Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blue Tara: Or, How is a Hyacinth Macaw Like a Tibetan Goddess?

In Tibetan Buddhism, Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha is an ancient mantra that is related to Tara, the Mother of all Buddhas, and especially to her manifestation as Green Tara. Tibetans consider Tara a Buddha of compassion and action, a protector who comes to our aid to relieve us of physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering.

Tara has twenty-one major forms, each depicted with a different color and spiritual attribute. Although the mantra Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha is a mantra most closely associated with Green Tara, it is also used as a mantra for all the Taras.

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Reciting the Green Tara Mantra
Green Tara Mantra

Blue Tara

Blue Tara or Ekajati is known as one of the twenty-one taras and one of the fiercest and most powerful of all goddesses of Indo-Tibetan mythology. Her powers include removing fear of enemies, spreading joy, and removing personal obstacles on the path to enlightenment. A goddess of one eye, her right eye was pierced so she could more effectively subjugate Tibetan demons. Blue Tara has been depicted with up to twelve heads and twenty-four arms. Blue Tara has one eye, one breast, and a single fang. She appears naked except for a garment of white clouds and tiger skin around her waist. Often, like a parrot at rest, she appears standing on a single leg. Blue Tara typically holds an axe, tantric staff, and a skull cup in her hands.

Blue Tara is the protector of secret mantras, and as such her own mantra is secret. Visions of Blue Tara are considered highly auspicious and treasured, yet not for the faint of heart. Realizations of Blue Tara can be particularly wrathful. Her speech is sharp, piercing shrieks, her eye boils, and she gnashes her fang. In some visions, Blue Tara has revealed herself twice human size, brandishing weapons, and served by witches drenched in blood.

So how is a Hyacinth macaw like a Tibetan goddess? Anyone who has lived with a Hyacinth macaw would find this description of Blue Tara strangely familiar! Blue Tara speaks in sharp, piercing shrieks. Check. Blue Tara has revealed herself twice human size. Sometimes seems like it. A goddess of one eye. Check. Blue Tara stands on one leg. Check. Blue Tara is served by witches drenched in blood. Well, okay. In Tibetan Buddhism Blue Tara has been depicted with peacock feathers. We have no doubt that if parrots inhabited Tibet she would instead appear with parrot feathers. If visions of Blue Tara are auspicious, then we are truly blessed!

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