THE GREAT COSMIC FORCE OF THE DIVINE COMPASSION
Tara guides the ardent aspirant on the path of spiritual evolution and fulfillment, in order to offer him or her the liberating grace of the divine transcendence.
In the tantric pantheon, Tara is the second Great Cosmic Force and in the same time, she is the greatest deity in the Tibetan tantric Buddhism.
In the Buddhist tradition in China, the great goddess is referred to as Kwan Yin. The most often and complex referring 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 the divine consciousness in the manifested world.
Moreover, the 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.
Under these circumstances, it is highly 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 the Tibetan spirituality such as Saktisangama Tantra describe the qualities of several Great Cosmic Forces, Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari and Chinnamasta in the manifestation of only one goddess.
Moreover, several times within the same tradition of the 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 the different Hindu or Tibetan texts, and the differences between the two are reduced to the objects 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 the most important of the group of deities emanated from Akshobhya is Mahachinna Tara, known also 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 the initiator of Tara’s worship, as Nagarjuna lived approximately I – II AD, while the tantric Buddhism became obvious in the VIIth century AD.
The third main form of Tara is mentioned as Nila Saraswati Tara, often assimilated to Ugra Tara. The tradition states that this form of Tara originated in the region of the 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 and from that moment on her body became blue.
However, at this point we need to mention that although the pantheon of the Tibetan tantric Buddhism mentions different aspects of the goddess Tara, she is not worshipped as one of the ten Great Cosmic Forces from the Hindu tantric tradition.
However, we notice the existence of a group of feminine deities, somewhat resembling in shape with Tara, manifesting different paranormal capacities and offering spiritual and even material gifts to the sincere and loyal worshippers.
One of the characteristics of these deities is the fact that they are pictures riding an animal and surrounded by several entities who serve them with devotion.
The complete power of the subtle sound the famous text Tantrasara describes Tara as glowing with a divine radiance and generously offering gifts to her worshippers.
Among these gifts, the texts mention a profound knowledge of the mysteries of creation, a great poetical inspiration, material prosperity, and success in one’s actions. The Great Cosmic Force Tara is known as the feminine counterpart of the great Buddha Avalokiteshvara, who looks upon and help all beings with his divine compassion.
In the Tantric tradition, Tara resembles to a significant extent to another Great Cosmic Force, Kali. Indeed, in her aspect as Divine Creative Word (logos), Tara is the first transformation of time and of the energy of life, which is Kali.
As power of the subtle sound, Tara also corresponds to Kali, who is The Great Cosmic Force of time and transformation. Between word (logos) and time (change) there is a close interdependence. We may be able to understand that the logos is like a consciousness of time, and that time is but a kind of “movement” of the Word.
Essentially speaking, the Divine Logos (which is an endless and ecstatic creative vibration) represents the fundament of the appearance and manifestation under different forms of the energy of time.
Tara represents the knowledge that enlightens from an etymological point of view. The word Tara means “the savior” and originates in the Sanskrit root “tri”, referring to “passing over”, as in passing over a river, a sea, a mountain, or in other words to overcome a difficult situation.
Therefore, in an exoteric approach, we may say that the goddess Tara should be invoked in times of peril or misfortune, or when we need to make a decision and we are not sure about the alternatives. On the other hand, from an esoteric perspective, Tara is the knowledge that saves us.
The profound meaning of the goddess is that she offers her disciples the divine endless wisdom, freeing them from the chains of the samsaric suffering – that is from the chain of the successive reincarnation.
She is the Polar Star guiding us on the path of spiritual freedom. Another meaning of the word Tara is “star”, in the sense that this Great Cosmic Force is just as a star of our frenetic aspiration towards God.
Consequently, she is both our inspiration and our guide on the complex path of spiritual freedom. One of her cosmic attributions is to save or free us from the different troubles we have to face in life, and from this respect she is very much like Durga – one of Kali’s hypostasis.
Therefore, she sometimes bears the name Durga-Tara. However, while Durga signifies the power that destroys any obstacle, difficulty and negative force that aggresses us, Tara makes us sublimate almost instantaneously these aspects and consequently successfully overcome them.
In other words, Tara is the very power that makes us transcend all the inferior and ignoble aspects of our life.
From this perspective, the goddess not only saves us from the imminent dangers, but she also offers us the possibility to access more and more elevated levels of spirituality.
Moreover, as the obstacle the most difficult to overcome is our mind itself, Tara helps us go beyond our very minds, beyond the waves and turbulence of our thoughts.
This purely spiritual action of the goddess is easy to understand if we note the fact that the mind, together with all its functions and with the subtle energies it involves, represents only a part, or a fragment.
Indeed, Tara is the gigantic, extremely subtle energy of the unmanifesred sound, which transcends the manifestation. She grants efficiency in the tapas involving mantra-s. On the other hand, the creation represents a modulation of God’s Primordial Logos on infinite frequencies of vibration.
From this perspective, Tara may be regarded as a creator and in the same time destroyer of the whole creation, when these actions (of creation and respectively destruction, or resorbtion) are considered from the perspective of the phonemic energies of the Divine Logos.
In this hypostasis, Tara contains within herself all existing mantra-s. For instance, in order to be able to use and assimilate correctly the spiritual meaning of a mantra that synthesizes an very elevated macrocosmic aspect and in order to be able to identify ourselves with the subtle energy of a mantra, the grace of The Great Cosmic Force Tara is indispensable.
Tara’s help should be invoked with intense fervor and great aspiration. Sublime poetical inspiration and oratorical talent are the sign of the grace of this Great Cosmic Force.
The tantric tradition asserts that Tara’s devotee will have extraordinary literary talents, being able to express ideas beyond the capacities of any other man.
Another important aspect to what regards Tara’s action in our human microcosm is the fact that the goddess represents the purifying force of the subtle breath that animates any living being.
THE BREATH IS THE PRIMORDIAL SOUND OF LIFE
Of course that in this hypostasis the ether does not represent the scientific term from physics. It represents here much more, as it has a subtle luminous nature and is the very space of consciousness from which appear and then disappear all things, beings and phenomena from the manifested world.
We say that the breath is the primordial sound of life because it is just as an ineffable song sustaining the life in that being. The spiritual tradition of India has identified this subtle sound from immemorial times as the mantra SO-HAM.
Both the mind and the prana, through their particular forms of expression (the word and the energetic vibration respectively) originate in the subtle macrocosmic sound (sabdha). This subtle macrocosmic sound (sabdha) is usually rendered through the mantra-s.
We may understand at this point the tremendous importance of the use of mantra-s in our daily sadhana, as the mantra-s purify, energize and elevate the mind and the soul to the highest degree.
The devotee who calls upon Tara with great love and reverence during this process of evolution and accomplishment of different psycho-mental aspects will receive her compassionate guidance and ultimately, the liberating grace of the divine transcendence.