The Bodhisattva Tara (happy Mother’s Day)

In honor of Mother’s Day I’m going to talk about the Bodhsattva Tara, who is called the mother of all Buddhas. 

Bodhisattvas, by the way, are archetypal beings that are meant to inspire us. They aren’t meant to represent actual beings, so comparing them to gods isn’t really accurate. I will write something about Bodhisattva Devotionalism at a later time. There is some division within the Buddhist community regarding whether or not Bodhsattva practices are helpful.

Tara is one of the few female Bodhisattvas. She is especially beloved by Vajrayana Buddhists. She represents the virtues of success in work and achievements

 She is used most often as a figure in tantric meditations, special rituals designed to develop certain inner and outer qualities and to understand certain esoteric teachings. 

Just as a mother wears many hats: caregiver, disciplinarian, medic, dietitian, among many others, Tara has many aspects that represent different things. That might be why she is referred to as a mother. This is actually unique among Bodhisattvas. Her different aspects are represented by different colors. There are 21 aspects of Tara, but I will only go over a few.

Green Tara represents Enlightened Activity.

White Tara represents Compassion, Long Life, and Healing

Red Tara represents Bringing good things into your life

Blue Tara represents overcoming anger

Yellow Tara represents Prosperity.


Will Tara meditations actually help you improve these qualities? I don’t know. They might serve as a reminder instead. If I think about asking Blue Tara to help me overcome my anger, it might help me stay motivated to overcome it myself.  I’m not big on these kinds of practices, but I know many people who are.


So, Happy Mother’s Day to Tara, the mother of liberation!










About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City with two kids and two cats. He runs the Monday Night Zen Group at the Rime Buddhist Center. Daniel has a BA in English from KU and he works for the federal government. Once a Novice Monk in the Rinzai Tradition, he dropped out of monk school to become a regular person. He has taken his inspiration mainly from Zen renegades and madmen like Ikkyu and Han Shan. Daniel has taken Bodhisattva Vows in both the Nagarjuna and Asanga lineages. He is a frequent guest teacher on Daily Dharma Gathering.

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