
most often imply the deity visualized in' front of us
and ourselves in the form of the deity.
Finally, rituals of the fourth group, the Anuttara-
yoga Tantra, propose either the deity visualized in
front of us and ourselves as the deity perceived as
inseparable or only ourselves in the form of the deity.
TARA RITUAL
There are many Tara rituals, which the various
traditions of Tibetan buddhism use according to their
preference. The one most often used in the Kagyu
tradition is due t ~ Chogyur Lingpa
9
who discovered
some termas in the 19th century.
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Termas are texts uttered by Padmasambhava in the
8th century in Tibet, then hidden to be discovered
later by predestined "terma discoverers," in an epoch
that would need them. These. termas may take the
form of materially written texts, hidden in rocks,
walls, or other places, or directly given to the
discoverer by a deity. They also can be revealed in the
mind. In that case, they are called gongters, as was the
case of the Tara terma received by Chogyur Lingpa.
Chogyur Lingpa dwelled in a cave in Kham called
the Crystal Cave of the Lotus. At dawn, he had a
vision of Tara who told h i ~ three times, "It is good,
it is good, it is good," (Tibetan, lekso, lekso, lekso). This
utterance of the deity was the blessing that opened
Chogyur Lingpa's mind to the inner revelation of
words spoken long ago by Padmasambhava. He titled
this terma Tara's Profound Drop, "drop" meaning here
that which collects the essential in a concise form.
Chogyur Lingpa disclosed what he had received
only to one person, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. The
latter kept it secret for three years, then transmitted it
to Jamgon Lodro Taye who gave definitive form to the
ritual and widely disseminated it.
The terma is comprised of several texts
corresponding to many stages of outer, inner, and
secret practice. These stages can only be performed
successively. The last two require the practitioner to
be in retreat. We briefly present their characteristics.
OUTER PRACfICE
The outer practice has two main aspects:
- Accumulation of merit accomplished through the
Seven Branch prayer, offerings, and praise.
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- Attitude of praying: the practitioner requests
protection of Tara, and asks her to grant what he or
she wants. Because of this position of "requesting"
adopted by the practitioner, accent is placed on the
deity's presence in the sky (in the form of 21 Taras) in
front of the practitioner.
The corresponding ritual is usually performed
publicly. Given that it is a terma, it is preceded by
prayers addressed to Padmasambhava. The various
stages are as follows:
• TAKING REFUGE AND RECALLING THE MOTIVATION FOR
AWAKENING. The practitioner places himself or herself
under the protection of the Three Jewels (Buddha,
Dharma, and Sangha), the Three Roots (Lamas,
Yidams, and Protectors), and more specifically of Tara.
The practitioner also renews· the will to attain
awakening for the benefit all beings suffering in
samsara .
• SEVEN BRANCH PRAYER. The seven branches are as
follows.
- homage to all buddhas and all bodhisattvas as an
a n t i ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ .
- making offerings as an antidote to attachment
- confession of faults as an antidote to unwholesome
acts
- joy in thinking of the meritorious acts done by the
buddhas and ordinary beings as an antidote to
jealousy
- request for teaching as an antidote to blindness
- praying for the buddhas to remain present as an
antidote for erroneous views. One of the erroneous
views is to believe that the buddhas' activity could be
intermittent, that while present in a physical body,
buddhas would help beings and when leaving their
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physical body they would cease to help them. By
requesting the buddhas to remain present among us
with or without a body, we rid ourselves of the
thought that death places an end to the buddhas'
activity.
- dedication. We think that, collecting merit acquired
through the above six branches, we dedicate it to
attaining awakening for the benefit of all beings. This
dedication is an antidote for "unskillful means,"
preventing us from dedicating merit for temporal and
ephemeral goals.
• CONSECRATING OFFERINGS. The consecrated
offerings, both placed on the shrine and evoked in our
imagination, are: water for drinking, water for
cleaning, flowers, incense, light, perfume, food, and
music. Each offering is represented by a mantra and a
mudra.
• SEVEN BRANCH PRAYER. This second Seven Branch
Prayer is in a slightly different context from the first
one. The first prayer, coming just after taking refuge,
took as support the various places of refuge, especially
Tara. The second Seven Branch Prayer refers to the
Three Jewels in general.
• MANDALA OFFERING. Practitioners imagine they offer
to Tara, buddhas, and bodhisattvas the totality of the
universe gathered in the form of a mandala. The
recitation of this section is done with the mandala
mudra.
• MANIFESTATION OF OURSELVES AS TARA AND
,INVITATION OF THE 21 TARAS to come take their places
in the sky in front of us. Tara's various aspects take
place in the sky, the principal one being Green Tara.
• RECITATION OF THE PRAISE. The praise is recited in
three successive sequences, first uttered twice, then
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three times, and finally seven times. Each sequence is
separated by offerings.
- During the first sequence, Tara is visualized in front
of . us with her right hand in the mudra of sublime
giving. We think then that she bestows on us the
ordinary (various psychological powers) and sublime
attainments (realization of the nature of the mind) .
- During the second recitation, Tara makes the
protection mudra. We think that she protects us
against all fears and dangers.
- During the third recitation, we think that a luminous
nectar coming from her right foot flows into us
through the crown of our head transmitting her '
blessing.
• TORMA OFFERING. Practitioners offer the torma to the
deity in order to approach her with requests.
• RECITATION OF TARA'S MANTRA. Tara's aspects who
were in the sky have melted into the practitioners who
continue to imagine themselves in the form of Tara
during recitation of her mantra.
. • REQUESTING INDULGENCE for the mistakes made
during the ritual. This request is preceded by the
recitation ofVajrasattva's (Dorje Sempa) One Hundred
Syllable Mantra.
• DISSOLUTION OF VISUALIZATION. The practitioners,
after having dissolved the visualization into emptiness
remain for a moment in silence as the mind settles in
its own nature.
• DEDICATION. The practitioners dedicate the merit of
the ritual saying, "With this virtue, may I swiftly
realize the Noble Tara and may I establish all beings
in this realization."
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• AUSPICIOUS WISHES. While they recite these wishes,
the practitioners throw rice into the air which
symbolizes the flowers that gods shower on earth.
Other prayers and long life prayers for the teachers
generally conclude the ritual.
Those who wish to perfectly accomplish the outer
practice, must commit to reciting 100,000 m a n t r a ~ as
many times as there are syllables in the mantra OM
TARE TUTfARE TURE SOHA, that is, one million
mantras.
INNER PRACfICE
The inner practice places an accent on the creation
phase (Tibetan, kyerim) during which we visualize
ourselves in the form of the deity.
This practice gathers 13 deities in a celestial palace:
• in the center, Green Tara (the practitioner)
• around Tara, the eight Taras protecting from the
eight great fears, sitting in the same posture as Green
Tara, accomplishing the mudra of giving with the
right hand and holding a lotus on which there are
various objects in the left hand.
- Tara' protecting from lions, blue, with a vajra on the
lotus
- Tara protecting from elephants, yellow, with a hook
on the lotus
- Tara protecting from fire, white, with a water
crystaPO on the lotus
- Tara protecting from snakes, green, with a sublime
medicine (arura) on the lotus
- Tara protecting from thieves, white, with a bow and
arrow on the lotus
- Tara protecting from imprisonment, green, with a
sword on the lotus
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- Tara protecting from water, red, with a fire crystal
on the lotus
- Tara protecting from demons, black, with a stick on
the lotus
• Outside the palace, the "four female guardians,"
each guarding a gate of the palace facing the four
directions. They stand up, lunging, their faces marked
by a wrathful expression, each one" holding special
objects in her hands.
- In the east, the white female guardian holds a hook
in her right hand and a bell in her left
- In the south, the yellow female guardian holds a
rope in her right hand and a bell in her left
- In the west, the red female guardian holds a chain
in her right hand and a bell in her left
- In the north, the green female guardian performs the
threatening mudra with her right hand and holds a
bell in her left
SECRET PRACTICE
The inner practice places the accent on the completion
phase (Tibetan, Dzokrim) introducing the work on
subtle energies (channels, winds, and drops). Nine
deities are present:
• In the center of the celestial palace, Samaya Tara,
green, in union with the male deity Hayagriva
(Tandrin)
• Around her, there are four other aspects of Tara
who, as in the inner practice, perform the mudra of
giving with their right hand and hold in the left hand
a lotus on which various symbolic objects are placed.
- In the east, Vajra Tara, blue, with a vajra on the
lotus
- 71 -
- In the south, Ratna Tara, yellow, with a jewel on the
lotus
- In the west, Padma Tara, red, with a hook on the
lotus
- In the north, Karma Tara, black, with a sword on the
lotus
• Outside the palace, there are the four female
guardians of the four gates as previously described.
These three levels form a profound succession that
is easy to follow and easily may form the practice of
an entire life.
Question: In Tara's ritual, as in most rituals, we offer to
the deity a small figure of dough called a torma or bultor
<offering torma). What is the reason for this offering?
Answer: In general, offerings serve to accumulate
merit and purify the veils. As for offering a torma, it
serves more to present our personal requests to the
deity. We ask her to act in our favor, in favor of
someone else, or in favor of a particular goal.
Following the torma offering, we recite a text in this
sense. For example, it may be, "You, who fully rejoice
in the mandala creation, consume this well-made
offering torma. Give me and people around me,
health, life, power, glory, fame, luck, and abundant
wealth. Give me the accomplishments of activities,
such as pacification, increase, and others. You who
have made the promise, protect me, give me the
support of all accomplishments. Brush away untimely
death and illness, demons, and creators of obstacles.
Brush away bad dreams, inauspicious signs, and
unwholesome acts. Make the world happy, the years
excellent, the harvest bountiful. Make the dharma
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spread, happiness perfect, and may all my wishes be
realized. "
Offerings and praise, whatever they are, are not in
reality a favor that we do for the deity as far as she
would be satisfied to obtain them or unhappy not to
obtain them. It is for us that offering and praise are
useful, decreasing our attachment to material objects
and allowing us to accumulate ,merit.
Question: On the shrine, there is also another kind of
torma-much larger-called a tentor (support torma).
Tara's tentor was, for example, mentioned in the story of
Mr. Lhawang's mother. What is its use?
Answer: The tentor serves several functions.
Sometimes, it is a symbolic representation of the deity.
In this case, it is the support of the deity's presence.
Sometimes, it is an offering to the deity; sometimes, in
the first part of the ritual, it is used as a support and
then it becomes an offering in the second part.
These tormas may have various shapes, not only
from one deity to another but sometimes for the same
deity. Tantras, if they indicate the necessity for a
torma, give no precision as to its shape. In the course
of time, diverse traditions have used a great variety of
shapes that were developed within various lineages.
Question: Is it a custom in all Tibetan monasteries to
accomplish Tara's rituals every morning?
Answer: Not necessarily. Some monasteries do, others
choose different rituals. In Sonada, Kalu Rinpoche
established this custom. Here, in Mirik, because of the
special devotion that the Khenpo and I have for Tara,
we have also instituted the daily recitation of Tara's
ritual by the monks of the monastery.
- 73 -
Question: Is there a day devoted to Tara?
Answer: Tara's day is the eighth day of the Tib-etan
month, that is, the first moon quarter (eight days after
the full moon).
THE SIMPLE PRAYER
Question: How did Tibetan lay people express their
devotion to Tara?
Answer: Lay people were not practicing Tara's ritual
per se. It was more a monastic affair. However, most
people knew Tara's praise, which they learned by
heart as children. They used to recite it morning and
evening, or while working, watching their herds, for
example. They also recited Tara's mantra.
The lay people's faith in Tara was immense. If they
knew the words of the praise, they did not grasp their
meanings, which are very complex. But their devotion
and the certitude that Tara was watching over them
were enough for them.
Question: When we face sudden danger, how do we request
Tara IS protection?
Answer: It is a request from the heart, nothing
complicated, simply, "Tara, protect me!"
Question: For Westerners, the praise in Tibetan is often
difficult to assimilate. How can they express their devotion
to Tara? '
Answer: If they do not know the praise, they can
recite her mantra with trust and devotion. In the time
of danger, as Tibetans do, they can call upon Tara
,from their hearts. The blessing and protection are the
same.
- 74 -
Question: Some people think that, from the perspective of
ultimate truth, our mind and the deity being inseparable,
the prayer lacks meaning, as though we were calling to
ourselves for help. What is the value of such a point of
view?
Answer: It is true that from the standpoint of ultimate
reality, the deity and our mind are one; but we also
must understand that from this ultimate point of view,
there is neither suffering nor fear. In reality, that
which appears now as suffering, fear, and danger is
nothing else but a manifestation of our mind. Just as
our mind, during a dream, can create appearances that
cause us to suffer, threaten us, or make us afraid.
However, as long as we have not realized ultimate
reality, we are exposed to suffering and fear that we
conceive as real. It is in this relative context that the
deity, who also appears to us momentarily as outside
ourselves, brings us help when we pray to her.
This prayer, in a relative sense, is necessary as long
as we remain in the relative level. The ultimate prayer
is to dwell in ultimate truth, the nature of mind,
beyond any 'duality, where the mind, appearances,
and deities are revealed to be of a single essence.
Until we attain this level, while we perceive
suffering and fear as real, we also call upon a ,deity
that we perceive as existing outside of us. However,
she really brings help and protection.
It is necessary to differentiate between the
realization of nonduality · and the present state in
which all our experience is lived in a constant
subject/ object duality.
Question: The prayer we address to Tara may seem
contradictory to the ideal of nondesire, of being content
- 75 -
with what we possess. Whereas other prayers say, for
example, "Bestow on us the absence of need!" the prayer
addressed to Tara seems to say "Bestow on us all that we
desire!" In the text following the recitation of the praise
during the ritual, it is written, "Through this praise recited
two, three, and seven times, if we want a son, we will have
a son; if we want wealth, we will acquire wealth; all desires
will be satisfied."
Answer: Tara answers the prayers of everyone
whatever one's level of understanding. In her
compassion, she seeks to relieve beings from suffering
as it arises. If one's suffering is in a very material
domain, it is a prayer expressing this material request
to which she will respond. If, another person, having
attained a deeper level, understands that the cause of
suffering is the constant renewal of all our desires and
prays for the absence of needs to be bom within
himself or herself, it is this absence of need that Tara
will bestow. The person who prays for devotion to
increase within himself or herself or for Mahamudra
realization to be revealed, will also receive a blessing
in accordance with his or her wishes.
Things may be understood on various levels. When
it is said, for example, that the person who wants a
child will get a child, from an ordinary point of view,
it only means a child for a family for which great
suffering would come from not having a child. In this
case, Tara will grant protection against this suffering.
On the contrary, it would be meaningless for a monk
to pray for a child. However, from a deeper point of
view, "child" means "disciple" (in Tibetan, disciple
can be lopma, which simply means "student" or bulop,
which means "student-child"). A lama may have the
desire to obtain good disciples to continue his spiritual
- 76 -
lineage, not with the goal of personal satisfaction as
would perhaps be the case with a physical child, but
to assure the continuity of teaching for the benefit of
beings. It is thus legitimate for the lama to pray for
obtaining these spiritual children.
Question: Does the simple fact of praying to the deity even
for material needs imply some spiritual benefit like the
accumulation of merit?
Answer: It depends on motivation. If someone prays,
for example, for wealth with the thought that this
wealth will be of use to relieve poverty, helping others
in one way or another, or to make an offering, in this
case, merit is accumulated because the prayer is
motivated by an altruistic thought. If the person thinks
only of his or her personal benefit, there is no
accumulated merit. By his or her prayer the person
will receive the deity's help to relieve his or her
momentary suffering, but the prayer will not produce
any merit.
However, as we have seen by the previous
example of Amala who won all her trials by invoking
Tara, only by addressing Tara with trust, even if we
seek to obtain material benefit, our mind will receive
the deity's blessing. This blessing, in the long term,
will end by making us enter the path of true
spirituality.
Question: The prayer addressed to Tara allows us to obtain
all we wish, wlultever our wish. And if our wish is not
good like the wish of a thief to be successful?
Answer: The buddhas and bodhisattvas' dedication is
entirely directed to benefiting beings. Buddhas and
bodhisattvas have three great qualities: knowledge of
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everything, love for all beings, and the power to help
them. They help b ~ i n g s not only by love, but they
make no mistake as to the means to accomplish this.
Therefore, Tara answers the wishes of beings only if
they are characterized by bringing them more
happiness from a temporal and spiritual point of view.
She would not respond to a wish leading to negative
acts or further future suffering.
Given that we may be blind to what is good or
harmful for us, in some prayers we ask the deity to
use discrimination. For example, we say, "If this is
good for me, may my wish be accomplished; if it is
not good, may it not be accomplished," or "If this
wish is not good, may its thought not form in my
mind; even if it is formed, may it not be realized!"
Question: It is said that the law of karma is infallible, that
we must necessarily experience the result of our acts.
Praying to obtain that which we do not have or for
eliminating painful circumstances in our existence, does it
not go against this notion of infallibility?
Answer: Individual karmas are varied and of different
kinds. Some karmas may not be modified. In this case,
if we carry the karma for such a painful event to
occur, it will occur. If, on the contrary, we do not have
the karma for such a happy circumstance to manifest,
it will not manifest. The prayer will hardly be able to
modify things.
When we say that the law of karma is infallible, it
means that a cause will necessarily produce its effect
if nothing prevents it from happening. But if new
elements come into play, a change is possible. Sincere
devotion and prayer, as well as regret of past negative -
acts, are factors that can modify karma. There are
- 78 -
profound means related to genuinely awakened beings
or deities like Tara. That is why these means allow
purification to change karma. Besides putting into
work such factors, karma effectively produces its
effects in an infallible way.
The seed of a weed will grow in an infallible way,
unless we pull out the young sprout. ·
EMPOWERMENTS
We already have the "heart of awakening" (we can
also say the Four Bodies of Awakeningll), but it is not
presently actualized. It remains in a latent state
covered by various karmic veils. It is, therefore,
necessary to uncover it to reveal it as it is.
The empowerment's function is to open a process
that will allow us to purify the veils and to "awaken"
the four Bodies, in order for them to go from a virtual
state to a real state.
An empowerment can only be conferred by a
vajra-master (vajracharya) belonging to the Vajrayana
tradition and possessing certain characteristics:
- Having received the deity empowerment that he or
she is ready to transmit to others
- This empowerment must have been transmitted up
to the master by an unbroken· lineage
- He or she must have accomplished the deity
practice.
The empowerment itself is represented in the form
of a ritual with visualizations, recitation of mantras,
the accomplishment of mudras, and the use of various
objects.
An empowerment can be given to a large group of
people (as is the case for Tara) with only the condition
that everyone has taken refuge and wishes to receive
- 79 -
the empowerment, or it can be given to small groups,
even a single individual.
TARA EMPOWERMENT
For the same deity, there are various empowerments
that correspond to various lineages, tantras, or levels
of practice. For Tara, there is an external practice, an
inner practice, and a secret practice each requiring an
empowerment.
The Tara empowerment bestowed in public is that
of the external practice belonging to the Kriya Tantra.
It is comprised of a ritual called, strictly speaking,
"permission," which is divided into three parts:
permission of the Body (of the deity), permission of
the Speech, and permission of the Mind.
• By permission of the Body of the deity, the disciple
is purified of faults and veils of the body (that is, that
which results from negative acts done with the body).
The disciple is then allowed to meditate on the body
of the deity, notably visualizing himself or herself in
the form of Tara. Ritually, permission of the Body is
conferred, besides various visualizations, through the
ritual vase (Tibetan, bumpa) placed on the disciple's
head and from which he or she receives a few water
drops to drink in the hollow of the hand.
• By permission of the Speech of the deity, the
disciple is purified of the veils and faults of speech.
He or she is allowed to recite Tara's mantra. Ritually,
the permission of Speech is conferred by repeating the
mantra, for which a mala is the support.
• By permission of the Mind of the deity, the disciple
is purified of faults and veils of the mind. This
permission is conferred by a representation of the
lotus that Tara holds in her hand. It allows those who
- 80 -
receive it to absorb their minds in the contemplation
(samadhi) of the deity. .
Given that these three steps give the disciple the
"power" (Tibetan, wang) to visualize the deity, to
recite her mantra, and to accomplish her
contemplation, the ritual is called "transmission of
power" (Tibetan, wang kur), an expression with which
an empowerment is designated in Tibetan .
. Tara's other empowerments, especially those
belonging to the higher tantras, can be presented in a
slightly different way and possess a more complex
structure.
Question: The permission of the mind allows the disciple to
"absorb his or her mind in the contemplation of the deity."
What does "contemplation" mean in this context?
Answer: The contemplation of the deity applies to the
different meditations:
- on the one hand, the activity of the mind that clearly
imagines the deity's body, clothes, ornaments,
attributes, and seed syllable in the heart is a
contemplation.
- on the other hand and mainly, the contemplation
means remaining in a state where our own mind and
the deity's mind are inseparable, in a natural state,
without mental construction, and free of distractions.
It is then equivalent to the Mahamudra meditation.
Question: For Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan, Chenrezig), it is
possible to recite the mantra even without having received
the empowerment. Is it the same for Tara?
Answer: In the higher tantras, it is not allowed to
meditate on the deity's body or recite the mantra for
those who have not first received the empowerment.
- 81 -
However, for deities like Avalokiteshvara or Tara,
who represent above all the buddha's activity, we
consider that, even if one has not received the
empowerment and as long as one feels devotion to
these deities, one can pray to them and recite their
mantras. This is beneficial. However, the effect will be
greater when one has received the empowerment.
- 82 -
4- The Praise
NOTES ON THE TRANS LA TION OF THE PRAISE
The Praise to the Twenty-one Taras is a prayer most used in Tara
Practice. It was rare for any Tibetan not to know it by heart. Simple
illiterate farmers recited it as often as monks in the monasteries.
The praise is extracted from a Tara Tantra, and we saw earlier
how the tantras are difficult texts to understand, are elliptic, often
encrypted, and objects of multiple interpretations. The text of the
Praise as it appears in Tibetan is practically incomprehensible
without the help of a commentary. Given that many commentaries
do not always have the same interpretation for selected passages,
several translations are possible. The translation that we offer here
is founded on Taranatha's commentary. Bokar Rinpoche's
explanation of the praise does not imply, therefore, that other
translations referring to other commentaries are erroneous any more
than other translations should make people consider that the present
translation is inaccurate.
A complete translation of the Praise word by word would be
almost impossible to read, not only because it would have to respect
a syntax evasive to a level of abstraction but also because the style
would be heavy, littered with adverbs such as "completely,"
"entirely," "perfectly," and so on. These modifiers abound in
Tibetan. Their function, we must say, is to serve more as a way to
fill-in syllables to complete a line than to give meaning. We have
tried to make the translation as faithful and accurate as seems
possible {or us, seeking to preserve the harmony of the language
without which the notion of praise itself-that implies an idea of
offering of words-would lose some of its value.
We did not attempt to translate the praise in a way that would
make the meaning of the text more explicit. We have kept the
elliptical style of the original text in some expressions, and our
translation finds itself, from time to time, as enigmatic as the text. It
is up to the commentary to unveil the mystery.
- 83 -

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OM, homage to the sovereign, the noble, the liberating one.
Homage to TARE, the swift, the courageous one.
In front of you, who with TUTTARA dissipates all fears,
In front of you, who with TURE provides all benefits,
In front of you, SOHA, I bow down.
Homage to the liberating one, swift and courageous,
Whose sight is like instant lightning,
Who arises from myriads of stamens
Of the lotus face of the Protector of the three worlds.
Homage to her whose face gathers
One hundred autumn full moons,
Who blazes with the sparkling light
Of a thousand stars.
Homage to her whose hand is adorned
With a blue and gold water-born lotus,
Who has for her domain giving, effort,
Asceticism, peace, patience, and concentration.
Homage to the Crown of the Blessed One,
To her who enjoys the infinite and victory,
Who is trusted by the Children of the Conquerors
Who have achieved all perfections.
- 85 -
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Homage to her who fills the desire, sky, and directions,
With the syllables TUTTARA and HUNG
Who stamps the seven worlds with her feet,
Who possesses the power to summon them.
Homage to her who is honored by Indra, Agni, Brahma,
Vayu and other gods,
Who is praised by spirits, blood drinking spirits, celestial
spirits, and local deities.
Homage to her who with TRAT and P'AT,
Destroys adverse machinations,
Who, stamping with her foot, right leg folded, left
extended,
Blazes within a glowing fire.
Homage to TURE, the very frightful,
Who has complete victory over the demon's warriors,
Who kills all the enemies
By frowning her lotus face.
Homage to her whose fingers in the mudra symbol
Of the Three Jewels adorn the heart,
Who by radiating the rays of her own light,
Adorns the wheel of aU directions.
- 87-
Homage to perfect joy, to her whose sparkling tiara
Spreads garlands of light,
Who with great laughter and TUTTARA
Subjugates demons and their worlds.
Homage to her who has the power to summon
The hosts of the guardians of earth,
Who delivers from all misfortune
With HUNG and moving her frowning forehead.
Homage to her whose tiara is a moon crescent,
with all adornments,
Who unceasingly spreads the light
From Amitabha sitting in her full hair.
Homage to her who dwells amid garlands
Blazing like the fire at the end of time
Whose right leg extended and left folded,
Swirling, gives joy and destroys the horde of enemies.
to her who strikes the ground with the palm of
her hand
And stamps it with her foot,
Who frowning her eyebrows, with the syllable HUNG
Shatters the seven underground levels.
- 89 -

C'\_ C'\







- 90 -
Homage to her who is happiness, virtue, and peace
who lives in peace beyond suffering,
Who conquers the greatly harmful deeds
With the purity of SOHA and OM.
- Homage to her who completely delights her entourage
Who destroys the bodies of enemies,
To the liberating one coming from the mantric HUNG
Who emits the utterance of the ten syllables.
Homage to TURE who stamps with her foot,
To whom HUNG is the seed syllable,
Who shakes Mount Meru, Mandara,
Kailash, and the three worlds.
Homage to her who holds in her hand the hare-marked
moon
In the form of the gods' lake
Who totally dispels poison
By reciting twice TARA and P'AT.
I:Iomage to her who is honored by hosts of gods, kings,
Gods, and horse-headed beings,
Who dispels conflicts and bad dreams
With her armor of resplendent joy.
- 91 -

"' ...,.. ...,..






...,.. " ...,.. "'



- 92 -
Homage to her whose two eyes shine
With the radiance of the sun and moon
Who dispels virulent epidemics
With two HARA and with TUTTARA.
Homage to her who through the three established
principles
Fully possesses the power of pacifying
To TURE, the sublime, victor
Of the spirits, blood drinking spirits, and local deities.
Such are the praise of the root mantra
and the twenty-one-fold homage.
- 93 -
ORIGIN OF THE PRAISE
The Tara Praise, called the Praise of the Twenty-One-
Fold Homage is not a text of human origin. It is
contained in a tantra called The Seven Hundred
Thoughts, The King of the Tara TantraY
We saw earlier that tantras dwell in the
omniscience of the mind of the buddhas beyond all
time and manifestation and that they were revealed in
an epoch when it was necessary. The tantra containing
the praise is said to have been uttered by Vairochana
Buddha, not that he uttered it with his mouth but he
emitted it from his crown protuberance.
13
First written in Sanskrit, the praise was later
translated into Tibetan, and, with the tantra containing
it formed a part of the Kangyur, the Tibetan collection
of canonical texts gathering the words of the Buddha.
Many commentaries have been written to elucidate
the meaning of the praise, which would remain
practically incomprehensible without them. Having
various points of view, these commentaries offer very
different interpretations. We follow Taranatha's
commentary here.
A great scholar, famous for his knowledge of
Sanskrit-he wrote a grammar for the use of
Tibetans-Taranatha lived in the 17th century (1575-
1638). He himself did not go to India but studied with
four great Indian scholars whom he hosted in his
monastery. He was seen as having reincarnated in
India in many past lives as a scholar. The tendencies
thus left in his mind explain the ease with which he
studied Sanskrit.
His written works were prolific. He notably
translated tantras, devoted many works to Tara, and
wrote many treatises on Kalachakra, to which the
- 94 -
lineage he headed (Jonang lineage) gave much
importance.
How TO RECITE THE PRAISE
The praise addressed to Tara is based on the
_ recognition of Tara's greatness. Tara is in essence,
Prajnaparamita, the origin or "Mother" of all the
buddhas.She also gathered into herself the activity of
all the buddhas and bodhisattvas. The quality of her
body, speech, and mind are infinite. Therefore, she is
worthy of the praise.
When we recite the praise, we think that we
produce an infinite number of bodies similar to
ourselves who all , together prostrate and recite the
text. Our mind, in an attitude of great reverence and
profound confidence, prays for the deity to protect us
from all suffering and all fears of samsara and to
fulfill our request. As for our speech, during recitation
of the text, we think of all the pleasant sounds in the
universe accompanying it.
The recitation of the praise requires intense
devotion, a total trust in Tara that we pray from the
bottom of our heart with the request, "Protect us!"
We receive thus the blessing that purifies us,
makes us accumulate merit, protects us, and helps us
obtain what we wish.
- 95 -
EXPLANATION OF THE PRAISE
Preliminary Stanza





OM, HOMAGE TO THE SOVEREIGN, THE NOBLE, THE LffiERA TING
ONE.
HOMAGE TO TARE, THE SWIFT, THE COURAGEOUS ONE.
' IN FRONT OF YOU, WHO WITH TUTTARA DISSIPATES ALL FEARS,
IN FRONT OF YOU, WHO WITH TURE PROVIDES ALL BENEFITS,
IN FRONT OF YOU, SOHA, I BOW DOWN.
This stanza is not part of the tantra. Added later,
it is not considered to be one of the 21 stanzas of the
praise. As it includes Tara's mantra OM TARE TUTTARE
TURE SOHA, it is sometimes called the "praise of the
mantra." Its meaning is as follows.
• OM comes at the beginning of the sentence because
it is the initial syllable of the Tara: mantra.
• SOVEREIGN: In Tibetan it is two syllables (je-tsun).
The first syllable means "sovereign" and the second
"queen," each possessing some implications.
- Sovereign means that we address Tara as the
main figure of all the places of refuge.
- Queen means here "stained with no defects."
• NOBLE, she is superior to all temporal appearances
and beings in samsara.
- 96 -
• LIBERATING ONE, by her activity, she frees all
samsaric beings from their suffering and establishes
them in happiness. Liberating one is also the meaning
of the word Tara.
• TARE, part of the mantra repeating the name of the
deity.
• SWIFT, moved by great compassion, Tara, when she
- comes to help beings, does it without procrastinating
or delay.
• COURAGEOUS: Tara shows limitless courage with no
weakness to protect beings from suffering, whether in
a temporal or ultimate way.
• TUTTARA, part of the mantra.
• You WHO DISSIPATE ALL FEARS: by protecting them,
Tara eliminates the fears of beings in samsara.
• TURE, part of the mantra.
• You WHO PROVIDE ALL BENEFITS: Tara bestows all
benefits, whether temporal or ultimate.
• SOHA, final part of the mantra
• I BOW DOWN, I pay homage with body, speech, and
mind.
Stanza 1




HOMAGE TO THE LffiERA TING ONE, SWIFT AND
WHOSE SIGHT IS LIKE INSTANT LIGHTNING,
WHO ARISES FROM MYRIADS OF STAMENS
OF THE LOTUS FACE OF THE PROTECTOR OF THE THREE WORLDS.
- 97 -
· nus stanza shows that Tara is worth praIsmg
because she has the three qualities of an awakened
mind: love, power, and knowledge.
• SWIFT, the fact that she swiftly accomplishes the
benefit of beings with compassion is first the sign of
her love.
• COURAGEOUS, her absence of fear and weakness in
protecting beings from all dangers attests to her
power.
• SIGHT LIKE INSTANT LIGHTNING, Tara has the sight
(eye) of primordial knowledge; this knowledge,
instantaneous as lightning, gives her the capabilities to
see and understand all phenomena.
• LffiERATING ONE: because of this love, this power,
and knowledge, Tara liberates beings from the
suffering of samsara and establishes them in
happiness. Therefore, she is called the "liberating one."
The two following lines refer to Tara's origin from a
relative point of view.
• PROTECTOR OF THE THREE WORLDS designates
Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig). The three worlds that he
watches over are underground, on earth, and above
earth existence, that is, all classes of beings.
• LOTUS FACE, the lotus (literally, born of water)
indicates the beauty; the metaphor underlines the
beauty of Avalokiteshvara's face.
• MYRIADS OF STAMENS: continues the metaphor.
These two lines also make allusion to the story in
which Tara would have appeared from a tear drop of
A valokiteshvara. Beyond this literal meaning,
Taranatha also gives an interpretation on the level of
ultimate truth. In this case, the Protector of the Three
Worlds designates the Absolute Body (Dharmakaya),
- 98 -
and Tara represents the formal body (rupakaya) issued
from the dynamics of the Absolute Body.
Stanza 2
1


..... "...,..-

HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE FACE GATHERS
ONE HUNDRED AUTUMN FULL MOONS,
WHO BLAZES WITH THE SPARKLING UGHT
OF A THOUSAND STARS.
• SHE WHOSE FACE GATHERS ONE HUNDRED AUTUMN
FULL MOONS: the luminosity of Tara's face is
comparable ' to the full radiance of one hundred
autumn full moons. In India, the autumn moon
especially glistens in the night, whereas in summer
(rainy season), the sky is obscured by clouds and
humidity. In winter, it is lightly veiled by dust floating
in the air. In autumn, the sky is extremely limpid.
• SHE WHO BLAZES WITH SPARKLING LIGHT OF A
THOUSAND STARS: while the two previous lines praise
the luminosity of Tara's face, it is now to the glitter of
Tara's body that the stars' light alludes.
- 99 -
Stanza 3



...,... ...,... ....

HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE HAND IS ADORNED
WITH A BLUE AND GOLD WATER-BORN WTUS,
WHO HAS FOR HER DOMAIN GNING, EFFORT,
ASCETICISM, PEACE, PATIENCE, AND CONCENTRATION.
• A BLUE AND GOLD WATER-BORN LOTUS: water-born is
a metaphor for the lotus; here the stem is gold colored
while the flower is blue.
The two following lines indicate that Tara possesses
the six paramitas perfectly, the six perfections of the
bodhisattvas.
• GIVING: paramita of generosity
• EFFORT: paramita of effort or diligence
• ASCETICISM: designates here the paramita of ethics
• PEACE: refers to the paramita of wisdom
(prajnaparamita)
• PATIENCE: paramita of patience
• CONCENTRATION: paramita of concentration
- 100 -
Stanza 4


-

HOMAGE TO THE CROWN OF THE BLESSED ONE,
To HER WHO ENJOYS THE INFINITE AND VICTORY,
WHO IS TRUSTED BY THE CHILDREN OF THE CONQUERORS
WHO HAVE ACHIEVED ALL PERFECTIONS.
• THE CROWN OF THE BLESSED ONE: it is said that
Tara's praise was uttered by the Buddha (Blessed One)
Vairochana, not from his mouth but from the crown
protuberance on the top of his head, as with that of all
buddhas. The Crown of the Blessed One designates
the crown protuberance as well as metaphorically the
praise that comes from it and the one who is the
subject of the praise, Tara.
• THE 1NFINITE: the infinite refers to benefits
proceeding from the praise. we recite it, Tara
effectively grants us all that we ask of her.
• VICTORY: the praise wins the same complete victory
over all adverse circumstances wherever they happen.
Whereas infinite benefits are related to the gift of what
we wish, the victory is related to the help Tara brings
us to overcome fear and danger.
Taranatha's commentary explicates the first two
lines of this stanza in the following way: "Homage to
[her who holds the mantra coming from] the Crown
of the Blessed One [Vairochana], to her who enjoys the
infinite [of the benefits] and victory [brought by the
- 101 -
,
,
mantra on all adverse circumstances]." Taranatha uses
the term "mantra" here but it seems that it is to
designate the praise and not the mantra itself.
• THE CHILDREN OF THE CONQUERORS: they are the
bodhisattvas of the tenth stages, called the Children of
the Buddhas (Conquerors).
• ALL PERFECTIONS: designates the ten paramitas, that
is, the six paramitas we have seen in the previous
stanza (giving, ethics, patience, effort, concentration,
and wisdom) to which are added:
- paramita of skillful means
- paramita of wishes
- paramita of power
- paramita of pristine knowledge (jnana)
Stanza 5




HOMAGE TO HER WHO FILLS THE DESIRE, SKY, AND
DIRECTIONS,
WITH THE SYLLABLES TUTTARA AND HUNG
WHO STAMPS THE SEVEN WORLDS WITH HER FEET,
WHO POSSESSES THE POWER TO SUMMON THEM.
• TUTTARA AND HUNG: mantras used by Tara to
accomplish the activity mentioned in the stanza.
• DESIRE: sphere of desire. Buddhist cosmology divides
the possibilities of existence into three spheres or
domains, that is, the sphere of desire (hells, hungry
- 102 -
ghosts, animals, human beings, demi-gods, and some
categories of gods), the sphere of form (other
categories of gods in more subtle levels), the sphere of
formless (other categories of gods in even more subtle
levels). "Desire" designates the first of these three
spheres.
• THE SKY: comprises form and formless spheres.
Desire and sky refer to the particular universe in
which we live, our solar system as we would say
today.
• DIRECTIONS: in infinite space, an infinite number of
universes evolves, each comprising a desire sphere, a
form sphere, and formless sphere (therefore there are
many solar systems). Tara's activity occurs in the ten
directions (four cardinal points, four intermediate
points, zenith, and nadir) and applies to all the
universes, not just ours.
• THE SEVEN WORLDS: seven levels of existence
inhabited by seven classes of beings
- nagas: spirits of water and earth currents
- pretas: (hungry ghosts) classes of beings who are
always starving
asuras: (demi-gods) powerful, proud, and
quarrelsome beings
- human beings
- vidhyadharas (knowledge holders): designates here,
it seems, the individuals who, after having developed
psychic powers (yogic powers) live in nonhuman
levels, nonetheless without having attained liberation
- kinnara: beings with a human body and' a horse's
head
- devas: gods of the three spheres (desire, form, and
formless)
- 103 -
• STAMPS AND POSSESSES THE POWER TO SUMMON THEM:
metaphors signifying that in her might, Tara can easily
exert her influence on the seven worlds. She can
summon these beings and cover them with her
compassionate activity: to ward off the negative
activity they endure, liberate them from suffering, and
establish them in happiness.
Stanza 6


...,...,.- "'


HOMAGE TO HER WHO IS HONORED BY INDRA, AGNI,
BRAHMA, VA YU AND OTHER GODS,
WHO IS PRAISED BY SPIRITS, BLOOD DRINKING SPIRITS,
CELESTIAL SPIRITS, AND LOCAL DEITIES.
The first two lines underline Tara's greatness by
stating the honors given to her by the great gods of
Vedic India.
• lNDRA: King of the gods
• AGNI: Fire god who reigns over the rishis
• BRAHMA: creator of the universe
• VA YU: wind god, protector of works and the arts
• OTHER GODS: other vedic gods
The two last lines refer to homage paid by other
classes of beings usually opposed to the dharma and
who live in the realms of the asuras or pretas.
• SPIRITS: some beings called in Sanskrit rakshasa
- 104 -
• BLOOD DRINKING SPIRITS: spirits having invaded a
corpse and feeding on human blood
• CELESTIAL SPIRITS: musician spirits eating scents
(Sanskrit, gandharva)
• LOCAL DEITIES: classes of beings (Sanskrit, yaksha)
governed by Vairavana (Namthose)
Stanza 7
HOMAGE TO HER WHO WITH TRAT AND P'AT,
DESTROYS ADVERSE MACHINATIONS,
WHO, STAMPING WITH HER FOOT, RIGHT LEG FOLDED, LEFT
EXTENDED,
BLAZES WITHIN A GLOWING FIRE.
• TRAT and P'AT: syllables used by Tara to accomplish
the activity mentioned in this stanza (Tibetans say
"tray" and "pay"). These two syllables are associated
with violent activity.
• ADVERSE MACHINATIONS: enemies are those who seek
to harm individuals or the dharma by using various
methods such as weapons, poisons, mantras, and so
on. Tara has the power to overcome all their
machinations.
• STAMPING WITH HER FOOT, right leg folded, left leg
extended: to overcome the enemies, Tara not only uses
mantras TRAT and P'AT but she takes a posture called
wrathful. Standing on her left foot, she steps on
- 105 -
negative spirits to subdue them, right leg folded and
left leg extended.
• BLAZES WITHIN A GLOWING FIRE: Tara's body is
blazing and produces immense flames. This fire first
forces Yama (god of death) and all those who could
harm our lives to flee away; secondly, the fire
surrounds us with protection.
Stanza 8

<'\..,... ..,...

1,&'
- ..,...

HOMAGE TO TURE, THE VERY FRIGHTFUL, .
WHO HAS COMPLETE VICTORY OVER THE DEMON'S WARRIORS,
WHO KILLS ALL THE ENEMIES
BY FROWNING HER LOTUS FACE.
• TURE: in Sanskrit, swift, Tara's attribute; also
designates a part of the mantra; Tara uses the power
of this part to exert her activity.
• THE VERY FRIGHfFUL: Tara's nature is to be at peace.
However, when circumstances demand it, she can take
on a wrathful and violent aspect, capable of causing
fright.
• DEMON'S WARRIORS: those who oppose the virtuous
activity and dharma practice, and those who
propagate present suffering and causes for future
suffering.
- 106 -
• WHO HAS COMPLETE VICTORY: it is with her wrathful
attitude that Tara vanquishes the demon's warriors,
since a peaceful attitude would not subdue them.
• BY FROWNING HER LOTUS FACE: the preceding lines
meant that Tara's body has taken on a wrathful
expression. . The fourth line specifies that this
expression appears to her face, to the point of
wrinkling it.
• WHO KILLS ALL THE ENEMIES: enemies are those
previously designated with the expression "demon's
warriors," those who engage in unwholesome activity
and become obstacles to the dharma. When Tara
"kills" them, this means that she deprives them
physically and mentally of their harmful power.
Taranatha gives a second interpretation for this
stanza, no longer considering outer enemies but inner
enemies.
• THE VERY FRIGHTENING: primordial awareness, union
of bliss and emptiness, frightening for unfortunate
beings.
• TORE: threading swiftly the higher paths, we attain
buddhahood.
• THE DEMON'S WARRIORS: conflicting emotions (desire,
hatred, jealousy, and so on) and the thoughts
stemming from them.
• FROWNING HER FACE: here, symbolizes the creation
phase of deity meditation, that is, the moment when
the practitioner imagines himself or herself in the form
of the deity and develops "divine pride." This d i v ~ e
pride vanquishes conflicting emotions and allows us
ultimately to obtain the Wisdom Body, bliss-
emptiness, a term used in the tantras as an equivalent
of the Absolute Body.
- 107-
-
• ENEMIES: the veils of the mind, conquered by
primordial wisdom. These veils are:
- The veil of conflicting emotions that disappears at
the first stage of the bodhisattva.
- The veil of dualistic knowledge that begins to
disappear at the first stage and is completely
eliminated with attaining buddhahood.
Stanza 9
HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE FINGERS IN THE MUDRA SYMBOL
OF THE THREE JEWELS ADORN THE HEART,
WHO BY RADIATING THE RAYS OF HER OWN UGHT,
ADORNS THE WHEEL OF ALL DIRECTIONS.
• MUDRA SYMBOL OF THE THREE JEWELS: Tara, as she
is usually represented, with the left hand holding a
lotus stem accomplishes a mudra called "mudra of the
Three Jewels" (The Three Jewels being the Buddha,
Dharma, and Sangha). The mudra symbol of the Three
Jewels mentioned here, according to Taranatha, is
completely different. Hands are joined at heart level,
the middle fingers pressing each other, the other
slightly folded fingers touch ' each other at their
extremities. Together, they form a lotus bud that
symbolizes the Three Jewels, but in reality is called
"lotus mudra."
- 108-
. • AOORN THE HEART: The previously described mudra
requires, that the hands be placed in front of the heart.
• BY RAOIA TING THE RAYS OF HER OWN LIGHT: After
Tara places her hands in the lotus mudra, her entire
body radiates infinite rays of light.
• AOORNS: Light radiated by Tara's body illuminates
and beautifies the universe while spreading outward.
• THE WHEEL OF ALL OIRECfIONS: designates all the
. universes spread throughout the immensity of space.
It is said that a long time ago, Tara performed the
lotus mudra, consecrated it with her mantra, and
declared that anyone who accomplishes it will
immediately invoke her presence. The light with
which Tara fills the universe r;epresents her
spontaneous arrival when one of her followers calls
upon her with the mantra.
14
Stanza 10




HOMAGE TO PERFECT JOY, TO HER WHOSE SPARKLING TIARA
SPREADS GARLANDS OF UGHT
WHO WITH GREAT LAU.GHTER AND TUTIARA
SUBJUGA TES DEMONS AND THEIR WORLDS.
• PERFECf JOY: Tara's body provides beings with
perfect joy.
• SPARKLING: the various precious stones that make
her tiara shine of their own radiance.
- 109 -
• SPREADS GARLANDS OF LIGHT: the luminous rays
radiating from the tiara take the form of garlands that
multiply and propagate themselves.
• WITH GREAT LAUGHTER AND TUTTARA: to discipline
demons, Tara uses her laughter and mantra.
• SUBJUGATES DEMONS AND THEIR WORLDS: Some
worlds are ruled by demons or by temporal deities.
Tara has the power to subdue them.
Stanza 11



-
-

HOMAGE TO HER WHO HAS THE POWER TO SUMMON
THE HOSTS OF THE GUARDIANS OF EARTH,
WHO DELNERS FROM ALL MISFORTUNE
WITH HUNG AND MOVING HER FROWNING FOREHEAD.
• GUARDIANS OF THE EARTH: refers, first, to some
deities called goddesses of the earth, and secondly to
the kings ruling human beings.
• TO SUMMON: underlines Tara's greatness; all
powerful beings obey her.
• WITH HUNG AND MOVING HER FROWNING FOREHEAD:
signs of anger symbolizing Tara's force, able to brush
away any misfortune.
• DELIVERS FROM ALL MISFORTUNE: misfortune as
explained here is the "lack of happiness"; it
encompasses all scarcity such as lack of food, clothing,
- 110 -
material belongings, or whatever, including lack of
inner happiness. Tara frees beings from all suffering.
Stanza 12

.
... ...,.. ...,.. '"


HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE TIARA IS A MOON CRESCENT,
ABLAZE WITH ALL ADORNMENTS,
WHO UNCEASINGLY SPREADS THE UGHT
FROM AMITABHA smING IN HER FULL HAIR.
The two first lines praise the tiara shaped in a
moon crescent and the ornaments inlaid with precious
stones adorning Tara's body and shining with a
radiance that emanates in all directions.
• AMITABHA sITTiNG IN HER FULL HAIR: in the knot that
gathers part of her hair on top of her head, there is
Amitabha Buddha (whose name means Infinite Light)
proclaiming that Tara belongs to the lotus family ruled
by Amitabha.
• WHO UNCEASINGLY SPREADS THE LIGHT: Amitabha's
body itself constantly radiates light that spreads all
around Tara.
- 111 -
Stanza 13
1

..,... ..,...


HOMAGE TO HER WHO DWELLS AMID GARLANDS
BLAZING LIKE THE FIRE AT THE END OF TIME,
WHO, RIGHT LEG EXTENDED AND LEFT FOLDED,
SWIRLING, GWES JOY AND DESTROYS THE HORDE OF ENEMIES.
• THE FIRE AT THE END OF TIME: according to
traditional cosmology, at the end of a kalpa (cosmic
era) the world would be set ablaze, destroyed, and
consumed by an immense fire.
• SWIRLING: Tara stands up. "Swirling" indicates the
swift and various movements of her dance.
• RIGHT LEG EXTENDED, LEFT FOLDED: this does not
mean that Tara holds a fixed posture. These are only
examples of her leg movements during the dance.
• GIVES JOY: the effect of this dance is to provide joy to
beneficent beings.
• DESTROYS THE HORDE OF ENEMIES: this is the second
effect of the dance, destroying harmful human or
nonhuman beingsY
- 112 -
Stanza 14
HOMAGE TO HER WHO STRIKES THE GROUND WITH THE PALM
OF HER HAND AND STAMPS IT WITH HER FOOT,
WHO FROWNING HER EYEBROWS, WITH THE SYLLABLE HUNG
SHA TIERS THE SEVEN UNDERGROUND LEVELS.
• STRIKES THE GROUND WITH THE PALM OF HER HAND:
the complete movement done by Tara is first to clap
her hands, then, to strike the ground. The ground
designates here the surface of the world in its totality.
Tara demonstrates by this hand movement, as well as
stamping the ground with her left foot, that she
dominates the world.
• WITH THE SYLLABLE HUNG: Tara emits this syllable
through her nose.
• THE SEVEN UNDERGROUND LEVELS: Taranatha's
commentary gives the list of the seven underground
worlds without specifying their characteristics.
Generally, these are the nagas, ogres, and other
creatures' dwellings. One may recall that in traditional
cosmology, the Earth is a flat disc upon which the
oceans and continents are placed. The seven levels are
listed as follows:
- the base
- the superior base
- the baseless
- the base itself
- 113 -
- the base of vital essence
- the good base
- the pure base.
Stanza 15

"....,.... "



HOMAGE TO HER WHO IS HAPPINESS, VIRTUE, AND PEACE
WHO LIVES IN PEACE BEYOND SUFFERING,
WHO CONQUERS THE GREATLY HARMFUL DEEDS
WITH THE PURITY OF SOHA AND OM.
• HAPPINESS, VIRTUE, AND PEACE are permanent
qualities of Tara and also qualities through which she
helps beings.
- she grants them happiness in this very life
- she makes them accomplish virtues, that is, positive .
activity as the foundation of happiness for future lives.
- to fortunate disciples, she the path to peace,
that is, liberation.
• PEACE BEYOND SUFFERING: beyond suffering
designates nirvana. As previously, not only has Tara
attained this nirvana but she provides access to it for
her followers. The "peace" of the previous line applied
to the path to nirvana, whereas the "peace" of this
second line refers to obtaining nirvana.
• SOHA and OM: mantras used by Tara.
• PURITY: these mantras are pure, that is, perfectly
authentic. This explains their benefits.
- 114 -
• CONQUERS THE GREATLY HARMFUL DEEDS: by the
mantras that she utters, Tara dissipates harmful deeds
themselves and the suffering coming from them.
Other interpretations of the commentary refer to
the five wisdoms according to the ultimate truth:
• HAPPINESS: discriminating wisdom
• VIRTUE: mirror-like wisdom
• PEACE: wisdom of equality
• PEACE BEYOND SUFFERING: dharma datu wisdom
• CONQUERS THE GREATLY HARMFUL DEEDS:
accomplishing wisdom
• SOHA AND OM: Tara's mind, possessing the five
wisdoms, is endowed with a dynamic that manifests
in the form of "fearless sound" or "sound of
emptiness," which is the mantra. The deity's mantras,
symbolized here by SOHA and OM, are the expression
of the Absolute Body. The deity and her mantra are
truly inseparable. The mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE
SOHA is none other than Tara.
Stanza 16
HOMAGE TO HER WHO COMPLETELY DELIGHTS HER
ENTOURAGE
WHO DESTROYS THE BODIES OF ENEMIES,
To THE LIBERATING ONE COMING FROM THE MANTRIC HUNG
WHO EMITS THE UTTERANCE OF THE TEN SYLLABLES.
- 115 -
• WHO COMPLETELY DEUGHTS HER ENTOURAGE: the
natural effect of Tara's compassion is to provide joy
for the bodhisattvas, the Vajrayana followers having
attained realization, for the practitioners, and her
followers in general. "Completely" means that her
entourage is immense and goes out in all directions.
16
• ENEMIES: those opposed to the practice of the
dharma or also conflicting emotions in the mind of
beings.
• HUNG: the seed syllable from which Tara appears in
her wrathful form described here as blazing with light.
(The seed syllable of Tara in her peaceful form is
TAM.)
• THE UTIERANCE OF THE TEN SYLLABLES: Tara's mantra
OM TARE TUTIARE TURE SOHA is considered inseparable
from Tara herself. From the seed syllable appears the
mantra or the deity herself.
Stanza 17
HOMAGE TO TURE WHO STAMPS WITH HER FOOT,
To WHOM HUNG IS THE SEED SYLLABLE,
WHO SHAKES MOUNT MERU, MANDARA,
KAILASH, AND THE THREE WORLDS.
• TURE: Sanskrit term meaning "swift," one of Tara's
names.
- 116 -
• STAMPS WITH HER FOOT: indicates that Tara dons a
wrathful form here.
• MOUNT MERU: the mountain forming the central axis
of the world in buddhist cosmology.
• MANDARA: a mountain.
• KAILASH: a sacred mountain in Western Tibet,
looked upon as Chakrasamvara's dwelling by
buddhists and as Shiva's dwelling by hindus.
• THE THREE WORLDS: on earth, underground, and
above earth.
Stanza 18




HOMAGE TO HER WHO HOLOS IN HER HAND THE HARE-
MARKED MOON
IN THE FORM OF THE GOOS' LAKE
WHO TOTALLY DISPELS POISON
BY RECITING TWICE TARA AND P'AT.
• THE HARE-MARKED MOON: the moon. In the East,
people distinguish a hare on the moon (or a rabbit),
clearly drawn, with its two large ears standing straight
up.
• THE GODS' LAKE: another metaphor for the moon,
compared to a perfectly round lake, very beautiful,
filled with white, clear, and fresh water.
• TARA AND P'AT: Mantras used by Tara to neutralize
poisons.
- 117-
• DISPELS POISON: poisons are of two kinds,
"immobile" (mineral and herbal poisons) and mobile
(poisonous animals or dangerous animals such as
rabid dogs).
Stanza 19


---- " " "

-" ...,.

HOMAGE TO HER WHO IS HONORED BY HOSTS OF GODS, KINGS,
GODS, AND HORSE-HEADED BEINGS,
WHO DISPELS CONFLICTS AND BAD DREAMS
WITH HER ARMOR OF RESPLENDENT JOY.
• HOSTS OF GODS: gods of the desire sphere gathered
in six classes whose dwellings rise in tiers above
Mount Meru.
• KINGS: sovereigns governing a whole universe called
"chakravartins," as well as other kings.
• GODS, refers here to the local deities who inhabit a
mountain, a lake, or a forest.
• HONORED BY: the powerful beings mentioned above
show their allegiance to Tara by bowing down to her
feet.
• HORSE-HEADED BEINGS: musicians with a human
body and the head of a horse (Sanskrit, kinnara).
• ARMOR: mantras consecrated by Tara and the
mudras that she accomplishes provide to those who
do her practice a protection comparable to an armor.
- 118 -
• JOY: this armor gives joy and happiness to the minds
of those who wear it.
• RESPLENDENT: the armor gives a brilliance to the
body and speech.
• DISPELS CONFLICTS AND BAD DREAMS: the other effect
of the armor provided by Tara's mantras and mudras.
Stanza 20


"'..,... "'


HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE TWO EYES SHINE
WITH THE RADIANCE OF THE SUN AND MOON
WHO DISPELS VIRULENT EPIDEMICS
WITH TWO HARA AND WITH TUTTARA.
• WHOSE TWO EYES SHINE: the radiance of Tara's sight
of compassion is such that it frees beings of inferior
realms and other worlds from their suffering, and
establishes a state of happiness for them.
• HARA AND TUTTARA: mantras through which Tara
dispels epidemics. Beside the literal meaning,
Taranatha gives a more general interpretation:
• HARA AND TUTTARA: represents recitation of Tara's
mantra.
• VIRULENT EPIDEMICS: conflicting emotions (anger,
desire-attachment, blindness, pride, jealousy, and so
on).
• WHOSE TWO EYES SHINE WITH THE RADIANCE OF THE
SUN AND MOON: by the light of the right eye, Tara
- 119 -
scares violent beings and burns away negative activity
and suffering like the sun. By the light of her left eye,
comparable to nectar flowing out of the moon, she
gives life, and happiness.
Stanza 21




HOMAGE TO HER WHO THROUGH THE THREE ESTABLISHED
PRINCIPLES
FULLY POSSESSES THE POWER OF PACIFYING
To TURE, THE SUBLIME, VICTOR
OF THE SPIRITS, BWOD-DRINKING SPIRITS, AND LOCAL DEITIES.
Taranatha successively applies the four modes of
interpretation of a tantra to this stanza.
Literal Meaning
• THE THREE PRlNCIPLES: the. three "suchnesses," or the
three qualities characterizing realization
- the base: emptiness .
- the path: absence of belief in the reality of
phenomena
- the result: nonaspiration, absence of expectation
• ESTABLISHED: the three principles are established to
lead beings to genuine happiness and perfect
awakening
• FULLY POSSESSES THE POWER OF PACIFYING: thanks to
the three principles, Tara rids beings of the two veils
- 120 -
(veil of conflicting emotions and veil of dualistic
knowledge) and establishes them in the peace of
awakening
• SPIRITS: term covering 18 categories of spirits
provoking illness and other difficulties
• BLOOD-DRINKlNG SPIRITS: represent here the power of
_ black magic
• LOCAL DEITIES: in Sanskrit, yakshas
• TURE: the swift one
• VICTOR: Tara gains victory over all that causes evil.
Common Meaning
• THE THREE PRINCIPLES: the three syllables OM, AH,
HUNG (essence of the body, speech, and mind) placed
at the three places on Tara's body (forehead, throat,
and heart)
• POWER OF PACIFYING: the power to protect beings
against any obstacle.
Hidden Meaning
• THE THREE PRINCIPLES: appearance, expansion, and
attainment designate here the three steps of the
manifestation of clear light in the six yogas of Naropa
• ESTABLISHED: the succession of the above three steps
• POWER OF PACIFYING: the peace in the instant,
complete emptiness, and clear light stemming from
the three steps
• SPIRITS: subtle channels (Sanskrit, nadi)
• BLOOD-DRINKlNG SPIRITS: the energy /I drops"
(Sanskrit, bindu) that are found or circulating in the
channels at the same time as the subtle winds
• LOCAL DEITIES: thoughts that disappear in the clear
light.
- 121 -
Ultimate Meaning
• THE THREE PRINCIPLES: the vajra-body, vajra-speech,
and vajra-mind. "Vajra" here signifies the state of full
awakening, buddhahood.
• ESTABLISHED: these three vajras are the primordial
nature of phenomena
• FULLY POSSESSES THE POWER TO PACIFY: given that the
three vajras are primordially present, that they are
from this time forward the peace of realization, one
establishes oneself by meditating in the state where
one is inseparable from them
• SPIRITS: suffering
• BLOOD-DRINIGNG SPIRITS: karma
• LOCAL DEITIES: conflicting emotions
• THE SUBLIME: once victory is gained over suffering,
karma, and conflicting emotions, there is the
primordial awareness that is great felicity.
Concluding lines


SUCH ARE THE PRAISE OF THE ROOT MANTRA
AND THE TWENTY-GNE-FOLD HOMAGE.
• THE ROOT MANTRA: Tara's mantra OM TARE TUITARE
TURE SOHA is distributed throughout the text of the
praise.
• THE TWENTY-ONE-FOLD HOMAGE: each stanza starts
with the word "homage."
- 122 -
5-Buddhism and Women
Tara is a female deity, furthermore, she is a woman
who has become a goddess.
The status of women in buddhism often appears to
have been inferior to that of men. For example, in the
story of Wisdom Moon-the future Tara-monks did
not hesitate to sincerely advise her, for her own good,
to aspire to a male existence in a future rebirth.
Other examples of this way of thinking can be
found. Likewise, Shantideva, in his famous Bodhisattva
Way of Awakening wrote, "Mayall female beings
'become male!"
To understand such wishes, it is indispensable to
look at the context of ancient India. The situation of
women was considered socially very inferior. Entirely
dependant upon men, women had very little freedom
or power to make decisions. Doomed to family and
domestic tasks, they only had limited access to the
dharma. Under these conditions, it was far better to be
male .than female. Shantideva certainly did not see
women as inferior but considered women's position
unfavorable for spiritual practice. However, what was
due to certain circumstances has very little value
outside of those circumstances. In reality, today more
than ever, buddhism does not distinguish men from
women, crediting them both with the same spiritual
potential and with the same capabilities to realize it.
- 123 -
MEN AND WOMEN: A UNIQUE POTENTIAL
The notion of potential for spiritual development
occupies a fundamental place in buddhism. In fact, it
is considered that without the presence of a potential
effect within a cause, this effect would never appear.
Thus, oil is obtained from a sesame seed or butter
from milk because these ingredients are already
present in them in a latent state. If this were not so, a
seed could be crushed or cream churned for ages
without ever obtaining anything.
If human beings have the possibility to exit
ignorance and attain awakening, it is because they
have what is called the "mind in itself," or the "heart
of awakening," that is, the potential for awakening. In'
reality, this potential does not only belong to human
beings, for all beings share this in a universal way,
whether they are animals or are in other conditions of
existence in which beings are not definitively locked.
Shared universally by all beings, it does not belong,
therefore, more to men than women.
This heart of awakening is defined by several
aspects:
- its essence is emptiness, which implies that it
embraces the totality of beings
- it has the quality of dharmata or tathagata, which
means that it is not simply emptiness but that it has
the power to become awakened, just like the seed of
a flower contains the virtual color, perfume, and other
characteristics of the future flower. This potentiality is,
therefore, common to all beings without difference in
quality. It is not better in some beings or worse in
others.
- finally, it classifies all beings in the "species" of
awakening. Since 'they have the potentiality of
- 124 -
awakening, they attain awakening, just like a seed of
a carnation can effectively become a carnation whereas
a seed of another flower, of a different species, could
not possibly produce a carnation. This third aspect
implies that it is possible to pass from a latent state to
the result and that spiritual practice makes sense.
The heart of awakening is not, however, sufficient
to attain awakening. If it constitutes a permanent
cause, an ever present foundation, it must be
associated with favorable circumstances. It needs a
"support," that is, a particular condition of existence
such as a human existence.
It need not only be a human existence but a life
containing a 'certain number of characteristics without
which a spiritual progression would not be possible.
One counts ten indispensable conditions:
• five conditions inherent in the person
- human condition
- being born in a country where the dharma has
spread
- having possession of all senses, that is, the faculties
of communication that allow one to understand the
dharma
- not pursuing an occupation in conflict with the
buddhist precepts
- having faith in the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma,
and Sangha)
• five outer factors
- a buddha must have manifested on Earth
- He or she must have taught the dharma
- the teaching must be alive
- the teaching must be known
- the structures to spread the teaching must be
supported by disciples.
- 125 -
It is said that, on the basis of the heart of
awakening and human existence endowed with the
required conditions above, anyone who makes the
effort to attain awakening will. It is interesting to note
that these affirmations were made by the Buddha 2500
years ago, at a time when women's condition-as we
have noted-was socially inferior to that of men. In
this context, the Buddha did not have to spare
people's sensibilities; however, from the point of view
of spiritual possibilities, he made no distinction
between men and women. He did not declare that the
possibility of attaining awakening was reserved for
men, but that anyone (man or woman) making the
effort to walk the path would attain the goaL
In the spiritual domain, the true question is that of
practice. If practice is done, whether one is a man or
a woman, one will obtain a result. If practice is not
done, no result will be attained, regardless of whether
one is a man or a woman, or even if one has a
favorable human existence.
REMARKABLE -WOMEN IN INDIAN BUDDHISM
All through its history, buddhism in India, and in
Tibet as well, has seen a great number of remarkable
women appear; some well-known whose lives are
recorded in written texts; others whose names are only
momentarily engraved in memory; and others who
have remained anonymous.
At the time of the Buddha, it is probable that many
female disciples attained arhathoodP There were
many nuns then. The Vinaya
18
recalls the case of
Sukyegu Dangmo and the 500 nuns who accompanied
her. However, we do not have detailed documents on
the lives of these women.
- 126 -
---------- -
Let us mention some of them who later left an
indelible imprint on the long history of Indian
buddhism, like Gelongma Palmo, Mandarava,
Niguma, and Sukhasiddhi.
GELONGMA PALMO - Gelongma Palmo was born to a
royal family in North West India. At a very young
age, she decided to renounce her privileges as a
princess to lead a monastic life.
Her life took a dramatic turn when she contracted
leprosy. Obliged to leave the monastery and
abandoned by her servants, she retired to a small
house away from any other dwelling.
In her despair, she nonetheless was fortunate to see
a vision in a dream of King Indrabuthi who advised
her to practice Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig). If she did
so, this would lead her to realize the nature of her
mind. Thus, she applied herself, night and day reciting
the mantra of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
Time passed, and Gelongma Palmo, obtaining no
result, became discouraged. Another dream brought
her new instructions. This time, Manjushri (Jamyang)
appeared in front of her and said, "Go to Lekar
Shinpal and continue your practice of A valokiteshvara.
In five years, your realization will be equal to Tara's."
Gelongma Palmo went to the place indicated in the
dream and in addition to reciting the mantra she
fasted every other day. Thanks to Avalokiteshvara's
grace, she was then completely healed from leprosy
and her body regained the freshness of youth.
When she was 27 years old, she attained the first
stage of the bodhisattva. At the same time, Tara
appeared in front of her and told her, "You will obtain
- 127 -
the capabilities to accomplish the activity of the
buddhas of the three times."
Later, Avalokiteshvara appeared to her in all his
splendor, in his form with 1,000 arms and 11 faces, his
body filled with deities of the four classes of tantras,
radiating innumerable pure lands through the pores of
his skin.
Gelongma Palmo was filled with awe. However,
she could not refrain from reproaching the deity.
"Although I have accomplished your practice for a
very long time and with much effort, why is it only
now that you have revealed yourself to me?"
"As soon as you began reciting my name, I was
with you and I never ceased to be with you since that
time. There were karmic veils covering your mind
hindering you from seeing me," Avalokiteshvara
answered.
Receiving new instructions from Avalokiteshvara
directly and continuing her practice, Gelongma Palmo
finally attained the tenth stage of the bodhisattva.
MANDARA VA - Tantric buddhism was introduced to
Tibet by the great Indian teacher Padmasambhava in
the 8th century of our era. Among his many disciples,
two women were his mystical companions, each
playing an important role. One of them was an Indian,
Mandarava. The other woman, Yeshe Tsogyal, was
Tibetan.
Mandarava was named after the "paradise tree
with red flowers" and was the daughter of the King of
Sahor. When she became Padmasambhava's
companion, her father was so annoyed that he ordered
the yogi to be burned alive. However,
Padmasambhava transformed the blazing fire into a
- 128 -
lake. The King gained faith in him and relinquished
his kingdom and the princess to him.
When Padmasambhava left for Tibet, Mandarava
stayed behind in India. However, she miraculously
appeared in the Land of Snow and talked with her
teacher.
NIGUMA - Niguma is sometimes considered to be
Mahasiddha Naropa's sister and sometimes his
mystical companion. We know very little of her life
except · that she obtained the immortality of the
rainbow body and that she is alive in the mysterious
sandalwood forest of Sosaling in India where pure
beings can meet her.
That was the case for Khyungpo Naljor, a Tibetan
Master of the 11th century and founder of the
Shangpa school in Tibet after having received
instructions in India for many years. Advised by
several of his teachers to meet Niguma, he went to the
forest of Sosaling. After many wanderings and long
prayers, he finally met Niguma in the form of a dark-
skinned dakini dancing in the sky, holding a drum
and a skull cup in her hands. Khyungpo Naljor bowed
down, offered her gold, and requested instructions.
Niguma received the offering only to throw it
away in disdain. The Tibetan became fearful, asking
himself if he was not confronted by a flesh-eating
dakini rather than the famous yogini. Niguma made
a high mountain appear and from the summit four
unceasing streams of gold were flowing. She told her
visitor:
"If one has a pure vision, everything is gold.
Without pure vision, there is no gold anywhere. I do
not need your gold."
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And she returned the gold that she had thrown
away a few moments before. She then bestowed her
teachings and empowerments to Khyungpo Naljor,
telling him, 1/ Among illusory phenomena, through
applying illusory meditation, illusory awakening arises
by the strength of devotion."
SUKHASIDDHI - Sukhasiddhi's story, like that of
Niguma's, with whom she is almost a contemporary,
belongs to the collection of life stories of the
M a h ~ s i d d h a s of ancient India. It begins in Kashmir, in
a peasant family during a severe famine in the area.
All the provisions in the house were exhausted. Only
a single bowl of rice was left.
. The father and son; in desperation, decided to go
begging. As they were leaving home, they told the
mother to save the remaining rice for the "great black
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moon," an expression of darkest misery in case they
come back empty-handed.
During their absence, a begging ascetic came to the
door and said his name was "Great Black Moon." To
show respect to the monastic and believing that she
was obeying her husband, the mother offered him the
remaining bowl of rice.
At night, the father and son returned home
desperate having obtained nothing in spite of an all-
day effort. To overcome their exhaustion, they asked
the mother to cook the rice they had in reserve. The
mother told them that Great Black Moon had come,
and in conformity with their instructions, she had
given him the precious food. The two men became so
angry that they threw the poor woman out without
waiting for her explanation.
Wandering along the road, the woman eventually
arrived at the Land of Orgyen, west of Kashmir. She
opened a store in the market place of the village
selling barley beer that she brewed herself. In the
nearby forest, the great yogi Virupa was dwelling. The
yoginis who served him often visited the market and
bought beer from the old woman because their master
liked her brew. Curious about the beer's destination,
the woman once asked them for whom they bought
the beer.
"It is for our master, the yogi Virupa," the buyers
said.
Mysteriously touched by the name she had never
heard before, the woman refused to charge them any
longer.
Virupa soon asked about the origin of the fine beer
they bought.
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Sukhasiddhi
"It is from an old woman in the market place who
brews it herself/' explained the servaIlts, "and once
she knew that it was for you, she refused payment."
"Ask her to come here," answered Virupa who
understood that the faith and devotion of the old
woman made her ready for instruction.
Taking with her a large quantity of beer for an
offering and ·her heart filled with emotion, the old
merchant came to visit Virupa. The latter immediately
conferred teachings and empowerments to her. It is
said that in one night, she obtained liberation and
miraculously received the beauty and freshness of a
16-year-old body.
She then became known under the name of
Sukhasiddhi, "Accomplished by Felicity" and directly
received teachings from Vajradhara Buddha.
Instructions left by Sukhasiddhi and Niguma have
been transmitted up to modem times. They are
integrated in the canon of the Shangpa order.
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REMARKABLE WOMEN OF TmETAN BUDDHISM
The structure of Tibetan society probably did not
allow women equality with men in the practice of
dharma. However, the gates were not closed to
women. Many monasteries all over Tibet were for
nuns, and many women became famous through their
realization. Let us take a look at some of those names
preserved in history.
THE TWo SPOUSES OF SONGTSEN GAMPO - From the
very beginning of the introduction of buddhism in
Tibet, women have played an important role. King
Songtsen Gampo, who reigned at the time buddhism
was implanted in the Land of Snow, had two spouses.
Their profound faith and realization were so
impressive that these women are sometimes
considered as emanations of Tara.
Songtsen Campo and his two spouses
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The first spouse, Kunsho, was a Chinese princess
who brought with her as a dowry the venerated and
holy buddha statue presently sheltered in the Jokhang
in Lhassa, which all the Tibetans simply call Jowo, the
"Lord."
The second spouse, the Nepalese princess Tritsun
also brought with her a statue of Akshobya Buddha,
and it is kept in another temple of Lhassa, the
Ramoche.
Both of them had many temples built and strongly
supported the development of buddhism.
YESHE TSOGYAL - Yeshe Tsogyal, looked upon as an
emanation of the deity Vajravarahi (Dorje Pamo), lived
in the 8th and 9th century of our era. When she was
born, the small lake near her parents' house became
much larger. This event looked very auspicious and
the child was given the name of Tsogyal, "Queen of
the Lake."
Her beauty so overwhelmed her suitors that they
made preparation for armed conflict to obtain her
hand. To avoid a useless blood-bath, King Trisong
Detsen decided to take her as one of his spouses.
Later, to show devotion to the one mainly
reponsible for the introduction of tantric buddhism to
Tibet, the King offered Yeshe . Tsogyal to
Padmasambhava. She became his main mystic
companion and without doubt, his chief disciple.
Under his direction, she spent many years of practice
in caves in Kham, Bhutan, and Nepal, facing
strenuous hardship until she attained the highest
realization.
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Yesbe
Tsogyal
Endowed with an extraordinary memory, Yeshe
Tsogyal remembered all the words of her teacher. F.or
the benefit of future generations, she wrote these
words down and hid them in the form of treasures
. (Tibetan, terma) meant to be rediscovered later by
predestined beings.
After Padmasambhava left Tibet, it is said that she
remained 200 years in the Land of Snow to continue
guiding the disciples. At the end of her life, without
leaving behind any remains, she joined her teacher in
his pure land, the Copper Colored Mountain.
Among the women disciples of Padmasambhava,
it is mentioned that 25 of them obtained rainbow
bodies, that is, they left no remains, their bodies
disappeared into rainbows.
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MACHIK LABDRON - Machik Labdron was born in
1062 under extraordinary auspicious circumstances.
Besides the fact that the little girl had a third eye on
her forehead and she had on her tongue the red
syllable HRI, she was born among rainbows, celestial
music, and wonderful perfumes. Immediately at birth,
she stood up and asked her mother if she had suffered
too much giving ·birth. It is understandable why
Machik Labdron was quickly considered as an
extraordinary being, an emanation of the Great Mother
(Prajnaparamita) and of the deity Vajravarahi (Dorje
Pamo).
- 136 -
.Prom an early age, she showed extraordinary
capabilities. She could read the very long texts of the
prajnaparamita (the perfection of knowledge showing
the ultimate nature of phenomena) faster than
anybody else. She could also explain their meaning
even to the great scholars who were astonished by her
knowledge.
Her knowledge was not limited to the intellect, she
also realized the absence of ego. Consequently this
caused many changes in her life. She abandoned the
beautiful clothes she liked and dressed as a beggar.
She began to appreciate the company of . leprous
people and the poor as much as that of scholars and
meditators. She gave importance neither to the quality
of housing nor the taste of food. She did not care
about praise or blame and dwelled in a state of
constant happiness.
She married the Indian teacher, Thopa Badra, with
whom she had several children, and received many
teachings of another great Indian teacher called
Padampa Sangye.
Machik Labdron is also famous for having
composed and taught a meditation
practice-Chod-linked to the prajnaparamita that is
seen as the only practice of Tibetan origin, while other
practices have been transmitted from India. This
initiative appeared suspect to Indian buddhists. They
met in Bodhgaya to discuss this issue and sent three
messengers to Tibet to examine Machik Labdron. She
was able to give them enough proof of her past lives
and her realization to convince them of the
authenticity of the Chod practice.
Machik Labdron lived to the age of 99 years old
and counted among her many disciples four
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particularly remarkable women who are called the
Four Jewel-Women: Gotsa Jewel, Palden Jewel, Sonam
Jewel, and Rinchen Jewel. In all; Machik had 108
women disciples who attained realization.
The great-grandson of Machik Labdron, Donyo
Samdrup who was himself a great teacher, helped 18
of his women disciples, called the 18 daughters, to
attain realization.
In the life of Milarepa, the great yogi of the Land
of Snow, we encounter a great number of women
disciples who attained realization, such as his sister
Peta, the young Paldar Bum, Sale 0, Lekse Bum, and
Rechungma. The four latter ones, called the four
sisters, have attained rainbow bodies.
In all the schools of Tibetan buddhism, Nyingma,
Sakya, Kagyu, and Gelug, numerous women have
illustrated themselves by profound spiritual
accomplishments even if history has not recorded their
names. Their rank was then equal to that of men. They
could teach, give empowerments, and accomplish all
the activities of the dharma.
PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS
I would now like to talk about three most remarkable
women lamas that I have met in person.
UGYEN TSOMO - The first one, Ugyen Tsomo, was the
15th Karmapa Khakyab Dorje's spouse. I met her
when I was studying in Tsurpu, the Karmapa's
monastery, not far from Lhassa. The 15th Karmapa
had already passed away. I must have been 13 or 14
years old. She had to have been about 60 years old.
Given the ties uniting the previous Bokar Rinpoche to
the 15th Karmapa, she showed me much affection,
- 138 -
offered me food, and so on. U gyen Tsomo had
practically spent all of her life in retreat, devoting
herself exclusively to practice. Even at Tsurpu, she
granted interviews only outside of her strict schedule
of meditation. From time to time, she gave
empowerments to the monks. I received the
empowerment of long life from her. It is said,
although I did not see it personally, that the imprint
of the sacred letter AH, symbol of the buddha's
speech, spontaneously appeared on her tongue.
Given how highly she was regarded, she was
called Khandro Rinpoche, "Precious Dakini."
After her death, she manifested in the form of a
female tulku. Having again received the title of
Khandro Rinpoche, the new incarnation, after
completing training, also teaches and gives
empowerments in India and in the West.
DRIKUNG KHANDRO - Drikung Khandro was a
woman lama of great realization who belonged to the
Drikung Kagyu school. She was neither a nun nor did
she marry. She had long hair like lay people. I did not
meet her in Tibet but in Bodhgaya, India. She must
have been about 60 years old at that time. I went there
to receive teachings from Kunu Lama, and she was
also in Bodhgaya. Therefore, I was able to meet her.
Among the Drikung Kagyupas, she enjoyed the
highest esteem and gave teachings and
empowerments.
ANI YESANG - She was a nun from the Bokar area in
Western Tibet, where I spent my youth before coming
to India; and had the reputation of possessing a great
realization. Known as Ani Yesang (short for Yeshe
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Sangmo, "Excellent Wisdom"), she was a disciple of
Lama Degyal Tsampa who studied with the next to
the last Dujom Rinpoche. She was famous for being
the most accomplished disciple of this lama. She had
left the area of her birth to live in a cave near Mount
Kailash.
When I was 11 years old, I went on pilgrimage to
Mount Kailash. My tutor accompanied me on this
journey, as well as his a t t e n d ~ t who was a relative of
the nun in retreat. The attendant asked us to make a
detour to visit her. We went to her cave. Ani Yesang
was very old and lived alone, without any attendant,
in her cave divided into two small rooms. The room
where she was faced her shrine and was lighted only
by a narrow hole from the outside. We made offerings
to her and she offered us tea. I do not remember what
she told us. I only remember the strong impression
she made on me.
I believe that she lived to be 80 years old. She was
a saintly person of great realization.
Question: Although the possibilities of access to teachings
and practice were the same for men and women in Tibet,
there were more monks than nuns.
Answer: It is true that nuns were less numerous than
monks. I do not know why. Perhaps, from an
institutional point of view, monks had more power
and this led them to build numerous and large
monasteries for themselves.
Question: In the monastic tradition, one encounters two
levels of ordination called in Tibetan getsul (Sanskrit,
shramanera) and gelong (Sanskrit, bhikshu). These two
levels were brought to Tibet for men, but Tibetan nuns
- 140 -
were always limited to the getsulma level without receiving
the major ordination of gelongma. Why is there this
difference? .
Answer: For some historical reasons that I do not
know, the tradition of the gelongmas was never '
created in Tibet. It exists today in China (Hong Kong
and Taiwan) where some Tibetan nuns go to receive
it. The Dalai Lama has been studying the possibility of
including this Chinese tradition into the Tibetan
institution.
Question: In the code of monastic rules as written in the
Vinaya, a bikshu must follow 253 precepts while a bikshuni
must follow 340 of them. Does this suggest some
discrimination between men and women?
Answer: On the one hand, the number of
commitments one takes depends on the greater or
lesser capabilities one has to keep them. For example,
in the minor ordination of a shramanera, one commits
to respect only 36 precepts, whereas major ordination
of a bikshu requires observance of 253 precepts.
Perhaps, women have a greater capability for keeping
a greater number of precepts. Perhaps also, at the time
of the Buddha, it was considered that ethics must be
stricter for women than for men.
Question: In Tibet, did women truly have the same
possibilities for study and practice in retreat centers as the
men?
Answer: Given that the number of nuns was smaller
than the number of monks, nuns who studied or
practiced in retreat were also less, but this does not
mean that they had less opportunity to do so.
- 141 -
Many small retreat centers for nuns existed here
and there. The most renowned center was in Kham in
eastern Tibet in Nangchen, where the Kebcha
monastery enrolled about a hundred nuns. The retreat
center linked to the monastery allowed the nuns to
accomplish three year retreats in which they practiced
the six yogas of Naropa, and particularly tumo
practice whose effect is to produce great physical heat.
The custom was that each year during the full moon
of the first month of the Tibetan year (February-
March), that is, at the coldest time of the year, nuns in
retreat would go out in procession to show their skill
in the tumo technique. At the four comers of the
building, large containers of water were placed with
a stone serving CiS a hammer to break the ice that
quickly forms on the surface. With all the people of
the area present, the nuns would set out of the retreat
center in the morning before sunrise, hands on their
hips and dressed in simple cotton clothes. The respect
they inspired was such that people prostrated and
recited prayers when they passed. When the nuns
arrived on the eastern side, they placed cotton shawls
soaked in the icy water on their shoulders as they
continued very slowly toward the south. The heat they
produced was enough to make great steam come from
the shawls that quickly became dry. If their shawl was
dry on reaching the southern side, they would take
another shawl, and so on.
The best tumo practitioners could dry four shawls
like that, others three, or two, or only one. There were
some who could not dry any at all. This procession
was very famous in the area.
- 142 -
Question: Were retreat centers for nuns created again in
India?
Answer: In the Kagyupa school, there is one center
attached to Sherab Ling, Situ Rinpoche's Monastery.
Perhaps, there are more in other schools.
Question: For lay women, what was the usual way of
practicing the dharma outside the monasteries?
Answer: They would recite the Refuge prayer, Tara's
Praise, and the prayer for rebirth in the Pure Land of
Bliss (Tibetan, Dewachen), which they especially
loved, as well as other mantras-A valokiteshvara and
Padmasambhava mantras-and other prayers. M o ~ t
often, while doing other tasks or watching their herds
of yaks and sheep, they would recite mantras and
prayers almost continuously.
Question: In Europe, when the Christian religion was still
very strong, often women had more faith than men. Was
this difference noticeable in Tibet?
Answer: It was true and is still true today. Generally,
women have greater faith than men. They are also
more diligent in practice.
Question: Concerning dharma practice, do you see any
great change in the present situation of women in India and
Tibet compared to Tibet in the past?
Answer: Change is certain. Before, in Tibet, lay
women did not know the dharma very well, but as
previously mentioned, their faith was great, and they
recited mantras almost constantly.
Today, young people, women or men, study,
develop their intelligence and culture, and sometimes
are able to talk well about the dharma. However, it is
- 143 -
only on the level of words, something superficial. The
old profound faith has disappeared with few
exceptions. True practice does not attract young
people. Only elderly people continue the tradition as
it was in Tibet.
Question: Do young people receive some dharma education
in the schools in India?
Answer: The wish of the Dalai Lama is that the
children in all the Tibetan schools, girls and boys,
receive a buddhist education during their studies. To
this effect, there is a teacher of buddhism in all the
schools. A buddhist university was founded in
Varanasi. It is open to all-monks and lay people, girls
and boys-and various buddhist disciplines are taught
as well as Sanskrit and English languages. But few
young Tibetans show deep interest in the dharma.
Question: In the West, there are more women than men
who are interested in the dharma. Do you see any
particular reason for that?
Answer: The reason is, without doubt, that which we
mentioned earlier. Women are easily and
spontaneously more inclined to faith. Their minds are
more open to spiritual life than men's.
- 144 -
6- Iconography
There are several forms of Tara, which produced
abundant iconographic material. In the first chapter,
there are representations of Green Tara and White Tara.
We present here two iconographic series, a series of
twenty-one Taras and a series of the Taras offering
protection from the eight fears. These two series appear
with many variants so one should not be surprised to
find them elsewhere in substantially different forms.
For the twenty-one Taras, we have chosen the
tradition called Suryagupta because it is more interesting
from an iconographic point of view. Each form of the
deity is effectively distinguished by color, number of
arms, faces, postures, and objects held in the hands,
whereas other traditions present only variants in color
and symbolic objects' set on a lotus. Artists following the
Suryagupta tradition often give one tangkha to each
aspect of the deity while in other traditions, the twenty-
one aspects are generally collected together in the same
painting.
As for the Taras offering protection from the eight
fears, we can see that they are all painted in the same
posture accomplishing, as it is required, the protecting
mudra with the right hand, while at the feet of each one
is shown the danger from which she protects those who
pray to her.
- 145 -
The Twenty-one Taras
- 146 -
Pravira Tara
Rabtu Pawai Drolma
Liberating One with
Perfect Courage; red.
S arms, 2 hands above
her head in the mudra of
great bliss holding a
vajra and a bell. In the
other right hands:
holding an arrow, a
wheel of dharma, and a
sword. In the other left
hands: holding a bow, a
conch, and a rope.
Chandrakanti Tara
Dadang Gyi Drolma
Liberating One with a
Moon Radiance; white.
Three faces symbolizing
the Three Bodies: right,
blue; center, white; left,
golden.
12 arms symbolizing the
12 interdependent
factors. In her right
hands: holding a garland,
a vajra, a jewel, a wheel,
and a khatvanga. In her
left hands: holding a text,
a treasure vase, a bell, a
lotus, and a vase.
Kanakavarna
Tara
Serdokchen Gyi
Drolma
Golden Liberating
One; golden.
10 arms
symbolizing the 10
paramitas. In her
right hands: holding
a mala, a trident, a
vajra, an arrow, and
a sword. In her left
hands: holding a
silk scarf, a lasso, a
lotus, a bell, and a
bow.
U shnishavijaya
Tara


Tsuktor Nampar
Gyalwai Drolma
Liberating One with
a Perfectly
Victorious Crown
Protuberance;
golden.
4 arms, her right
hands: holding a
mala and displaying
the giving mudra.
In her left hands:
holding a stick and
a vase.
- 147-
- 148-
Humsvara-nadini
Tara
Humdradt:okpai
Drolma
Liberating One
Producing the Sound
HUM (HUNG); yellow.
2. arms, with her right
hand: protecting mudra.
With her left hand:
mudra of the Three
Jewels and holding a
lotus.
Trailokya-vij aya
Tara


Jikten Sum Lai
Nampargyalwai drolma
Liberating One
Victorious over the Three
Worlds; red.
4 arms, her right hands:
holding a sword and a
vajra; with her left hands:
holding rope and
displaying the
threatening mudra.
V a d i
pramardaka
Tara
Golwa ]ompai
Drolma
Liberating One
Victorious over
Hostility; black.
Wrathful aspects, 4
arms, her right
hands: holding a
sword and a wheel;
her left hands:
displaying the
threatening mudra
and holding a rope.
Vashitottamada
Tara
Wangchok Terwai
Drolma
LiberatingOne Who
Gives the Sublime
Empowerment;
golden.
Seated on a makara
(sea m o n s ~ ) , 4
arms, her right
hands: holding a
branch of the
ashoka tree and a
jewel; her left
hands: a vase and a
lotus.
- 149 -
- 150 -
Varada Tara
Chok Tsolwai Drolma
Liberating One Who
Grants the Sublime; red.
4 arms, 2 hands above
her head in the mudra of
joy, holding a vajra and a
bell. Other hand in a
mudra (?). Other left
hand holding a branch of
the ashoka tree.
Shoka-vinodana
Tara
Nya-ngen Selwai Drolma
Liberating One W h ~
Dissipates Suffering; r.ed.
4 arms, 2 hands above
her head in the mudra of
joy (palms joined) other
right hand holding a
sword, other left hand
holding a branch of the
ashoka tree.
Jagadvashi Tara
Drowa Gukpai
Drolma
Liberating One Who
Gathers Beings;
black.
2 arms, she holds in
each hand a hook
(to gather beings).
Mangalaloka
Tara
Trashi Nangwai
Drolma
Liberating One with
Auspicious Light;
golden.
S arms, in the right
hands: a vajra,
trident, hook, and
sword; in the left
hands: a jewel,
hook, stick, and
vase.
- 151 -
- 152 -
Paripachaka Tara


Yongsu Minparzepai
Drolma
Liberating One Who
Leads to Complete
Ripening; red.
4 arms, in the right
hands: a sword and an
arrow; in the left hands:
a wheel and a bow.
Bhrikuti Tara
Thronyer Yowai Drolma
Liberating One Frowning
her Eyebrows; black.
3 faces, right: white,
center: black, left: red, 6
arms, in her right hands:
a sword, a hook, and a
stick; in her left hands: a
skulIcup, a wheel, and a
rope.
Mahashanti
Tara
Shiva Chenmoi
Drolma
Liberating One with
Great Peace; white.
6 arms, in her right
hands: a mala,
giving mudra, and a
stick, in her left
hands: a lotus, a
vase, and a cup
filled with fruits.
Raga-nisudana
Tara
Chakpa Jompai
Drolma
Liberating One
Victorious over
Attachment;orange-
red.
2 arms, a trident in
her right hand, a
tree branch in her
left hand.
- 153 -
- 154 -
Sukh a-sadhana
Tara
Drolma Dedrupma
Liberating One
Accomplishing
Happiness; orange.
2 arms, holds in her
hands a moon disc.
Vijaya Tara
Drolma Namgyalma
Victorious Liberating
One; white.
Seated on a goose, 4
arms, 2 hands above the
head in the mudra of joy
and holding hooks. Other
right hand in giving
mudra. other left hand
holding a lotus upon
which rests a text.
Duhkha-dahana
Tara
Drolma Dugngal
Sekma
Liberating One
Burning Suffering;
white.
2 arms, holds in her
hands a triangle
symbolizing fire.
Siddhi-
sambhava Tara
Drolma Ngodrup
Jungma
Liberating One
Source of
Accomplishments;
orange.
2 arms, holds in her
hands a vase
containing the
accomplishments
(supernormal
powers and
realization of the
nature of the mind).
- 155 -
- 156 -
Paripurana Tara
Drolma Yongzok lema
Liberating One Who Has
Achieved Perfection;
white.
seated on a bull, 2 arms,
her right hand in the
mudra of protection, her
left hand holds a trident.
Taras Who Protect from the Eight Fears
Mana simha
bhaya trana


Ngagyal Senge
Jikkyob Jetsunma
Queen who protects
from the danger of
pride and from
lions
Moha-hasti-
Timuk Langpoi
Jikdrol Lahmo
Goddess who
protects from the
danger of torpor
and from elephants
- 157-
- 158-
Dves-agni-
prashamani


Sh etan g M.epun g
Tsoknam Rab Shima
She who perfectly calms
down anger and blazing
fire
Irsya-sapa-
visapaharani


Tradok Dru'l Gyi
Duknam Yong Selma
She who completely
removes jealousy and
poisons from snakes
Kudristi-cora-
upadravana-
nirvarani
Ta-ngen Kunpoi
Nyertse Le Dokma
She who removes
the violence of false
view and of thieves
Ghora-
matsarya-
shrinkhala-
mocani


Mize Sernai
Chakdrok Drolzema
She who liberates
from insatiable
greed and
imprisonment
- 159 -
- 160 -
Rag-augha-vega-
varia -shosani


Dochak Chu-oi Salong
Kem Zema
She who dries up desire
and waters
Samshaya-pishaca-
bhaya-trana-tara
Thetsom Shazai Jii< Kyob
Drolma
She who and
frees from doubts and
demons
ENDNOTES
1. The nature of the mind designates the mind as it is, truly beyond the
veils imposed by the psyche to which the individual identifies himself
or herself. Realizing the nature of the mind means discovering it through
direct experience and dwelling in this nature in a stable WilY.
2. Sambhogakaya is a pure mode of manifestation of the buddhas, on the
level of light, rather than on the level of matter. For the other Bodies of
Awakening see note 11.
3. On Taranatha, see page 94. A great realized scholar.
5. Kalu Rinpoche (1905-1989) was Bokar Rinpoche's main Teacher. He
lived the first part of his life in Tibet and the latter part in India, having
established his monastery in Sonada near Darjeeling. He passed away
there at the age of 85 in 1989.
6. Khenpo Donyo is a great scholar and a lama who has lived near Bokar
Rinpoche since his childhood.
7. The Karmapa is the head of the Kagyupa order to which Bokar
Rinpoche belongs. Tsurphu, near Lhassa is the Karmapa's monastery in
Tibet.
8. Two lamas who actually reside in Bokar Rinpoche's monastery in
Mirik were present at this teaching. They are the ones who reported
Kunu Lama's words to Bokar Rinpoche.
9. Chogyur Lingpa (1829-1879) as well as Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
(1820-1892), and Jamgon Lodro Taye (1813-1899) mentioned later, were
three great masters of the renaissance of Tibetan buddhism in the 19th
century. They were the main architects of the nonsectarian school
(Tibetan, rime) .
10. Tibetans distinguish between two kinds of crystal. There is the water
crystal giving a sensation of freshness when touched by the sun's rays,
and the fire crystal that gives off a sensation of heat.
- 161 -
11. The idea of the buddha's Bodies tries to express various modalities
of the awakened being. Three classifications are proposed. They are the
Two Bodies, the Three Bodies, or the Four Bodies.
- the Two Bodies
.. Absolute Body (Dharmakaya): nonmanifested aspect, pure awareness
of awakening
.. Formal Body (Rupakaya) manifested aspect of awakening
- the Three Bodies
In this classification, we add the Absolute Body as a division of the
Formal Body into twO". Therefore we have:
.. Absolute Body
.. Body of Enjoyment (Sambhogakaya), the manifestation of awakening
at very subtle levels that can be called luminous
.. Body of Manifestation (Nirmanakaya), the manifestation of awakening
at the level of ordinary material reality, for example, in a human form.
- the Four Bodies
.. Absolute Body
.. Enjoyment Body
.. Body of Manifestation
.. Body of Essence Itself. It is not, strictly speaking, a fourth Body, but a
way to emphasize that the Three preceding Bodies are not separated but
are one in essence.
13. The protuberance of the crown (Sanskrit, ushnisha) of the buddhas
allows them to express tantras, as they would with ordinary means of
expression. Other tantras, such as those of the deities Ushnishavijaya
(Namgyalma) or Sittatapatra (Dukkar) were also expressed through the
crown protuberance.
14. In the text of the praise used by Taranatha, the word (wheel)
in the third line of the ninth stanza in Tibetan, does not have the agent
ending this allows his interpretation. In other texts, the presence of
the agent ending .. results in an entirely different meaning.
In this case see Rose-Marie Mengual's translation, founded on another
commentary, "she whose rays of her own light (radiating) from (her
hand) adorned by a wheel fight in all directions."
15. The third line of stanza 13 in Tibetan ends with ')Il)q. In other
versions, the same word is written This leads, once more to
different interpretations. See Rose-Marie Mengual, "she who, right leg
- 162 -
extended and left leg folded, totally destroys the army of enemies of
those who rejoice in the turning of the Wheel of Dharma."
16. The last word of the first line of stanza 16 in Tibetan ends with a
genitive that is waiting for an unexpressed complement. In his
commentary Taranatha explicates this complement as being -&1l1"'f (mind
of compassion) which justifies his interpretation.
17. Arhathood designates the liberation in the framework of the tradition
of ancient buddhism.
18. The Vinaya, collection of the Buddha's words on ethics.
kinnara
- 163-
GLOSSARY
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: (Sanskrit, siddhi). The ordinary
accomplishments correspond to obtaining some powers like
clairvoyance, walking in space, and so on. The sublime
accomplishments correspond to the realization of the nature of
the mind.
ACCUMULATION OF MERIT: Practice of positive activity
allowing us to store energy for progressing on the spiritual path.
This accumulation of merit can be achieved through the practice
of giving, making offerings, reciting mantras, visualizing deities,
and so on.
ACCUMULATION OF WISDOM: Practice of understanding the
empty nature of all phenomena.
ACT: Physical action, words, or thoughts.
NEGATIVE ACT: All negative deeds which deliberately cause
others to suffer and leave on our mind an imprint of more
suffering that will condition our experience and vision of the
world.
POSITIVE ACT: Following the law of karma, an act is positive
when it creates happiness within us.
AFFLICTING EMOTIONS: Desire-attachment, hatred-aversion,
ignorance or mental dullness, jealousy, pride, and so on.
AMOGHASIDDHI: Buddha of the Activity Family; manifestation
of accomplishing wisdom which purifies jealousy; North; green
in color.
AWAKENING: State of buddhahood.·
BEINGS: There are six classes of beings: gods, demigods, human
beings, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings.
- 165 -
BODHICITT A: Aspiration to obtain Awakening in order to help
all beings.
BODHISATTVA: A being who follows the bodhicitta path and
seeks to obtain Awakening not only for himself or herself but for
the sake of all beings. An ordinary being who commits to
practice bodhicitta. One who has attained Awakening and dwells
in one of the ten stages of the bodhisattvas. A bodhisattva can be
physically present in our world or abide in domains of more
subtle manifestation.
BODHISATTVA POSTURE: Seated with legs crossed, left heel
against the perineum, right foot and leg are bent flat in front.
BODY: Ordinary physical body. State of possessing numerous
qualities, in Sanskrit, kaya.
BUDDHA NATURE: Potential of Awakening inherent in all
beings.
BUDDHA: One who has awakened. A person, as the historical
Buddha Shakyamuni. In Tibetan, Sangyay. Sang means purified
from the conflicting emotions, duality and ignorance; gyay means
that the infinite potential of qualities of a being is awakened.
BUDDHAHOOD: Awakened state characterized by wisdom (as
knowledge of the true nature of phenomena and their
manifestation in the three times), compassion for every being,
and power to help all beings.
CHENREZIG (Tibetan): Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit). Buddha of
Compassion. Most popular Tibetan deity, his mantra is OM MA
NI PAD ME HUNG. See Chenrezig, Lord of Love (ClearPoint
Press).
CLARITY: With emptiness, one of the aspects of the nature of the
mind. Clarity deSignates the dynamic aspect which includes the
faculty of knowing and creating all manifestation.
- 166 -
CLEAR UGHT: Nature of the mind.
COMPASSION: Aspiration to liberate all beings from suffering
and causes of suffering.
CONSCIOUSNESS: From a dualistic point of view, each object of
the senses corresponds to a consciousness. There are six or eight
consciousnesses depending on their classification. First, let us
consider six consciousnesses: .
- visual consciousness (forms)
- auditory consciousness (sounds)
- olfactory consciousness (smells)
- gustatory consciousness (tastes)
- tactile consciousness (tangible objects)
- mental consciousness (imaginary objects)
One can add two other consciousnesses:
- disturbed consciousness or
corresponds to the influence of
relationship to phenomena
- potential of consciousness or
(Sanskrit, alayavijnana) which
conditionings of karma.
ego consciousness which
afflicting emotions on our
"all-ground consciousness"
contains all the latent
DAKINI: Celestial female being. Most of the dakinis are liberated
from sam sara.
DEDICATION: Aspiration that any merit accumulated through
our positive acts serves to attain Awakening for the benefit of all
beings.
DHARMA: Buddha's teachings or the spiritual path.
DHARMAKA Y A: Absolute Body, designating a state beyond any
spatial or temporal determination; corresponds to emptiness.
OORJE SEMPA (Tibetan): Vajrasattva (Sanskrit), deity of the
Vajrayana who is the source of purification practices. The practice
of Dorje Sempa includes a visualization as well as recitation of a
mantra of 100 syllables.
- 167-
EMPOWERMENT: A Vajrayana ritual transmitting the blessing
of . a deity and allowing its practice. There are many
empowerments. Often, the empowerment is followed .by the
disciple's commitment to practice this deity but sometimes the
empowerment can also be received as a simple bleSSing.
KADAMP A: Lineage originating with the teachings of the great
Indian master Atisha, in the eleventh century.
KAGYUP A: One of the four great schools of Tibetan buddhism.
The other ones are Gelugpa, Nyingma, and Sakya schools. The
Kagyu lineage originated with Marpa the Translator in the 11th
century. .
KALPA: Cosmic era of an extremely long duration.
KARMA: The law of karma describes the process of cause and
effect. It is a three-phase process:
- an act leaves an imprint in the mind of the one who acts'
(cause).
- this act is stored in the potential of consciousness and is slowly
ripening.
- this process is actualized in a particular form of suffering or joy
(result).
LAMA (Tibetan): Guru (Sanskrit). A spiritual teacher.
LOVE: Aspiration to bring happiness to all beings.
MANDALA: Literally "center and surrounding." The world seen
as an organized universe. Designates a deity with its surrounding
environment. Can be represented on a thangka which is then
used as a support for the visualizations.
MANDALA OFFERING: Practice during which we imagine
offering the mandala of the universe to the Buddha, Dharma, and
Sangha.
MANJUSHRI: (Tibetan, Jampal Yang). Bodhisattva of wisdom.
- 168 -
MANTRA: Sacred sounds, the repetition of which helps ~ h e mind
purify itself and develop its potential for Awakening. For
example, the mantra of Tara is OM TARE TUTT ARE TURE
SOHA.
MIND: This term can refer to the ordinary functioning of the
mind called "psyche" as well as the absolute, nondual pure
essence of the mind beyond the fluctuations that may affect the
ordinary mind.
MUDRA: Hand gesture accomplished during rituals.
NIRMANAKAYA: Body of Emanation; appears as human or
other forms to guide ordinary beings.
PRAJNAPARAMIT A: The sixth perfection (paramita) of wisdom,
the direct knowledge of the absolute. Female deity.
PROTECTORS: Deities who, having attained liberation, are able
to disperse obstacles and to create conditions favorable to the
practice of the dharma.
PURE LAND: Domain of manifestation of a buddha's mind.
There are many Pure Lands one can access depending on one's
aspiration and accomplishment. They are not part of samsara and
are not affected by suffering. Being born there does not mean
that one has achieved complete Awakening but will provide one
with the means to progress on the spiritual path. For example,
Dewachen is Amitabha's Pure Land.
PURE SUPPORTS: They are used in meditation. Statues
representing the buddha's body; texts expressing the buddha's
speech; stupas symbolizing the buddha's mind.
PURIFICATION: All negative acts performed in this life and in
the past lives have left imprints in our potential of consciousness.
These imprints will ripen, engendering suffering and obstacles to
our spiritual practice. Purification will neutralize these imprints
- 169 -
in order to avoid or reduce their effects. A qualified teacher
might designate specific practice to do in order to purify oneself.
SHAKY AMUNI: Literally "wise man of the Sakya," name of the
historical buddha who lived in the 6th century BCE.
SAMBHOGAKA Y A: Body of Perfect Experience, it appears to
guide beings in the Pure Lands.
SAMSARA: Cycle of conditioned existence in which each being
is born and dies. It is characterized by suffering, ignorance,
impermanence, and illusion.
SANGHA: Community of buddhist practitioners. One
distinguishes ordinary sangha from the Noble Sangha which is
composed of those who have attained the bodhisattva levels.
SEVEN BRANCH PRAYER: Traditional prayer taking different
forms but always having the following seven points:
1 homage
2 offering
3 regret of faults .
4 rejoicing of accumulated merit
5 requesting the buddhas to teach
6 requesting the buddhas to remain in this world
7 dedication.
SKILLFUL MEANS: All activity allowing spiritual growth such
as rituals, reciting mantras, visualization, prostrating,
circumambulations, offerings, giving, patience, and so on. With
wisdom, skillful means form a complete spiritual path.
SUFFERING: Generally it is analyzed on three levels:
- suffering of suffering: physical and mental pain experienced by
all beings.
- suffering of change: one experiences suffering when happiness
ends.
- 170 -
- suffering of conditioned existence is suffering one undergoes
because of the deluded nature of sam sara. It ends only when one
attains Awakening.
SUFFERING OF THE HUMAN REALM: Birth, aging, sickness,
death, sorrow, grief, despair, having things we do not like, losing
things we like, not getting what we wish for, and so on.
SUPPORT: Any object of concentration, material or mental, used
by a practitioner in meditation.
SUTRA (Sanskrit): Text of the exoteriC teachings of the Buddha.
TAKING REFUGE: Placing oneself under the protection of the
Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha (the Three Jewels). In the
Vajrayana, one also takes Refuge in the Three Roots, Lamas (root
of grace), Yidams (root of accomplishment), and Dharma
Protectors (root of activity).
T ANTRA: Text of the esoteric teachings of the Buddha which is
related to a deity. There are four classes of tantras in relation to
types of outer observance, empowerments, methods of
meditation, and particular levels: Kriya Tantra, Charya Tantra,
Yoga Tantra, and Anuttarayoga Tantra. The fourth class is
divided into father tantras, mother tantras, and nondual tantras.
TERMA: Text or object hidden most often by Padmasambhava
(Tantric Indian master who introduced buddhism to Tibet in the
eighth century) in order to be discovered when it is necessary.
THANGKA (Tibetan): Traditional painting on cloth representing
deities, mandalas, or teachers of the lineage.
TORMA: A ritual object made of flour and butter used to
represent a deity (tentor) or used as an offering (bultor).
THREE DOORS OF LmERATION: the body, speech, and mind.
THREE TIMES: The past, present, and future.
- 171 -
THREE WORLDS: The samsaric realms or spheres of Desire,
Form, and Formlessness.
TWO PHASES: The two aspects of deity meditation. The creation
phase includes visualization, reciting mantras, praise, and
offerings. The completion phase is the absorption of the
. visualization into emptiness.
TWO TRUTHS: The relative or pedagogical truth is the way
phenomena manifest and the interdependency of their evolution.
The absolute or certain truth refers to the empty nature of this
manifestation. The two truths do not contradict each other; they
are simultaneous.
VAJRA POSTURE: It is also called "diamond posture." Seated
with legs crossed, first, the left foot on the right thigh then the
right foot on the left thigh.
VAJRAYANA: Path of buddhism also called "diamond vehicle"
referring to the part of the Buddha's teachings written in texts of
an esoteric nature called tantras. It uses recitation of mantras,
visualizations of deities and works with the subtle winds or
energies.
VEILS: That which obscures our buddha nature such as
ignorance, latent conditioning, dualistic perception, afflicting
emotion, karmic veils, and so on. TWO VEILS: Afflicting
emotions and dualistic perception that veil our buddha nature.
VISUALIZATION: Creation of a mental image used as a support
in a meditation or ritual. These images can be geometrical forms
or deities, moving or still. This exercise is not dependent upon
visual perception but upon inner faculty of imagining.
YIDAM: A personal deity expressing the pure nature of the
mind. A deity upon which one meditates after having received
an empowerment.
- 172 -
Bibliography
Beyer, Stephan
The Cult of Tara. Magic and Ritual in Tibet
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973
Willson, Martin
In Praise of Tara. Songs of the Saviouress
London: Wisdom Publications, 1996
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Tara the Liberator
Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1993
Taranatha, Jo Nang
The Origin of Tara Tantra
Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1995
Dalai Lama, the First
Six Texts Related to the Tara Tantra
Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1980
Tenga Rinpoche
Tara, commentaire de la pratique de la grande liberatrice
Saint Leon sur Vezere: Editions Dzambala, 1994
Rite d'offrande a la liberatrice (traduction de Rose-Marie Mengual)
Toulon sur Arroux, 1978
- 173 -
Index
Atisha . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 56,57,58,59,168
Avalokiteshvara ...... 17,21,40,51-54,81,82,98,127,128,143,166
Bodhisattv<l9,21,22,45-47 ,53,54,58,67,68,77,95,100,102,108,116,123,
, 127,128,166,168,170
Chandragarbha ................................. 56,57
Chandragonin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Chenrezig ...................... .. 17,21,40,81,98,127,166
Chod .......................................... 137
Chogyur Lingpa ................................ 65,66
Dakini .... ' ............................. 55,129,139,167
Hayapala . . ................................... 55,56
Jonang .......................................... 95
Kagyu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 16,51,65,138,139,143,168
Kalpa ................................ 20,21,51,52,112
Kalu Rinpoche ............................ 26,29,30,73
Kangyur ......................... . .............. 94
Karma ............................. 60,72,78,79,122,168
Karmapa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32,33,51,138
Kebcha ....... . ................................ 142
Kham ..................... 8,26,30,31,33,34,37,66,134,142
Khyungpo Naljor .......... : .................. 129,130
Milarepa ....................................... 138
Naropa ................................ 50,121,129,142
Padmasambhava ......... 29,38,66,67,128,129,134,135,143,171
Paramita ................................. 100,102,147
Prajnaparamita ...................... 18,39,55,95,136,137
Shakyamuni .......................... 51,52,53,54,59,63
Shantideva .................................... : 123
Taranatha ............... 94,98,101,102,107,113,119,120,173
Terma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 65,66,67,135,171
Torma .............................. 28,29,69,72,73,171
Tumo ......................................... 142
Vajradhara ..................................... 132
Vinaya ..................................... 126,141
Virupa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131,132
- 174 -
Yanglesho ......................... ...... ........ 38
Yidam ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 16,17,67,172
Yogi ............................ 57,59,103,128,131,138
Yogini .................................. 34,58,129,131
- 175 -
Also by Bokar Rinpoche
Chenrezig Lord of Love
Meditation Advice to Beginners
Death and the Art of Dying in Tibetan Buddhism
Opening the Door to Certainty
Taking the Bodhisattva Vow
The Day of a Buddhist Practitioner
With Khenpo Donyo
Profound Wisdom of the Heart Sutra
For more information on our current publications and
for notice of future releases please write to:
ClearPoint Press
PO Box 170658
San Francisco, CA 94117
USA
- 176 -

Tara The Feminine Divine

Immanent nature of samsara and nirvana the clear light. The saintly Lama shows the mode of being the clear light. May the fortunate ones who practice the mahamudra-clear light become buddhas in the heart of awakening the clear light.
BOKAR RINPocHE

To Juanita Halt May the reflection of her kind heart shine and benefit all beings. .

Publisher's Acknowledgement The publisher gratefully acknowledges the generous help of Rosemary Gilpin, Karen Graham, Derek Smith, Elson Snow, Carolyn Sumrall, Isa9 and Sets Tanaka.

Tara The Feminine Divine Bokar Rinpoche English Translation Christiane Buchet ClearPoint Press San Francisco. California .

.Tara the Feminine Divine Published by: ClearPoint Press PO Box 170658 San Francisco. France Copyright © 1999 English Edition ClearPoint Press Printed in Canada Book printed on 'acid-free paper Third Printing 2007 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: ISBN: 978-1-930164-00-0 Cover: Representation of Green Tara in silk applique from Bokar Rinpoche's Drolkhang. CA 94117 The original text of this book was published in French and was titled Tara Ie divin au feminin Copyright reserved for all countries: Association Claire Lumiere 5 avenue Camille Pelletan 13760 Saint-Cannat.

. ... .. .. ..... . . ... .... . .... . . .. .. ...... Miraculous Transformation . ... . .. . .... .. . 42 Green Tara . .. . . ... .... . .. . .. . .... . . ... . .. ...... . . . ...... .... . .. . . . ...... . . . . . ... ... . . .. .. . ... . .. . ... . . ... . .. . .. ...... . .. .... .... . . Genesis of this Book ........... . .... .. .. 26 Tara Reunites a Family . . .. . . .... .. ... ... . .. 12 The Divine Coming from the Human .. .... ... . . . .... . . . . .. . .. .. .. . . . . . .. . . . . . 45 2........ ... . . . . ... . ..... .. ..... .. . .. .... The Yogini's Message .. . . ... .. .. .. . .. . ... . . . ..... ... . . . . . . . . . . ... . . .. .. . ... . . What Is a Tantra? .. .. ... .. Hayapala's Lineage . . .. .. ... ....... . . ... . . 44 White Tara ... . . . .. ... .... . . ... .. . .. . . Uttering of the Tara Tantra by Shakyamuni Buddha .. .. . .... . ... . . . ..... . . . . . .. 41 Tara's Symbolism . .. . ... . .. .. .. .. .Tara the Divine . .. . . ... .. . . .. .. . . . . . . . .. . .. . . . ... . Choosing Ethics . . . .. . .... . ...Table of Contents Introduction . . 17 From Woman to Deity ..... .. .. . .. . ..... .. . . .. ... . . . .. . .. . . ... . 9 The Play of Ultimate and Relative . How to Make Amends for a Fault .. . .. .. .... ... .. . .. . . .. .. . . .... . 47 47 49 51 52 53 55 56 56 57 57 58 58 -5- ... ... " 34 The Sahib with a Rainbow Body . .. .. . Tara's Warning.. . . A Different Way of Thinking . . .. .. .. . . .. . ... . ... . . . . . . . . ... .. .. . ... . . .... ... .. . . . . . .. . .. ... . .... . . ..... . . . .. . .. . .. ... .. . ... . .. . .. 15 Absolute Tara . .. .. .. . .. .. . . ... . .... . . 7 7 7 8 1. . . . .. ... . ....... . .. .. ... . . . .. .. ..... . .. .. . . 39 White Tara ... . . . . . .. . . . .. .. . ... . . . .. . .. ..... .... . .. .... ... .... .. . .. . .. .. . . . .. ....... 19 Tara's Help Against Fear ... 9 A Means and a Reality .. ... .... .. . ...... . . .. ......... .. . ... .... . 38 Various Tara Aspects ... ... . . . .... ... . ... . . . . . . .. .. 41 White Tara Orders Statues . . .... .. .. . . 21 The Eight Great Fears . ... . ..... .. 26 Tara's Judicial Success . .. ...... .. 25 Tara and the Toothache . . . . .. . . .. . . . .. . .. ..Tara's Tantra ... . .. ... . .. .. . .. . . .. . .. . . . ...... .. . .. . ...... .. . ... .. Encrypted Language of the Tantras ..... ... .. ... Tantras among Human Beings .. . . . .. .. . . . ... . .. . . . .... . . .. .... . . .. ..... ... .... . .. . . . 11 Toward the Body of Enjoyment .. . ... . ... ... ... . ... 30 Tara Protects the Caravan .. . . ..... . . . .... Atisha and Tara ....... .. . .. . . . .. . . .. . . .. ... . . .. ..... . .. . ... . . . ...... . 36 Wondrous Representations .. .. .. . ..... 32 Tara's Snow . .. . Origin of the Tara Tantra . ... .... . . . . .. .. . .. . . . .... .. .. .. ....... . . . .. .. ... . Bokar Rinpoche and Tara . . . ... . . . . . . . ...

... . .. .. . . . . . . . 146 Taras Who Protect from the Eight Fears .. . . . . . ...... .. ... . . . . . .. . .. ....... . ..... .. . Secret Practice . .. ... . . . . 6-lconography . .. .... ... .... ... . ... . . . . . . . ... . .. .. .... ... . .. .. .. Bibliography . . . . . . . .. .. .. . . . .. . .. . . ..... .. 145 The Twenty-one Taras .. . . . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. .. .. . . .. .... . .... . .. . .. .... . . How to Recite the Praise Explanation of the Praise . . .... .. . . . . .. . .. . . . .. .. . .. . .. . .. . . . . .. .. .. . .. .... . . . . . ....... .. .. .. . . . .. ... . . .... ... .. . ... . .. .. . .. . . ... .. .. . . . Origin of the Praise . . . . .... ... .. .. .. .. . .. .. .. . . ... . .. . .. . . . ..... .. . . . . . .. 63 63 65 66 70 71 74 79 80 83 94 95 96 123 124 126 127 128 129 130 133 133 134 136 138 138 139 139 4.. ..... . . .... .. . .... . . ... .... ... . . . .. . .. . ....... .. ... .. . . . .. . ... . .. .. .. .. ... .. .... . . . . ... . ... .. .. . ...... . ... . .. .. . .. .. . . .... . ... . .. . . ... . . ... . .. ... . .. . .. .... ..... . . . .. . . . . . .. . .. . . . .. . .. .. .... . .. Outer Practice . . ... . . .. .. . . . ... . . . . . . .. .. ... .. ... ...... . . . .. .... . Remarkable Women of Tibetan Buddhism .. . .. . . ...... .... .. . .. . .. .. .. ... ... .... . . .. .. . . ... .. . . . . .. . . . . Tara Empowerment ..... ... .. ... ... ... . .. . . . . .... . ... . . . . .. . . . . Inner Practice . . . Function of Rituals . ... .... . .. . . . . . ... . Ani Yesang . ... . . . . .... . .. . . .. .. . . ... .. . . . . . . . . . ... .... ... . .. . .. . . . . .. ..... . .... .. Remarkable Women in Indian Buddhism .. ... ... . . .. . Machik labdron . .. .. ... . ... . . ... . . .. . ... . .. . .. . . . . . .. .. . ....... . . . ... ... . . . . . 5-... . Drikung Khandro . ... .. . .. . .. .Buddhism and Women. .... .. . . ... .. . . . . .... .. . .. .. ... ... . . . .. . . ... . . .. . ... Sukhasiddhi . . . . . .... . . . . Yeshe Tsogyal . Personal Encounters .. .. Glossary ... . . . . .. . . .. . . . . . .. ... . Tara Ritual . .' .. ... . . Empowerments ... ..Invocation of Tara .. . . 157 Endnotes .. . Mandarava . . .. .. ... . . Ugyen Tsomo .. . .. .. The Simple Prayer .. . .. . 161 165 173 174 -6- . ..3.. . .. . .... . . ..The Praise .. .. . ..... .... . . . .. .... ... . . .. .. The Two Spouses of Songtsen Gampo .. . . .. . . ... .. .. . . . .. . . . ... Index ... .. . .. Niguma . . .. .. . ... . .... .. .. . .. . ... . . .. . . . . .. . . . Gelongma Palmo . . ... .. ... .. .. . Men and Women: a Unique Potential .. . . ...... . . . .. . . . . . . ... . ... .. . . .

Who is right? Westerners and their belief in what can be seen or Tibetans and their belief in what cannot be seen? It is perhaps an endless debate in which we will not participate here. For the traditional Tibetan mind. However. he reserved a room for Tara. more diverse. the Drolkhang-a shrine devoted to Tara . it will not be without benefit. It is in the Drolkhang that Bokar Rinpoche spends most of his time.Introduction A DIFFERENT WAY OF THINKING This work is not a study of Tara and the context of the deity as they would be envisioned by a Western scholar but rather a presentation of the way a Tibetan understands things . On the . To understand will require some effort on the reader's part. but they will gain entry to larger. there are thangkas of other life deities such as Amitayus (Tsepame) and Ushnishavavijaya (Namgyalma). in Mirik. Behind him on the wall. Without any doubt. where Bokar Rinpoche founded a new monastery.7- . and beings that we see-human and animal-are only a small part of the possibilities of existence. Our approach to history and what science tells us about the reality of the world instill habitual ways of thinking that dare not go beyond what our senses and reason allow us to perceive. The Tibetan traditional mind moves in a larger world . India. Bokar Rinpoche in a previous incarnation consecrated a shrine to Tara . and mysterious worlds . hangs a White Tara thangka painted with gold . Where is reality? Who knows? BOKAR RINPOCHE AND TARA Bokar Rinpoche has the deepest devotion to Tara . On each side of this thangka. in a universe with which they are not directly concerned. It easily envisions as real what we consider without hesitation as belonging to the domain of myth and legend. they are intertwined and complete each other gracefully. It is certain that readers not used to the Tibetan way of thinking will be surprised and pOSSibly distressed at the manner in which things are presented in this book. Thousands of years of history form only a split second in relation to the infinity of time . According to it. if the readers make the effort to enlarge their vision of the world. historical truths and mythical truths are not contradictory. perception of senses and intelligence have some value but are too limited to sufficiently describe reality. Already in his monastery in Tibet. The Earth is only a grain of sand among the immensity of worlds. not only will they be able to understand how a thought other than theirs functions. they will have the feeling of completely wandering in mythology or in fairy tales.

in spite of the passage from oral to written. it is preceded by "Tibetan.wall facing Bokar Rinpoche. Bokar Rinpoche has placed a small Tara statue that he inherited from his previous incarnation. he noticed statues dating from this time. ois Jacquemart (Choky Senge) Note Deities are mentioned by their Sanskrit names followed by their Tibetan names in parentheses. In its heart. he always takes this reliquary with him." -8- . Finally. . When Bokar Rinpoche travels. But above all. Seeing how beneficial this book was. When Bokar Rinpoche speaks of Tara. It was given to his previous incarnation by the 11th Situ Rinpoche. When Bokar Rinpoche visited the Nalanda and Sarnath museums. May this work. and they were very similar to his statue. It is supposedly traced to the ancient Nalanda University which sheltered several thousand monks when buddhism was blooming in India. which contains another Tara statue from the 18th century that he considers very precious. Bokar Rinpoche produced a book on Avalokita (Chenrezig) to answer the demand of his disciples. This was realized during a sojourn in Mirik in the Fall of 1996. which contains many beautiful statues. Bokar Rinpoche carries a reliquary. reflect some radiance of Tara the divine! -Fran. The central statue is the size of a human being and adorned with precious and fine ornaments. a great lama who had his monastery in Kham. This book proved valuable not only for understanding this deity but also for understanding the foundations of Vajrayana . is famous for not having been made by human hands but dropped from the sky. he cannot hide the beauty of the pure love that links him to her. While keeping in his deepest heart the secret of his relationship to the deity. on Bokar Rinpoche's left (the visitor's right) there is a vast and magnificent shrine containing many statues of Tara gathered in tiers. Some general dharma terms in the text are given in Sanskrit in parenthesis. When it is a Tibetan word. the translation defects and the imperfection of the translator. there is a representation of Green Tara in silk applique from Tibet. more than 1500 years in the past.. Bokar Rinpoche wished to dedicate a second book to Tara . This statue. as all Tibetan lamas do. GENESIS OF THIS BOOK In 1990. he does not merely impart intellectual knowledge. and it is not unusual for him to use it to give bleSSings while reciting Tara's praise. Bokar Rinpoche has also reserved a special shrine to Tara. Bokar Rinpoche delivered oral teachings in Tibetan during several encounters. in the recently constructed retreat center of his monastery. This explains why part of the text appears as a dialogue whose style we preferred to retain. carved out of a meteorite.

it may be useful to first understand what the deities are-both on the ultimate level of their essence and on the relative level of their manifestation. Westerners. find themselves in the presence of a new universe which seemingly has no equivalent in their culture. THE PLAy OF ULTIMATE AND RELATIVE Deities. as we see them. start to evolve within this divine world seldom question its nature. if we realize the true nature of our minds/ the deities reveal themselves as being not different from our own minds: As long as we do not realize it and live in the duality I/other. This leads them to ask many questions.1 . as it was introduced to Tibet. are not essentially superior individuals living in faraway worlds that sometimes come to the rescue of human beings.Tara the Divine Buddhism.Tara is one of them-tied to the tantric tradition. In truth. Tibetans who. the deities enter the play of duality and a relationship is established between these two poles of manifestation. even if their manifestations may give that impression. however. I and the deity. in their childhood. contains many deities. Before trying to define who Tara is. -9- . They are naturally drawn toward these familiar faces and accomplish rituals and meditative practices associated with them.

the person perceiving the deity and the deity would both be manifestations from the same inexpressible essence. We would be sure of the individual existence of that deity. the deities appear on a relative level without being separated from their essence. If. "false" in essence but "true" for the people who experience it. beyond notions of subject and object. for those who live on a relative level.Ultimate truth. there is neither an I nor another. . In the same way. This . This does not imply the absence of manifestation. a truth founded on the fallacious perception of subject and object. However. but that this manifestation is without duality." from the point of view of the deity. I and other.Relative truth. free from any psychological elaboration and free from all mistakes and illusion. there is an "I" and the "deity. subject and object. we must always remind ourselves of the two levels of reality: . ." but it is not experienced by ordinary beings. neither subject nor object. Why is the nature of the mind called "divine"? This is because it is without suffering. which is none other than the essence of the mind. Also. pure of any disturbances. truth is always present and always "true." The true nature of the mind is the nature of the mind as it is. from our point of view. and because it is superior bliss. To understand the true nature of deities.Let us suppose that in a dream we meet a deity. upon seeing the deity.10 - . in truth. of an "I" and another. It lacks a "center and circumference. would feel joy and devotion. beyond concepts and words. we would be sure of the reality of the "I" who. . the mind itself.

happiness is differ ent from the relative happi ness that we experience in the ordin ary world . In reality. This Body of Enjoy ment is not separa te from the Absol ute Body (Dhar makay a). Deities are linked to the ultimate essence of the mind. This genui ne and immu table happi ness is itself the deity. . that is. but by their very nature . they are not separ ated from the ultimate. A MEANS AND A REALITY Deities in a relative sense. adorn ed with divers e attrib utes and ornaments. of Enjoyment of Awak ening " (Samb hogak aya ). they constitute a means. This happi ness canno t be altere d by any fear or suffering.11 - . they are what is called the 2 "Body . Altho ugh these deities are not locate d on an ultimate level. not only as a mean s of accessing it. The Body of Enjoy ment is an expre ssion of the dynamics of the Absol ute Body. their natur e is such that practi cing with deities leads to the realiz ation of the ultima te deity. as we have sketch ed above. Howe ver. are the deities as they now appea r to us in variou s forms and colors. beyon d all duality. the mode of being of the mind. in other words. the awak ened mind beyon d manifestation that does not differ from the ultima te deity. an expre ssion that is never separ ated from its origin." but a happi ness inhere nt to the mind itself. It is not a transitory happi ness depen ding on objects or depending on relatio nship s of an "I" and "anot her. In this sense. In effect. an extrem ely subtle level of manifestation. from the point of view of our mode of perception. this does not mean that the deities are simpl y an artifice.

From the point of view of fruition-that is. we must make a mental effort to imagine her as she is. prisoners of the idea that there is "me" on the one hand and Tara on the other. and we remain. TOWARD THE BODY OF ENJOYMENT Let us take Tara as an example.From the point of view of the path leading to awakening. Once the ultimate realization is obtained. green in color. It is also said that the Body of Enjoyment does not serve to benefit a bud. Now." the Absolute Body with which our mind has merged. these deities appear as external to our mind. Tara is then the creation of our psyche. From .dha but it benefits others. beyond any notion of "I" and "another. legs in a definite position. this same Tara is no longer the fruit of any mental effort. when we practice Tara meditation. a clarity of the mind in which there is no subject and no object. once we have fully realized the nature of the mind-deities are no longer seen as external but as the manifestation of the Absolute Body. hands making certain mudras. Without her form disappearing. at least partially. As a reflection of the Body of Enjoyment. This mental creation is not useless. as an expression of the buddhas to help us in our progress. she reveals herself as a spontaneous expression of the Absolute Body. beyond duality. There is also a difference between the deity as we imagine it. adorned with various attributes. and as she exists in the reality of the Awakened Mind. and so on. this mental creation is linked with it and allows us to approach it. In a certain way. because of our dualistic thinking.12- .

They are undifferentiated. from the point of view of a buddha." . and the idea of an "I" who helps and "another" that is helped. There is no longer a moment when emptiness would be associated with clarity than a moment when it would not. it is true. and if we cannot imagine that it can be otherwise. there is no I and no other. The activity that is exerted is spontaneous. This means that a buddha does not think he or she must produce Bodies of Enjoyment or must help others. then reveal itself as inherent to the nature of the mind without idea of external or internal. The difficulty comes from a dualistic conceptual approach. lacking will and effort. external or internal. the expression of the clarity of pure mind. Emptiness and clarity are only a way to describe a unique reality. However.our point of view. there is an "I" or another. it is not possible to say that the manifestation of the Body of Enjoyment is intermittent. That the deity may first appear as external. we cannot really understand what matters.13 - . Only the realization of the nature of mind will give us direct experience of this reality. manifest in a permanent or intermittent way? Answer: Emptiness and clarity cannot be conceived as two separate entities. the Body of Enjoyment is a spontaneous expression of the Absolute Body. Question: The Absolute Body of a buddha is emptiness in essence and is not subject to interruption. lacking also the notion of a reality inherent to the manifestation. For us. As we have seen. may seem difficult to understand. that is. Does the Body of Enjoyment. It is why the Body of Enjoyment is qualified as "permanent. Therefore.

Is the diversity necessary? Answer: On the one hand. experience taste. to implicitly accord to the deity a level of reality similar to ours. it is also called "Body of All Forms. We conceive ourselves as an entity limited to a body and we would probably conceive the deity as an entity limited to a body. The diversity of forms and the understanding that they all are the various expressions of the unique nature of the mind. help us not to fall into this flaw in understanding. Nothing can limit them. It is also said that limitations of an ordinary body do not apply to the Body of Enjoyment. this diversity derives from the nature itself of things. The possibilities of expression of a buddha or clarity of the nature of mind are infinite. From the point of view of practice." All forms are possible.Question: The Body of Enjoyment manifests in extremely various aspects tlult we see represented in the form of various deities. All colors. and so on. and all attributes are possible. For this reason. This applies to any part of the body. The hand of a Body of Enjoyment cannot only touch objects but it can also see. this would lead us. the Absolute Body. only one form of the Body of Enjoyment. the diversity that is proposed to us is a means to fight our strong tendency to believe in the reality of phenomena as we are able to perceive them. hear. This is why the forms of the Body of Enjoyment are infinite. If there were only one deity. without any doubt. The multiplicity of forms tends to show us that what they really are is bigger than our understanding. . think. all ornaments.14 - . on the other hand.

If the deities have a feminine appearance. in a nonintentional way. They have reached a divine state and become" gods" or "goddesses. some deities are considered the result of a human ascending to the divine. As we perceive the human gender divided into men and women." Tara may be seen as belonging-at least from the point of view of pedagogical truth-to the latter category.15 - . to benefit beings. however. that is. From a relative point of view. These forms can be diversified: male. in some way. she was first an ordinary being. and feminine deities the "knowledge. yes." the static pole? Answer: At the level of representation. and have seen the qualities of the awakened state bloom within themselves. Question: Do masculine deities more represent the skillful . These deities come directly from the compassionate activity of the buddhas. then she passed through all of the levels of the path.THE DIVINE COMING FROM THE HUMAN We have explained that. in fact. to our own habits of perception. fully awakened beings. such as the buddhas. means. various forms on the level of pure manifestation normally inaccessible to ordinary human beings. and she finally attained the result and became a goddess. the compassionate activity. spontaneously assume. rid themselves of all imperfections of the ordinary state. As we will see. the dynamic pole of awakening. wrathful. deities are also . There are men or women who have embarked on the dharma path. These representations conform. and in several aspects. They are called the Body of Enjoyment. they are called goddesses. peaceful. female.

The same predispositions make us situate ourselves within a framework where we will be led to practice this yidam rather than another. and it is not certain that we have a strong connection with any particular one. the person will practice this yidam regardless of the school it is associated with. Question: Deities are often called "yidams" 'in Tibetan. we can say that our karmic predispositions made us meet one of the great orders of Tibetan buddhism in particular. In this case. it may happen that an individual feels a particular aspiration to practice a certain yidam. no. Chakrasamvara (Korlo Demchok) and Jinasagara (Gyalwa Gyamtso). from the point of view of the reality of the Enjoyment Body. This designates the deity corresponding to our wish. . Kagyupas practice three great yidams. What does it mean? Answer: Yidam is a term referring to practice done with a deity. However. the Sakyapas Hevajra (Kyepa Dorje).16 - . However. Question: Does it mean that everyone must choose his or her yidam or that the lama may give a particular yidam to each individual? Answer: In most cases.presented in masculine or feminine forms to which we attribute certain characteristics. means and knowledge are always indiscriminately uni ted to the essence of the deity. that a lama. Vajravahari (Dorje Pamo). Gelukpas practice Guhyasamaja (Sangwa Dupa) and Yamantaka. and so on. although it is not frequent. In reality. all yidams serve the same function. to our aspiration. However. the one with whom we have a connection. It can also happen.

" Pedagogical truth complies with our ordinary mode of thinking and certain truth goes beyond that. a woman a male yidam. T~ra's identity. It was then necessary · for him to give up Chakrasamvara to practice Hevajra. a practice through which he quickly attained realization. we do not find Tara. as with that of other deities. like Manjushri Gam pal yang) and Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) are yidams common in all orders and for all Tibetan buddhists. . Question: Among the yidams mentioned. He was then requested to practice Hevajra. This was the case for Birwapa who first began practicing Chakrasamvara. and vice versa. Generally. ABSOLUTE TARA What we have said about deities in general also applies to Tara. Question: Are male yidams more appropriate for men and female yidams for women? Answer: Not particularly. This made the result happen sooner. After some time. may be envisioned from two different points of view. connections are not that obvious.17 - .having discerned a special connection. that of "pedagogical truth" and "certain truth. This does not mean that Chakrasamvara was a bad yidam. but that Birwapa in his past lives had a weak connection with Chakrasamvara whereas he had already acquired a great practice of Hevajra. A man may very well practice a female yidam. What is her place? Answer: Tara (Drolma). he had such bad dreams that he preferred to give up all practice. gives a particular yidam to a disciple to practice.

nothing and something . and beyond notions such as: . and so on. It is on the level of the Body of Enjoyment that feminine deities such as Tara. perfection of knowledge. This emptiness. This awareness. Other names are used to designate the ultimate Tara. Vajravarahi (Dorje Pamo). No intellect. The nature of mind. Let us clarify what this nature of the mind is. because of her nature itself as an awakened deity.existence and nonexistence .." which refers also to her essence. It is also said that Tara is the "Mother of all Buddhas. The nature of mind is the domain of awareness itself. as we previously explained. however. All of them are in essence the perfection of knowledge or the nature itself of our mind. no reasoning. and many others appear . of the experience itself of pure awareness. . She is notably called "perfection of knowledge" (prajnaparamita). beyond any mental elaboration. and emptiness are. also is Tara in the ultimate domain. It is beyond any concept. no word can grasp it or· express it. inherent in everyone beyond any mental elaborations. has the capability to manifest itself purely as the Body of Enjoyment (Sambhogakaya). The perfection of knowledge has no form. Tara could not be other than the nature of our own mind.18 - .This double identity of Tara is not a contradiction: One does not negate the other. However. it is present and cannot be negated. From an absolute point of view.material and immaterial. Beyond concepts does not mean nothingness. it is emptiness of the Absolute Body (Dharmakaya).

Her story began incalculable ages ago." According to stories of this pedagogical truth. the existence of Tara on an ultimate level as we have described it. It is the same for present buddhas and it will be the same for future buddhas. Thus. and all concepts-is the mother of all buddhas. advised her to pray in order to obtain in a future life the body of a man. that is. One day. she decided to take the bodhisattva vow in the presence of the Buddha Drum Sound. she made immense offerings to this buddha and his entourage of monks. . For many years. The monks rejoiced greatly at her decision. and considering that she would accumulate great merit by this activity.19 - . Tara. equivalent terms. called Wisdom Moon. does not hinder or contradict her existence on a relative level. All past buddhas have attained buddhahood by realizing emptiness (or realizing the nature of the mind)." where the Drum Sound Buddha dwelled. space. .the Tara beyond time. known through the work of Tananatha/ a 16thcentury lama of great realization and scholarship. One of the king's daughters at this time. also called the level of "pedagogkal truth. to promise to attain awakening to benefit beings in infinite ways. FROM WOMAN TO DEITY Even if it seems disconcerting. This would allow her to benefit beings and the dharma better than in a female existence. Tara was a woman before becoming a deity. possessed great faith and devotion to this buddha. in a world called "Multicolored Light.in fact.

In another cosmic era. It is said that she liberated an infinite number of beings in the morning and an infinite number in the afternoon. few in a woman's body." she said." Later." or "Tara" in Sanskrit. She added that there were many who followed the path in a man's body." Such was her promise. no categories. she has placed millions of beings on the path of awakening each day. no I. providing help as soon as they called upon her." she was known as "Savioress. when Buddha Amoghasiddhi lived. and demons. Her practice then allowed her to realize ultimate truth. during the kalpa Without Beginning. "Man" or "woman" are only denominations created by confusion of perverse minds in this world. she was known as "Swift and ' Courageous. answered them from the point of view of the ultimate nature of all things: Here.Wisdom Moon. Tara entered another state of concentration to protect beings from danger. "as long as samsara is not emptied. Having become a goddess. Because of the swiftness of her activity." Again. no woman. no individual. "As for myself.20 - . This state is called the "concentration that completely vanquishes demons. the kalpa of Perfect Victory. no man. she benefited many beings. I will benefit beings appearing in a female body. there lived a monk called Stainless who received the empowerment of compassion of all the buddhas' . distressed by their narrowness of mind. fears. Dwelling for some time in a particular state of concentration called "concentration that frees beings from samsara.

mind. in the pure land of Potala." that is. manifested on Earth by a mountain in Southern India. It is a particular domain. Tara appears from Avalokiteshvara's tear drop.21 - . is attributed to the deities and they dwell in it. Tara also has the name of "Daughter of the Worlds' Sovereign.. a "pure land. coming through this mode of manifestation to accomplish the buddhas' wishes and work at benefiting beings during that kalpa. the buddhas who reign over the five families of awakening. has been benefiting beings during many kalpas by manifesting in various ways and accomplishing various activities through particular states of concentration. Likewise. Question: Generally. the Swift and Courageous Daughter of the Worlds' Sovereign.4 TARA'S HELP AGAINST FEAR Having infinite compassion for suffering beings. What is Tara's pure land? Answer: Tara dwells. called "Harmony of Turquoise Leaves. daughter of Avalokiteshvara. gave him a special empowerment. ." a paradise. This caused Tara to arise from his heart. Tara. as Avalokiteshvara. The five Victors. He became the deity Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig). (In some versions. a pure land is attributed to Tara. Such is Tara's story in the domain of manifestation. bodhisattvas make wishes that lead them to act in one way rather than another to actualize their wishes. Nevertheless.) For this re~son. Tara's main activity is to brush away fear and danger..

Particularly. the more numerous are the fearful states. On this profound cause.The second fear is not being able to eliminate danger." fear and attachment to oneself are very closely related. the outside world is often impotent to provide us any of the help we want. . incarnated by the buddhas and bodhisattvas. threat. or circumstances painful for us. we see that the real cause of fear is none other than the ego itself. or a state of almost permanent worry that no outer event can justify. attachment to the ego. can give us. What the world cannot give us.The first fear is not obtaining what we wish. various factors are grafted such as circumstances of existence but also some karmic predispositions. the reality that transcends this world. the "I. . Because of one or another of these reasons. . from worry to fright. All that threatens "me" in one way or another engenders fear. The correlative to any feeling of fear is the desire to find help and protection. Fear and a belief in the reality of "I. or more exactly. to such an extent that fear leads to despair.What is fear? How does Tara help deal with it? It is what we will try to understand now." The greater this attachment. All that "I" risks to lose engenders fear. we face two kinds of fear. If we look closely. During our existences. we often find ourselves afraid at various levels. The karmic predispositions sometimes engender fear apparently without reason.22 - . the activity of all the buddhas directed toward elimination of fear and danger is found within the divine person of Tara. However.

The deity's response depen ds on the strength of our trust. Fear. If doubt inhabits our mind. there is a small probability that Tara's blessing and protection will come to us. For Tara to help. apprehension. In reality.Tara has the powe r to help us.23 - . and danger are also a manifestation of our mind. this power is effective only if we trust it. all world ly appearances are a manifestation of our mind. Howe ver. will insure that they will certainly come. we must pray to her and call upon her from the bottom of our hearts witho ut reserve or doubt ing her intervention. where as a trust witho ut reserve and a complete conviction. just like in a bad dream the mind creates both the threat and the one who feels it. .

Together with Tara's immense will to help beings. this strength makes possible the protection. . when the nature of the mind is realized. It is also why. they are only expressions of the deep conditioning of our mind that can be changed. By the fact that they are empty in nature. no change would be possible. all fear disappears. This explains the efficiency of our prayer and Tara's answer. The help that we receive is the fruit of the meeting of these two factors. We must understand that if phenomena had reality in themselves. the force of our devotion and Tara's compassion. It is this strength that exerts itself in the fervent prayer addressed to Tara.The creative faculty of our mind is very strong.24 - .

Many stories from ancient times report Tara's intervention to save a person from a threatening snake. Tara protects against all dangers whatever they are when we call upon her to help us and pray to her with confidence. for those who pray to her.THE EIGHf GREAT FEARS Traditionally. another from the danger of fire.poisonous snakes . Tara dissipates the afflicting emotion itself. water. Firstly. The following equivalences have been established: = blindness .25 - . Nevertheless. the list is not exhaustive.imprisonment = greed = desire and attachment . because of the karmic consequences of these acts. and so on. and demons. they designate the afflicting emotions in our mind. which are major dangers because they may lead us to accomplish negative acts. secondly. thieves. However. There is another interpretation of the eight great fears. as well as the suffering that is the result.demons To protect us from inner fears.elephants = pride . another from the demons' attacks. fetters (imprisonment).lions . the helping activity of Tara remains . snakes. These eight dangers were certainly the greatest challenge one could meet in ancient India. of all our future suffering. They are the causes.fire = anger = jealousy . it is said that Tara protects against the eight great fears or eight great dangers such as elephants. which is the cause of.water = doubts . they may refer to physical dangers in our life.thieves = erroneous philosophies . fire. lions.

and you will be healed. Everyone called her Amala. Tara appearing to him in a dream said. At the time of independence.000 praises. However. Lhawang.today what it was in the past. TARA AND THE TOOTHACHE When Kalu Rinpoche 5 was at Palpung retreat center in Kham-he was probably 17 or 18 years old at the time-he had a terrible toothache. he was much devoted to Tara. most of the British decided to leave India quickly so many of her husband's British friends sold their houses in the II .26 - . Some contemporary stories illustrate that." "Mother. a Tibetan whose mother had great devotion to Tara." Every day. She did not know the dharma very well but her faith in Tara was extraordinary. He thought that Tara's intervention was because of a connection he had with her in a past life since he had not placed any importance on her until then. The hotel belongs to Mr." Kalu Rinpoche complied and the next day was completely relieved of his toothache. From that time on. and each year made a large donation to monasteries sponsoring recitation of 100. and her husband had important responsibilities in the colonial British administration. I will give you a mantra to recite 10. Amala recited the praise to the deity.000 times. "You have no particular devotion to me nor do you do my practice. She belonged to a family of Tibetans who had settled in India a long time ago. TARA'S JUDICIAL SUCCESS Travelers passing through Darjeeling may have seen the Bellevue Hotel at the top of the city.

Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas to her at a cheap price. not only was the judgment favorable but because of a procedure she was never able to explain. and never lost a single one. Amala spent several months in Calcutta awaiting the trial. and still is. . which was a considerable amount in India). during these trials. However. the validity of the property rights was contested. "Do not worry. The wealth of Amala's family was. in particular. concerned a great sum of money. She gladly admitted that she prayed to Tara before every court trial. there was no doubt that the young woman who came to comfort her in the dream was none other than Tara. she received not 100." The next day.000 rupees held by a bank (equaling at that time 10. well-known in Darjeeling. The day before the judgment. a young woman appeared to her in a dream and told her. tomorrow everything will be fine. 100. resulting in litigation. Later. Amala relied more on Tara's protection than on her skills as a business woman.000 rupees but 300. a lawyer. and that the multiplication of rupees was also due to the deity's astuteness.000 US dollars.000! For her.27- . Amala was an educated woman. One of the trials. which she could write phonetically when needed. who could speak and write fluently in English even better than in Tibetan.

They represent the deity's presence on the shrine. .{ I ~ Tara's torma The .deities ' tormas (or tentor) are symbolic figures made of dough or clay. adorned with circular ornaments chiseled in colored butter.28 - .

she came to see Khenp06 and myself requesting that we quickly go to her retreat house. by continu(. she assiduously prayed to Tara. Amala's story is filled with teachings. Most of her life. Tara's torma. praying ceaselessly for Tara to conserve or increase what she owned. She herself stayed in retreat for three years in a small house at the foot of the monastery. However. but perpendicularly to It. Amala died at an old age while visiting her daughter who was working at the Indian Embassy in Madrid. However. something extraordinary had happened. Her motivation was neither deep nor generous. we doubted the importance of what she wanted to communicate. Kalu Rinpoche. had spontaneously turned very slowly toward Amala. There. Amala donated a great Tara statue surrounded by smaller representations of twenty-one Taras that can still be seen in the temple. She ushered us inside.>us devotion to Tara and by keeping the deity in her . Amala was the benefactor of the two Sonada retreat centers.In Sonada. we followed her. She was not thoughtful of others or her future destiny.29 - . "Look at my shrine!" In fact. One day. Her devotion to Tara was so exclusive that. providing food and all that was necessary for the twenty or thirty meditators there. Kalu Rinpoche's monastery in India near Darjeeling. instead of remaining in its normal position. She would sit. was told by her that this was not acceptable. As she would talk a lot about unnecessary things. For six years. asked us to close the door and said. she was a woman attached to worldly wealth and money. having a Padmasambhava statue placed above them for a while. not facing the shrine.

checked that . they found themselves facing a contingent of Chinese troops in a narrow valley. she met Kalu Rinpoche. It was a difficult and long trek. Khenpo had to flee the area in company of his family and others. and launched their horses. TARA REUNITES A FAMILY At Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. They could not avoid the troops and decided to press forward. In 1960. the sacred objects they had were secured. there lives 50-yearold Khenpo Gyurme Tsultrim who testifies to the protection Tara gave to his family. and remained in retreat. Up to that time she was tied up with her wealth. Toward the end of her life. sincerely turned to the dharma. that it turns her devotees toward their own good beyond their limited wishes. but then she made large offerings to the Sonada monastery and retreat centers. One day.30- . ready to die if necessary. seventy made a successful escape and gathered on a nearby mountain. There were people dead on both sides. They swallowed sacred pills that they carried with them. Kham (the eastern province of Tibet) was invaded by the Chinese. and one of his sisters were among them. Rifles rang out. She had no lama to guide her until then: She detached herself from material belongings.heart. His mother and another sister were missing. his father. His father and other men went to look for them but were . and her mind changed little by little. Of the hundred Khampas in the small caravan. Khenpo Kyurme Tsuitrim. Such is Tara's blessing. As a young boy. she received Tara's blessing.

she arranged to give something to eat to the children who went with her and asked them to watch the animals grazing nearby. Khenpo Gyurme Tsultrim. They believed them to be dead. they heard nothing of the mother and sister who remained in Tibet. his father. As often as she could. At night. however. they had been arrested by the Chinese and led back to Kham. she secretly recited Tara's praise and mantra. . After months and years of supplication. For twenty years. while others were asleep.31 - . Anyone caught whispering prayers or reciting mantras was immediately punished. they lived as best as they could working for almost nothing for people who needed their services. she prayed even more. One year later. They opened the borders and allowed exiled Tibetans who wished to visit their motherland to return. The Chinese law against religious practice at that time was extremely severe. and his sister finally arrived in India where they obtained refugee status. . you will find your husband and children. Actually. a young woman appeared in her dream and told her. Khenpo Gyurme Tsultrim and his father learned through other relatives that the mother and sister were still alive and lived in a certain place. "Have no fear. Notably. she recited prayers and humbly asked Tara to find her lost husband and children. had great faith in Tara. Without any protection. Were they killed? Were they made prisoners by the Chinese? No one knew. when she watched over sheep and yaks. At the beginning of the eighties. As soon as she was alone. after much difficulty. the Chinese loosened the shackles imposed on Tibet a little.unsuccessful. Khenpo Gyurme Tsultrim's mother." Time passed.

Besides this precious treat. most of them containing fifteen blocks of sugar. TARA PROTECTS THE CARAVAN In 1958.As soon as they could.32- . In 1958. offerings for rituals. our caravan carried many presents for the Karmapa. not counting horses. The Karmapa7 asked me to come back to accomplish the traditional three-year retreat on my twentieth birthday. we had about thirty mules and a hundred yaks loaded with two big bags each. it was easy to acquire some by exchanging wool and butter at the Ladakh border. and we prepared a large quantity of sugar to take with us. This made the monks very happy. I told myself that we should follow this custom. Surrounded by their family. My previous incarnation used to offer a block of this sugar to every monk when he went to Tsurphu. they went to Tibet and returned to India with the two women who had been lost for so long. To go from Bokar monastery isolated in the high Western plateaux to Tsurphu would take two months for a caravan. brown sugar was rare and well appreciated. I had to go to Tsurphu. Prayers had been heard and the young woman's prophecy in the dream had been realized. the road to Lhasa was extremely dangerous. and all that was necessary for my three-year stay. In the Lhasa area. It was there that I studied when I was 13 to 16 years old. For Western nomads. Khenpo Gyurme Tsultrim's mother and father passed away seven or eight years later. In all. We did not fear the Chinese but the . Consequently. the Karmapa's seat in the Lhasa area.

we left. It should have been inevitable for them to see us. it had no effect because the Khampas violently forced them to reveal their hiding places.000 praises. . Talking with the nomads. we could not avoid crossing the · route used by Khampas' troops. I asked the monks of the monastery. it was impossible for us to evade them. we could see clearly the Khampas coming. we represented an ideal prey for the Khampas. Although we had been warned. and food by force. On our way. From where we were. horses. menacing. the nuns of the neighboring nunnery. we also knew that horsemen from the East would soon arrive. They tried as much as possible to save their belongings and herds by hiding them farther away. A hundred people showed up. and valuable objects that we carried. and it took us about ten days to accomplish the recitation. on several occasions. mules. clothes. Who could protect us better than Tara? To be assured of her help. an encounter beyond their expectations! To obey the Karmapa. and the lay people to come together if they could and recite 100. We went off the path to set up our encampment but it was not sufficiently hidden to avoid being seen. For .Khampas troops who were fleeing with no other means of subsistence than to take flocks. Nomads that we met were warned of their coming. as well as food. Given all the animals in our caravan. By changing our itinerary. and horses could only attract attention.33 - . impressive number of yaks. it was indispensable that we go to Tsurphu however dangerous it might be. Then. Generally. we were able to avoid them most of the time. when they were passing a nomad encampment or caravan. and demanding ransom from the nomads who had given us a warning. Our white tents.

Before leaving. some men from our caravan informed me of the presence of Chinese troops ahead of us. I resigned myself to return to my monastery and prepare to flee Tibet. the various . Even now. monks and laypeople.34 - . I am convinced that our safe journey was due to Tara's blessing and her kind protection. We took the path to Nepal. What were we to do? Were the Khampas telling the truth? Would the Chinese remain in their position? An alternative road was possible. and as much luggage as we could carry.inexplicable reasons. and having set up camp for the night. I did not stay in Tsurphu to accomplish the three-year retreat as had been previously decided. yaks.000 Tara praises. mules. goats. sheep. I then decided to proceed to a "divination by the dough. when I recall this road to Tsurphu. however. About sixty people. We took advantage of night to continue on our way." In this method. We finally reached our destination without further incident. They had just been warned by fleeing Khampas who had to turn back after an encounter with the Chinese during which they lost many horses and yaks. accompanied me with horses. After three days on the road. again I asked people to recite 100. they did not see us! Certainly we were scared but we never ceased to pray to Tara and recite her praise. but was it safer than the original one? We accomplished the ritual of Tara and of the protectors. TARA'S SNOW Because of the troubles caused by the Chinese.

"danger" and "no danger. we were able to get over the pass and finally arrived at Mustang. The savioress' intervention in favor of those who pray to her is not a rare incident concerning isolated cases. In this case. causing us many great difficulties. the route was impassable. That ball gives the answer. Many Tibetans think that they owed their safety only to Tara's protection when they were forced to flee their country. Therefore. we might have been caught. Only the snowstorm hindered them from overtaking us. . snow began to fall. required going through a very high pass. If the snow had not fallen or had fallen slightly earlier or slightly later. a ritual is held during which one holds in one hand a saucer upon which the balls are placed and makes the balls turn until one falls on the ground. Many people report the help they have received from her.possibilities are written on small pieces of paper and rolled into some dough balls of the same shape. we had written two answers referring to the route we should normally follow. we had to take the other road. We lost several bags. I learned that the Chinese were really pursuing us and we were close to being caught. Just after we passed through. Tara. a small kingdom of Tibetan culture within Nepal. I could not help thinking that this timely snowstorm could only be Tara's blessing. Then. whose help we did not cease to invoke. the storm made everything difficult. Later.35 - . which was longer." The ball containing "danger" fell first. For us. In spite of this. When we reached the pass. We had trouble moving forward and many animals died. but was apparently less risky.

not even a servant. whatever outer or inner circumstances that would harm the dharma. They may believe. .36 - . There are also "protectors" like Mahakala and others whose function is also by definition to protect. Because he was born in the Kunu area. was a learned and respected lama. He had no monastery. Kunu Lama led a simple life.Question: Tara IS activity is to protect. he knew Sanskrit and had perfectly studied the doctrines of all the lineages of Tibetan buddhism as well as Hindu doctrines. Mahakala and other protectors have as a main activity to specifically brush away obstacles to the practice and diffusion of the dharma. for instance. She watches over us in all difficult circumstances in our lives. What is the difference between them? Answer: The protection that happens is slightly different in the two cases.the Tibetan language." Besides. Tara's protection is more personal if we can say that. THE SAffiB WITH A RAINBow BODY Question: Sometimes. that Tara IS protection is more accessible to a Tibetan than to a Westerner. At the same time. The Dalai Lama himself received many teachings from him. and discreetly dressed like the pundits of Northern India where he spent the greatest part of his life. especially in regard to deities. Is there really a barrier? Answer: Kunu Lama Tenzin Gyatso. he was called "Kunu Lama. who passed away at a very old age in the seventies. between Kashmir and Ladakh. Westerners think that some cultural differences prevent them from entering as easily as the Tibetans themselves into the practice of Tibetan buddhism.

Kham where he was in retreat. At this time.s he told the following story. Who was this sahib? From where did he come? I do not know if Kunu Lama ever precisely answered this. maybe he was a missionary-there were a few of them in Kham-who had entered Tibetan buddhism. It happened that no one had seen the sahib for several days. only nails and hair were left. Kunu Lama and a few others went to the second floor. and sure enough." an extraordinary result of the practice that ends with the dissolution of the body in rainbows at the time of death. They shook his clothes from which more small rainbows escaped falling like rain! Of the sahib. From the very moment they practice diligently.During a teaching Kunu Lama was glvmg in Bodhgaya. he was living in . Both were receiving instructions from a Nyingmapa lama called Khenpo Shenga. Westerners can certainly obtain results. that was a very rare occurrence. Kunu Lama and the local people habitually called the foreigner "Sahib. If a sahib from the twentieth century was able to obtain a rainbow body. opened the door. they saw only rainbows." using the respectful term used by Indians for Westerners. they can pray to . It is what is called obtaining the "rainbow body.37- . Finally. then access to Tibetan buddhism is not limited by cultural barriers. Especially. in the sahib's place. someone noticed rainbows stemming from his window. His residence was a two-story house. and the second floor was occupied by a Westerner who also practiced buddhism. Maybe he was someone who fled from India during World War II. Puzzled. He lived on the first floor. In the mid forties.

uttered very loudly the name of the Panchen Lama every time it was required. Their throats choked with sadness. beneath Yanglesho cave (famous for having sheltered Padmansambhava). many stories relate of Tara's statues or paintings that miraculously have spoken out. It is said that Tara's fresco. One of the most famous stories is that of a fresco representing White Tara painted on the wall of the main temple of Tashi lhunpo. the form of the deity thirty centimeters high appears more and more clearly. WONDROUS REPRESENTATIONS In Tibet. One of them is very recent. west of Kathmandu. Tara's blessings do not know any borders. monks were performing rituals in his honor. Why does this statue produce itself today? Maybe it is a kind of response to the prayer that many . representations of the deity. exiting out of the rock. The first time I went on a pilgrimage to Yanglesho. they had difficulties uttering his name when it occurred in the text of a praise concerning him. which appear by themselves on rock walls without intervention of a human hand. Now.Tara being certain to be heard. in 1972." that is. the residence of the Panchen Lamas in the city of Shigatse. It is in Nepal. Following the passing away of one of the Panchen Lamas.38 - . after a slow unexplained process. A small temple has been built to protect and honor it. Another extraordinary phenomenon linked to Tara is the appearance of "spontaneous sculptures. taking over and encouraging them. Tara's appearance on the rock wall had not yet begun.

buddhists address to Tara requesting her protection in these difficult times. Ushnishavijaya (Namgyalma). all being the Prajnaparamita. and so on. the eight Taras each protecting against one of the eight great fears. Truly. one face. Kalachakra's consort). Sitatapattra (Dukkar). Vishvamata (Natsok Yum. a form with two arms. These various forms are not. we simply address Green Tara thinking that she accomplishes all the activities we are requesting. but various aspects taken on by the same deity according to circumstances. Although there are specific rituals for certain forms of the deity. We have seen that her main activity is to protect beings from fear and danger. There are indeed many other forms of Tara such as the twenty-one Taras corresponding to the twenty-one stanzas of the praise. and so on are also sometimes seen as Tara's manifestations. VARIOUS TARA AsPECTS Tara's main aspect is that of Green Tara. peaceful.39 - . when we pray to Tara. perfection of knowledge. however. . other Taras. Naraitma (Damema). and two legs. Kurukulla (Kurukulle). Tara Yogini. feminine deities are all of one essence. Other deities as Bhrikuti (Thronyerchen). if forms vary.

· Bhrikuti." appeared at the same time as Tara from Avalokiteshvara's (Chenrezig) teardrop and is often considered as an aspect of the deity.Bhrikuti. "the One who frowns her eyebrows.40 - . .

He mentioned the . White Tara is not a deity different from Tara. and her activity is only a particular aspect of the protectioh .41 - . White Tara occupies a special place beside Green Tara. There is no separate story recounting her origin. under the lowest spoke. MAMA AYU PUNYE JNANA PUTRIN KURU SOHA. the syllable HA. which is to provide a long life. the other two exiting perpendicularly on each side of the hub. That is the reason why her empowerment is sought and her practice performed when one's health is threatened. the "Wheel Accomplishing All Wishes. eight of them going from the hub to the rim as the spokes of an ordinary wheel. vertically on the ten spokes of a wheel placed horizontally." This name comes from the way the root mantra is placed in her heart. On the highest spoke. WHITE TARA ORDERS STATUES The following story illustrates the specific activity of White Tara. there is the syllable OM. Her mantra is also the same as Green Tara's. White Tara is also called Chintamattra Chakra. TA RE TUT TA RE TU RE SO. granted by the deity. Also. She enjoys great popularity because of her activity.WHITE TARA Among various Taras. a thangka or a statue of White Tara is offered to a lama as a prayer for his or her long life. A Kadampa Geshe dreamed that he saw the sun rise in the West and set in the East. OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA. The ten letters are effectively placed. on the other spokes the eight other mantra's syllables. even if we add to it an ending particular to the request of long life.

colors. and everything will be fine." answered the lama.42 - . and explained that he wanted to devote whatever time he had left to live to a practice that will quickly bring him near awakening." . As his sixtieth birthday approached. told him of his dream and the indications of the lines of his hands. the Geshe thought that from now on he had no more time for studying or engaging in other activities and that he must devote himself exclusively to practice. the palm reader declared to the Geshe that he had only three years to live. and attributes are associated with a symbolism called the "pure sense. Tara again appeared to him and said that if he was to make a statue of her. he would add ten more years to his life. He went to see a lama. "There is a White Tara practice that prolongs life. so he lived to be ninety-five years old before he died. TARA'S SYMBOLISM The deity's form. Finally. Observing the lines of his hands. on his eightieth birthday." The Geshe followed this advice so well that he soon had a vision of the deity who declared that he would live to be sixty years old. Fearful of this prediction. the Geshe consulted a palm reader. So he did. the Geshe turned his mind to Tara.dream to a lama who told him that the dream was unauspicious. he obtained ten more years. Worried. Do it. fifteen more years were all that was left for him. Ten years later-at the age of seventy-the same process was repeated. "Your worry is useless. that it was a sign of death. Requested to realize a new statue.

Green Tara .43 - .

With the right hand. Her other fingers are held up to represent the Three Jewels: Buddha. The ornaments (silks and jewels) she wears bear witness of her masterful qualities and activity.44 - .The symbolism of Green Tara and White Tara are as follows: Green Tara Her green color is that of the awakened activity. she performs the giving mudra. thumb and ring finger are joined to symbolize the union of skillful means and knowledge. Her left hand accomplishes the refuge mudra. Dharma. in samsara to help all those who suffer. Her charm and beauty reveal that she is the mother of all buddhas and her compassion for all beings . Green indicates that Tara acts for the benefit of those who pray to her with the swiftness of wind. remains . . and Sangha. The left bent leg represents renouncing conflicting emotions.is uninterrupted. The right half bent leg shows that Tara is ready to stand up to provide help to beings. signifying that she bestows ordinary accomplishments (supernormal powers) and sublime accomplishments (realization of the nature of the mind). active compassion (Tara is also the consort of Amoghasiddhi who reigns over the activity family). The stems of the lotuses she holds with her hands indicate that all the qualities of realization have fully bloomed within her. although totally free from the imperfections of samsara. The symbolism of the legs tells us that Tara. Her straight back shows that her meditation is similar to the diamond that never falters.

t wo on the soles of her feet. absence of wishes) and generates compassion by means of the four unlimited qualities of the bodhisattvas (love. and equanimity).45 - . . . compassion. White Tara White Tara differs from Green Tara. absence of characteristics. joy. Three are on the face.The moon behind her symbolizes the fullness of inexhaustible happiness. Besides the difference in color. and she sits in the vajra posture. The symbolism of these particularities is as follows. two on her palms. • White color: absence of the two veils (conflicting emotions and dualistic knowledge) • Seven eyes: She sees reality through the three doors of liberation (emptiness. she has seven eyes.

White Tara is recognized at first glance by her color. White Tara sits in the lotus posture and has seven eyes including one on her forehead. On the thangkas. . it is easy to distinguish White Tara from Green Tara.46 - . Green Tara's legs are in the Bodhisattva Posture (right leg in front) and she has only two eyes. When we face a statue or a drawing.White Tara.

Whether it is veiled or revealed. These 'texts are the foundation of Vajrayana practice.2. the term refers to the nature of mind. in all its purity. Within the framework of the sutras. and result. visualizations of deities. gyu) means "continuity.Tara's Tantra What we know of Tara and the practices linked to her originally comes from the tantras. path. and recitation of their mantras. Continuity is present at the base (what we are now). something that could not exist now and would come into existence at the end of practice. it is always there without discontinuity. WHAT IS A TANTRA? The word tantra (Tibetan. . empowerments. This notion of continuity underscores that the nature of mind is not something new to obtain.47- ." In a literal sense. celestial bodhisattvas and a host of beings with whom ordinary beings do not usually communicate. These are not texts revealed in an ordinary way but in circumstances where the buddha takes an aspect of the Enjoyment Body and addresses human beings less than gods. as the union of emptiness and clarity. the continual presence of this emptiness-clarity at various stages is expressed in the following way. the mind beyond any psychological elaboration.

. When the nature of mind is impure (that is. Such is the continuity or "tantra" in its true sense. Outside this process of purification. It is the same during the three steps. veiled) it is the base. Gyu Tantra: "continuity" of the nature of mind Base.at the level of result: the two Bodies of Awakening (Formal Body and Absolute Body).at the level of result: the two Bodies (Absolute Body and Formal Body) Within the framework of the tantras.at the level of the path: the two accumulations (merit and wisdom) . the essence of the mind does not change. path.at the level of the path: the creation and completion phases . The path indicates purification and the result the purified mind. it is said.48 - .at the level of the base: body and mind . and result are terms that take the nature of mind as a reference point.at the level of the base: the two truths (relative and ultimate) . ..

in a known language . Traditionally. When they utter the tantras of words in one way or another. the "six possibilities" and the "four modes.with intention ."tantras of words. A literal expression can sometimes be revealed as completely erroneous.definitive meaning . ENCRYPTED LANGUAGE OF THE TANTRAS Tantras.without intention . Buddhas are those who have realized the real tantra. they show how the nature of mind is found covered by ignorance and various conflicting emotions (base) for the ordin~ry beings of samsara~ then they give the means to purify it (path).49 - .ultimate or "real tantra. it is said that there are two sides to the tantras: . Tantras are said to have a total of ten"levels of interpretation gathered in two groups. as texts." It is why the Vajrayana texts are called tantras.in an unknown language .pedagogical meaning . the verbal expression of this continuity and the means to realize it are also called "tantra." • the six possibilities: .By extension." which expresses the unchanging nature of the mind . are extremely difficult to understand because the words they use cover various levels of meaning." which is this unchanging nature. and they describe the qualities of an entirely purified mind (result).

tantras. the philosophy of madhyamika. For example. for example.literal meaning . Animals must be killed.common meaning ." If we encounter a phrase in a tantra stating. the. or the epistemology of abhidharma would not be prepared to know the . mahamudra.tantra considered to be the root of all others is the Tantra of Enunciating Manjushri's 1/ Names (Manjushri Nama Samgiti Tantra) . even if we grasp the apparent meaning of the words. our understanding will remain far from the true meaning.hidden meaning .definitive meaning "Common meaning" signifies that the sense of the word used is common to the sutras and tantras.50 - . "Definitive meaning" implies that the word must only be understood in the context of ultimate truth. Even a Tibetan scholar who has done no special study of the tantras cannot understand them.Let us take the example of the meaning "with intention. A khenpo or a geshe very knowledgeable in grammar and logic who would have studied all the mysteries in the sutras. others at the level of the . The clarification of this text may be done on many various levels. Otherwise. "Hidden meaning" is that which is applied to some notions inherent in the subtle channels and winds. There are treatises explaining it on the levels of Kriya Tantra. or maha-ati. Understanding tantras requires studying them under a qualified teacher able to decipher their meaning." this really means "make conflicting emotions disappear. as they are used in the practice of the six yogas of Naropa." • the four modes: .

the completion phase of the Anuttara-yoga Tantra. which resides in the eternal knowledge of the buddhas. They are eternal in reality. a mere intellectual approach is not sufficient. As far as our kalpa is concerned. Without specific study of these various facets. for example. it is impossible to give them an origin. Chakrasamvara. mainly the Hevajra Tantra or the Zamo Nangdon (Profound Inner Meaning). Furthermore. Tantras belong to the omniscience of the buddhas who utter a tantra as it is needed in a given epoch. ORIGIN OF THE TARA TANTRA The origin of Tara Tantra. studying tantras has been and remains reserved to a small number of individuals. In the Tibetan tradition. Likewise the Tara Tantra. had already been revealed during many past kalpas before being revealed in our time. a tantric text written by the Third Karmapa. the Mount Potala.51 - . the text will remain mysterious to us. In the Gelugpa order. . to truly understand a tantra. the Tara Tantra was revealed many times by Avalokiteshvara in his Pure Land. as with that of all tantras. and so on.Charya Tantra. cannot be located in time. long before the arrival of Shakyamuni Buddha. In the Kagyupa order. the creation phase of Anuttara-yoga Tantra. and Yamantaka Tantras. only a small number of lamas or khenpos direc~ly study the tantras. Therefore. Yoga Tantra. A good personal Vajrayana practice and the Lama's blessing are necessary. only the best of the geshes have access to a tantric university where they may study more particularly Guyasamaja.

and happi ness start to decrease. completely and easily enjoyed all necessary material goods and experienced great happi ness due. material goods. a second time in 600.000 stanzas durin g the two-quarter epoch.000 stanzas in the "three -quar ter endow ed" epoch.endowed with three-quarters: life duration.52- UTIER ING OF THE TANTR A BY SHAK YAMU NI BUDDHA . The Buddha then . to right thinki ng and a great love for one another. a third time in 12. when huma n beings lived an extremely long time. Tara appea red and with eight great laughters made the demo ns fall to the groun d and stopp ed them from doing harm.000 stanzas durin g the conflict epoch when Shaky amun i Buddha had not yet appea red in this world . while sitting under the Bodhi tree. These Tara Tantras uttere d by Avalokiteshvara are not those we now have.endowed with two-quarters: decreasing is accentuated. in fact. notably.Our kalpa is divid ed in four parts: .endowed with conflicts: the difficult epoch in which we are (to which belong. At that moment. Ours are those of Shakyamuni Buddha. Shaky amun i was attacked by a horde of demo ns attem pting to divert him from his goal. Avalokiteshvara revealed the Tara Tantra the first time in the "totally endow ed" epoch in a form comprising 800. who revealed them in the following circumstances: The night prece ding his awakening.totally endowed designates the beginning of kalpas. . and finally. all our history and even before) when the lifespan of huma n beings is limited to one hundr ed years and there is only a quarte r of the original happiness. . .000 stanzas. a fourth time in 1.

Likewise. it was not in huma n places but in other doma ins of manif estati on like Avalo kitesh vara's Potala. Before there were huma n beings. a conte mpora ry of Shaky amun i Budd ha. there were other categories of being s able to receive tantri c teachings and spiritu ally benef it from them. Other times. they were not addre ssed to huma n being s but to a host of bodhi sattva s. Indra bhuti kept these texts secret. it was not the time when the tantra was being comm unica ted to huma n being s. gods. Texts for the Tara practice would appea r long after the Buddh a's time thoug h divine revelation. After that. were placed under the guard of Vajra pani (Chan a Dorje). He obtain ed these tantra s in two ways.placed his mind in a state of perfec t medit ation and at dawn attain ed awake ning. includ ing that of Tara. and he wrote them down as soon as he heard them. Most tantra s. Howe ver. Sometimes. and other beings. locking them in trunk s and transm itting their conte nts . nagas . Most often. the text havin g alread y been written. Howe ver. who for this reason is called the Guard ian of the Secrets. he uttere d the Tara Tantra.53 - . the scholar Chan drago min receiv ed 108 texts of practice durin g visions he had of the deity. they were revea led to him by Vajra pani or other bodhisattvas. he receiv ed them directly in a mirac ulous way. When the tantra s were uttere d by the Budd ha. TANTRAS AMONG HUMA N BEINGS The first comm unica tion of tantra s to huma n being s was made throu gh the interm ediary of King Indrab huti. Many more centu ries would be necessary for that to happe n.

thanks to visions. The prince suddenly woke up . reporting Tara's intervention to save her followers from danger. even the teachings of the Greater Vehicle were not propagated. Some stories are related to this time. through miraculous gifts of a text presented by a deity. Time was not ripe for full propagation. If one makes an exception for the brief and confidential episode of King Indrabhuti. Relatively few individuals followed the tantric path because transmission was done from a teacher to a disciple solely in an individual context. Without talking about the Vajrayana. began to reach especially pure beings. like that of Vajrapani. Let us give two examples.54 - . and no one could say with certainty that such and such a person was a tantric adept. The son of a king fell asleep in a park when a group of enemies who had sworn to assassinate the prince surrounded him.only to a few predestined disciples. Practices were kept very secret. only the teachings of the Smaller Vehicle were made available. They were transmitted during visions of Avalokiteshvara or Manjushri. Tara was one of a number of deities who were secretly practiced. History tells us that the Tara Tantra especially was communicated to human beings only three centuries after Shakyamuni Buddha's passing away (around the 3rd century BeE). which had been kept by celestial bodhisattvas. Revelation of all the tantras began in the same way. It is only in this epoch that sutras of the Greater Vehicle and all the teachings of the tantras. The first one refers to danger caused by enemies and the second to that of lions. or as in the case of Indrabhuti.

Tantra of Producing Heruka He then return ed to India and stayed in the city of Tipurar where he built a temple especially to house these tantras. emitting from the soles of her feet a mighty wind that dispersed all the enemies.and saw that there was no way to defend himself but to pray to Tara. Haya pala recei ved the Tara empowerment. It was none other than the deity's emanation and she protected him from the lion. This led him to his realization. and under his direction perfo rmed the practice of the Liberating One.Violent and Wrathful Tantra .55 - . he met the Brahmin Guhyashila who had received instructions on Tara from Vajrapani directly. A young woma n came by carrying a load of leaves. Hayapala then went to Uddiy ana (northwest India) where dakinis transmitted various tantras to him as follows: . HAYAPALA'S LINEAGE The principal propa gation of the Tara Tantra was done by a Bengali monk called Hayap ala who belonged to the Brahmin caste. he called upon her for help. From the bottom of his heart.Fundamental Tantra on Tara's Origin .Secret Tantra of the Sublime Unsurpassable Vajra . Our man praye d to Tara. In the other story. From Guhy ashila . Tara then manifested herself. a man walking in a forest met with a starving lion (it seems that there were lions in India up to a certain time). After havin g assimilated many teachings of the Great Vehicle. He transm itted the Prajnaparamita teachings and the sutras of the Greater Vehicle to his .

received transmission from a disciple of the Indian teacher Chiwa Bepa who had also come to Tibet. AnsHA AND TARA It is interesting to note that Atisha's life was marked by a profound bond to Tara. our main source of information on the origins of the Tara Tantra. His parents named him Chandragarbha. the king and queen heard mysterious music coming from outside. Atisha. The queen saw a lotus fall from the sky and land in front of the cradle. the goddess clearly 4Ldicated that she would protect the child. This bond seems related to his coming to Tibet.56 - . Taranatha. the second son of a royal family from Bengal. Before Taranatha.ordinary disciples. At the same time. the transmission went on uninterruptedly. the child's face was transformed into Tara's face. he transmitted the Tara practice through which many of them achieved realization. played an important role in the propagation of the practice in Tibet. To the gifted disciples. Miraculous Transformation As soon as Atisha was born. Hayapala then transmitted Tara's lineage to his disciple Hayagosha who passed it on to Nagarjuna. His relationship to the deity will illustrate for us how Tara manifests her activity. Then. It is because of the Tara practice that he attained realization. The Tara practice was later introduced to Tibet through many channels. Atisha was born in 982 CE. While the newborn was sleeping in his cradle on the upper floor of the palace. who had bonded with the goddess. Moon Essence. Everyone concluded from .

his father. How to Make Amends for a Fault One day. organized many great parties in which many princesses and their entourages participated. charm ed by the beaut y and attitud e of the prince. "If. Several interventions by Tara were necessary to convince him. looke d upon him with desire. you must seek ordination in this life!" Having become a monk at the age of 29. A pale blue goddess who was none other than Tara appea red and admonished Chand ragarb ha. would not this stain the robes of ethics you have worn for 552 previous lifetimes in which you were always a scholar without defect. like an eleph ant sinks deepl y in mud. Atisha appro ved the expulsion of the monk Maitrepa from Vikramashila University. Atisha ardently devoted himself to study and practice.this that Tara had been his tutelary deity for many lifetimes. behavior was slightly out of the norm but his yogic . the king. you. In time.57 - . Choosing Ethics When Atisha became a teenager. a hero. Atisha was reluctant to aband on his monastic responsibilities as Vikramashila's Abbot and to go to this repute dly difficult North ern country. sink into the quagmire of desire. a perfect monk? Like the swans looking for lakes adorn ed with lotuses. his fame sprea d and he was invite d several times to Tibet where the persecutions against buddh ism by King Langd arma had created a critical situation. However. All of them. Maitrepa's .

Atisha had a dream in which Tara appea red and told him: "The monk you have expelled is a bodhisattva." Tara's Warning When the Tibetan King Jangchub 0 sent emissaries to invite him to his country. The deity told him. you will meet a lay perso n (Drom Tonpa) there who will be a tremendous help to you." "How can I avoid that disastrous consequence?" asked the frightened Atisha.lpon which thousands of birds and insects will feed. Atisha again consulted Tara on the oppor tunity to accept. your life will be shortened. The Yogini' s Message Tara appea red again to Atisha in a dream and requested that he visit a certain temple where he would meet a yogini who had something impor tant to tell him. It is not permi tted to act against a bodhisattva even involuntarily. Anyo ne not know ing how to rectify a mistake like this will be reborn with a body as large as Moun t Meru t. "I was invite d to go to Tibet. The next morning. "Besides. However. Havin g offered her some flowers.58 - . it will be extremely useful." answe red the yogini. he went to the temple and met the yogini. "You must go to the North ern country and devote yourself to propa gating Mahayana teachings there. he told her." answe red Tara." "How many years?" .realization was immense. Will my mission be successful?" "Your journey to Tibet will be very fruitful. A little later. "If you go to Tibet.

passing through the celestial worlds and the great realized yogis of India. and as we have just seen it. such was the path followed by the revelation of the Tara Tantra. By this story we see not only how Tara was an inspiration for Atisha but also we see her ardor in leading her beloved child to the Land of Snow. If you go. Their method of working and the framework in which they place their thoughts do . seems to be a mythological artifice to disguise their time origin.59 - . Their introduction to human beings. Atisha left the warm plains of India to reach the high plateaus of Tibet buffeted by icy winds. What can the Tibetan tradition answer to these arguments? Answer: It is difficult to give a satisfactory answer to these Western scholars. They note that the texts do not date from the Buddha's lifetime. From the eternal omniscience of the buddhas to their transmission in the Land of Snow."If you do not go to Tibet. several hundred years had passed since the Buddha lived. For them. Question: The history of propagation of the Greater Vehicle and tantras as presented by the Tibetans. Greater Vehicle and tantras are creations that came long after Shakyamuni's original teachings upon which they were improperly grafted. you will die at the age of 73. "If I sacrifice them." thought Atisha. that when they appeared. after having remained in divine worlds. you will live to be 92 years old. He devoted the rest of his life to teaching in Tibet and died there. at the age of 59. often leads Western scholars to doubt the authenticity of these teachings. I can work to benefit beings and spread the doctrine." "Twenty years of my life are not really important." Thus.

for example. In fact. which miraculously fall from the sky? What proof is there to give them? For them. Such a practitioner cannot prove to others that he or she perceives the visions allowed to come because of the purity of his or her mind. in the spiritual domain. if not. From their strict point of view. Another reason that makes understanding difficult for Western scholars is the conception that they have of the Buddha. it is somewhat similar. and even obtain texts. very subtle experiences depend on one's own karma and inner development. we are blind. It is said that the nature of a buddha is an "inconceivable . we believe them without being able to really see the proof for ourselves. they are not wrong. receive instructions from them.60 - . It is a narrow vision of what a buddha is. how could they understand that great practitioners effectively communicate with deities. Only if a bomb explodes can we have this proof. Buddha was a man. science places laypeople in the same situation. we subscribe to scientific affirmation like blind people. Therefore. In the Vajrayana. his teaching is limited to the time and space provided by an existence in a human body. proof would be only what everyone could see or observe. We cannot verify ourselves the claims of scientists because of our lack of study or insufficient intellectual capabilities. However. Only realization provides us with the proof of truth of what is taught. even if he was endowed with great wisdom. a man like any other. the realization by an individual practice. With no belief in the deities' existence. When they tell us about atomic power.not permit the acceptance of the Tibetan vision of things. As long as we have not 'a ttained the result. For them.

The thoug ht of an ordin ary being canno t grasp what it is. The function of the Buddha's teaching is to rid ourselves of illusion created by thoug hts and belief in the reality of phenomena. All ·have the uniqu e goal of eliminating menta l constructions leadin g to the false conception of phenomena as havin g a reality of their own. which veil reality. The buddh a's reality sprea ds in an infinite way and canno t be confined to the limits of common under stand ing.61 - . Once we . and activity are covered by this inconceivable secret. pedagogical truth. qualities. In fact. To do so. speech. it would be " conceivable. Vajrayana. durin g the course of time.secret. We really are prisoners of our psychological constructions." At the same time. it is natur al for every one to hold to one's own point of view. it is true that the transmission of teachings in the celestial world s and all these extrao rdinar y things would lack meaning. and so on. when we study a science. Otherwise. Likewise. "Inconceivable" well means what it means. mind. Only a highe r point of view allows · us to see that the more narro w conceptions are not false but partially true. various philosophical schools have been oppos ed to each other. many approaches are propo sed such as the Smaller Vehicle. a buddh a's body. the more subtle subjects analyzed at the end of the study do not destro y the validity of more simple things learne d in the beginning. But the being of a buddh a is far from being locked in simple huma n appearance." If the being of a budd ha were limite d to huma n life. definitive truth. In buddh ism itself. Greater Vehicle.

we are a buddha. but it is a skillful use of the psyche leading to the progressive elimination of these elaborations. . that in the three vehicles.62 - . It is true. the efforts of thinking or the exercise of the psyche do not 'allow us to achieve this result. 'Outside of a spiritual way. They only add new constructions to the preceding ones. however.are totally liberated from mental elaborations. we find methods which are also founded on psyche activity.

we prepare the shrine. Rituals may be extremely long or very brief. prayers. place the offerings.Physically. It is comprised of various phases. and make sure that the shrine room is clean . recitation of the deity's mantra. making offerings to the deity. and so on.63 - . Through the ritual. body. and mind. Medicine Buddha). there are many types of rituals corresponding to various levels of practice. speech. This imprint is formed by using all elements of our personality. collective or individual. . such as those addressed to Shakyamuni Buddha or Baisajaguru (Sangye Menla. and other components. The Vajrayana tradition is divided into four groups of tantras. but their function remains the same: recalling the deity to mind and allowing the deity to leave a profound and beneficial imprint on us through deity meditation. such as deity visualizations. The sutra tradition likewise possesses its rituals. In buddhism. our mind is imprinted with the deity's presence and blessing.3-Invocation of Tara FUNCTION OF RITUALS A ritual is a means to accomplish a deity practice and to develop a deep bond with this deity. which are elements allowing us to establish this relationship. each having its own rules as to accomplishing rituals. mantra recitation.

or moreover that we are the deity at the same time the deity is in front of us. On the one hand. These various physical acts have no goal other than to increase the immersion of our mind in the ritual by the complete involvement of our person. On the other hand. developing motivation of awakening. . as is the case in . it allows us to accumulate merit and to create a positive karmic potential. remains concentrated and present to what it does during all the phases: taking refuge. especially through the offering and praise.64- . we sometimes imagine the deity's presence facing us. Words allow us to evoke what is conceived by the mind. are the deity. and dedicating. Understood in this way. Finally.. the main agent of the ritual. ourselves. Question: During the rituals. it prepares the manifestation of the Body of Enjoyment. the manifestation of the true deity. consecrating the offerings. inseparable from our own mind. inviting the deity. It is also the body which makes music offerings by playing the bell or other instruments. it helps us to purify ourselves from the veil of ignorance and other veils. the departure of the deity in his or her support. inviting deities. which serve as support to the activity of the mind.and orderly: our body takes the meditation posture and is put to use in doing the mudras (hand gestures symbolizing offerings. asking forgiveness for errors made during the ritual.Our mind. Sometimes we imagine that we.Our speech recites the text and mantras. the ritual acts upon our mind. praising. visualization. dissolving the visualization. reciting mantras. . and so on). offerings.

it is sufficient to consider ourselves as the deity. We finally arrive at a stage where it is no longer necessary to imagine two forms of the deity. TARA RITUAL There are many Tara rituals. although the deity appears in two different forms. Imagining that we are the deity and visualizing the deity in front of us at the same time is a first step." This duality Ilother rules all our perceptions. the Anuttarayoga Tantra. propose either the deity visualized in front of us and ourselves as the deity perceived as inseparable or only ourselves in the form of the deity. the belief in an "I" really existing is strongly anchored. Finally. whereas rituals of the third group. rituals of the fourth group. an essence in which all manifestation participates. This leads to the belief in the real existence of "another. most often imply the deity visualized in' front of us and ourselves in the form of the deity. both are perceived as unique in essence. at that time.65 - . Rituals in the sutra tradition or in the first or second group of tantras. the Yoga Tantra. the Kriya Tantra and Charya Tantra.the Tara practice. a means to progressively rid ourselves of this dualistic tendency. .us approaches? Answer: In the beginner's mind. only contain the deity visualized in front of us. What is the function of these vario. When we attain a very good level of practice through meditation. which the various traditions of Tibetan buddhism use according to their preference. The one most often used in the Kagyu tradition is due t~ Chogyur Lingpa9 who discovered some termas in the 19th century.

it is good. or other places. he had a vision of Tara who told hi~ three times. They also can be revealed in the mind. . "It is good. We briefly present their characteristics. they are called gongters. This utterance of the deity was the blessing that opened Chogyur Lingpa's mind to the inner revelation of words spoken long ago by Padmasambhava. Chogyur Lingpa dwelled in a cave in Kham called the Crystal Cave of the Lotus. then hidden to be discovered later by predestined "terma discoverers. OUTER PRACfICE The outer practice has two main aspects: . lekso). At dawn. inner. The last two require the practitioner to be in retreat. Chogyur Lingpa disclosed what he had received only to one person. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. as was the case of the Tara terma received by Chogyur Lingpa. and secret practice. In that case. termas may take the form of materially written texts. These. and praise. He titled this terma Tara's Profound Drop. then transmitted it to Jamgon Lodro Taye who gave definitive form to the ritual and widely disseminated it. or directly given to the discoverer by a deity. it is good. The latter kept it secret for three years. walls. These stages can only be performed successively.66 - . hidden in rocks." in an epoch that would need them. offerings.Accumulation of merit accomplished through the Seven Branch prayer. lekso. "drop" meaning here that which collects the essential in a concise form.Termas are texts uttered by Padmasambhava in the 8th century in Tibet. The terma is comprised of several texts corresponding to many stages of outer." (Tibetan. lekso.

- Attitude of praying: the practitioner requests protection of Tara, and asks her to grant what he or she wants. Because of this position of "requesting" adopted by the practitioner, accent is placed on the deity's presence in the sky (in the form of 21 Taras) in front of the practitioner. The corresponding ritual is usually performed publicly. Given that it is a terma, it is preceded by prayers addressed to Padmasambhava. The various stages are as follows: • TAKING REFUGE AND RECALLING THE MOTIVATION FOR AWAKENING. The practitioner places himself or herself under the protection of the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha), the Three Roots (Lamas, Yidams, and Protectors), and more specifically of Tara. The practitioner also renews· the will to attain awakening for the benefit all beings suffering in samsara . • SEVEN BRANCH PRAYER. The seven branches are as follows. - homage to all buddhas and all bodhisattvas as an anti~~~~~ . - making offerings as an antidote to attachment - confession of faults as an antidote to unwholesome acts - joy in thinking of the meritorious acts done by the buddhas and ordinary beings as an antidote to jealousy - request for teaching as an antidote to blindness - praying for the buddhas to remain present as an antidote for erroneous views. One of the erroneous views is to believe that the buddhas' activity could be intermittent, that while present in a physical body, buddhas would help beings and when leaving their
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physical body they would cease to help them. By requesting the buddhas to remain present among us with or without a body, we rid ourselves of the thought that death places an end to the buddhas' activity. - dedication. We think that, collecting merit acquired through the above six branches, we dedicate it to attaining awakening for the benefit of all beings. This dedication is an antidote for "unskillful means," preventing us from dedicating merit for temporal and ephemeral goals. • CONSECRATING OFFERINGS. The consecrated offerings, both placed on the shrine and evoked in our imagination, are: water for drinking, water for cleaning, flowers, incense, light, perfume, food, and music. Each offering is represented by a mantra and a mudra. • SEVEN BRANCH PRAYER. This second Seven Branch Prayer is in a slightly different context from the first one. The first prayer, coming just after taking refuge, took as support the various places of refuge, especially Tara. The second Seven Branch Prayer refers to the Three Jewels in general. • MANDALA OFFERING. Practitioners imagine they offer to Tara, buddhas, and bodhisattvas the totality of the universe gathered in the form of a mandala. The recitation of this section is done with the mandala mudra. • MANIFESTATION OF OURSELVES AS TARA AND ,INVITATION OF THE 21 TARAS to come take their places in the sky in front of us. Tara's various aspects take place in the sky, the principal one being Green Tara. • RECITATION OF THE PRAISE. The praise is recited in three successive sequences, first uttered twice, then
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three times, and finally seven times. Each sequence is separated by offerings. - During the first sequence, Tara is visualized in front of .us with her right hand in the mudra of sublime giving. We think then that she bestows on us the ordinary (various psychological powers) and sublime attainments (realization of the nature of the mind) . - During the second recitation, Tara makes the protection mudra. We think that she protects us against all fears and dangers. - During the third recitation, we think that a luminous nectar coming from her right foot flows into us through the crown of our head transmitting her ' blessing. • TORMA OFFERING. Practitioners offer the torma to the deity in order to approach her with requests. • RECITATION OF TARA'S MANTRA. Tara's aspects who were in the sky have melted into the practitioners who continue to imagine themselves in the form of Tara during recitation of her mantra. . • REQUESTING INDULGENCE for the mistakes made during the ritual. This request is preceded by the recitation ofVajrasattva's (Dorje Sempa) One Hundred Syllable Mantra. • DISSOLUTION OF VISUALIZATION. The practitioners, after having dissolved the visualization into emptiness remain for a moment in silence as the mind settles in its own nature. • DEDICATION. The practitioners dedicate the merit of the ritual saying, "With this virtue, may I swiftly realize the Noble Tara and may I establish all beings in this realization."

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yellow. Those who wish to perfectly accomplish the outer practice. with a water crystaPO on the lotus . . This practice gathers 13 deities in a celestial palace: • in the center.Tara' protecting from lions. with a sublime medicine (arura) on the lotus . that is. green.Tara protecting from fire. white. white. • AUSPICIOUS WISHES. green.Tara protecting from elephants. sitting in the same posture as Green Tara.Tara protecting from thieves.Tara protecting from imprisonment. INNER PRACfICE The inner practice places an accent on the creation phase (Tibetan. with a bow and arrow on the lotus .000 mantra~ as many times as there are syllables in the mantra OM TARE TUTfARE TURE SOHA. the eight Taras protecting from the eight great fears. Green Tara (the practitioner) • around Tara. the practitioners throw rice into the air which symbolizes the flowers that gods shower on earth. with a sword on the lotus . with a hook on the lotus . kyerim) during which we visualize ourselves in the form of the deity. one million mantras. Other prayers and long life prayers for the teachers generally conclude the ritual. blue.While they recite these wishes. must commit to reciting 100. with a vajra on the lotus .Tara protecting from snakes. accomplishing the mudra of giving with the right hand and holding a lotus on which there are various objects in the left hand.70 - .

- Tara protecting from water, red, with a fire crystal on the lotus - Tara protecting from demons, black, with a stick on the lotus • Outside the palace, the "four female guardians," each guarding a gate of the palace facing the four directions. They stand up, lunging, their faces marked by a wrathful expression, each one" holding special objects in her hands. - In the east, the white female guardian holds a hook in her right hand and a bell in her left - In the south, the yellow female guardian holds a rope in her right hand and a bell in her left - In the west, the red female guardian holds a chain in her right hand and a bell in her left - In the north, the green female guardian performs the threatening mudra with her right hand and holds a bell in her left
SECRET PRACTICE

The inner practice places the accent on the completion phase (Tibetan, Dzokrim) introducing the work on subtle energies (channels, winds, and drops). Nine deities are present: • In the center of the celestial palace, Samaya Tara, green, in union with the male deity Hayagriva (Tandrin) • Around her, there are four other aspects of Tara who, as in the inner practice, perform the mudra of giving with their right hand and hold in the left hand a lotus on which various symbolic objects are placed. - In the east, Vajra Tara, blue, with a vajra on the lotus

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- In the south, Ratna Tara, yellow, with a jewel on the lotus - In the west, Padma Tara, red, with a hook on the lotus - In the north, Karma Tara, black, with a sword on the lotus • Outside the palace, there are the four female guardians of the four gates as previously described. These three levels form a profound succession that is easy to follow and easily may form the practice of an entire life.

Question: In Tara's ritual, as in most rituals, we offer to the deity a small figure of dough called a torma or bultor <offering torma). What is the reason for this offering? Answer: In general, offerings serve to accumulate merit and purify the veils. As for offering a torma, it serves more to present our personal requests to the deity. We ask her to act in our favor, in favor of someone else, or in favor of a particular goal. Following the torma offering, we recite a text in this sense. For example, it may be, "You, who fully rejoice in the mandala creation, consume this well-made offering torma. Give me and people around me, health, life, power, glory, fame, luck, and abundant wealth. Give me the accomplishments of activities, such as pacification, increase, and others. You who have made the promise, protect me, give me the support of all accomplishments. Brush away untimely death and illness, demons, and creators of obstacles. Brush away bad dreams, inauspicious signs, and unwholesome acts. Make the world happy, the years excellent, the harvest bountiful. Make the dharma

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spread, happiness perfect, and may all my wishes be realized. " Offerings and praise, whatever they are, are not in reality a favor that we do for the deity as far as she would be satisfied to obtain them or unhappy not to obtain them. It is for us that offering and praise are useful, decreasing our attachment to material objects and allowing us to accumulate ,merit.

Question: On the shrine, there is also another kind of torma-much larger-called a tentor (support torma). Tara's tentor was, for example, mentioned in the story of Mr. Lhawang's mother. What is its use? Answer: The tentor serves several functions. Sometimes, it is a symbolic representation of the deity. In this case, it is the support of the deity's presence. Sometimes, it is an offering to the deity; sometimes, in the first part of the ritual, it is used as a support and then it becomes an offering in the second part. These tormas may have various shapes, not only from one deity to another but sometimes for the same deity. Tantras, if they indicate the necessity for a torma, give no precision as to its shape. In the course of time, diverse traditions have used a great variety of shapes that were developed within various lineages. Question: Is it a custom in all Tibetan monasteries to accomplish Tara's rituals every morning? Answer: Not necessarily. Some monasteries do, others choose different rituals. In Sonada, Kalu Rinpoche established this custom. Here, in Mirik, because of the special devotion that the Khenpo and I have for Tara, we have also instituted the daily recitation of Tara's ritual by the monks of the monastery.
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If they knew the words of the praise. or while working. they can call upon Tara . which they learned by heart as children. as Tibetans do. protect me!" Question: For Westerners. simply. most people knew Tara's praise. the first moon quarter (eight days after the full moon). THE SIMPLE PRAYER Question: How did Tibetan lay people express their devotion to Tara? Answer: Lay people were not practicing Tara's ritual per se. But their devotion and the certitude that Tara was watching over them were enough for them. how do we request Tara IS protection? Answer: It is a request from the heart. they can recite her mantra with trust and devotion.from their hearts. that is. nothing complicated. Question: When we face sudden danger. "Tara. they did not grasp their meanings. for example. .Question: Is there a day devoted to Tara? Answer: Tara's day is the eighth day of the Tibetan month. the praise in Tibetan is often difficult to assimilate. watching their herds. The lay people's faith in Tara was immense. which are very complex. The blessing and protection are the same. However. In the time of danger. They used to recite it morning and evening. It was more a monastic affair. They also recited Tara's mantra.74 - . How can they express their devotion to Tara? ' Answer: If they do not know the praise.

is necessary as long as we remain in the relative level.75 - . It is in this relative context that the deity. Just as our mind. where the mind. we are exposed to suffering and fear that we conceive as real. appearances. who also appears to us momentarily as outside ourselves. as long as we have not realized ultimate reality.deity that we perceive as existing outside of us. threaten us. from the perspective of ultimate truth. brings us help when we pray to her. Until we attain this level. the prayer lacks meaning. the deity and our mind are one. beyond any 'duality. but we also must understand that from this ultimate point of view. However. or make us afraid. The ultimate prayer is to dwell in ultimate truth. that which appears now as suffering. we also call upon a . and deities are revealed to be of a single essence. as though we were calling to ourselves for help. she really brings help and protection. fear. there is neither suffering nor fear. Question: The prayer we address to Tara may seem contradictory to the ideal of nondesire. It is necessary to differentiate between the realization of nonduality · and the present state in which all our experience is lived in a constant subject/ object duality. What is the value of such a point of view? Answer: It is true that from the standpoint of ultimate reality. This prayer. In reality. and danger is nothing else but a manifestation of our mind. our mind and the deity being inseparable. of being content . can create appearances that cause us to suffer. in a relative sense. while we perceive suffering and fear as real. However. during a dream.Question: Some people think that. the nature of mind.

all desires will be satisfied. If one's suffering is in a very material domain. disciple can be lopma. which means "student-child"). Things may be understood on various levels.76 - . which simply means "student" or bulop. However. A lama may have the desire to obtain good disciples to continue his spiritual . Tara will grant protection against this suffering. having attained a deeper level. "child" means "disciple" (in Tibetan. three. from a deeper point of view. In her compassion. she seeks to relieve beings from suffering as it arises. "Through this praise recited two. On the contrary. from an ordinary point of view. understands that the cause of suffering is the constant renewal of all our desires and prays for the absence of needs to be bom within himself or herself. we will acquire wealth. if we want wealth. it would be meaningless for a monk to pray for a child. another person. if we want a son. that the person who wants a child will get a child. we will have a son. it only means a child for a family for which great suffering would come from not having a child. it is this absence of need that Tara will bestow. for example. When it is said. it is a prayer expressing this material request to which she will respond. The person who prays for devotion to increase within himself or herself or for Mahamudra realization to be revealed. Whereas other prayers say. for example. and seven times. it is written." Answer: Tara answers the prayers of everyone whatever one's level of understanding. If. will also receive a blessing in accordance with his or her wishes. In this case. "Bestow on us the absence of need!" the prayer addressed to Tara seems to say "Bestow on us all that we desire!" In the text following the recitation of the praise during the ritual.with what we possess.

in this case. Question: Does the simple fact of praying to the deity even for material needs imply some spiritual benefit like the accumulation of merit? Answer: It depends on motivation. for example. but the prayer will not produce any merit. will end by making us enter the path of true spirituality. Buddhas and bodhisattvas have three great qualities: knowledge of . And if our wish is not good like the wish of a thief to be successful? Answer: The buddhas and bodhisattvas' dedication is entirely directed to benefiting beings. not with the goal of personal satisfaction as would perhaps be the case with a physical child. only by addressing Tara with trust. By his or her prayer the person will receive the deity's help to relieve his or her momentary suffering. there is no accumulated merit.lineage.77- . as we have seen by the previous example of Amala who won all her trials by invoking Tara. or to make an offering. our mind will receive the deity's blessing. It is thus legitimate for the lama to pray for obtaining these spiritual children. wlultever our wish. even if we seek to obtain material benefit. for wealth with the thought that this wealth will be of use to relieve poverty. in the long term. However. but to assure the continuity of teaching for the benefit of beings. If the person thinks only of his or her personal benefit. Question: The prayer addressed to Tara allows us to obtain all we wish. If someone prays. merit is accumulated because the prayer is motivated by an altruistic thought. This blessing. helping others in one way or another.

Praying to obtain that which we do not have or for eliminating painful circumstances in our existence. If. are factors that can modify karma. as well as regret of past negative acts. may it not be accomplished. a change is possible. on the contrary. if we carry the karma for such a painful event to occur. Therefore. it means that a cause will necessarily produce its effect if nothing prevents it from happening. may my wish be accomplished. we do not have the karma for such a happy circumstance to manifest. that we must necessarily experience the result of our acts. Tara answers the wishes of beings only if they are characterized by bringing them more happiness from a temporal and spiritual point of view. may its thought not form in my mind. in some prayers we ask the deity to use discrimination. even if it is formed. Given that we may be blind to what is good or harmful for us. we say. it will not manifest. The prayer will hardly be able to modify things. When we say that the law of karma is infallible. They help b~ings not only by love. does it not go against this notion of infallibility? Answer: Individual karmas are varied and of different kinds. Some karmas may not be modified. She would not respond to a wish leading to negative acts or further future suffering. it will occur. For example. if it is not good.78 - ." or "If this wish is not good. love for all beings. may it not be realized!" Question: It is said that the law of karma is infallible. But if new elements come into play. Sincere devotion and prayer. "If this is good for me.everything. and the power to help them. In this case. but they make no mistake as to the means to accomplish this. There are .

It remains in a latent state covered by various karmic veils.Having received the deity empowerment that he or she is ready to transmit to others . but it is not presently actualized.profound means related to genuinely awakened beings or deities like Tara. · EMPOWERMENTS We already have the "heart of awakening" (we can also say the Four Bodies of Awakeningll). An empowerment can only be conferred by a vajra-master (vajracharya) belonging to the Vajrayana tradition and possessing certain characteristics: .He or she must have accomplished the deity practice. and the use of various objects. unless we pull out the young sprout. The empowerment itself is represented in the form of a ritual with visualizations.This empowerment must have been transmitted up to the master by an unbroken· lineage . the accomplishment of mudras. karma effectively produces its effects in an infallible way. The empowerment's function is to open a process that will allow us to purify the veils and to "awaken" the four Bodies. necessary to uncover it to reveal it as it is. It is. That is why these means allow purification to change karma. The seed of a weed will grow in an infallible way. recitation of mantras. therefore. in order for them to go from a virtual state to a real state. Besides putting into work such factors.79 - . An empowerment can be given to a large group of people (as is the case for Tara) with only the condition that everyone has taken refuge and wishes to receive .

He or she is allowed to recite Tara's mantra. or it can be given to small groups. the disciple is purified of faults and veils of the body (that is. permission of the Speech. • By permission of the Body of the deity. there are various empowerments that correspond to various lineages. The disciple is then allowed to meditate on the body of the deity.80 - . through the ritual vase (Tibetan. the disciple is purified of the veils and faults of speech. the permission of Speech is conferred by repeating the mantra. for which a mala is the support. Ritually. bumpa) placed on the disciple's head and from which he or she receives a few water drops to drink in the hollow of the hand. permission of the Body is conferred. an inner practice. that which results from negative acts done with the body).the empowerment. notably visualizing himself or herself in the form of Tara. • By permission of the Mind of the deity. TARA EMPOWERMENT For the same deity. even a single individual. there is an external practice." which is divided into three parts: permission of the Body (of the deity). and permission of the Mind. and a secret practice each requiring an empowerment. It is comprised of a ritual called. tantras. the disciple is purified of faults and veils of the mind. strictly speaking. "permission. For Tara. or levels of practice. This permission is conferred by a representation of the lotus that Tara holds in her hand. It allows those who . Ritually. besides various visualizations. The Tara empowerment bestowed in public is that of the external practice belonging to the Kriya Tantra. • By permission of the Speech of the deity.

ornaments. .81 - . . wang kur). wang) to visualize the deity. Tara's other empowerments. . It is then equivalent to the Mahamudra meditation. Is it the same for Tara? Answer: In the higher tantras. Given that these three steps give the disciple the "power" (Tibetan. attributes. clothes. . the ritual is called "transmission of power" (Tibetan. and free of distractions. can be presented in a slightly different way and possess a more complex structure. Question: The permission of the mind allows the disciple to "absorb his or her mind in the contemplation of the deity." What does "contemplation" mean in this context? Answer: The contemplation of the deity applies to the different meditations: .on the one hand. it is not allowed to meditate on the deity's body or recite the mantra for those who have not first received the empowerment. Question: For Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan.receive it to absorb their minds in the contemplation (samadhi) of the deity. the activity of the mind that clearly imagines the deity's body.on the other hand and mainly. and seed syllable in the heart is a contemplation. Chenrezig). an expression with which an empowerment is designated in Tibetan. it is possible to recite the mantra even without having received the empowerment. to recite her mantra. the contemplation means remaining in a state where our own mind and the deity's mind are inseparable. without mental construction. and to accomplish her contemplation. especially those belonging to the higher tantras. in a natural state.

This is beneficial. we consider that. who represent above all the buddha's activity.82 - . for deities like Avalokiteshvara or Tara. the effect will be greater when one has received the empowerment.However. one can pray to them and recite their mantras. even if one has not received the empowerment and as long as one feels devotion to these deities. However. .

littered with adverbs such as "completely. from time to time. Bokar Rinpoche's explanation of the praise does not imply. Simple illiterate farmers recited it as often as monks in the monasteries. It was rare for any Tibetan not to know it by heart.The Praise NOTES ON THE TRANS LA TION OF THE PRAISE The Praise to the Twenty-one Taras is a prayer most used in Tara Practice. and our translation finds itself. several translations are possible. and objects of multiple interpretations. The praise is extracted from a Tara Tantra. . We did not attempt to translate the praise in a way that would make the meaning of the text more explicit. seeking to preserve the harmony of the language without which the notion of praise itself-that implies an idea of offering of words-would lose some of its value. often encrypted. We have tried to make the translation as faithful and accurate as seems possible {or us. is to serve more as a way to fill-in syllables to complete a line than to give meaning. are elliptic. as enigmatic as the text. These modifiers abound in Tibetan. Their function." "entirely.4. Given that many commentaries do not always have the same interpretation for selected passages. and we saw earlier how the tantras are difficult texts to understand. not only because it would have to respect a syntax evasive to a level of abstraction but also because the style would be heavy." "perfectly. The translation that we offer here is founded on Taranatha's commentary. The text of the Praise as it appears in Tibetan is practically incomprehensible without the help of a commentary. therefore. we must say." and so on.83 - . A complete translation of the Praise word by word would be almost impossible to read. that other translations referring to other commentaries are erroneous any more than other translations should make people consider that the present translation is inaccurate. We have kept the elliptical style of the original text in some expressions. It is up to the commentary to unveil the mystery.

.Ji ~ 2!. JIl' ]iJ ~ .l1 <t:=i' tUb ~ ~. ~ oil .JI ~ ~{ 2. iW1 .: I. Ii .~. .~ . ~ 1il{ )i AJ ~ -'l' 8i! 0tV .!::J I. A ..JL!~ .-II Ii ~- 1{ - <t=i' ~.21?~{ ~ (.-.J1 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~-1 ~ ~ lSJ. If '" ~ ' ~..l1 ~? I. i l.~ ~ @)i 2!.l ~ . lfJ2!' 2.2i ~ ~ ..l1 ~) ~(~ .!::J l!:I2!.Q 2! .2!~~ etal ~ . ~ ~{.~ ~ . 2.Ji{ . 2. 2...J? 2: B!J{ .q )i .Ji/~{ ..2! ~ ~ .. ..J ~J -.E.l1 (2. ..::§:i )i ~ Ji. J . il l2.l1 ~~ ..£0 -1.J B. )i ~/<Yi2'3 ~' .. ~/~ ~ 2!.J ~ ~ Ii I.-2!2!~ ~~:-:1j~ I.J!l G:51 G:51 ~ JVlN! dAJ~ ~ . .E? ~ 5#> 2.l1.. ~{~ ~ ~ ~ ~.J1 ~ ~ _a!S '- rr...J £1 . 2..~. 2.J JUt ~ 2.:i ~ IJ .- ..-II'~ 2.J/. ~ . 2. 2..2! ' .-.2 .::il.. ~ oi ~ n'.n 2.l1 ~ ~ .2! - ~?2J~ .Q ~ ai' '1 . ~? . ~ \l!:I2{ i! ~ ~ .l )i ~ (.-1v If~.£0 ..E ~ ~ ~ ~.fi ' J .JiJ .l ~ ~ ~ d1ilJ ~{& ~ .l ~ ..2! 'I _. .l1 -'""' .l ~ ~? cr'A ~ .l1 ... ~.2J~' .J? )i ~ lSJ ~ ~2!~. ~"~ Ii/~ ~ ~.J ~ ~? ~ ~'Jt2i{ .2. ~ ~ ~ -~ 2!~? -. ~ ~J J.-II' . _ 2! t:9i ..

Homage to the Crown of the Blessed One. the courageous one. I bow down. Homage to the liberating one. . SOHA.OM. peace.85 - . who with TURE provides all benefits. Asceticism. Homage to TARE. homage to the sovereign. swift and courageous. effort. Who has for her domain giving. In front of you. To her who enjoys the infinite and victory. who with TUTTARA dissipates all fears. In front of you. Who blazes with the sparkling light Of a thousand stars. the noble. In front of you. Whose sight is like instant lightning. Homage to her whose face gathers One hundred autumn full moons. the swift. Homage to her whose hand is adorned With a blue and gold water-born lotus. the liberating one. patience. Who is trusted by the Children of the Conquerors Who have achieved all perfections. and concentration. Who arises from myriads of stamens Of the lotus face of the Protector of the three worlds.

1ll J1 .)i ~ 2~~ ::n~-- A'(~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ .J~ }TI' (.2' .. • 1:! II .J . J ... ~J~ .3 ~ )i) ~. ~ . ~ (.L:O • 2 ... ..J} _ ~_.2!- - * ~~a~ ~ 2.NIV1 <te~ :. 2 ~. 2 2 2 .2!) ..2! .. . .2! ~ b1 ~ ~.2! ~ II ~ J1~ r ~ ~ ~ ~~~ '-Ji) J1 ~ -~ ~ ! . .2! 2! II ll. 1:!) -.~' .JJ\J )i ~ }TI. ~~ 2! - 1:! ~ -Jl ~ 0\ 00 ~~~~ ...Ji il . 2 IJ. l!~ ail .2 JIl' ~~~ IJ.. .:i --1 <t=b vi' ~ ~ .J1 .912!.2~Jj dlJ' ~.2 ~ ~ 2 )i ~ -1~~~ ~ ~ )i )1• ~ ~.. ~..2! . 2 ~~jf ---~ ~~~ ~ II ..2 .J1i)..z.::J 1: ~ ~~~~~ ~ ~ .J1J!f1~ ~ ~.' ~.J"t..2 "SlJ ~ ~.9H )i ~ d!J4 Jj 71 ~~ ~ 2.J ~J ll- A.J1 1 ~~~ ~~ 2. ~ )i . ~ --1 ~~ ~~'.2!-J1 l:JJ :E ~ 2 -Jl ~~~ d!lJ!' )i.J (~ail ~ ~~«1)4 ~ ~ ({::i' il .J?.2 il ~~atZ ~ -(il}i J1 4i ~ .94 ~ j~3 )i ~ 2 IJ.2! ~. )i IJ. II . 2.~ ~ ~ JZ:iJ ~J ~.J1 1:!J J1 -Jl IJ. <t=b1:!- ~~~~ ~ ~ at. il ~ .

Destroys adverse machinations. Who has complete victory over the demon's warriors. Brahma. Homage to TURE. Homage to her whose fingers in the mudra symbol Of the Three Jewels adorn the heart. Homage to her who is honored by Indra. celestial spirits. and directions. the very frightful. and local deities. With the syllables TUTTARA and HUNG Who stamps the seven worlds with her feet. Agni. Who. Who is praised by spirits. Blazes within a glowing fire. . left extended. stamping with her foot. Who kills all the enemies By frowning her lotus face. right leg folded. Who possesses the power to summon them.87- . blood drinking spirits. Vayu and other gods.Homage to her who fills the desire. Adorns the wheel of aU directions. Homage to her who with TRAT and P'AT. sky. Who by radiating the rays of her own light.

Who with great laughter and TUTTARA Subjugates demons and their worlds. Who unceasingly spreads the light From Amitabha sitting in her full hair. Homage to her whose tiara is a moon crescent.89 HUNG . to her whose sparkling tiara Spreads garlands of light. ~blaze with all adornments.Homage to perfect joy. . Homage to her who has the power to summon The hosts of the guardians of earth. Homage to her who dwells amid garlands Blazing like the fire at the end of time Whose right leg extended and left folded. gives joy and destroys the horde of enemies. Who frowning her eyebrows. with the syllable Shatters the seven underground levels. Swirling. ~omage to her who strikes the ground with the palm of her hand And stamps it with her foot. Who delivers from all misfortune With HUNG and moving her frowning forehead.

~.~~:q. l~~'~~'~~'~l~'~~'~~" l~·~~~·~~~·~·~~·~q~~~·~.~~.~g:-~~~.~.~~.~z.~~.~. '~'4'~~~'~'~~~~'~~'~1 C'\_ C'\ '~i~~z.·~~·~~T.J~' '~~T.~.~.. l~·:I\·~~~·qr~·~r·~~·~~' '~~'~~~'~'~~'~:I\'~'~~'~' .~~.~.90 - .J.

Who conquers the greatly harmful deeds With the purity of SOHA and OM. Gods. To the liberating one coming from the mantric Who emits the utterance of the ten syllables. Who dispels conflicts and bad dreams With her armor of resplendent joy. and horse-headed beings. I:Iomage to her who is honored by hosts of gods.Homage to her who completely delights her entourage Who destroys the bodies of enemies. is the seed syllable. . Homage to To whom TURE HUNG who stamps with her foot. Homage to her who holds in her hand the hare-marked moon In the form of the gods' lake Who totally dispels poison By reciting twice TARA and P'AT. Mandara. . HUNG Who shakes Mount Meru.91 - .Homage to her who is happiness. kings. and the three worlds. and peace who lives in peace beyond suffering. Kailash. virtue.

...q·Cfj~~·~l "' .l·~·~~·:z:. "' l~e:~~"t.l·~~·~l:\l l~Cfj·q$~·z:r~l~~~%Cfjl .·:z:.....l~1 1~·q&·~·~Z:...92 - . " .~~l 14~a·~Cfj:q~·~~·~~·~~~1 1~~·q$~·~·~~·~~·~~~·~~"t..l~l l~~·Cfj~~"t.:~l:\·~Cfj·~~·~' lCfj~~·~l:\~~~·Cfj~~·~~·~~·~~~l ..·~~~·qr~·~l:z:.z::r~~·~~·~l l~q&·~Cfj~·~·q~~"t........l~Cfj·q$~·~·~~·z:r~~·t.la·:z:.·:z:.. l. ..

and local deities.Homage to her whose two eyes shine With the radiance of the sun and moon Who dispels virulent epidemics With two HARA and with TUTTARA. Homage to her who through the three established principles Fully possesses the power of pacifying To TURE. Such are the praise of the root mantra and the twenty-one-fold homage. victor Of the spirits. . the sublime. blood drinking spirits.93 - .

A great scholar. called the Praise of the Twenty-OneFold Homa ge is not a text of huma n origin. Many commentaries have been writte n to elucidate the mean ing of the praise. His writte n works were prolific. with the tantra containing it formed a part of the Kangyur. and. and wrote many treatises on Kalachakra. Having various points of view.94 - . to which the . The King of the Tara Tantr aY We saw earlier that tantras dwell in the omniscience of the mind of the buddh as beyon d all time and manifestation and that they were revealed in an epoch when it was necessary. The tantra containing the praise is said to have been uttere d by Vairochana Buddha. the praise was later transl ated into Tibetan.ORIGI N OF THE PRAISE The Tara Praise. We follow Taranatha's comm entary here. famous for his knowledge of Sansk rit-he wrote a gramm ar for the use of Tibet ans-T arana tha lived in the 17th centu ry (15751638). which would remain practically incomprehensible witho ut them. The tendencies thus left in his mind expla in the ease with which he studie d Sanskrit. He himself did not go to India but studie d with four great India n scholars whom he hoste d in his monastery. not that he uttere d it with his mouth but he 13 emitte d it from his crown protuberance. He was seen as havin g reincarnated in India in many past lives as a scholar. It is contained in a tantra called The Seven Hund red Thoughts. these commentaries offer very different interpretations. He notably transl ated tantras. devot ed many works to Tara. the Tibetan collection of canonical texts gathe ring the words of the Buddha. First writte n in Sanskrit.

makes us accumulate merit. prays for the deity to protect us from all suffering and all fears of samsara and to fulfill our request. Prajnaparamita. during recitation of the text.lineage he headed (Jonang lineage) gave much importance. The recitation of the praise requires intense devotion. and mind are infinite. Our mind. together prostrate and recite the text.She also gathered into herself the activity of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas. speech. How TO RECITE THE PRAISE The praise addressed to Tara is based on the _ recognition of Tara's greatness. protects us. Tara is in essence. As for our speech. the origin or "Mother" of all the buddhas. a total trust in Tara that we pray from the bottom of our heart with the request. The quality of her body. Therefore. and helps us obtain what we wish. she is worthy of the praise. When we recite the praise. "Protect us!" We receive thus the blessing that purifies us.95 - . in an attitude of great reverence and profound confidence. we think that we produce an infinite number of bodies similar to ourselves who all . we think of all the pleasant sounds in the universe accompanying it. .

HOMAGE TO TARE." Its meaning is as follows.l·~1 1~~q~·~·~l·I'l. IN FRONT OF YOU.l·~·I'l. THE LffiERATING ONE. HOMAGE TO THE SOVEREIGN.l·~~·~I'l. • OM comes at the beginning of the sentence because it is the initial syllable of the Tara: mantra. THE NOBLE.l·~ 1~'ll·~I'l. THE COURAGEOUS ONE. ' IN FRONT OF YOU. it is sometimes called the "praise of the mantra. SOHA. WHO WITH TUTTARA DISSIPATES ALL FEARS. This stanza is not part of the tantra. IN FRONT OF YOU.l·~l~ OM. THE SWIFT.Sovereign means that we address Tara as the main figure of all the places of refuge. I BOW DOWN.Queen means here "stained with no defects." each possessing some implications. WHO WITH TURE PROVIDES ALL BENEFITS. . • SOVEREIGN: In Tibetan it is two syllables (je-tsun). Added later. .l·~·~·~:I\·~·lq~·~ 1ai::I\~~·~~~~·q~I'l.EXPLANATION OF THE PRAISE Preliminary Stanza ~11~·~~·~·~~~~·~·il'l.l·~1 la·:I\~~5i·tl~·~~·qq·il'l. As it includes Tara's mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA. . it is not considered to be one of the 21 stanzas of the praise." • NOBLE. The first syllable means "sovereign" and the second "queen.96 - . she is superior to all temporal appearances and beings in samsara.

Liberating one is also the meaning of the word Tara. and mind. • TURE. Tara. WHO ARISES FROM MYRIADS OF STAMENS OF THE LOTUS FACE OF THE PROTECTOR OF THE THREE WORLDS. when she . • COURAGEOUS: Tara shows limitless courage with no weakness to protect beings from suffering.• LIBERATING ONE. • TUTTARA.~~.~~. • TARE.~~. part of the mantra. moved by great compassion. part of the mantra.97 - . SWIFT AND COURA~EOUS.~. final part of the mantra • I BOW DOWN. I pay homage with body. • SOHA.~~. part of the mantra repeating the name of the deity. Stanza 1 l~~·~~·i~·Of~:::. does it without procrastinating or delay. • SWIFT.~. she frees all samsaric beings from their suffering and establishes them in happiness. whether in a temporal or ultimate way.comes to help beings. • You WHO DISSIPATE ALL FEARS: by protecting them.~. . whether temporal or ultimate.·~q·~~·~·~~·~1 HOMAGE TO THE LffiERA TING ONE. Tara eliminates the fears of beings in samsara.~~.·~·~qr:r~ . 1~~~~~'~~~'~Clf~'~'~~r'1~'~' 1~·~:::. by her activity. speech. • You WHO PROVIDE ALL BENEFITS: Tara bestows all benefits. WHOSE SIGHT IS LIKE INSTANT LIGHTNING.

.· nus stanza shows that Tara is worth praIsmg because she has the three qualities of an awakened mind: love. that is. • LOTUS FACE. • SWIFT. and above earth existence. and knowledge. In this case. all classes of beings. she is called the "liberating one.98 - . Tara has the sight (eye) of primordial knowledge." The two following lines refer to Tara's origin from a relative point of view. • LffiERATING ONE: because of this love. gives her the capabilities to see and understand all phenomena. the metaphor underlines the beauty of Avalokiteshvara's face. • MYRIADS OF STAMENS: continues the metaphor. Tara liberates beings from the suffering of samsara and establishes them in happiness. the fact that she swiftly accomplishes the benefit of beings with compassion is first the sign of her love. • PROTECTOR OF THE THREE WORLDS designates Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig). instantaneous as lightning. Beyond this literal meaning. and knowledge. born of water) indicates the beauty. Therefore. the lotus (literally. • SIGHT LIKE INSTANT LIGHTNING. These two lines also make allusion to the story in which Tara would have appeared from a tear drop of Avalokiteshvara. her absence of fear and weakness in protecting beings from all dangers attests to her power. on earth. power. the Protector of the Three Worlds designates the Absolute Body (Dharmakaya). this power. • COURAGEOUS. Taranatha also gives an interpretation on the level of ultimate truth. The three worlds that he watches over are underground. this knowledge.

".1~q·a·~·q1l. whereas in summer (rainy season).. • SHE WHOSE FACE GATHERS ONE HUNDRED AUTUMN FULL MOONS: the luminosity of Tara's face is comparable 'to the full radiance of one hundred autumn full moons. the autumn moon especially glistens in the night..·1l.=r\l~'a1 1~z:::z::rqt~·q~~~·qq·~~·C-ll 1~~·C-l~~·~·l~~·q·~~~·~~1 . • SHE WHO BLAZES WITH SPARKLING LIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS: while the two previous lines praise the luminosity of Tara's face.99 - . the sky is extremely limpid. Stanza 2 1~~'~~~~'''1q:~r. In winter.q~·C-ll HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE FACE GATHERS ONE HUNDRED AUTUMN FULL MOONS.and Tara represents the formal body (rupakaya) issued from the dynamics of the Absolute Body. In India. .. it is now to the glitter of Tara's body that the stars' light alludes.... In autumn..l·~q·1l.. the sky is obscured by clouds and humidity.. it is lightly veiled by dust floating in the air. WHO BLAZES WITH THE SPARKLING UGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS.

.... EFFORT. PATIENCE.. • A BLUE AND GOLD WATER-BORN LOTUS: water-born is a metaphor for the lotus... the six perfections of the bodhisattvas.r~~·~l~~·~l·~1 HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE HAND IS ADORNED WITH A BLUE AND GOLD WATER-BORN WTUS. The two following lines indicate that Tara possesses the six paramitas perfectly.100 - . ASCETICISM.1~~·~~·~·~orc.. . WHO HAS FOR HER DOMAIN GNING.·~~~·~1 1~~"c. .1x... here the stem is gold colored while the flower is blue. • GIVING: paramita of generosity • EFFORT: paramita of effort or diligence • ASCETICISM: designates here the paramita of ethics • PEACE: refers to the paramita of wisdom (prajnaparamita) • PATIENCE: paramita of patience • CONCENTRATION: paramita of concentration .. AND CONCENTRATION.1·~f~·~~~·l'1~"&~·~·~1 1~Ell"c.1·q~o.. PEACE.Stanza 3 ~~'~~'~~~'~~'~~'~~'~1 1c... ..

to her who enjoys the infinite [of the benefits] and victory [brought by the . Tara. Tara effectively grants us all that we ask of her.101 - . Wh~n we recite it. • THE CROWN OF THE BLESSED ONE: it is said that Tara's praise was uttered by the Buddha (Blessed One) Vairochana. 1~~·1lit~·~·q~~·~~~~~~·~~~:1\1 1~sa~"U.-t.Stanza 4 .l~q~~1 1~nrCl~'~~'~~'4~a'Cl~~'~1 HOMAGE TO THE CROWN OF THE BLESSED ONE. WHO IS TRUSTED BY THE CHILDREN OF THE CONQUERORS WHO HAVE ACHIEVED ALL PERFECTIONS. • THE 1NFINITE: the infinite refers to benefits proceeding from the praise. . • VICTORY: the praise wins the same complete victory over all adverse circumstances wherever they happen.I~·~~:I\·t~·q·il·~1 .1~·~~·~"(~·~c. not from his mouth but from the crown protuberance on the top of his head. the victory is related to the help Tara brings us to overcome fear and danger. The Crown of the Blessed One designates the crown protuberance as well as metaphorically the praise that comes from it and the one who is the subject of the praise. Taranatha's commentary explicates the first two lines of this stanza in the following way: "Homage to [her who holds the mantra coming from] the Crown of the Blessed One [Vairochana]. as with that of all buddhas. Whereas infinite benefits are related to the gift of what we wish. To HER WHO ENJOYS THE INFINITE AND VICTORY.

effort. hungry . the six paramitas we have seen in the previous stanza (giving.paramita of power . called the Children of the Buddhas (Conquerors). WITH THE SYLLABLES TUTTARA AND HUNG WHO STAMPS THE SEVEN WORLDS WITH HER FEET.mantra on all adverse circumstances].paramita of skillful means . SKY. patience. the sphere of desire (hells. • DESIRE: sphere of desire. Buddhist cosmology divides the possibilities of existence into three spheres or domains.102 - .paramita of wishes . that is. ethics. AND DIRECTIONS. • TUTTARA AND HUNG: mantras used by Tara to accomplish the activity mentioned in the stanza. • THE CHILDREN OF THE CONQUERORS: they are the bodhisattvas of the tenth stages." Taranatha uses the term "mantra" here but it seems that it is to designate the praise and not the mantra itself. • ALL PERFECTIONS: designates the ten paramitas. that is.paramita of pristine knowledge (jnana) Stanza 5 1!l'~~l~'ij~'~~1 y~~~'~~'~Qj~'~~'~0{0-lflq'Cl1~'0-l1 1qE:Cl1~~·q~~t:r~q~·~~·0-l~~·51 1~~'q·~~·q~·q~Qj~·q~·~~·0-l1 HOMAGE TO HER WHO FILLS THE DESIRE. concentration. WHO POSSESSES THE POWER TO SUMMON THEM. and wisdom) to which are added: .

vidhyadharas (knowledge holders): designates here. demi-gods. Desire and sky refer to the particular universe in which we live. and formless sphere (therefore there are many solar systems).devas: gods of the three spheres (desire.kinnara: beings with a human body and' a horse's head . an infinite number of universes evolves. a form sphere.ghosts. the individuals who. the sphere of form (other categories of gods in more subtle levels).103 - . zenith. after having developed psychic powers (yogic powers) live in nonhuman levels. four intermediate points. • DIRECTIONS: in infinite space. proud.pretas: (hungry ghosts) classes of beings who are always starving asuras: (demi-gods) powerful.human beings . form. • THE SEVEN WORLDS: seven levels of existence inhabited by seven classes of beings . and nadir) and applies to all the universes. and formless) . not just ours. Tara's activity occurs in the ten directions (four cardinal points. nonetheless without having attained liberation . and some categories of gods). our solar system as we would say today. animals. "Desire" designates the first of these three spheres. • THE SKY: comprises form and formless spheres. it seems. each comprising a desire sphere.nagas: spirits of water and earth currents . and quarrelsome beings . the sphere of formless (other categories of gods in even more subtle levels). human beings.

- "' 1~~~·~~·l~~·~~·~~·~~·q~~·~1 HOMAGE TO HER WHO IS HONORED BY INDRA.~·~=r~~~·~z::. . AGNI.·. Tara can easily exert her influence on the seven worlds.·~·~·l~~·~qz::.·~~·~i'~·~l l~z::. WHO IS PRAISED BY SPIRITS. protector of works and the arts • OTHER GODS: other vedic gods The two last lines refer to homage paid by other classes of beings usually opposed to the dharma and who live in the realms of the asuras or pretas.• STAMPS AND POSSESSES THE POWER TO SUMMON THEM: metaphors signifying that in her might. BRAHMA. • SPIRITS: some beings called in Sanskrit rakshasa .. and establish them in happiness...104 - .. VA YU AND OTHER GODS. BLOOD DRINKING SPIRITS. AND LOCAL DEITIES. Stanza 6 l~~·~C4l·q~~·~·~·~~·ql ~z::. liberate them from suffering. CELESTIAL SPIRITS.. • lNDRA: King of the gods • AGNI: Fire god who reigns over the rishis • BRAHMA: creator of the universe • VAYU: wind god..-q·~·C4lz::... She can summon these beings and cover them with her compassionate activity: to ward off the negative activity they endure. The first two lines underline Tara's greatness by stating the honors given to her by the great gods of Vedic India.

105 - . DESTROYS ADVERSE MACHINATIONS. These two syllables are associated with violent activity. STAMPING WITH HER FOOT. Tara not only uses mantras TRAT and P'AT but she takes a posture called wrathful. and so on. right leg folded. mantras. • TRAT and P'AT: syllables used by Tara to accomplish the activity mentioned in this stanza (Tibetans say "tray" and "pay"). yaksha) governed by Vairavana (Namthose) Stanza 7 HOMAGE TO HER WHO WITH TRAT AND P'AT. Standing on her left foot. poisons. • STAMPING WITH HER FOOT.• BLOOD DRINKING SPIRITS: spirits having invaded a corpse and feeding on human blood • CELESTIAL SPIRITS: musician spirits eating scents (Sanskrit. left leg extended: to overcome the enemies. gandharva) • LOCAL DEITIES: classes of beings (Sanskrit. RIGHT LEG FOLDED. WHO. • ADVERSE MACHINATIONS: enemies are those who seek to harm individuals or the dharma by using various methods such as weapons. Tara has the power to overcome all their machinations. she steps on . LEFT EXTENDED. BLAZES WITHIN A GLOWING FIRE.

. • THE VERY FRIGHfFUL: Tara's nature is to be at peace.. swift.. also designates a part of the mantra. . • BLAZES WITHIN A GLOWING FIRE: Tara's body is blazing and produces immense flames. However. Tara uses the power of this part to exert her activity.a....&'~~'<1Cll'~'~~~:t. .Clla·i.'~e:Col~'~1 <'\. Tara's attribute. • TURE: in Sanskrit.. Stanza 8 1~'!l·q. 1... secondly.. and those who propagate present suffering and causes for future suffering. THE VERY FRIGHTFUL.·~~~~-q·~~ 1~~'~~q~'L:l'~Col-q:t. • DEMON'S WARRIORS: those who oppose the virtuous activity and dharma practice. This fire first forces Yama (god of death) and all those who could harm our lives to flee away. WHO HAS COMPLETE VICTORY OVER THE DEMON'S WARRIORS. ..'~~'~~~l . 1~~'c:rs:l~~'Q~'~'~~''!l~~'~1 - HOMAGE TO TURE. right leg folded and left leg extended.negative spirits to subdue them. capable of causing fright.. she can take on a wrathful and violent aspect.. WHO KILLS ALL THE ENEMIES BY FROWNING HER LOTUS FACE. when circumstances demand it. the fire surrounds us with protection..106 - ..

• WHO KILLS ALL THE ENEMIES: enemies are those previously designated with the expression "demon's warriors. When Tara "kills" them. • BY FROWNING HER LOTUS FACE: the preceding lines meant that Tara's body has taken on a wrathful expression." those who engage in unwholesome activity and become obstacles to the dharma. • FROWNING HER FACE: here. and so on) and the thoughts stemming from them. we attain buddhahood. • THE DEMON'S WARRIORS: conflicting emotions (desire. since a peaceful attitude would not subdue them. hatred. symbolizes the creation phase of deity meditation. jealousy. The fourth line specifies that this expression appears to her face. this means that she deprives them physically and mentally of their harmful power. • THE VERY FRIGHTENING: primordial awareness. no longer considering outer enemies but inner enemies. union of bliss and emptiness. the moment when the practitioner imagines himself or herself in the form of the deity and develops "divine pride. Taranatha gives a second interpretation for this stanza. to the point of wrinkling it. ." This div~e pride vanquishes conflicting emotions and allows us ultimately to obtain the Wisdom Body.• WHO HAS COMPLETE VICTORY: it is with her wrathful attitude that Tara vanquishes the demon's warriors. a term used in the tantras as an equivalent of the Absolute Body. that is.107- . . • TORE: threading swiftly the higher paths. blissemptiness. frightening for unfortunate beings.

ADORNS THE WHEEL OF ALL DIRECTIONS. WHO BY RADIATING THE RAYS OF HER OWN UGHT. The mudra symbol of the Three Jewels mentioned here. with the left hand holding a lotus stem accomplishes a mudra called "mudra of the Three Jewels" (The Three Jewels being the Buddha. Dharma.108- . Stanza 9 HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE FINGERS IN THE MUDRA SYMBOL OF THE THREE JEWELS ADORN THE HEART. Hands are joined at heart level." . conquered by primordial wisdom. the middle fingers pressing each other. • MUDRA SYMBOL OF THE THREE JEWELS: Tara. is completely different. but in reality is called "lotus mudra.The veil of conflicting emotions that disappears at the first stage of the bodhisattva.• ENEMIES: the veils of the mind.The veil of dualistic knowledge that begins to disappear at the first stage and is completely eliminated with attaining buddhahood. These veils are: . as she is usually represented. according to Taranatha. the other slightly folded fingers touch ' each other at their extremities. and Sangha). Together. they form a lotus bud that symbolizes the Three Jewels. .

TO HER WHOSE SPARKLING TIARA SPREADS GARLANDS OF UGHT WHO WITH GREAT LAU. • SPARKLING: . • PERFECf JOY: Tara's body provides beings with perfect joy. her entire body radiates infinite rays of light. the various precious stones that make her tiara shine of their own radiance. The light with which Tara fills the universe r. universes spread throughout the immensity of space.GHTER AND TUTIARA SUBJUGA TES DEMONS AND THEIR WORLDS. • THE WHEEL OF ALL OIRECfIONS: designates all the . It is said that a long time ago.epresents her spontaneous arrival when one of her followers calls upon her with the mantra.109 - . • BY RAOIATING THE RAYS OF HER OWN LIGHT: After Tara places her hands in the lotus mudra.The previously described mudra requires. • AOORNS: Light radiated by Tara's body illuminates and beautifies the universe while spreading outward.q~~·~r:l\q·q~~1il:l\'Ul~l l~~·~~·~~~ry~·~q~a·~E(~·~l HOMAGE TO PERFECT JOY. Tara performed the lotus mudra. and declared that anyone who accomplishes it will immediately invoke her presence.that the hands be placed in front of the heart. consecrated it with her mantra. • AOORN THE HEART: Stanza 10 l~~'qz6~':I\':ra'~~q'I~rq~~'I:J~l l~·~~:rr~·~·~~·q·~~·~l . 14 .

• GUARDIANS OF THE EARTH: signs of anger symbolizing Tara's force. to some deities called goddesses of the earth. clothing. Tara uses her laugh ter and mantra.ll - - HOMA GE TO HER WHO HAS THE POWER TO SUMMON THE HOSTS OF THE GUARDIANS OF EARTH. first. able to brush away any misfortune.110 - . • SPREADS GARLANDS OF LIGHT: Stanza 11 l~Q]·~C'lJ·~·Q]~·~~:qq.l~l lI.\o.l·~~·o. • SUBJUGATES DEMONS AND THEIR WORLDS: Some world s are ruled by demo ns or by tempo ral deities.:l"~~·I. • DELIVERS FROM ALL MISFORTUNE: misfo rtune as expla ined here is the "lack of happi ness" .the lumin ous rays take the form of garlan ds that radiat ing from the tiara multi ply and propa gate themselves. all powe rful beings obey her. it encompasses all scarcity such as lack of food. • TO SUMMON: under lines Tara's greatness.l~·Q~·~o.ll lfffQ]~l\'Q]arqq~'~'ij'~~l lZ'. • WITH GREAT LAUGHTER AND TUTTARA: to discipline demons. WHO DELNERS FROM ALL MISFORTUNE WITH HUNG AND MOVING HER FROWNING FOREHEAD. refers. • WITH HUNG AND MOVING HER FROWNING FOREHEAD: .l~l\·mC'lJ·o.\o.l~·~·~~Q]~~l\·~~·o.lQ]~·~o. and secondly to the kings ruling huma n beings. Tara has the powe r to subdu e them.

'" wr1~l\'1~'a:rr~'l\q'~e:~'~1 HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE TIARA IS A MOON CRESCENT.1~~·~I'l..material belongings. ..l·~rq~·~~~~·~·q~~1 . Tara frees beings from all suffering.. or whatever. ABLAZE WITH ALL ADORNMENTS.. The two first lines praise the tiara shaped in a moon crescent and the ornaments inlaid with precious stones adorning Tara's body and shining with a radiance that emanates in all directions. WHO UNCEASINGLY SPREADS THE UGHT FROM AMITABHA smING IN HER FULL HAIR.l~l .. including lack of inner happiness.. • AMITABHA sITTiNG IN HER FULL HAIR: in the knot that gathers part of her hair on top of her head. lq~~·q·~~~·~<~~a·qq:I.. ... • WHO UNCEASINGLY SPREADS THE LIGHT: Amitabha's body itself constantly radiates light that spreads all around Tara.l~q·~~·~~·q~·~q~·~~·I'l.:~l ll\l'l.... there is Amitabha Buddha (whose name means Infinite Light) proclaiming that Tara belongs to the lotus family ruled by Amitabha.111 - . Stanza 12 . .

.q:2\·q~·~t\·q~·~~·~·~~~·~1 1l~~·~t\·~·~~·~:2\·~~~·~1 1~Ul~·q~t\~·~t1..r~~'5:l'~:2\1 1r:7. and consumed by an immense fire.. destroying harmful human or nonhuman beingsY .. RIGHT LEG EXTENDED AND LEFT FOLDED.. . • THE FIRE AT THE END OF TIME: according to traditional cosmology. at the end of a kalpa (cosmic era) the world would be set ablaze.112 - . LEFT FOLDED: this does not mean that Tara holds a fixed posture.Stanza 13 1~~·I1C5~·q~~r~.1 . "Swirling" indicates the swift and various movements of her dance. GWES JOY AND DESTROYS THE HORDE OF ENEMIES. • GIVES JOY: the effect of this dance is to provide joy to beneficent beings. HOMAGE TO HER WHO DWELLS AMID GARLANDS BLAZING LIKE THE FIRE AT THE END OF TIME. WHO. • RIGHT LEG EXTENDED. • SWIRLING: Tara stands up. destroyed... • DESTROYS THE HORDE OF ENEMIES: this is the second effect of the dance. SWIRLING..l~·q~~~·'{l~·~~·q~:2\·l~r:7. These are only examples of her leg movements during the dance..rs..

that she dominates the world. The seven levels are listed as follows: . as well as stamping the ground with her left foot. ogres. and other creatures' dwellings. these are the nagas.the superior base .the base . Tara demonstrates by this hand movement. then.Stanza 14 HOMAGE TO HER WHO STRIKES THE GROUND WITH THE PALM OF HER HAND AND STAMPS IT WITH HER FOOT. the Earth is a flat disc upon which the oceans and continents are placed. • STRIKES THE GROUND WITH THE PALM OF HER HAND: the complete movement done by Tara is first to clap her hands. One may recall that in traditional cosmology.the baseless . • WITH THE SYLLABLE HUNG: Tara emits this syllable through her nose. • THE SEVEN UNDERGROUND LEVELS: Taranatha's commentary gives the list of the seven underground worlds without specifying their characteristics. Generally.113 - . WITH THE SYLLABLE HUNG SHA TIERS THE SEVEN UNDERGROUND LEVELS. The ground designates here the surface of the world in its totality. to strike the ground. WHO FROWNING HER EYEBROWS.the base itself .

• PEACE BEYOND SUFFERING: beyond suffering designates nirvana. VIRTUE.she makes them accomplish virtues. • PURITY: these mantras are pure. whereas the "peace" of this second line refers to obtaining nirvana. This explains their benefits. that is..to fortunate disciples.. AND PEACE WHO LIVES IN PEACE BEYOND SUFFERING.. " 1~~'q~~''1'~~~nJ'~~'~1 1~~·w~~'UJ~·~~·~~·q~1 1~~~·~~t:fq"(~~~·~~·~1 HOMAGE TO HER WHO IS HAPPINESS. perfectly authentic. activity as the foundation of happiness for future lives. AND PEACE are permanent qualities of Tara and also qualities through which she helps beings. The "peace" of the previous line applied to the path to nirvana. WHO CONQUERS THE GREATLY HARMFUL DEEDS WITH THE PURITY OF SOHA AND OM.the pure base. she sh~ws the path to peace..she grants them happiness in this very life . . not only has Tara attained this nirvana but she provides access to it for her followers.. • SOHA and OM: mantras used by Tara. liberation.114 - ..the base of vital essence .. VIRTUE. • HAPPINESS.. that is.. As previously.the good base . . Stanza 15 1~~·~nJ·q~·~·~~·~·~·~1 ". positive . . that is.

The mantra OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA is none other than Tara. is endowed with a dynamic that manifests in the form of "fearless sound" or "sound of emptiness. possessing the five wisdoms. The deity's mantras. .115 - . are the expression of the Absolute Body. The deity and her mantra are truly inseparable. Stanza 16 HOMAGE TO HER WHO COMPLETELY DELIGHTS HER ENTOURAGE WHO DESTROYS THE BODIES OF ENEMIES. Tara dissipates harmful deeds themselves and the suffering coming from them. To THE LIBERATING ONE COMING FROM THE MANTRIC HUNG WHO EMITS THE UTTERANCE OF THE TEN SYLLABLES. Other interpretations of the commentary refer to the five wisdoms according to the ultimate truth: • HAPPINESS: discriminating wisdom • VIRTUE: mirror-like wisdom • PEACE: wisdom of equality • PEACE BEYOND SUFFERING: dharma datu wisdom • CONQUERS THE GREATLY HARMFUL DEEDS: accomplishing wisdom • SOHA AND OM: Tara's mind.• CONQUERS THE GREATLY HARMFUL DEEDS: by the mantras that she utters." which is the mantra. symbolized here by SOHA and OM.

) Tara's mantra OM TARE TUTIARE TURE SOHA is considered inseparable from Tara herself. "Completely" means that her entourage is immense and goes out in all directions.• WHO COMPLETELY DEUGHTS HER ENTOURAGE: the natural effect of Tara's compassion is to provide joy for the bodhisattvas. and her followers in general. • HUNG: the seed syllable from which Tara appears in her wrathful form described here as blazing with light. AND THE THREE WORLDS.116 - . From the seed syllable appears the mantra or the deity herself. (The seed syllable of Tara in her peaceful form is TAM. WHO SHAKES MOUNT MERU. • TURE: Sanskrit term meaning "swift. • THE UTIERANCE OF THE TEN SYLLABLES: Stanza 17 HOMAGE TO TURE WHO STAMPS WITH HER FOOT. . the Vajrayana followers having attained realization. To WHOM HUNG IS THE SEED SYLLABLE." one of Tara's names. 16 • ENEMIES: those opposed to the practice of the dharma or also conflicting emotions in the mind of beings. for the practitioners. MANDARA. KAILASH.

clearly drawn. with its two large ears standing straight up. compared to a perfectly round lake. • KAILASH: a sacred mountain in Western Tibet. • THE THREE WORLDS: on earth.·~~~·qr1·~r·a~·~~1 1~'l1·~~~·~·~~~%:. • MANDARA: a mountain. . • THE GODS' LAKE: another metaphor for the moon. • MOUNT MERU: the mountain forming the central axis of the world in buddhist cosmology. and fresh water. people distinguish a hare on the moon (or a rabbit). clear. underground. very beautiful. looked upon as Chakrasamvara's dwelling by buddhists and as Shiva's dwelling by hindus. Stanza 18 1~~'qa5~'~~'~~'~~~~'1 l~·~'l'1~·ry~~·~·~~·~·q~~~·~l 12·%:. • TARA AND P'AT: Mantras used by Tara to neutralize poisons.117- . filled with white. In the East.• STAMPS WITH HER FOOT: indicates that Tara dons a wrathful form here. • THE HARE-MARKED MOON: the moon. and above earth.·~·~~·~1 HOMAGE TO HER WHO HOLOS IN HER HAND THE HAREMARKED MOON IN THE FORM OF THE GOOS' LAKE WHO TOTALLY DISPELS POISON BY RECITING TWICE TARA AND P'AT.

l·~·q~rlJ·cJ. refers here to the local deities who inhabit a mountain. • HORSE-HEADED BEINGS: musicians with a human body and the head of a horse (Sanskrit. • HOSTS OF GODS: gods of the desire sphere gathered in six classes whose dwellings rise in tiers above Mount Meru. KINGS.l·%~~·q~~·cJ.l~·~rlJ~ l~·l~·~qcJ.. a lake. • ARMOR: mantras consecrated by Tara and the mudras that she accomplishes provide to those who do her practice a protection comparable to an armor. .. • KINGS: sovereigns governing a whole universe called "chakravartins.• DISPELS POISON: poisons are of two kinds. HOMAGE TO HER WHO IS HONORED BY HOSTS OF GODS.. kinnara). • GODS.118 - . AND HORSE-HEADED BEINGS. GODS." as well as other kings.l1 -" . Stanza 19 l~Qj·qcErlJ·~·t~rlQj~·~cJ. "immobile" (mineral and herbal poisons) and mobile (poisonous animals or dangerous animals such as rabid dogs). or a forest..ll ---" " " 1\l~'~~'Qj'a5'l~q'qq'q~l'~~1 1~l·l~·cil·rlJcJ. WHO DISPELS CONFLICTS AND BAD DREAMS WITH HER ARMOR OF RESPLENDENT JOY. • HONORED BY: the powerful beings mentioned above show their allegiance to Tara by bowing down to her feet.

.i~·~·~·c:1·~~"t. • WHOSE TWO EYES SHINE WITH THE RADIANCE OF THE SUN AND MOON: by the light of the right eye. Beside the literal meaning. • WHOSE TWO EYES SHINE: the radiance of Tara's sight of compassion is such that it frees beings of inferior realms and other worlds from their suffering. and establishes a state of happiness for them.·:E\·~~~·c:1~~al:E\~~1 11~a·~~~~·~~~·~~·~~~1 HOMAGE TO HER WHOSE TWO EYES SHINE WITH THE RADIANCE OF THE SUN AND MOON WHO DISPELS VIRULENT EPIDEMICS WITH TWO HARA AND WITH TUTTARA. • DISPELS CONFLICTS AND BAD DREAMS: the other effect of the armor provided by Tara's mantras and mudras.• JOY: this armor gives joy and happiness to the minds of those who wear it.. • RESPLENDENT: the armor gives a brilliance to the body and speech..lql l~~~~~:q. Stanza 20 l~~·n. pride. "' lr. and so on). desire-attachment.119 - .~:rr~·:E\cr~~~·~l "'. • VIRULENT EPIDEMICS: conflicting emotions (anger. blindness.. Tara . Taranatha gives a more general interpretation: • HARA AND TUTTARA: represents recitation of Tara's mantra.. • HARA AND TUTTARA: mantras through which Tara dispels epidemics. jealousy.

120 - . w~alth. Tara rids beings of the two veils . Stanza 21 l~~·~ClJ·~·~l·~~~·~~~r~l'C.llt\ll 1~''l~'~'l~~~'l~'~~'~1 1~~~·l~~~It\I·~~l·~~·~It\I·~~lt\Il l~Et~It\I·~·a·~·~q~·~l·~l HOMAGE TO HER WHO THROUGH THE THREE ESTABLISHED PRINCIPLES FULLY POSSESSES THE POWER OF PACIFYING To TURE. Taranatha successively applies the four modes of interpretation of a tantra to this stanza. BWOD-DRINKING SPIRITS. . she gives life. Literal Meaning • THE THREE PRlNCIPLES: the.the base: emptiness ." or the three qualities characterizing realization .the path: absence of belief in the reality of phenomena . By the light of her left eye. THE SUBLIME. comparable to nectar flowing out of the moon.scares violent beings and burns away negative activity and suffering like the sun.the result: nonaspiration. and happiness.three "suchnesses. absence of expectation • ESTABLISHED: the three principles are established to lead beings to genuine happiness and perfect awakening • FULLY POSSESSES THE POWER OF PACIFYING: thanks to the three principles. VICTOR OF THE SPIRITS. AND LOCAL DEITIES.

complete emptiness. nadi) • BLOOD-DRINKlNG SPIRITS: the energy drops" (Sanskrit. AH. bindu) that are found or circulating in the channels at the same time as the subtle winds • LOCAL DEITIES: thoughts that disappear in the clear light.(veil of conflicting emotions and veil of dualistic knowledge) and establishes them in the peace of awakening • SPIRITS: term covering 18 categories of spirits provoking illness and other difficulties • BLOOD-DRINKlNG SPIRITS: represent here the power of _black magic • LOCAL DEITIES: in Sanskrit. speech. HUNG (essence of the body. and heart) • POWER OF PACIFYING: the power to protect beings against any obstacle. Hidden Meaning • THE THREE PRINCIPLES: appearance. and attainment designate here the three steps of the manifestation of clear light in the six yogas of Naropa • ESTABLISHED: the succession of the above three steps • POWER OF PACIFYING: the peace in the instant. expansion.121 - . and clear light stemming from the three steps • SPIRITS: subtle channels (Sanskrit. and mind) placed at the three places on Tara's body (forehead. Common Meaning • THE THREE PRINCIPLES: the three syllables OM. throat. /I . yakshas • TURE: the swift one • VICTOR: Tara gains victory over all that causes evil.

• THE THREE PRINCIPLES: Concluding lines l~q~·~~~·a-q~l-q·~~·lr::. "Vajra" here signifies the state of full awakening. karma. and conflicting emotions. one establishes oneself by meditating in the state where one is inseparable from them • SPIRITS: suffering • BLOOD-DRINIGNG SPIRITS: karma • LOCAL DEITIES: conflicting emotions • THE SUBLIME: once victory is gained over suffering.l 1~~·~nrq-~·~\~~~%~1 SUCH ARE THE PRAISE OF THE ROOT MANTRA AND THE TWENTY-GNE-FOLD HOMAGE." . that they are from this time forward the peace of realization.Ultimate Meaning the vajra-body.122 - . there is the primordial awareness that is great felicity. buddhahood. • THE TWENTY-ONE-FOLD HOMAGE: each stanza starts with the word "homage. • ESTABLISHED: these three vajras are the primordial nature of phenomena • FULLY POSSESSES THE POWER TO PACIFY: given that the three vajras are primordially present. • THE ROOT MANTRA: Tara's mantra OM TARE TUITARE TURE SOHA is distributed throughout the text of the praise. and vajra-mind. vajra-speech.

buddhism does not distinguish men from women. to aspire to a male existence in a future rebirth. crediting them both with the same spiritual potential and with the same capabilities to realize it. Under these conditions. they only had limited access to the dharma. what was due to certain circumstances has very little value outside of those circumstances. For example. furthermore. Doomed to family and domestic tasks. Shantideva certainly did not see women as inferior but considered women's position unfavorable for spiritual practice. she is a woman who has become a goddess. in his famous Bodhisattva Way of Awakening wrote. for her own good. in the story of Wisdom Moon-the future Tara-monks did not hesitate to sincerely advise her. Other examples of this way of thinking can be found. However. it is indispensable to look at the context of ancient India. In reality.t han female. women had very little freedom or power to make decisions. The status of women in buddhism often appears to have been inferior to that of men.123 - . Likewise. . Shantideva. today more than ever. Entirely dependant upon men. it was far better to be male . The situation of women was considered socially very inferior.5-Buddhism and Women Tara is a female deity. "Mayall female beings 'become male!" To understand such wishes.

for all beings share this in a universal way. In ' reality. therefore. more to men than women.it has the quality of dharmata or tathagata. whether they are animals or are in other conditions of existence in which beings are not definitively locked. If human beings have the possibility to exit ignorance and attain awakening. If this were not so. just like the seed of a flower contains the virtual color. Since 'they have the potentiality of .its essence is emptiness. common to all beings without difference in quality. it is because they have what is called the "mind in itself. this potential does not only belong to human beings.MEN AND WOMEN: A UNIQUE POTENTIAL The notion of potential for spiritual development occupies a fundamental place in buddhism. Shared universally by all beings. In fact. oil is obtained from a sesame seed or butter from milk because these ingredients are already present in them in a latent state. This potentiality is. . it does not belong. the potential for awakening. perfume. it classifies all beings in the "species" of awakening. and other characteristics of the future flower. therefore." that is. it is considered that without the presence of a potential effect within a cause. Thus. which implies that it embraces the totality of beings . which means that it is not simply emptiness but that it has the power to become awakened.finally." or the "heart of awakening. a seed could be crushed or cream churned for ages without ever obtaining anything.124 - . This heart of awakening is defined by several aspects: . It is not better in some beings or worse in others. this effect would never appear.

an ever present foundation.awakening. and Sangha) • five outer factors . The heart of awakening is not. it must be associated with favorable circumstances. .not pursuing an occupation in conflict with the buddhist precepts .the structures to spread the teaching must be supported by disciples.a buddha must have manifested on Earth . Dharma.125 - . sufficient to attain awakening. One counts ten indispensable conditions: • five conditions inherent in the person . If it constitutes a permanent cause.having faith in the Three Jewels (Buddha. a particular condition of existence such as a human existence. of a different species.the teaching must be known . that is. they attain awakening. It need not only be a human existence but a life containing a 'certain number of characteristics without which a spiritual progression would not be possible.being born in a country where the dharma has spread . could not possibly produce a carnation. This third aspect implies that it is possible to pass from a latent state to the result and that spiritual practice makes sense. the faculties of communication that allow one to understand the dharma ." that is.He or she must have taught the dharma . just like a seed of a carnation can effectively become a carnation whereas a seed of another flower. It needs a "support.the teaching must be alive . however.having possession of all senses.human condition .

If practice is not done. the true question is that of practice. we do not have detailed documents on the lives of these women.126 - ---------- - . others whose names are only momentarily engraved in memory. However. has seen a great number of remarkable women appear.OMEN IN INDIAN BUDDHISM W All through its history. whether one is a man or a woman. some well-known whose lives are recorded in written texts. it is probable that many female disciples attained arhathoodP There were many nuns then. The Vinaya18 recalls the case of Sukyegu Dangmo and the 500 nuns who accompanied her. At the time of the Buddha. If practice is done. however. no result will be attained. at a time when women's condition-as we have noted-was socially inferior to that of men. and in Tibet as well. buddhism in India. regardless of whether one is a man or a woman. REMARKABLE . and others who have remained anonymous. one will obtain a result. In this context. anyone who makes the effort to attain awakening will. It is interesting to note that these affirmations were made by the Buddha 2500 years ago. the Buddha did not have to spare people's sensibilities. He did not declare that the possibility of attaining awakening was reserved for men. .It is said that. but that anyone (man or woman) making the effort to walk the path would attain the goaL In the spiritual domain. or even if one has a favorable human existence. he made no distinction between men and women. from the point of view of spiritual possibilities. on the basis of the heart of awakening and human existence endowed with the required conditions above.

and Gelongma Palmo. Manjushri (Jamyang) appeared in front of her and said. At a very young age. At the same time. GELONGMA PALMO . This time. If she did so." Gelongma Palmo went to the place indicated in the dream and in addition to reciting the mantra she fasted every other day. Tara appeared in front of her and told her. night and day reciting the mantra of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.Let us mention some of them who later left an indelible imprint on the long history of Indian buddhism. Her life took a dramatic turn when she contracted leprosy.127 - . became discouraged. Thanks to Avalokiteshvara's grace. this would lead her to realize the nature of her mind. obtaining no result. she attained the first stage of the bodhisattva. and Sukhasiddhi. she decided to renounce her privileges as a princess to lead a monastic life. "You will obtain .Gelongma Palmo was born to a royal family in North West India. like Gelongma Palmo. Niguma. Another dream brought her new instructions. "Go to Lekar Shinpal and continue your practice of Avalokiteshvara. Mandarava. she was then completely healed from leprosy and her body regained the freshness of youth. Thus. she retired to a small house away from any other dwelling. she applied herself. When she was 27 years old. In her despair. In five years. Obliged to leave the monastery and abandoned by her servants. she nonetheless was fortunate to see a vision in a dream of King Indrabuthi who advised her to practice Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig). Time passed. your realization will be equal to Tara's.

the capabilities to accomplish the activity of the buddhas of the three times." Later, Avalokiteshvara appeared to her in all his splendor, in his form with 1,000 arms and 11 faces, his body filled with deities of the four classes of tantras, radiating innumerable pure lands through the pores of his skin. Gelongma Palmo was filled with awe. However, she could not refrain from reproaching the deity. "Although I have accomplished your practice for a very long time and with much effort, why is it only now that you have revealed yourself to me?" "As soon as you began reciting my name, I was with you and I never ceased to be with you since that time. There were karmic veils covering your mind hindering you from seeing me," Avalokiteshvara answered. Receiving new instructions from Avalokiteshvara directly and continuing her practice, Gelongma Palmo finally attained the tenth stage of the bodhisattva. Tantric buddhism was introduced to Tibet by the great Indian teacher Padmasambhava in the 8th century of our era. Among his many disciples, two women were his mystical companions, each playing an important role. One of them was an Indian, Mandarava. The other woman, Yeshe Tsogyal, was Tibetan. Mandarava was named after the "paradise tree with red flowers" and was the daughter of the King of Sahor. When she became Padmasambhava's companion, her father was so annoyed that he ordered the yogi to be burned alive. However, Padmasambhava transformed the blazing fire into a
MANDARA VA -

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lake. The King gained faith in him and relinquished his kingdom and the princess to him. When Padmasambhava left for Tibet, Mandarava stayed behind in India. However, she miraculously appeared in the Land of Snow and talked with her teacher. NIGUMA - Niguma is sometimes considered to be Mahasiddha Naropa's sister and sometimes his mystical companion. We know very little of her life except · that she obtained the immortality of the rainbow body and that she is alive in the mysterious sandalwood forest of Sosaling in India where pure beings can meet her. That was the case for Khyungpo Naljor, a Tibetan Master of the 11th century and founder of the Shangpa school in Tibet after having received instructions in India for many years. Advised by several of his teachers to meet Niguma, he went to the forest of Sosaling. After many wanderings and long prayers, he finally met Niguma in the form of a darkskinned dakini dancing in the sky, holding a drum and a skull cup in her hands. Khyungpo Naljor bowed down, offered her gold, and requested instructions. Niguma received the offering only to throw it away in disdain. The Tibetan became fearful, asking himself if he was not confronted by a flesh-eating dakini rather than the famous yogini. Niguma made a high mountain appear and from the summit four unceasing streams of gold were flowing. She told her visitor: "If one has a pure vision, everything is gold. Without pure vision, there is no gold anywhere. I do not need your gold."
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And she returned the gold that she had thrown away a few moments before. She then bestowed her teachings and empowerments to Khyungpo Naljor, telling him, Among illusory phenomena, through applying illusory meditation, illusory awakening arises by the strength of devotion."
1/

SUKHASIDDHI - Sukhasiddhi's story, like that of Niguma's, with whom she is almost a contemporary, belongs to the collection of life stories of the Mah~siddhas of ancient India. It begins in Kashmir, in a peasant family during a severe famine in the area. All the provisions in the house were exhausted. Only a single bowl of rice was left. . The father and son; in desperation, decided to go begging. As they were leaving home, they told the mother to save the remaining rice for the "great black
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and in conformity with their instructions. Wandering along the road." the buyers said." To show respect to the monastic and believing that she was obeying her husband. "It is for our master. the yogi Virupa.moon. Curious about the beer's destination. Virupa soon asked about the origin of the fine beer they bought. Mysteriously touched by the name she had never heard before. During their absence. west of Kashmir. At night. the woman refused to charge them any longer." an expression of darkest misery in case they come back empty-handed.131 - . she had given him the precious food. The yoginis who served him often visited the market and bought beer from the old woman because their master liked her brew. the woman once asked them for whom they bought the beer. the woman eventually arrived at the Land of Orgyen. In the nearby forest. . the mother offered him the remaining bowl of rice. The mother told them that Great Black Moon had come. She opened a store in the market place of the village selling barley beer that she brewed herself. they asked the mother to cook the rice they had in reserve. the father and son returned home desperate having obtained nothing in spite of an allday effort. a begging ascetic came to the door and said his name was "Great Black Moon. To overcome their exhaustion. the great yogi Virupa was dwelling. The two men became so angry that they threw the poor woman out without waiting for her explanation.

"and once she knew that it was for you. Taking with her a large quantity of beer for an offering and ·her heart filled with emotion. She then became known under the name of Sukhasiddhi." answered Virupa who understood that the faith and devotion of the old woman made her ready for instruction.Sukhasiddhi "It is from an old woman in the market place who brews it herself/' explained the servaIlts. "Accomplished by Felicity" and directly received teachings from Vajradhara Buddha. They are integrated in the canon of the Shangpa order. It is said that in one night." "Ask her to come here. the old merchant came to visit Virupa. she obtained liberation and miraculously received the beauty and freshness of a 16-year-old body.132 - . she refused payment. The latter immediately conferred teachings and empowerments to her. Instructions left by Sukhasiddhi and Niguma have been transmitted up to modem times. .

133 - . Let us take a look at some of those names preserved in history. the gates were not closed to women. King Songtsen Gampo. who reigned at the time buddhism was implanted in the Land of Snow. However. women have played an important role. Songtsen Campo and his two spouses .REMARKABLE WOMEN OF TmETAN BUDDHISM The structure of Tibetan society probably did not allow women equality with men in the practice of dharma. Their profound faith and realization were so impressive that these women are sometimes considered as emanations of Tara.From the very beginning of the introduction of buddhism in Tibet. Many monasteries all over Tibet were for nuns. and many women became famous through their realization. had two spouses. THE TWo SPOUSES OF SONGTSEN GAMPO .

the Ramoche. lived in the 8th and 9th century of our era. This event looked very auspicious and the child was given the name of Tsogyal. which all the Tibetans simply call Jowo. to show devotion to the one mainly reponsible for the introduction of tantric buddhism to Tibet. and it is kept in another temple of Lhassa. and Nepal. Later. Bhutan.Yeshe Tsogyal. "Queen of the Lake. YESHE TSOGYAL . To avoid a useless blood-bath.The first spouse. Under his direction." The second spouse. . Tsogyal to Padmasambhava. King Trisong Detsen decided to take her as one of his spouses. the "Lord. She became his main mystic companion and without doubt." Her beauty so overwhelmed her suitors that they made preparation for armed conflict to obtain her hand. When she was born. facing strenuous hardship until she attained the highest realization. Both of them had many temples built and strongly supported the development of buddhism. was a Chinese princess who brought with her as a dowry the venerated and holy buddha statue presently sheltered in the Jokhang in Lhassa. the Nepalese princess Tritsun also brought with her a statue of Akshobya Buddha. the small lake near her parents' house became much larger. looked upon as an emanation of the deity Vajravarahi (Dorje Pamo). the King offered Yeshe . Kunsho. his chief disciple.134 - . she spent many years of practice in caves in Kham.

(Tibetan. they left no remains. she joined her teacher in his pure land. At the end of her life. Yeshe Tsogyal remembered all the words of her teacher. their bodies disappeared into rainbows. F. without leaving behind any remains. it is mentioned that 25 of them obtained rainbow bodies. . she wrote these words down and hid them in the form of treasures . that is. .135 . it is said that she remained 200 years in the Land of Snow to continue guiding the disciples. terma) meant to be rediscovered later by predestined beings.Yesbe Tsogyal Endowed with an extraordinary memory. Among the women disciples of Padmasambhava.or the benefit of future generations. After Padmasambhava left Tibet.. the Copper Colored Mountain.

an emanation of the Great Mother (Prajnaparamita) and of the deity Vajravarahi (Dorje Pamo). celestial music. MACHIK LABDRON - . Besides the fact that the little girl had a third eye on her forehead and she had on her tongue the red syllable HRI.136 - . she stood up and asked her mother if she had suffered too much giving ·birth. Immediately at birth. It is understandable why Machik Labdron was quickly considered as an extraordinary being. she was born among rainbows. and wonderful perfumes.Machik Labdron was born in 1062 under extraordinary auspicious circumstances.

She abandoned the beautiful clothes she liked and dressed as a beggar. Consequently this caused many changes in her life. and received many teachings of another great Indian teacher called Padampa Sangye. Her knowledge was not limited to the intellect. She could also explain their meaning even to the great scholars who were astonished by her knowledge. while other practices have been transmitted from India. she showed extraordinary capabilities. She was able to give them enough proof of her past lives and her realization to convince them of the authenticity of the Chod practice. She married the Indian teacher. Machik Labdron lived to the age of 99 years old and counted among her many disciples four .137- .Prom an early age. This initiative appeared suspect to Indian buddhists. They met in Bodhgaya to discuss this issue and sent three messengers to Tibet to examine Machik Labdron. Machik Labdron is also famous for having composed and taught a meditation practice-Chod-linked to the prajnaparamita that is seen as the only practice of Tibetan origin. She did not care about praise or blame and dwelled in a state of constant happiness. She gave importance neither to the quality of housing nor the taste of food. She began to appreciate the company of . she also realized the absence of ego. Thopa Badra.. with whom she had several children. leprous people and the poor as much as that of scholars and meditators. She could read the very long texts of the prajnaparamita (the perfection of knowledge showing the ultimate nature of phenomena) faster than anybody else.

PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS I would now like to talk about three most remarkable women lamas that I have met in person. not far from Lhassa.138 - . was the 15th Karmapa Khakyab Dorje's spouse. called the 18 daughters. I met her when I was studying in Tsurpu. such as his sister Peta. have attained rainbow bodies. Sonam Jewel. I must have been 13 or 14 years old. give empowerments. Sakya.The first one. the great yogi of the Land of Snow. called the four sisters. In all. The 15th Karmapa had already passed away. and Rinchen Jewel. The great-grandson of Machik Labdron. she showed me much affection. Machik had 108 women disciples who attained realization. helped 18 of his women disciples. UGYEN TSOMO . numerous women have illustrated themselves by profound spiritual accomplishments even if history has not recorded their names. Ugyen Tsomo. Given the ties uniting the previous Bokar Rinpoche to the 15th Karmapa. and Gelug. Kagyu. The four latter ones. In all the schools of Tibetan buddhism. Donyo Samdrup who was himself a great teacher. and accomplish all the activities of the dharma. Palden Jewel. Nyingma.particularly remarkable women who are called the Four Jewel-Women: Gotsa Jewel. the Karmapa's monastery. She had to have been about 60 years old. . Sale 0. and Rechungma. to attain realization. the young Paldar Bum. we encounter a great number of women disciples who attained realization. Lekse Bum. They could teach. Their rank was then equal to that of men. In the life of Milarepa.

Known as Ani Yesang (short for Yeshe . spontaneously appeared on her tongue. she was called Khandro Rinpoche. Even at Tsurpu. From time to time. India. where I spent my youth before coming to India. U gyen Tsomo had practically spent all of her life in retreat.offered me food. I went there to receive teachings from Kunu Lama.She was a nun from the Bokar area in Western Tibet. she enjoyed the highest esteem and gave teachings and empowerments. I received the empowerment of long life from her. She had long hair like lay people. and she was also in Bodhgaya. She must have been about 60 years old at that time. she manifested in the form of a female tulku. devoting herself exclusively to practice. the new incarnation. after completing training. ANI YESANG . Given how highly she was regarded. DRIKUNG KHANDRO . that the imprint of the sacred letter AH. although I did not see it personally. I was able to meet her.Drikung Khandro was a woman lama of great realization who belonged to the Drikung Kagyu school. She was neither a nun nor did she marry. Therefore. It is said. Among the Drikung Kagyupas. symbol of the buddha's speech. she granted interviews only outside of her strict schedule of meditation. Having again received the title of Khandro Rinpoche. and so on." After her death.139- . "Precious Dakini. and had the reputation of possessing a great realization. I did not meet her in Tibet but in Bodhgaya. she gave empowerments to the monks. also teaches and gives empowerments in India and in the West.

She had left the area of her birth to live in a cave near Moun t Kailash. shramanera) and gelong (Sanskrit. She was famous for being the most accom plishe d disciple of this lama. but Tibetan nuns . Ani Yesang was very old and lived alone. one encounters two levels of ordination called in Tibetan getsul (Sanskrit. I do not know why. I do not remem ber what she told us. bhikshu). We made offerings to her and she offere d us tea. These two levels were brought to Tibet for men. Answer: It is true that nuns were less nume rous than monks. Perha ps. witho ut any attend ant. I only remem ber the strong impre ssion she made on me. When I was 11 years old. from an institu tional point of view. The room where she was faced her shrine and was lighte d only by a narro w hole from the outside. Question: Although the possibilities of access to teachings and practice were the same for men and women in Tibet. she was a disciple of Lama Degya l Tsam pa who studie d with the next to the last Dujom Rinpoche. in her cave divid ed into two small rooms.Sangm o.140 - . I believ e that she lived to be 80 years old. as well as his attend~t who was a relative of the nun in retreat. Question: In the monastic tradition. "Excellent Wisdo m"). My tutor accom panie d me on this journe y. there were more monks than nuns. I went on pilgri mage to Moun t Kailash. We went to her cave. She was a saintl y perso n of great realization. monk s had more powe r and this led them to build nume rous and large mona sterie s for themselves. The attend ant asked us to make a detou r to visit her.

Answer: For some historical reasons that I do not know. the number of commitments one takes depends on the greater or lesser capabilities one has to keep them. a bikshu must follow 253 precepts while a bikshuni must follow 340 of them. but this does not mean that they had less opportunity to do so. Question: In the code of monastic rules as written in the Vinaya. Why is there this difference? . whereas major ordination of a bikshu requires observance of 253 precepts. Perhaps also. one commits to respect only 36 precepts. Perhaps. did women truly have the same possibilities for study and practice in retreat centers as the men? Answer: Given that the number of nuns was smaller than the number of monks. Does this suggest some discrimination between men and women? Answer: On the one hand. it was considered that ethics must be stricter for women than for men.141 - . The Dalai Lama has been studying the possibility of including this Chinese tradition into the Tibetan institution.were always limited to the getsulma level without receiving the major ordination of gelongma. the tradition of the gelongmas was never ' created in Tibet. Question: In Tibet. women have a greater capability for keeping a greater number of precepts. For example. at the time of the Buddha. It exists today in China (Hong Kong and Taiwan) where some Tibetan nuns go to receive it. in the minor ordination of a shramanera. nuns who studied or practiced in retreat were also less. .

or only one. The best tumo practitioners could dry four shawls like that. others three. This procession was very famous in the area. If their shawl was dry on reaching the southern side. The retreat center linked to the monastery allowed the nuns to accomplish three year retreats in which they practiced the six yogas of Naropa. that is. nuns in retreat would go out in procession to show their skill in the tumo technique. hands on their hips and dressed in simple cotton clothes. The most renowned center was in Kham in eastern Tibet in Nangchen. The custom was that each year during the full moon of the first month of the Tibetan year (FebruaryMarch). and particularly tumo practice whose effect is to produce great physical heat. they placed cotton shawls soaked in the icy water on their shoulders as they continued very slowly toward the south. At the four comers of the building. When the nuns arrived on the eastern side. or two. The heat they produced was enough to make great steam come from the shawls that quickly became dry. With all the people of the area present. where the Kebcha monastery enrolled about a hundred nuns. .Many small retreat centers for nuns existed here and there.142 - . The respect they inspired was such that people prostrated and recited prayers when they passed. at the coldest time of the year. and so on. the nuns would set out of the retreat center in the morning before sunrise. large containers of water were placed with a stone serving CiS a hammer to break the ice that quickly forms on the surface. they would take another shawl. There were some who could not dry any at all.

and they recited mantras almost constantly. while doing other tasks or watching their herds of yaks and sheep. women have greater faith than men. Generally. Question: For lay women. their faith was great. Before. do you see any great change in the present situation of women in India and Tibet compared to Tibet in the past? Answer: Change is certain. Mo~t often. However. Tara's Praise. they would recite mantras and prayers almost continuously. there is one center attached to Sherab Ling. there are more in other schools. Perhaps. women or men. Question: In Europe. as well as other mantras-Avalokiteshvara and Padmasambhava mantras-and other prayers. Dewachen). Question: Concerning dharma practice. Today. and the prayer for rebirth in the Pure Land of Bliss (Tibetan. what was the usual way of practicing the dharma outside the monasteries? Answer: They would recite the Refuge prayer. when the Christian religion was still very strong. often women had more faith than men. and sometimes are able to talk well about the dharma. develop their intelligence and culture. but as previously mentioned. in Tibet.Question: Were retreat centers for nuns created again in India? Answer: In the Kagyupa school. Situ Rinpoche's Monastery. They are also more diligent in practice. Was this difference noticeable in Tibet? Answer: It was true and is still true today. it is .143 - . study. which they especially loved. lay women did not know the dharma very well. young people.

Only elderly people continue the tradition as it was in Tibet. girls and boys-and various buddhist disciplines are taught as well as Sanskrit and English languages. Do you see any particular reason for that? Answer: The reason is. The old profound faith has disappeared with few exceptions. But few young Tibetans show deep interest in the dharma. receive a buddhist education during their studies. Question: Do young people receive some dharma education in the schools in India? Answer: The wish of the Dalai Lama is that the children in all the Tibetan schools. without doubt. that which we mentioned earlier. True practice does not attract young people.144 - . . there are more women than men who are interested in the dharma. Question: In the West. something superficial. there is a teacher of buddhism in all the schools. girls and boys. A buddhist university was founded in Varanasi. To this effect.only on the level of words. Their minds are more open to spiritual life than men's. Women are easily and spontaneously more inclined to faith. It is open to all-monks and lay people.

we can see that they are all painted in the same posture accomplishing. We present here two iconographic series. a series of twenty-one Taras and a series of the Taras offering protection from the eight fears. For the twenty-one Taras.145 - . there are representations of Green Tara and White Tara. as it is required. the protecting mudra with the right hand. while at the feet of each one is shown the danger from which she protects those who pray to her. . whereas other traditions present only variants in color and symbolic objects' set on a lotus. In the first chapter. Each form of the deity is effectively distinguished by color. Artists following the Suryagupta tradition often give one tangkha to each aspect of the deity while in other traditions. we have chosen the tradition called Suryagupta because it is more interesting from an iconographic point of view. As for the Taras offering protection from the eight fears. faces.6. These two series appear with many variants so one should not be surprised to find them elsewhere in substantially different forms. postures. number of arms. the twentyone aspects are generally collected together in the same painting. which produced abundant iconographic material. and objects held in the hands.Iconography There are several forms of Tara.

In the other right hands : holding an arrow. left. and a vase. a bell. Three faces symbolizing the Three Bodies: right.The Twenty-one Taras Pravira Tara Rabtu Pawai Drolma Liberating One with Perfect Courage. white. In her right hands: holding a garland. a vajra. red. 12 arms symbolizing the 12 interdependent factors. In the other left hands: holding a bow. white. a jewel. a wheel. center. blue. a wheel of dharma. and a sword. Chandrakanti Tara Dadang Gyi Drolma Liberating One with a Moon Radiance. a conch. S arms. . a lotus. and a rope. and a khatvanga. a treasure vase. In her left hands: holding a text. golden.146 - . 2 hands above her head in the mudra of great bliss holding a vajra and a bell.

an arrow. 10 arms symbolizing the 10 paramitas. and a bow.Kanakavarna Tara Serdokchen Gyi Drolma Golden Liberating One. In her left hands: holding a silk scarf. golden. golden.:~~fC. her right hands: holding a mala and displaying the giving mudra. a vajra.·~~·q~· i~·~· Tsuktor Nampar Gyalwai Drolma Liberating One with a Perfectly Victorious Crown Protuberance. a lasso. U shnishavijaya Tara 'f\~qrr:l.p.147- . In her right hands: holding a mala. a bell. 4 arms. a trident. and a sword. In her left hands: holding a stick and a vase. . a lotus.

red. with her left hands: holding rope and displaying the threatening mudra. . With her left hand: mudra of the Three Jewels and holding a lotus. arms. yellow.Humsvara-nadini Tara Humdradt:okpai Drolma Liberating One Producing the Sound HUM (HUNG). 2. with her right hand : protecting mudra.148- . 4 arms. Trailokya-vij aya Tara ~a~·~~·~~~·fll~·~~·q2\· tnrq~trar Jikten Sum Lai Nampargyalwai drolma Liberating One Victorious over the Three Worlds. her right hands: holding a sword and a vajra.

Vashitottamada Tara Wangchok Terwai Drolma LiberatingOne Who Gives the Sublime Empowerment. her left hands: a vase and a lotus. Wrathful aspects. her right hands: holding a branch of the ashoka tree and a jewel. 4 arms. golden.V a d i pramardaka Tara Golwa ]ompai Drolma Liberating One Victorious over Hostility. 4 arms. her right hands: holding a sword and a wheel. Seated on a makara (sea mons~). black. . her left hands: displaying the threatening mudra and holding a rope.149 - .

red. . 4 arms. 2 hands above her head in the mudra of joy (palms joined) other right hand holding a sword. Other hand in a mudra (?). Other left hand holding a branch of the ashoka tree. 2 hands above her head in the mudra of joy.ed. holding a vajra and a bell. 4 arms.150 - .Varada Tara Chok Tsolwai Drolma Liberating One Who Grants the Sublime. other left hand holding a branch of the ashoka tree. r. Shoka -vinod ana Tara Nya-nge n Selwai Drolma Liberatin g One Wh~ Dissipates Suffering.

151 - . she holds in each hand a hook (to gather beings). . Mangalaloka Tara Trashi Nangwai Drolma Liberating One with Auspicious Light. trident. stick. and vase.Jagadvashi Tara Drowa Gukpai Drolma Liberating One Who Gathers Beings. and sword. in the left hands: a jewel. in the right hands: a vajra. 2 arms. black. golden. hook. hook. S arms.

and a rope. in her right hands: a sword. center: black. in the left hands: a wheel and a bow. in the right hands: a sword and an arrow. 6 arms.~. ~. black.Paripachaka Tara ~~~~~. and a stick.cJlI{~~&. a hook. left: red. . right: white. in her left hands: a skulIcup. 4 arms. Yongsu Minparzepai Drolma Liberating One Who Leads to Complete Ripening. Bhrikuti Tara Thronyer Yowai Drolma Liberating One Frowning her Eyebrows.152 - . red. 3 faces. a wheel.

6 arms. in her right hands: a mala. a trident in her right hand. a tree branch in her left hand. and a stick.153 - . Raga-nisudana Tara Chakpa Jompai Drolma Liberating One Victorious over Attachment. .Mahashanti Tara Shiva Chenmoi Drolma Liberating One with Great Peace. and a cup filled with fruits.orangered. white. 2 arms. in her left hands: a lotus. a vase. giving mudra.

Vijaya Tara Drolma Namgya lma Victorio us Liberati ng One. Seated on a goose. .Sukh a-sad hana Tara Drolma Dedrupm a Liber ating One Acco mplis hing Happiness. orange. Other right hand in giving mudra. 2 arms. 4 arms. 2 hands above the head in the mudra of joy and holding hooks. white.154 - . holds in her hands a moon disc. other left hand holding a lotus upon which rests a text.

holds in her hands a triangle symbolizing fire.155 - .Duhkha-dahana Tara Drolma Dugngal Sekma Liberating One Burning Suffering. holds in her hands a vase containing the accomplishments (supernormal powers and realization of the nature of the mind). orange. 2 arms. Siddhisambhava Tara Drolma Ngodrup Jungma Liberating One Source of Accomplishments. . 2 arms. white.

Paripurana Tara

Drolma Yongzok lema Liberatin g One Who Has Achieve d Perfecti on; white. seated on a bull, 2 arms, her right hand in the mudra of protection, her left hand holds a trident.

- 156 -

Taras Who Protect from the Eight Fears
Mana simha bhaya trana

~~nr~~~~r.I;~9~f~ql
~~.~
Ngagyal Senge Jikkyob Jetsunma Queen who protects from the danger of pride and from lions

Moha-hasti-

Timuk Langpoi Jikdrol Lahmo Goddess who protects from the danger of torpor and from elephants

- 157-

Dves-agniprashamani

"~~~r;-~Il\{~~~
X.Cf~~·
Sh etan g M.epun g Tsoknam Rab Shima She who perfectly calms down anger and blazing fire

Irsya-sapavisapaharani

~~~~~~~~.~~
UfI:\~~cJf
Tradok Dru'l Gyi Duknam Yong Selma She who completely removes jealousy and poisons from snakes

- 158-

Kudristi-coraupadravananirvarani Ta-ngen Kunpoi Nyertse Le Dokma She who removes the violence of false view and of thieves Ghoramatsaryashrinkhalamocani ~.~~~~.~rlf~~~'~' Mize Sernai Chakdrok Drolzema She who liberates from insatiable greed and imprisonment .159 - .q~.~~.~. Il.

160 - .~~~q-m~ ~~~l~·~· Dochak Chu-oi Salong Kem Zema She who dries up desire and waters Samshaya-pishacabhaya-trana-tara Thetsom Shazai Jii< Kyob Drolma She who prote~ts and frees from doubts and demons .Rag-augha-vegavaria -shosani ~~~.

were three great masters of the renaissance of Tibetan buddhism in the 19th century. Sambhogakaya is a pure mode of manifestation of the buddhas. 8.ENDNOTES 1. The nature of the mind designates the mind as it is. 3. On Taranatha. They are the ones who reported Kunu Lama's words to Bokar Rinpoche . Tsurphu. rime) . Tibetans distinguish between two kinds of crystal. They were the main architects of the nonsectarian school (Tibetan. The Karmapa is the head of the Kagyupa order to which Bokar Rinpoche belongs. There is the water crystal giving a sensation of freshness when touched by the sun's rays. 2. 6. For the other Bodies of Awakening see note 11 . see page 94. and Jamgon Lodro Taye (1813-1899) mentioned later. rather than on the level of matter. 10.161 - . He passed away there at the age of 85 in 1989. He lived the first part of his life in Tibet and the latter part in India. Realizing the nature of the mind means discovering it through direct experience and dwelling in this nature in a stable WilY . 5. A great realized scholar. Chogyur Lingpa (1829-1879) as well as Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892). Two lamas who actually reside in Bokar Rinpoche's monastery in Mirik were present at this teaching. 7. Kalu Rinpoche (1905-1989) was Bokar Rinpoche's main Teacher. . 9. truly beyond the veils imposed by the psyche to which the individual identifies himself or herself. having established his monastery in Sonada near Darjeeling. and the fire crystal that gives off a sensation of heat. near Lhassa is the Karmapa's monastery in Tibet. Khenpo Donyo is a great scholar and a lama who has lived near Bokar Rinpoche since his childhood. on the level of light.

strictly speaking.the Four Bodies . for example. or the Four Bodies. the manifestation of awakening at very subtle levels that can be called luminous . The third line of stanza 13 in Tibetan ends with ')Il)q. Body of Essence Itself. as they would with ordinary means of expression. Body of Manifestation (Nirmanakaya). such as those of the deities Ushnishavijaya (Namgyalma) or Sittatapatra (Dukkar) were also expressed through the crown protuberance... the Three Bodies.. (~~·nrl!o{. Therefore we have: ." 15. the manifestation of awakening at the level of ordinary material reality. but a way to emphasize that the Three preceding Bodies are not separated but are one in essence. Other tantras..~ This leads. Body of Enjoyment (Sambhogakaya). . pure awareness of awakening . the presence of the agent ending ... The idea of the buddha's Bodies tries to express various modalities of the awakened being.. Absolute Body . the same word is written . 13. Absolute Body (Dharmakaya): nonmanifested aspect. a fourth Body. does not have the agent ending ~. ) results in an entirely different meaning. once more to different interpretations. in a human form.. In the text of the praise used by Taranatha.. 14.the Three Bodies In this classification. this allows his interpretation. Body of Manifestation . we add the Absolute Body as a division of the Formal Body into twO". "she whose rays of her own light (radiating) from (her hand) adorned by a wheel fight in all directions. Formal Body (Rupakaya) manifested aspect of awakening . It is not.the Two Bodies . Three classifications are proposed. Enjoyment Body .11. Absolute Body . founded on another commentary. the word qF~-rIf (wheel) in the third line of the ninth stanza in Tibetan.162 - . right leg . In other versions. In this case see Rose-Marie Mengual's translation. ushnisha) of the buddhas allows them to express tantras. . The protuberance of the crown (Sanskrit. In other texts. "she who. They are the Two Bodies.. See Rose-Marie Mengual..

extended and left leg folded. In his commentary Taranatha explicates this complement as being -&1l1"'f (mind of compassion) which justifies his interpretation." 16. 17. collection of the Buddha's words on ethics. Arhathood designates the liberation in the framework of the tradition of ancient buddhism.163- . totally destroys the army of enemies of those who rejoice in the turning of the Wheel of Dharma. The last word of the first line of stanza 16 in Tibetan ends with a genitive that is waiting for an unexpressed complement. 18. kinnara . The Vinaya.

.

an act is positive when it creates happiness within us. ACCUMULATION OF MERIT: Practice of positive activity allowing us to store energy for progressing on the spiritual path. AFFLICTING EMOTIONS: Desire-attachment. ACT: Physical action. AWAKENING: State of buddhahood.GLOSSARY ACCOMPLISHMENTS: (Sanskrit. and so on. siddhi). reciting mantras. The ordinary accomplishments correspond to obtaining some powers like clairvoyance. and so on. North. AMOGHASIDDHI: Buddha of the Activity Family. animals.· BEINGS: There are six classes of beings: gods. demigods. This accumulation of merit can be achieved through the practice of giving. ACCUMULATION OF WISDOM: Practice of understanding the empty nature of all phenomena. human beings. and hell beings. pride.165 - . hatred-aversion. POSITIVE ACT: Following the law of karma. manifestation of accomplishing wisdom which purifies jealousy. hungry ghosts. visualizing deities. jealousy. walking in space. or thoughts. ignorance or mental dullness. making offerings. and so on. . words. green in color. NEGATIVE ACT: All negative deeds which deliberately cause others to suffer and leave on our mind an imprint of more suffering that will condition our experience and vision of the world. The sublime accomplishments correspond to the realization of the nature of the mind.

duality and ignorance. gyay means that the infinite potential of qualities of a being is awakened. A person. State of possessing numerous qualities.166 - . as the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. CLARITY: With emptiness. CHENREZIG (Tibetan): Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit). right foot and leg are bent flat in front. BUDDHA NATURE: Potential of Awakening inherent in all beings. Most popular Tibetan deity. Clarity deSignates the dynamic aspect which includes the faculty of knowing and creating all manifestation. one of the aspects of the nature of the mind. BUDDHA: One who has awakened. BODY: Ordinary physical body. BUDDHAHOOD: Awakened state characterized by wisdom (as knowledge of the true nature of phenomena and their manifestation in the three times). BODHISATTVA POSTURE: Seated with legs crossed. In Tibetan. . Sangyay. See Chenrezig. kaya.BODHICITT A: Aspiration to obtain Awakening in order to help all beings. Buddha of Compassion. An ordinary being who commits to practice bodhicitta. One who has attained Awakening and dwells in one of the ten stages of the bodhisattvas. BODHISATTVA: A being who follows the bodhicitta path and seeks to obtain Awakening not only for himself or herself but for the sake of all beings. and power to help all beings. A bodhisattva can be physically present in our world or abide in domains of more subtle manifestation. in Sanskrit. left heel against the perineum. Sang means purified from the conflicting emotions. compassion for every being. Lord of Love (ClearPoint Press). his mantra is OM MA NI PAD ME HUNG.

gustatory consciousness (tastes) .olfactory consciousness (smells) . let us consider six consciousnesses: . The practice of Dorje Sempa includes a visualization as well as recitation of mantra of 100 syllables. DAKINI: Celestial female being. CONSCIOUSNESS: From a dualistic point of view. OORJE SEMPA (Tibetan): Vajrasattva (Sanskrit).mental consciousness (imaginary objects) One can add two other consciousnesses: .potential of consciousness or "all-ground consciousness" (Sanskrit. each object of the senses corresponds to a consciousness. deity of the Vajrayana who is the source of purification practices. First.tactile consciousness (tangible objects) . DHARMA: Buddha's teachings or the spiritual path. There are six or eight consciousnesses depending on their classification. DHARMAKAYA: Absolute Body.disturbed consciousness or ego consciousness which corresponds to the influence of afflicting emotions on our relationship to phenomena . COMPASSION: Aspiration to liberate all beings from suffering and causes of suffering. a .CLEAR UGHT: Nature of the mind. corresponds to emptiness. Most of the dakinis are liberated from sam sara.167- .visual consciousness (forms) . DEDICATION: Aspiration that any merit accumulated through our positive acts serves to attain Awakening for the benefit of all beings.auditory consciousness (sounds) . designating a state beyond any spatial or temporal determination. alayavijnana) which contains all the latent conditionings of karma. .

The other ones are Gelugpa. the empowerment is followed . The Kagyu lineage originated with Marpa the Translator in the 11th century.168 - ." The world seen as an organized universe. MANDALA: Literally "center and surrounding. MANDALA OFFERING: Practice during which we imagine offering the mandala of the universe to the Buddha. KAGYUPA: One of the four great schools of Tibetan buddhism. . Designates a deity with its surrounding environment. It is a three-phase process: . MANJUSHRI: (Tibetan. KALPA: Cosmic era of an extremely long duration. LAMA (Tibetan): Guru (Sanskrit). Can be represented on a thangka which is then used as a support for the visualizations.by the disciple's commitment to practice this deity but sometimes the empowerment can also be received as a simple bleSSing. Nyingma.EMPOWERMENT: A Vajrayana ritual transmitting the blessing of . Jampal Yang). A spiritual teacher.this act is stored in the potential of consciousness and is slowly ripening.this process is actualized in a particular form of suffering or joy (result). . in the eleventh century. Dharma. a deity and allowing its practice. . Bodhisattva of wisdom. and Sakya schools. KADAMP A: Lineage originating with the teachings of the great Indian master Atisha. LOVE: Aspiration to bring happiness to all beings. Often. KARMA: The law of karma describes the process of cause and effect.an act leaves an imprint in the mind of the one who acts' (cause). and Sangha. . There are many empowerments.

Purification will neutralize these imprints . PURIFICATION: All negative acts performed in this life and in the past lives have left imprints in our potential of consciousness. There are many Pure Lands one can access depending on one's aspiration and accomplishment. Dewachen is Amitabha's Pure Land. MIND: This term can refer to the ordinary functioning of the mind called "psyche" as well as the absolute. They are not part of samsara and are not affected by suffering.MANTRA: Sacred sounds. PURE SUPPORTS: They are used in meditation. texts expressing the buddha's speech. PRAJNAPARAMIT A: The sixth perfection (paramita) of wisdom. Statues representing the buddha's body. These imprints will ripen. PURE LAND: Domain of manifestation of a buddha's mind. nondual pure essence of the mind beyond the fluctuations that may affect the ordinary mind. For example. engendering suffering and obstacles to our spiritual practice. Being born there does not mean that one has achieved complete Awakening but will provide one with the means to progress on the spiritual path. having attained liberation. Female deity.169 - . NIRMANAKAYA: Body of Emanation. stupas symbolizing the buddha's mind. the mantra of Tara is OM TARE TUTT ARE TURE SOHA. are able to disperse obstacles and to create conditions favorable to the practice of the dharma. MUDRA: Hand gesture accomplished during rituals. appears as human or other forms to guide ordinary beings. the repetition of which helps ~he mind purify itself and develop its potential for Awakening. the direct knowledge of the absolute. PROTECTORS: Deities who. For example.

suffering of change: one experiences suffering when happiness ends. SANGHA: Community of buddhist practitioners. SEVEN BRANCH PRAYER: Traditional prayer taking different forms but always having the following seven points: 1 homage 2 offering 3 regret of faults ." name of the historical buddha who lived in the 6th century BCE. SAMBHOGAKAYA: Body of Perfect Experience.in order to avoid or reduce their effects. SUFFERING: Generally it is analyzed on three levels: . impermanence. It is characterized by suffering. . One distinguishes ordinary sangha from the Noble Sangha which is composed of those who have attained the bodhisattva levels. SHAKY AMUNI: Literally "wise man of the Sakya. offerings. reciting mantras. circumambulations. With wisdom. ignorance. A qualified teacher might designate specific practice to do in order to purify oneself. prostrating. . 4 rejoicing of accumulated merit 5 requesting the buddhas to teach 6 requesting the buddhas to remain in this world 7 dedication. visualization. skillful means form a complete spiritual path. SKILLFUL MEANS: All activity allowing spiritual growth such as rituals. giving. patience. it appears to guide beings in the Pure Lands.170 - . and illusion. and so on.suffering of suffering: physical and mental pain experienced by all beings. SAMSARA: Cycle of conditioned existence in which each being is born and dies.

sickness. and Sangha (the Three Jewels). methods of meditation. one also takes Refuge in the Three Roots. and nondual tantras. . TERMA: Text or object hidden most often by Padmasambhava (Tantric Indian master who introduced buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century) in order to be discovered when it is necessary. not getting what we wish for. speech. TANTRA: Text of the esoteric teachings of the Buddha which is related to a deity. THREE TIMES: The past. and Anuttarayoga Tantra. mandalas.suffering of conditioned existence is suffering one undergoes because of the deluded nature of sam sara. present. The fourth class is divided into father tantras. Dharma. There are four classes of tantras in relation to types of outer observance. sorrow. Lamas (root of grace). having things we do not like. Yidams (root of accomplishment). or teachers of the lineage. TAKING REFUGE: Placing oneself under the protection of the Buddha. and mind.. despair. SUTRA (Sanskrit): Text of the exoteriC teachings of the Buddha. used by a practitioner in meditation.171 - . TORMA: A ritual object made of flour and butter used to represent a deity (tentor) or used as an offering (bultor). aging. material or mental. THANGKA (Tibetan): Traditional painting on cloth representing deities. It ends only when one attains Awakening. death. mother tantras. and Dharma Protectors (root of activity). grief. and particular levels: Kriya Tantra. Charya Tantra. SUPPORT: Any object of concentration. SUFFERING OF THE HUMAN REALM: Birth. empowerments. losing things we like. and so on. THREE DOORS OF LmERATION: the body. and future. In the Vajrayana. Yoga Tantra.

and so on. . moving or still. TWO VEILS: Afflicting emotions and dualistic perception that veil our buddha nature. reciting mantras. The completion phase is the absorption of the . latent conditioning. The absolute or certain truth refers to the empty nature of this manifestation. visualization into emptiness. dualistic perception. This exercise is not dependent upon visual perception but upon inner faculty of imagining. and offerings. praise. Form. The creation phase includes visualization. VAJRA POSTURE: It is also called "diamond posture. TWO TRUTHS: The relative or pedagogical truth is the way phenomena manifest and the interdependency of their evolution. VISUALIZATION: Creation of a mental image used as a support in a meditation or ritual. A deity upon which one meditates after having received an empowerment. first. and Formlessness. karmic veils. The two truths do not contradict each other. VAJRAYANA: Path of buddhism also called "diamond vehicle" referring to the part of the Buddha's teachings written in texts of an esoteric nature called tantras. the left foot on the right thigh then the right foot on the left thigh. VEILS: That which obscures our buddha nature such as ignorance.THREE WORLDS: The samsaric realms or spheres of Desire. YIDAM: A personal deity expressing the pure nature of the mind. It uses recitation of mantras. These images can be geometrical forms or deities. they are simultaneous. TWO PHASES: The two aspects of deity meditation." Seated with legs crossed.172 - . afflicting emotion. visualizations of deities and works with the subtle winds or energies.

1973 Willson. Stephan The Cult of Tara. the First Six Texts Related to the Tara Tantra Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. commentaire de la pratique de la grande liberatrice Saint Leon sur Vezere: Editions Dzambala. 1995 Dalai Lama. Martin In Praise of Tara. Magic and Ritual in Tibet Berkeley: University of California Press. Jo Nang The Origin of Tara Tantra Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. 1996 Lama Zopa Rinpoche Tara the Liberator Boston: Wisdom Publications. 1978 . 1980 Tenga Rinpoche Tara.173 - . 1993 Taranatha. Songs of the Saviouress London: Wisdom Publications.Bibliography Beyer. 1994 Rite d'offrande ala liberatrice (traduction de Rose-Marie Mengual) Toulon sur Arroux.

... 32... 55. ..52.. ...37.102.129.... .. ....26.... ..116.....59.142 Khyungpo Naljor ....40....39..136... . . .. ...40..170 Chandragarbha .143.. ........66.. ..... . .......139...58........21. ......... .. ... .. ...66.... .......... .. ... .68.. 53 Chenrezig ..135..... .. ..Index Atisha .63 Shantideva ... . ..73..........166 Chod . .66.141 Virupa .113. 51... .. .....98.82. .. ...... ..... .38....138 Kebcha . . ..168.55.54.............. '......52.. ... .. . ...... .. .. . ... ...142 Padmasambhava . .. . 132 Vinaya .. .. ...58. ...21........ .............34. ...... .. ....... ...57 Chandragonin .....174 - .. .... . ..77...128.......... . . ... ...... 137 Chogyur Lingpa . . ....51. ...... ....121...132 ...... .....51.... ... .. ........ : 123 Taranatha .72....... 28.... . .135... 94...... ....101.171 Torma .. ..................108...129.128... .. ........ .. .166 Bodhisattv<l9....... ......... .73 Kangyur ...168 Karmapa .. ..166. 17.........127.... . 55..... ... . .33...30.... .67...98.... ........ . . ..... . ..... .. . 18. ...... ....... ...... ..... .65...... .. ....... ... .. ... 142 Kham .. .... ... ...... .....168 Kalpa ... .....22....107...130 Milarepa ...119. ...57......... .. . .....72... .... ..122... .112 Kalu Rinpoche .127...... .......... ............ 16..171 Paramita ..67........120... 129. ... . 131... ......53.... . ... ..81.21.53.. . ...... .. 138 Naropa ..134...... .. .... ...... ..129. 100... .. 94 Karma .. .... ..... .......... . .33.. 50. .. ...134...... . . .69.167 Hayapala .. .... . .... ..139....171 Tumo .81. . .30. . ..95...31.21.. 29... 20. .. 126.......... 56..128.45-47.. .... . ..56 Jonang ............. 56.. .....95. .29.. ....78.. 26. ... .....173 Terma ........ ..... . .. ........ .. 142 Vajradhara ...168 Avalokiteshvara .......... ... . ... . ...51-54. 60. .... . ..123..137 Shakyamuni .. .100.....143..........54..66 Dakini ...... .... 65....79... .... ...... . . ... 95 Kagyu . . ....143.102..........29.59............ .51.......... ..... ......138. 17..147 Prajnaparamita .. ...... ... .98. : ...67... 65.. ..... .. .. .... . ...... ....... 8...102.. 127.

172 Yogi .138 Yogini .131 .... ..... .. .... ....... .175 - . .... ..... .... .58.... .. . ....103.... 57.... .. ...129...... ....... ... .... ... ..Yanglesho ... 34..128. 16.... .. .. . .17...131. 38 Yidam ... ....59. . . ...67....... ... . .......... .. ...

176 - .Also by Bokar Rinpoche Chenrezig Lord of Love Meditation Advice to Beginners Death and the Art of Dying in Tibetan Buddhism Opening the Door to Certainty Taking the Bodhisattva Vow The Day of a Buddhist Practitioner With Khenpo Donyo Profound Wisdom of the Heart Sutra For more information on our current publications and for notice of future releases please write to: ClearPoint Press PO Box 170658 San Francisco. CA 94117 USA .

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