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Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xxxv ] The Buddhist cult of the female B odhisattva Tara developed in India, but it has become particularly important in Tibetan B uddhism where it was introduced by the Indian missionary Atisha (11th century; see K adam ). Tara incarnates the dynamic saving energy of all the Buddhas, and she is closely connected with A valokiteshvara , appearing in art with him from the 6th century ce . According to a Tibetan story Tara was born from one of Avalokiteshvara's tears at seeing the suffering of sentient beings. Another story has it that she was previously a princess whose spiritual development was such that she was urged to transform into male form in order finally to achieve Buddhahood. In response she said she would work ‘until S amsara is empty’ in a female form. Tibetans frequently speak of Tara as already a fully enlightened female Buddha. Like M anjushri she is said to be age-old yet perpetually 16. In Tibetan art Tara has two principal forms: (1) the Green Tara, seated with left leg drawn up and the right on a lotus ‘footstool’, often holding the stem of a blue lotus in each hand; and (2) the White Tara, associated with long-life practices, seated in lotus posture with an eye in each hand and foot, holding the stem of a white lotus in the left hand. [ xi 101: 236–8; 27; 34] ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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