By Rajendra Diwe :
TARA is the second form of Goddess in Dasha Mahavidyas (Ten Wisdom Forms). She is not only an important Hindu Goddess but also the most important of the Buddhist Goddesses. The Bodhisattva Tara is the consort of the great Buddha Avalokiteshvara, the Lord who looks down with compassion on all living beings. In his book ‘Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses: Spiritual Secrets of Ayurveda’ Dr David Frawley writes: “The term Tara means the deliverer or saviour, from the Sanskrit root tri, meaning ‘to take across,’ as to take across a river, the ocean, a mountain, or any difficult situation. The Goddess Tara is called upon in emergencies or at crossroads where we require guidance as to which way to turn. Tara is the saving knowledge. She is the Saviouress.
The idea of the Goddess as saving wisdom is as old as the Vedas, and is a common idea in many spiritual traditions. “Tara the saviour (Taarini) is as potent as Kali. She is said to be the form that Mahadevi took in order to destroy the thousand-headed Ravana. Tara has strong presence in the Buddhism (especially the Tibetan Buddhism) and in Jain pantheons also. Among the Mahavidyas, Tara is next only to Kali; and she resembles Kali in appearance more than any other Mahavidya. Tara as Mahavidya is not entirely benign; she could be fierce and horrifying. “Tara is the feminine form of Om or Om personified as a goddess. Tara is the unmanifest sound that exists in the ether of consciousness, through which we can go beyond the entire manifestation. Tara is Om that has the appearance of the ether and which pervades the ether as its underlying vibratory support, but also transcends it.
Om is the unmanifest field behind creation, which is the destroyer as well as the creator of the universe.” David Frawley elaborates, “Tara is the purifying force of the vital breaths. Sound that manifests in the ether is the same as the Prana (life-force) that manifests in the ether. Breath is the primal sound of life, and the sound of the breath is the original, spontaneous and unuttered mantra (So’ ham). Both mind and Prana, as word and vibration, have their root in sound. Hence the use of sound or mantra both purifies and energises the mind. Tara is the radiance of knowledge that arises from the differentiation of meanings through sound. Different sounds serve as vehicles whereby different ideas or meanings flash forth.
Om is the underlying light that illumines these different sounds and allows meaning to flow through them. All meanings exist to reintegrate us into the ocean of meaning that is pure consciousness itself.” Tara, like Kali, is deep blue in colour. She has matted hair, wears a garland of human heads, and has eight serpents for her ornaments. She is dancing on a corpse, has four arms and carries in her four hands a sword or head chopper, a scissors, a severed head and a lotus.