THE GREAT COSMIC FORCE OF DIVINE COMPASSION
Tara guides ardent aspirants on the path of spiritual evolution and fulfillment, in order to offer them the liberating grace of divine transcendence.
In the tantric pantheon, Tara is the second Great Cosmic Force and in Tibetan tantric Buddhism she is at the same time their greatest deity.
In Chinese Buddhist tradition, this great goddess is referred to as Kwan Yin. The most often and complex references to this Great Cosmic Force are to be found within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, where she is also referred to as Tarini.
In this tradition, the numerous forms of the goddess are presented as different aspects or functions of Tara, signifying the particular elements of this elevated expression of divine consciousness in the manifested world.
Furthermore, Tara’s invocation and worship is intimately correlated with the complex pantheon of the five “families” of divine, creative energies and consequently of the five Dhyani Buddha‘s.
Under these circumstances, it is very difficult to be able to perform a precise omologation between the deities associated to the characteristics of Tara and those of The Great Cosmic Force represented in the Hindu tradition.
For instance, the text Sadhanamala Tantra presents a long row of such goddesses. Tara emanated from the gigantic sphere of consciousness of the great Dhyani Buddha Amogasiddhi, the most worshipped deity of the Tibetan Buddhism.
On the other hand, some texts belonging to Tibetan spirituality such as Saktisangama Tantra describe the qualities of several Great Cosmic Forces such Kali , Tara, Tripura Sundari and Chinnamasta as being manifested through only one goddess.
Furthermore, several times within the same tradition of tantric Tibetan Buddhism we encounter the identification of Kali and Tara’s cosmic functions, features and particularities.
Tara’s forms of representation are approximately the same in different Hindu or Tibetan texts, and differences between the two are reduced to the objects which they hold in their hands.
Nonetheless, there are some significant differences as well: for instance, in the Tantric tradition of the ten Great Cosmic Forces (Dasha Maha Vidya ), Tara is endowed with universal functions synthesized in just two or maybe three of her aspects. Unlike the Tibetan tradition, she is not envisaged here as an emanation of the Dhyani Buddha Akshobhya, but she is associated with him.
In the Buddhist texts, the first and most important of the group of deities emanating from Akshobhya is Mahachinna Tara, also known as Ugra Tara – Tara in her terrible aspect, as presented in the Hindu tantric tradition.
Another form is Ekajata Tara, who was revealed in India by the great sage Nagarjuna, after he adopted her form of adoration from Tibet. However, there are some doubts regarding who initiated Tara’s worship, as Nagarjuna lived in approximately the first or second century AD, while tantric Buddhism became obvious in seventh century AD.
The third main form of Tara is mentioned as Nila Saraswati Tara, often associated to Ugra Tara. Tradition states that this form of Tara originated in the region of lake Chola situated in the neighborhood of the sacred Mountain Meru.
Thus, while Nila Saraswati Tara was practicing her tapas, her pure energy “fell” into the water below and from that moment her body became blue.
At this point we need to mention that although the pantheon of Tibetan tantric Buddhism mentions different aspects of the goddess Tara, these are not worshipped as one of the ten Great Cosmic Forces from the Hindu tantric tradition.
We should also point out the existence of a group of feminine deities, somewhat resembling Tara’s shape, manifesting different paranormal capacities and offering spiritual and even material gifts to sincere and loyal worshippers.