Tears of Tara

Lyudmila Klasanova

In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Tara is a complex figure that integrates mythical and historical threads and combines different functions. She is presented as a female aspect of Buddha and a symbol of unlimited compassion. The goddess protects humanity and saves people from dangers, protects them from fears, and helps fulfil their wishes. Her compassion to all sentient beings as well as her aspirations to save them from the suffering are described as stronger than a mother’s love for her own child.

Tara is among the most popular deities in the Buddhist world and among the most revered goddesses in Himalayan traditions. She is an object of worship not only for Buddhist monks and nuns, but also for lay Buddhists who invoke her to achieve material prosperity, spiritual healing, and liberation from all kinds of suffering.

Tara appears to help living beings to achieve enlightenment in different epochs. Her legendary origins can be traced back to numerous stories and prayers praising her divine nature. The Tara Tantra describes the cry of Avalokiteshvara, the lord of compassion, who witnessed the innumerable suffering of sentient beings. Two forms of Tara were born from his tears – White Tara appeared from his left eye in a peaceful aspect, and Green Tara appeared from his right eye in a wrathful aspect.

Avalokiteshvara. Drawing by the author

The metaphor “tears of Tara” is a reference to the story of Tara’s birth from the tears of Avalokiteshvara. He is filled with sadness and despair over the constant torment of sentient beings. The goddess is born from his tears of deep compassion, giving a vow to help him in his tireless activities to overcome the suffering of the world. As an embodiment of the great compassion in a female form, she has a special connection with women who follow the doctrine of the Buddha and is honored as their protector.

“Tears of Tara” is a poetic reminder of the struggles of Buddhist women in the past and in the present, as well as a mirror of the power and purity of the female compassion.

The tears of Avalokiteshvara makes a river of compassion.
The lotus that blossoms from this river
Transcends the wordly sorrows,
While keeping its roots deep in samsara.
Tara is the lotus born from the heart of Avalokiteshvara,
The precious water from his merciful eyes.
She is the vehicle that helps beings to cross to the other cost of liberation.
What is born from the tears of Tara?
What is born from the tears of the one that is born
From the tears of the Compassionate One?

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