On this Earth Day, and every day, we can take inspiration from Green Tara’s example to be more mindful of our planet and all its creatures. We can use her nourishing, caring hands as a reminder to treat the earth with respect, love and care. And we can use her wisdom to help guide us in making decisions that will benefit not only ourselves but future generations and the planet as a whole.
Green Tara of the Khaidira Fragrant Forest is Mother Earth
Green Tara is not only the heroic rescuer of sentient beings in Samsara; she is equally the protective Mother who protects the Earth. Her name in Tibetan is drol ma jang ku, which more or less means in English: the Green Saviouress. She’s not only our own personal saviour, she is here to rescue all beings and the world itself. In the Buddhist doctrine of Shunyata, she also one with all beings, and the earth. All Buddhas are of one nature, Buddha Nature, and all beings are Oneness. Therefore, she is also none other than Mother Earth herself.
In her main “emanation” as Green Tara — and specifically, as “Tara of the Khaidira Fragrant Forest” — she is the guardian and nourisher of all that grows. In English, this epitaph of Green Tara is “Tara of the Sandalwood forest.” Another English label is Three-Deity Tara because Green Tara is in the center of the mandala, attended to by two of her own manifestations, Yellow Marichi and Black Ekajati.
Green Tara’s symbolism — the green color for activity, wind and growth — and the blue uptala flowers, rising from her hands as if they are part of her, are her natural symbols as mother earth. In this emanation, she is no different than the many mother goddesses in faiths around the world — although, in her Tara form, she is the fully Enlightened One, a Buddha aspect of the Mother. Not only is she the active force of protection, growth, and nourishment in our Universe, but even her Pureland is also a green, abundant, stunning paradise, known as the Turquoise Pureland Yurlod Kurpa. [For a previous feature on Tara’s Turquoise Pureland, see>>]
Earth Day 2022: April 22, will be the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day. The day was established to remind us of our responsibility to care for our planet and all its inhabitants. It is a day to celebrate the earth and all that it provides for us. It is also a day to reflect on what we can do to make a difference in the world. Needless to say, in the same we we wouldn’t only practice and meditate on Tara once a year, we should think of every day as Earth Day: conserving and preserving Mother Earth for future generations is compassion in action. (Literally, this is the definition of Green Tara: compassion in action.) [See sections below for the history of Earth Day and what you can do on Earth Day to help Tara’s mission to nourish and protect mother Earth.]
- Celebrate Green Tara, the Mother, with her praises (video below).
- Or, simply chant her mantra all day long, dedicated the merit of all sentient beings (video below.)
In the Surya Gupta tradition of 21 Taras, Tara of the Khadira Fragrant Forest is Tara 9. Her praise and mantra in this video, sung by the amazing Yoko Dharma!
She is also known as Khadiravana Tara (Khadira Forest Tara [Latin: Acacia Catechu]):
The green symbolism connotes her windy activity. Of all the elements, wind is the most important, in the sense that it brings the rain (moisture) that nourish the land. Wind — and air — which is symbolized as Green in Vajrayana Buddhism, is the uniting force in Buddhist practice. Wind represents activity. Only through good karma and meritorious activity, can we progress on the path of Buddhism. The Eightfold Noble Path first taught by Shakyamuni Buddha is all about conduct and actions: right speech, right actions, right livelihood. Tara embodies Dharma activities of the Noble Path — and only virtuous activities.
Eightfold Noble Path in Buddhism is embodied in Green Tara
The first step of the Noble Eightfold Path is Right Understanding, which leads to Right Thought. From there we take actions that will result in Right Speech, Right Conduct and Right Livelihood. The next steps are meditative: Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. When these eight factors are developed within ourselves to the highest possible degree, we attain Nirvana. This is none other than the entire path of Buddhism. Tara’s path of right activities. It is Tara who embodies these eight qualities, just as she also embodies Mother Earth.
The mudras of Tara’s hands represent the development of these eight factors within us.
Green Tara hand mudras
Tara’s Khadiravana form also represents her function as protector and guardian of not only sentient beings, but all of Mother Earth and Mother Universe.
Both hands hold the stems of “growing” Lotus (sometimes Blue Uptala) flowers, symbols of growth. In some depictions, one is partially open, one fully open. (In another one, (see below) she is surrounded by many Lotus flowers!)
Video: Venerable Zasep Rinpoche guides a 10 minute visualization of Green Tara, followed by Tara’s mantra sung by the amazing Yoko Dharma! For a video of just the mantra, see next video.
The right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity — indicating she’s giving to us protection, auspiciousness, and growth. The other is in the mudra of the Three Jewels — symbolizing Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the entire path. At her right is yellow Marichi, holding in the left [hand] a branch of the ashoka tree. At the left is black Ekajati, holding in the left a skullcup. Both hold yak-tail fans with the right [hand]. Having jewels and silk garments [and] standing [with the legs] straight.
Tara is the original “eco protector” — the original “activist”
Everything about Tara is pro-active. She’s the original activist. In her origin story, before she was Enlightened, her teachers told her she should aspire to be born as man in her next life so she could be Enlightened. The eco-feminist Tara vowed that in all her lives she would never be born again as a man, but always in female form to help all sentient beings. Why? Because she knew that as a female Buddha she could demonstrate not only equality, equanimity and empowerment, but also the wisdom-activity she embodied.
Practicing Tara is practicing active compassion and eco protection. She’s not about “sitting back” and wishing things would be better. She’s about “making it better.” She was the original activist.
Yoko Dharma sings Principle Green Tara’s beautiful mantra:
Green Tara — windy and natural
This is why she is principally green and “windy.” It is the air that sustains us. It is the atmosphere and environment — Tara’s air element — that protect earth and sustains us. In the same way, we are alive because of the air. You can say, therefore, Tara sustains our lives as well — and all lives. Wind, air, and Chi are vital — known as the most vital element. Wind, and changing weather systems — Tara’s primarily element, you could say — are what keep us alive.
Tara’s love and care for us is expressed in the form of a flourishing world that nourishes us and sustains us:
For this reason, in Tibetan Buddhism, or Vajrayana, among the most important practices is Green Tara. Most days and practices begin with Tara mantras and praises. Every day, Tibetan Buddhists, regardless of their other practices, will say Tara mantras. We might also take refuge in both the Three Jewels and in Tara as the embodiment of the activity of the Three Jewels, starting with a simple salutation:
Namo ratna trayaya namah om tare tuttare ture svaha
(I prostrate to the Three Jewels, I bow to the Tara, the Savioress, Swift One, the Liberator)
The Benefits of Practicing Tara
Excerpt: Tara in the Palm of Your Hand
A short excerpt from this amazing book written by Venerable Zasep Rinpoche:
“If we follow the path of Dharma, living in accordance with good moral principles, always being mindful and compassionate, then gradually our mind transforms into that of a Buddha. We become who and what we already are, primordially speaking. From this point of view, the subject of this book, the Buddha known as Arya Tara, is no different from us.
Tara is our idea of ourselves as a compassionate liberator become manifest. At the ultimate or Dharmakaya level, there is no difference between ourselves and Tara.
Belief in Tara as a fully enlightened being, daily recitation of her mantra, and faithful practice of one or more of her sadhanas will bring enormous benefits to the serious practitioner. The Tara practice has both temporal and ultimate benefits.
In our world today, we face many environmental and social problems such as global warming, pollution, the extinction of animal and plant species, scarcity of water, poverty, overpopulation, malnutrition and violence. Most people in the world do not have access to clean water, adequate and nutritious food, or basic healthcare. Education is denied to many. Women especially are oppressed in many parts of the world. Even in a developed country like Canada, people have many problems. They are stressed out from working too hard or from not being able to find work. Many develop stress-related health problems, or have addictions. Mental illness is said to affect one person in four in Canada. No doubt the same is true for other developed countries. How can the Tara practice possibly be of help? The short answer is that it works because it transforms our mind; in so doing, it helps us be the change that we want to see in the world. The Tara practice empowers us to act for positive change wisely and compassionately.
I have been teaching Dharma in the West for more than 35 years. In this time, I have seen many unhappy people. I have seen well-educated people who give the appearance of having successful lives but who are guilt-ridden, and suffer from low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. I have met people with graduate degrees and impressive professional qualifications who nonetheless feel lacking in worth; they are often chronically depressed. The Tara practice is extremely powerful for generating good self-esteem and self-confidence through encouraging the development of divine pride, the belief in one’s potential to be Tara. The Tara practice is also helpful for people who were not loved as children, and who need to feel a mother’s love. Doing the Tara practice will help overcome childhood trauma, neglect, abuse, rejection and abandonment. Tara is the mother of all the Buddhas. When you practise Tara you become closer to her, and can feel her motherly love; you feel you are well-loved and nurtured by the most beautiful mother of all Buddhas. If Tara is good enough to be mother of all Buddhas, then she can certainly become a great mother for you, taking you into her loving care…”
Visualizing as Tara embodies her qualities
Her practice includes visualizing ourselves as Tara. Why is this such a profound practice? By imagining yourself as Tara, at least for awhile, you embrace all it means to be Tara:
- Virtuous activity
- Lifeforce (wind or Chi) energy is enhanced
- Compassion for all sentient beings (not just humans!)
- Protective nurturing of the environment, and our world
- Clear insight into the concept of Shunyata — understanding that we are One with the world, and the Universe, and Tara, and each other.
When you practice Tara, you are practicing compassion. When you practice compassion, you are practicing Tara.
Tara’s powerful nature-loving mantras
Each of the Taras has her own mantra, but in essence they are all Principle Tara, or Green Tara, Tara of the Khadira forest. Chant them any time you feel the need for protection, or to bless something, or when you’re out in nature — basically any time. The merit is extraordinary. The mantra, the sound itself, is said to embody Tara. So, when you chant her mantra, she is right there with you!
Her main mantra (video embedded at the top of this feature) is
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha is the Tibetan version
The mantra of Tara 9 as one of the Surya Gupta 21 Taras — in this case Tara of the Khadira Sandlewood Forest with her two attendants Marici and Ekajati is
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE NGOD PA SARVA RAKCHA SOHA
Her praise, or the praise of the 9th Tara is:
PRAISE to Tara Who Gives Supreme Spiritual Power
Homage to you whose fingers held at your chest,
Displaying the mudra of the Three Jewels;
Beautiful swirling light in your precious hands
Dharma wheels connect every direction.
If you’d like to explore the 21 Taras individual mantras, see, our playlist on Youtube with all 21 (one video for each) is here on Youtube (21 short videos sung by Yoko Dharma, plus one video of the main Tara mantra and another video of the 21 Praises to Tara!): play here>>
21 Praises to Tara
A daily practice for most Tibetan Buddhists, certainly in Tibet and India, is morning recitation of the Praises to the 21 Taras. Usually this is chanted in Tibetan, but a good daily practice is the English version. We’ve prepared a beautiful video, chanted by the wonderful Hrishi, with the 21 Praises in English, a translation approved by Venerable Zasep Rinpoche (subtitled for chant-along, or go to the bottom of this feature for the full text.):
More features on Tara
Tara in 108 Forms (plus) all wrapped in leaves
One of the famous forms of Tara is “Tara wrapped in leaves” — another “naturalist Tara. Tara has more forms than any other Buddha. Why so many? Each form represents an activity of the Enlightened Buddhas. She represents them all, not just one or two. So, she manifests in our minds in many forms. Most famous of these are the 21 Taras, and the 108 Taras. There is also the 157 Taras of the Body Mandala.
Even her more exotic forms, such as Healing Parnashavari — Tara’s Healing emanation, also lovingly known as Tara Dressed in Leaves. She’s a “healing” Buddha but she’s equally a “healer of the land.” For a full feature on Parnashavari Tara, see>>
The symbolism is obvious. She can manifest in any form, and all forms and work through all beings to help us. She is everywhere. We are one with her. She is in our very own hearts, and the hearts of all beings, everywhere. She can manifest in any form to help us.
In her “Tara of the Khadira Fragrant Forest” form, her main “Green Tara” form, she especially tells us that she is supremely active in our lives, and helping not only us — but our green earth.
History of Earth Day
Earth day was memorialized 52 years ago when, on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and beaches in a nationwide demonstration for a healthy, sustainable environment. The first Earth Day is credited with launching the modern environmental movement and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event.
- For more on Earth Day, please visit Earthday.org>> https://www.earthday.org/
Over the years, Earth Day has grown and changed. It is now celebrated in 192 countries and reached 1 billion people annually. And while the focus of the day has shifted from pollution to climate change, the message remains the same: We must protect our planet.
What You Can Do
On Earth Day, we can all take steps to be more environmentally responsible. Here are some things you can do:
-Reduce your consumption of resources like water and electricity.
-Reuse items instead of throwing them away.
-Buy environmentally friendly products.
-Plant a tree or start a garden.
-Educate yourself and others about environmental issues.
-Speak up for the planet!
-Meditate on Tara, the Green Buddha of conservation.
Let’s use Earth Day as a reminder to do our part in protecting our planet. We can all make a difference. Let’s start today!
Jason Espada recites In Praise of Tara:
10 things you can do on every day that makes a difference to the Earth
This Earth Day falls on April 22 2022, although this is to emphasize a way of thinking and acting (karma!) that we should practice every day:
- Carpool, walk, or ride your bike to work/school instead of driving. This will help reduce air pollution and save on gasoline expenses.
- Bring your own reusable bags to the store. This will reduce the amount of plastic bags that end up in landfills.
- Compost your food scraps instead of throwing them away. This will help create nutrient-rich soil for gardens and potted plants.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving. This will save hundreds of gallons of water over the course of a year!
- Use less energy by unplugging electronics when they’re not in use, and switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. This will save you money on your utility bills and help reduce demand for fossil fuels.
- Plant a tree or start a garden. This will help improve air quality, provide habitat for wildlife, and beautify your community.
- Recycle paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum cans. This will help reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills.
- Buy locally-grown food. This will support small farmers and reduce the emissions from transportation.
- Advocate for policies that protect the environment, such as the Clean Power Plan or the Paris Climate Agreement. This will help ensure that we leave a livable planet for future generations.
- Spread the word! Tell your family and friends about what you’re doing to help the planet, and encourage them to do the same. We can all make a difference if we work together!
Spreading the Word
Help spread the word! Help remind people to preserve our Mother Earth. On social media use #EarthDay2022 and #SaveMotherEarth and tag 5 friends to do the same.
How are you making a difference this Earth day? What other ways can we help reduce our carbon footprint? Join the discussion and let us know in the comments below!
Tara’s 21 Praises: daily chant for merit and protection!
English translation in 11 equal beats per line for chanting!
PRAISE OF TARA’S MANTRA
Homage to Tara the Swift and Courageous,
You drive away all our fears with TUTTARE,
Saviouress fulfilling all aims with TURE,
With syllables SVAHA, we offer homage.
21 TARAS PRAISE IN ENGLISH
1. Heroic Red Tara
Homage to You, the Swift One, the Heroine,
Your gaze is as quick as flashes of lightning
Who arose from the majestic carolla
From the Lotus face of the Lord of Three Worlds.
2. Moonlight White Tara
Homage to You with a face that resembles
The gathering of one hundred autumn full moons
And who with the brightness of stars by the thousands
Shines in a vast perfect light of resplendence.
3. Golden Color Tara
Homage to You divine golden-blue Goddess
Whose hands are adorned by water-born lotus.
Embody Six Perfections: Giving, Patience
Ethics, Concentration, Vigor, and Wisdom
4. Golden Tara of Crown Victorious
Homage to You who crowns Buddha’s ushnishas,
Whose victorious actions have no limit.
Who has attained ev’ry transcendent wisdom,
On whom the Bodhisattvas themselves rely.
5. Tara Proclaiming the Sound of HUM
Homage to You who with HUM and TUTTARA,
Fill all worlds of desire, direction, space.
Who with your feet press down on the Seven Worlds;
You subdue all beings under your power.
6. Tara Victorious Over the Three Levels of World
Homage to You praised by Indra and Agni,
Brahma, Vayu, Ishvara and all the gods
All the spirits, zombies, and the smell-eaters,
Even the Yakshas give praise in Your presence.
7. Tara Who Crushes Adversaries
Homage to You who with the TRAY and PEY sounds,
Crush every magical wheel, evil forces,
Right leg extended and left bent, you trample,
You burn them completely in Your whirling fire.
8. Tara Who Gives Supreme Spiritual Power
Homage to You, TURE, the Boundless Fierce One,
Who totally destroys leaders of maras.
Whose lotus-like face forms furious wrinkles,
You annihilate foes without exception.
9. Tara of the Khadira Fragrant Forest
Homage to You whose fingers held at Your chest,
Displaying the mudra of the Three Jewels;
Beautiful swirling light in your precious hands
Dharma wheels connect every direction.
10. Tara Who Dispels All Suffering
Homage to You, the majestic and joyful
With brilliant garlands of light around your crown
With the great clangor of laughter TUTTARA
Over power all the worlds and the maras.
11. Tara Who Summons All Beings and Dispels Misfortune
Homage to You, endowed with the great power,
To draw assembly of worldly guardians.
The One who with the HUM of wrathful wrinkles
You rescue completely from all poverty.
12. Tara Who Grants Prosperity and Brings About Aupsiciousness
Homage to You, who is crowned with crescent moon,
And whose ornaments so brilliantly sparkle.
Amitabha in front of your ushnisha,
Eternally radiating beams of light.
13. Tara the Complete Rinpener
Homage to You, who dwell in garlands of flames
Engulfed in fire like the end of the aeon.
Right leg outstretched and left bent with blissful joy
Who with your power destroy all enemies.
14. Wrathful, Shaking and Frowning Tara
Homage to You, striking the ground with your hand
And crushing the earth with your majestic foot.
With wrathful, wrinkled face and the sound of HUM
You fully subdue seven levels of worlds.
15. Tara the Great Peaceful One Who Provides Virtues
Homage to You, happy, virtuous and peaceful,
Who acts from eternal bliss of Nirvana.
And who with the pure sounds of OM and SVAHA,
Eliminates the most unwholesome Karmas!
16. Tara Destroyer of All Attachment
Homage to You, who turns the Wheel of Dharma
For truly devoted, who love the teachings
Crushing enemies — all types of obstacles
with the Hum and the ten syllable mantra.
17. Tara Accomplisher of Joy and Bliss
Homage to You with feet stamping and Ture
Whose essence is the sacred syllable Hum.
You cause Mount Meru, Mandhara and Vindhya
Making all three worlds to tremble and shake!
18. Victorious Tara Who Increases Realizations
Homage to You, holding the moon in Your hand
Like a celestial ocean of nectar.
Sound of the PEY and the twice uttered TARA
You completely dispel every poison.
19. Tara, Extinguisher of All Suffering
Homage to You on whom the devas rely
And also the lords of all the Gandharvas.
Your armor of joy, a radiant brightness,
You eliminate arguments and nightmares.
20. Tara, Source of All Powerful Attainments
Homage to You, whose two eyes are shining bright,
Brilliant with light like the sun and the full moon.
Saying HARA twice and TUTTARE again
You clear and eliminate epidemics.
21. Tara of the Perfection of Wisdom and Compassion
Homage to You whose pure Body, Speech and Mind
Are perfect with the strength and power of peace.
Suppressing Maras, Dons, Zombies and Yakshas
With the most exalted syllable TURE.
White Tara Visualization
Tara is not just the healer and protector of the world. She is also the healer of you. Venerable Zasep Rinpoche leads a White Tara guided visualization:
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