Sri Maa Tārā Devi( Mahavidya Tara)
About Tara Devi:
We have previously discussed about Tārā devi in our Ten wisdom goddesses - Daśamahāvidyā-s article . The intent of this article is to throw more light upon Tārā devi and take a cursory look at Her descriptions in various Tantras and Āgama scriptures.
One of the significant articles that Śrī Tārā devi holds in one of Her arms, is the kapāla - a skull cup, that signifies complete unlearning and "emptying of the mind", in order to comprehend Her fully. Any pre-conceived notions of who or what She is, leads us nowhere. How can we ever grasp consciousness that is beyond the mind and intellect? Consciousness is beyond the mind and intellect. It cannot be understood, but only experienced. Why then should be learn about Her true nature through these dhyāna ślokas (meditation verses)?
Consciousness devolves into static and dynamic states and further into states of energy and its myriad forms, which further transform into matter and vice-versa. There is always a mixture of consciousness in its pure form along with its subtle manifestations of energy and mass in the entire Creation. There is a continuous ocean of dormant and active consciousness present everywhere and we are a part of it. The human mind can only perceive anything through the senses and process the same in the mind and further analyze through the intellect to derive conclusions. Everything is stored in the mind in the form of images. We create images in the mind, of even the “formless infinite” or anything that can be processed by the mind and intellect. Although we may understand the nature of our ego, since it’s the very persona that we identify ourselves with, it is simply NOT possible to identify or comprehend consciousness, which is our own true nature, perhaps due to the duality in the identification and the lack of knowledge associated with it. It is to be noted that just as consciousness devolves into matter, the reverse is also true. The ascension must begin by assertion that we are not the ego that we identify ourselves with and with proper knowledge and actions, such as mantra sādhana, meditation etc., subtle processes may get initiated thereby within our physical, astral and causal bodies, that may truly lead us to unveil our own consciousness and realize its indistinctiveness with that of the ocean of consciousness, aka the super-consciousness Itself. The self is none other than the Self!
Śrī Tārā devi conceived as a subtle manifestation of the super-consciousness may be understood through Her various forms, weapons, adornments and mantra vibrations, that in turn may open up the channels and gateways, that could lead us towards identifying our own true nature as pure consciousness. Meditation or dhyāna, serves this very purpose! Without any further ado, let’s dive deep and discover our own selves by Her grace!
Viewed from the lens of the Śakti-saṅgama-tantram, it needs to be stated that the Divine Mother Tārā, always follows Kāli and She is identical with Tripura Sundari and Chinnamasta. Following is the verse iterating the same -
yathā chinnā tathā kālī tathaiva sundarīparā ।
tathaiva tārā saṃdiṣṭā caturṇāṃ na hi bhinnatā ॥
यथा छिन्ना तथा काली तथैव सुन्दरीपरा ।
तथैव तारा संदिष्टा चतुर्णां न हि भिन्नता ॥
The One who is Chinnamasta is also Kālī, who is none other than Śrī Lalita Tripura Sundarī. Likewise, is Tārā! May it be known, that there is absolutely NO Difference between the four forms of the Divine Mother!
The below quote from Śāstramūlaka Bhāratīya Śakti Sādhanā scripture, states that Kālī and Tārā are simply the two different states of Śiva and Śakti, in whichever way we would like to perceive them and hence inseparable!
kalau tārā kalau kālī kalau tārā ca kālikā ।
śivaśakti prabhedena dehe śakti-rūpa-sthitā ॥
tārā śivastathā kālī śakti-rūpā prakīrtitā ।
kālī śivastathā tārā śakti-rūpā prakīrtitā ॥
aho jñānavatāṃ jñānī kālī-tārā-parāyaṇaḥ ॥
कलौ तारा कलौ काली कलौ तारा च कालिका ।
शिवशक्ति प्रभेदेन देहे शक्तिरूपस्थिता ॥
तारा शिवस्तथा काली शक्तिरूपा प्रकीर्तिता ।
काली शिवस्तथा तारा शक्तिरूपा प्रकीर्तिता ॥
अहो ज्ञानवतां ज्ञानी कालीतारापरायणः ॥
The inherent qualities of Tārā are the same as Kālī and the relationship is associative. The One who is Kālī is also Tārā and the One who is Tārā, is also Kālī. The relationship and difference between Śiva and Śakti, is the same between these two forms of the Divine Mother Śakti. When Tārā assumes the qualities of Śiva, Kālī becomes the counterpart - Śakti and when Kālī assumes the role of Śiva, Tārā becomes Śakti. The wise sādhaka therefore, should never perceive any difference between them and thus gets liberated, by worshipping both and becomes one with Śiva and Śakti.
The following quote from Tārā-rahasya, states that the deity whose name is Tārā, is empowered to be the Protector and always protects (the sādhakas) from any harm and helps us wade through all kinds of difficulties and miseries. She who is Kālī, is surely Tārā as well!
tārākatvāt sadā tārā yā kālī saiva niścitā ।
ताराकत्वात् सदा तारा या काली सैव निश्चिता ।
The following quote from Prāṇatoṣiṇī-tantra reemphasizes the same fact, that the eternal Protector Tārā, will also be famous as Tāriṇī, for the constant protection that She provides at all times!
tārākatvāt sadā tārā tāriṇī ca prakīrtitā ।
ताराकत्वात् सदा तारा तारिणी च प्रकीर्तिता ।
Tara Devi and Buddhism:
Tārā devi is prominent in Hindu Tantras, as well as Buddhist tantras. Tārā tantra itself, has Buddhist origins. Sage Vaśiṣṭha is said to have worshipped the Divine Mother Tārā for thousands of years and could not get Her full blessings and fruition of the mantra. Out of frustration, he is said to have cursed Her bīja mantra Trīm̐. The event is said to have caused a great tumult and fear amongst the celestials and all the realms in existence. At that point, Tārā devi appears before sage Vaśiṣṭha and proclaims that Her worship should be as per Cīnācāra (Chinese Buddhist methods), that only Buddha, an avatar of Lord Viṣṇu, is aware of. Sage Vaśiṣṭha takes the blessings of the Divine Mother and seeks out Buddha, whom he finds in the midst of beautiful women stripped completely and Buddha Himself reveling in wine and meat. Vaśiṣṭha exclaims to Buddha that this is against the Vedas and is strictly prohibited for sādhakas. Buddha enlightens Vaśiṣṭha and reveals the secrets of the Pañcamakaras (5M’s), which are
- Madya (wine) – Relates to the cerebral fluid called aṃṛta, that oozes out in deep meditation.
- Māṃsa (meat) – Relates to the body flesh itself and the need for keeping proper health and exercise. We need the body to realize the consciousness. A subtler reference is also to the position of the tongue rolling up and touching the nasal bridge, as seen in the Khecarī mudra.
- Matsya (fish) – Subtle indication is towards the two spiritual channels iḍā and piṅgalā,
flanking the spinal cord through which the mysterious Kuṇḍalinī śakti flows. The helical DNA structure, which is the blue-print of all life forms, is also indicated.
- Mudrā (hand gestures) – The various mudrā-s deployed in the pūja rituals and tantra, are indicated, without which it is not possible to propitiate the deities.
- Maithuna (union) – The union of the static and dynamic aspects of the super-consciousness - Śiva and Śakti, is indicated. Also referred as Śiva-Śakti-Aikya.
The deeper understanding of the above, leads one to seek out the hidden truths of the existence within oneself and elevate our own consciousness, by activating the cakra-s through meditation or mantra japa sādhana and eventually becoming one with the super-consciousness or Brahman.
Buddha further instructs Vaśiṣṭha and guides him to think beyond good and bad, pure and impure and all dyads, to become one with the Divine! He states that it is NOT possible to attain the grace of Tārā, the omniscient, by shunning anything as impure, shameful, sinful or unacceptable, for that itself can become the object of perception in the mind and NOT the Divine Mother. The one who denies himself/herself any pleasures or cravings, may in turn long for the same or look down upon others indulging in the same and thus makes a distinction between oneself and others. One must shed all inhibitions and perceive the Divine within the same. The one who finds Tārā in everything (both good and bad and all dyads etc.), can only perceive Her and nothing else, ultimately becoming one with Her!
The śāstras state that, a million pūja rituals, are equivalent to a single stotra recitation (with proper understanding of the inner meaning of the stotra). A million stotra recitations are equivalent to a single recitation of the mantra of the deity (mantra is an encapsulation of the stotras and the bīja-s store the power of the deity). A million recitations of the mantra are equivalent to a single pointed meditation upon the deity.
Meditation is the best way to obtain the blessings of the Divine Mother Tārā. The following śloka-s (verses) taken from various tantras, explain about Her.
May She help guide us towards Herself and confer Her complete grace!.....To Be Continued
This article is written by Krishna Vallapareddy and can be contacted at Krishna@manblunder.com.