By Tim Kavi
Tara refers to the savior-goddess in Buddhist mythology, more commonly referred to as Sgrol-ma. She is considered to be one of the mantras heard in Tibet and acts in a light of universal compassion which is a stronger form of a mother’s love for her children. It is said that Tara is responsible for guiding her followers on the path to enlightenment, providing longevity and protecting her followers through earthly travel.
Before Tara was considered a part of Buddhism she was depicted as one of the manifestations of Parvati in Hinduism. According to later traditions, Tara was born from the compassionate tears of Avalokitesharva when he looked upon the suffering of humans. These tears formed a lake where lotus blossoms bloomed. A beam of blue light emanated from one of these flowers and brought forth Tara. Tara appears in many forms, each with its own symbolism and power.
Green Tara is represented by the half-open lotus which represents that night. With time she will transform into the white lotus as she reaches full bloom, representing grace and serenity. Green Tara focuses on compassion for those that must labor night and day to relieve the suffering of others. It was once believed that every pious woman was an incarnation of Tara, though some will take on more green or white aspects depending on their nature.
Green Tara is also associated with a sense of vigor and youth. She is often depicted as being very active and fierce, though the actions she takes are always filled with compassion for those she is interacting with. Some believe that Green Tara is a self-born form of the Buddha Amitabha, and this will often be depicted in her headdress. Other stories say she was incarnated as a wife of the Tibetan king Srong-brtsan-sgam-po because in this culture green is a symbol for accomplishment and this king was known as the lord of action.
When she is depicted, Green Tara is often shown in a posture that is relaxed though still ready to take action at any time. Her left leg is usually folded in the contemplated position, but her right will often be outstretched so she could quickly move into action if necessary. She will frequently be shown holding blue lotuses as a representation of her origin story and will wear rich jewelry. It is quite common for people to illustrate her this way as a way of calling upon her compassionate nature.