February 4th, 2009 by sabrina
Sage at Hocus Pocus asked a little while ago about Tara, and she was one of those Goddesses that I just hadn’t gotten to yet, mostly because I knew that she would be a little tricky. I think I’ve managed to tease out the Hindu Tara from the Buddhist Tara, who I’ll tackle tomorrow.
Tara is the Hindu Goddess of liberation. She is one of the Mahavidyas, the Wisdom Goddesses. The Hindu Tara is usually depicted as fierce and horrifying, in contrast to the beautiful and compassionate Tara of Buddhism. She sits on a white lotus, and holds a knife or a pair of scissors, a skull, a sword, and blue lotus. Her complexion is often shows as blue, and she has three red eyes. Tara wears snakes and a tiger skin, and is seated on the heart of a corpse. Her depiction is very often like that of Kali, and she shares many names with Kali.
The Hindu Tara is also associated with cremation. She sits or stands on a corpse, which is often shown being cremated or there are cremation fires in the background. In this context, cremation represents the transition from life to death and the soul’s liberation from the body. The sword and scissors that she carries symbolize the cutting of ties that bind one to ignorance and prevent freedom.
Tara’s name comes from a root which means “to carry,” and her other names and epithets include:
Smasana-bhairavi (terrible one of the cremation ground)
Jalesvari (mistress of rain)
Jagaddhatri (world nurse)
Vrksamadhyani-vasini (she who dwells in trees)
Sarvavamayi (she who creates everything)
Samsaratarini (she who carries across the ocean of samsara)
She who likes blood
She who is smeared with blood
She who enjoys blood sacrifice
She who likes fresh flowers
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