Green Tara

Green Tara

            Green Tara, known as the Swift Liberator, represents the principle of Active Compassion in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Her name in Tibetan is Drolma, the Mother Who Rescues. Tara is her name in Sanskrit. We see her seated on a lotus arising from a pool, for she (together with White Tara) is said to have arisen from the tears of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of love and compassion, as he wept over the suffering in the world.

Green Tara sits in a posture of royal ease, a calm, radiant, sensual young woman, clothed in flowing, silken skirts, a white half blouse, and rainbow stockings. She is elegantly adorned with flowers, gold, and jewels, for her radiance and splendor is that of wisdom, compassion, and mercy, which she brings to the world. The ruby in the center of her tiara represents her kinship with Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light.

Tara’s skin is green, for that is the color associated with wind, with breath, with prana and hence with movement and activity. She sits with her left leg folded under her and her right leg extended, for it is said that she is always, always ready to come swiftly and immediately to the assistance of anyone who calls upon her for help. The position of her legs also reflects her integration of contemplation and action.

Tara’s right hand is stretched out in a gesture, a mudra, that bestows blessings and offers refuge and protection. Her left hand is at her heart, in a mudra in which her thumb and ring finger are pressed together, symbolizing the union of wisdom and skillful means; her three remaining fingers are raised, symbolizing the Three Jewels of Refuge, Buddha (the seed, the potential for full awakening inherent in all beings), the Dharma (the way and laws of life, the knowledge and teaching of them), and Sangha (in the broadest sense meaning the community of beings with whom we share our lives). In each hand she holds a blue utpala flower, a “night blooming lotus”, each of which have three blossoms, telling us that Green Tara, as the embodiment of enlightened activity, is the mother of the buddhas of the past, present, and future.

Green Tara’s gaze is open, warm, and kind. As the principle of Active Compassion, she is immediately accessible to all who turn to her. She is known as a protrectress and one who comes swiftly to those who call upon her in times of danger. She is a protector of travelers, and women giving birth say her mantra. She gives comfort, help and protection in the most mundane of the difficulties and concerns of ordinary people. Traditionally she is known as ‘The One Who Rescues from the Eight Calamities’ or ‘Eight Great Fears’, which are: the fear of lions, elephants, snakes, fires, floods, robbers, demons, and imprisonment. Add to those the multitude of terrors that besets all who live in the early 21st century, such as terrorism, ecological devastation, nuclear annihilation, diseases such as cancer or AIDS, isolation and destitution ~ fears bearing the particular mark of our time. In particular, she protects us from the internal poisons and distortions wrought by fear, among them pride, ignorance, rage, wrong views, and doubt.

Some good books about Green Tara are: How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator by Thubten Chodron, Snow Lion Publications 2005; The Cult of Tara: Magic and Ritual in Tibet by Stephen Beyer U. of California Press, 1973; Longing For Darkness by China Galland.

The Green Tara mantra is:




Green Tara Prints

This is a richly colored, glossy, off-set print; it measures 29.5″ x 20″. 10% of the sale of each print will go to 10% of proceeds benefit the Bylakuppe Tibetan Children’s Village.




© Laura Marshall 2001

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