The Buddhist Goddess Tara

Tara is the Buddhist goddess noted for her universal compassion and her popularity among Buddhists. Her place in the Buddhist pantheon is somewhat comparable to that of the Blessed Virgin Mary among Roman Catholics. It is said that her name is derived from the root tri ( = "to cross over"), which suggests that her function is to enable all creatures to cross the Ocean of Existence and Suffering. In her infinite love for all beings, greater than the love of a mother for her children, Tara wishes only to protect her children from the suffering of this world.

The story is told that in the distant past Tara was a princess of great spirituality and compassion who regularly made offerings to monks and nuns in her father's kingdom. In gratitude for her many gifts and in recognition of her many viritues, they offerred to pray that she be be reborn as a man so that she could spread the religion. Her response was that of a very modern feminist, for she told them that male and female were part of maya, the illusion of this world. Therefore she would retain the female form to serve all beings until they had attained enlightenment.

In recognition of her great compassion, another legend has Tara born from the compassionate tears of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion:
Homage! Tara, swift, heroic! With a glance like flashing lightning, born from a blooming lotus sprung from the tears on the face of the Lord of the World!
Avalokiteshvara, also known as Kwan-Yin among the Chinese and Kannon in Japan, upon seeing the suffering and pain of the world, wept tears of compassion - from the tears of the left eye emerged the peaceful white Tara, and from the right a fierce green one.
Some have a vision of you (Tara) as red as the sun with rays more brilliant and red than the lac and the vermilion. Others see you blue like the sapphire. Some again see you whiter than the milk churned out of the milky ocean. Still others see you golden. Your visva-rupa is like a crystal which changes its color with the change of the things around it.

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