Homage to the 21 Taras Commentary following each verse is by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron from her book, How to Free Your Mind: Tara the Liberator. Images sent by Lucia Puga Copyright by Sravasti Abbey www.sravasti.org Tara Swift and Heroic 1. Homage to Tara swift and fearless, With eyes like a flash of lightning, Lotus- born in an ocean of tears, Of Chenresig, three worlds’ protector. Tara swift and Heroic is red in color. Her specific function is to control, and there is a ceremony in which a practitioner invokes this Tara to turn back the power of others who are trying to exert harmful power over us. We can reverse that power or turn it away by requesting Tara’s help. Tara White as the Autumn Moon 2. Homage to you whose face is like One hundred autumn moons gathered And blazes with the dazzling light Of a thousand constellations. This Tara is called Tara White as the Autumn Moon. Like a hundred luminous autumn moons, she is radiant white, indicating that she liberates sentient beings by peaceful methods and can purify all the mental afflictions that keep them bound in cyclic existence. Golden Tara 3. Homage to you, born from a gold-blue lotus, Hands adorned with lotus flowers, Essence of giving, effort, and ethics, Patience, concentration, and wisdom. Golden Tara, Giver of Supreme Virtue is gold with a bluish tint, and her specialty is prolonging life and increasing resources, wisdom, and merit. Tara, the Victorious Ushnisha of Tathagatas 4. Homage to you who crowns all Buddhas, Whose action subdues without limit; Attained to every perfection, On you the bodhisattvas rely. Tara, the Victorious Ushnisha of Tathagatas has a crown protuberance, or ushnisha, on the top of her head. Its cause is a bodhisattva’s great accumulation of merit on the path to Buddhahood. She is gold in color, and her specialty is to neutralize poison, increase life, and counteract premature death. She can stop accidents and untimely death—anything that might cause us to die before our full life span, as conditioned by our previous karma, has been lived out. Tara Proclaiming the Sound of Hum 5. Homage to you whose Tuttara and Hum Fill the realms of desire, form and space. You crush seven worlds beneath your feet And have power to call all forces. Tara Proclaiming the Sound of Hum, or Tara Summoning the Three Worlds is gold in color and slightly wrathful. Her specialty is influencing and subjugating. This verse praises her ability to suppress adverse factors. Tara Victorious Over the Three Worlds 6. Homage to you adored by Indra, Agni, Brahma, Vayu and Ishvara, Praised in song by hosts of spirits, Zombies, scent-eaters, and yakshas. This Tara is called Tara Victorious over the Three Worlds. She is ruby red, although in some cases she is reddish-black. Her specialty is to purify obscurations and negativities. Here we praise her because the worldly gods offer their respect and service to her. Tara Crushing Adversaries or Crushing Disputants 7. Homage to you whose Trey and Pey Destroy external wheels of magic. Right leg drawn in and left extended, You blaze within a raging fire. Standing amidst a raging fire, Tara Crushing Adversaries is black and fierce. Her specialty is powa—the transference of consciousness to Akanishta pure land at the time of death. Tara Who Crushes All Maras and Bestows Supreme Powers 8. Homage to you whose Ture destroys The great fears, the mighty demons. With a wrathful frown on your lotus face You slay all foes without exception. Starting with this eighth Tara, we praise the fierce sambhogakaya (resource body of a Buddha) aspects. She is golden in color and sits on a crocodile. Fierce, her specialty is the completion stage practice of Highest Yoga Tantra. Tara Granter of Boons/Tara Wheel Governing and Granting All Desires 9. Homage to you beautifully adorned By the Three Jewels’ gesture at your heart. Your wheel shines in all directions With a whirling mass of light. Tara Granter of Boons is ruby red. This verse praises her hand gestures; her left hand is in the mudra or gesture of the Three Jewels. The thumb and ring finger touching symbolizes uniting method and wisdom on the path, and the three upward fingers represent Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, the three refuges. Her specialty is consecration. Tara Dispelling All Sorrow/Tara the Conqueror of the Three Worlds 10. Homage to you, radiant and joyful, Whose crown emits a garland of light, You, by the laughter of tuttara, Conquer demons and lords of the world. Tara Dispelling All Sorrow is red, and her specialty is destroying maras, controlling the world of sentient beings, and fulfilling all wholesome wishes. Tara will help us fulfill our virtuous aspirations by instructing us on how to create the causes for happiness, liberation, and full enlightenment. Her ritual is for entering the mandala. Tara Summoner of All Beings, Tara Dispeller of All Misfortunes, Tara the Treasure of Wealth 11. Homage to you with power to invoke The assembly of local protectors. With your fierce frown and vibrating hum, You bring freedom from all poverty. Tara Dispeller of All Misfortune is the color of darkness. Her specialty is to increase enjoyments and wealth and to eliminate poverty. Here Tara is praised because she can activate the ten directional protectors who are inclined toward virtue and are leaders of other spirits. Tara Giver of All Prosperity, Tara of Auspicious Light 12. Homage to you with crescent moon crown, All your adornments dazzling bright. From your hair-knot Amitabha Shines eternal with great beams of light. Tara of Auspicious Light is gold, and we praise her crown ornaments. From her crescent moon crown ornament, white light radiates and eliminates sickness, suffering, sorrow, poverty, and depression. Following this, yellow light radiates from her crown ornament and performs the action of increasing, enhancing sentient beings’ life span, merit, wisdom, and good qualities. Tara the Ripener, Tara Bestower of Maturity 13. Homage to you who dwells in a blazing wreath Like the fire at the end of this age. Your right leg outstretched and left drawn in, Joy surrounds you who defeats hosts of foes. Ruby red, Tara the Ripener is standing, and her specialty is to subdue hindrances and to protect from fear and danger. She is completely confident and free from all anxiety and fear. The verse praises her fierce posture of standing in a blazing wreath. Tara the Wrathful Summoner, or Shaking, Frowning Tara 14. Homage to you whose foot stamps the Earth And whose palm strikes the ground by your side. With a wrathful glance and the letter hum You subdue all in the seven stages. Tara the Wrathful Summoner is stamping her foot, saying, “Enough with the obstacles to liberation and enlightenment! Enough with the suffering of sentient beings! I’m going to destroy these!” Her body is made of black light, and she stands amidst a protective blaze of wisdom. Forming a protective circle of light, she destroys interferences to the flourishing of the Dharma and interferences to the happiness and well-being of sentient beings. Tara the Great Peaceful One 15. Homage to the blissful, virtuous peaceful one, Object of practice, nirvana’s peace. Perfectly endowed with soha and om, Overcoming all the great evils. Tara the Great Peaceful One is white in color. There’s an external cleansing or purifying ritual that goes with her practice, and her specialty is to pacify destructive karma that causes suffering and prevents realizations of the path to enlightenment. The verse praises her speech and her dharmakaya (truth body) mind. All her actions are done within the peace of nirvana. Tara, Destroyer of All Attachment 16. Homage to you with joyous retinue, You subdue fully all enemies forms. The ten letter mantra adorns your heart, And your knowledge hum gives liberation. Coral red, she amplifies the power of mantras and cuts harmful thoughts that impede the increase of positive energy. This verse praises the activity of both her peaceful and fierce mantras. When she teaches the Dharma through the action of her speech, all afflictions are pacified. This doesn’t mean that Tara teaches and afflictions magically vanish. Rather, from our side, we sentient beings respond to the teachings and put them into practice. While Tara can guide and instruct us, we need to make effort to cease our afflictions and develop our good qualities. Tara Accomplisher of All Bliss 17. Homage to ture with stamping feet, Whose essence is the seed-letter hum. You cause Meru, Mandara and Vindhya, And all three worlds to tremble and shake. Tara Accomplisher of All Bliss is orange, and her specialty is to bind thieves and eliminate the power of black magic mantras. This verse praises her fierce activity of shaking the three worlds—below, on, and above the earth. From the primordial sound hum appears ture, which means Tara, and her pounding feet make everything in the external world tremble. This indicates her power, the power of a Buddha’s enlightening activity. Tara the Victorious 18. Homage to you who hold in your hand A moon like a celestial lake. Saying tara twice and the letter pey, You dispel all poisons without exception. Tara the Victorious is white, and her specialty is to dispel diseases caused by nagas, such as leprosy, tumors and boils. She also pacifies diseases caused by poisons—toxins in the environment, air pollution, and food poisoning. This verse praises her activities that dispel the poisons of the world and the environment. Tara Consumer of All Suffering or Tara Invincible Queen 19. Homage to you on whom the kings of gods, The gods themselves and all spirits rely. Your armor radiates joy to all; You soothe conflicts and nightmares as well. She is white and her specialty is to free from poison. This verse praises her activity of dispelling conflict, bad thoughts, and nightmares. Relying on this Tara when we are depressed or if we have suicidal thoughts is very effective in overcoming such disturbing emotions and thoughts. Tara Source of All Attainments 20. Homage to you whose eyes, the sun and moon, Radiate with pure brilliant light; Uttering hara twice and tuttara Dispels extremely fearful plagues. Tara Source of All Attainments is orange and grants the power to make oneself invisible. This verse praises her ability to dispel fevers and epidemic diseases. Just as some illnesses drag on, so too cyclic existence drags on and flares up. She frees us from both. “Uttering hara twice” means reciting the fierce mantra, om nama tare namo hare hum hare soha, and “uttering tuttara” means reciting the peaceful mantra, om tare tuttare ture soha. When we are ill, relying on the fierce and the peaceful aspects of Tara and reciting their mantras are helpful. This meditation is good for illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, new diseases, environmental pollution, and illnesses that are difficult to cure. Tara the Perfector 21. Homage to you, adorned with three natures Perfectly endowed with peaceful strength. You destroy demons, zombies, and yakshas; O Ture, most exalted and sublime! Tara the Perfector is white, and her specialty is taking practitioners to Akanishta Pure Land in this very life. This verse praises her activity of subduing evil spirits and zombies. Her three natures are her body, speech, and mind appearing as om at her crown chakra, ah at her throat chakra, and hum at her heart chakra. These pacify internal poisons such as the afflictions, and external interferences such as non-human beings and spirits who take away the power of medicine, the power of our body, or the power of food. This Tara is very effective in dispelling mental illness due to spirit interference.