Praises to the Twenty-one Taras"The Female Aspect of the Universe" —
(Green Tara [principal aspect], also known as "Khadiravani Tara" or "Tara of the Acacia Grove")
Om. I pay homage to Tara, the Noble One, the Arya.
Namo. Tare, she who is swift, the Heroine,
She who eliminates all fear with tuttare,
The Saviouress who gives all benefit with ture
I bow down to You, swaha.
—Atisha Dipankar: Preliminary stanza praising the main deity from a teaching by HE Tai Situ Rinpoche
"She Swift to Reveal True Nature" Tara No. 1 —
(The Tara swift and heroic, who destroys obstructive demons, her body colored red, holding a red flask, dominant through conquest.)
Honor thy mother, swift and fearless,
As if lightning, her eyes flash.
Lotus born, her wisdom flowers, in an ocean of tears,
From Avalokiteshvara... the three worlds face, no finer hero.
"Lady of Supreme Peace" Tara No. 2 —
(The Tara white as the autumn moon, who defeats evil spirits, holding a white flask that pacifies.)
Honor thy mother, whose face shines a warm white,
Like one hundred harvest moons.
Resplendent is her light, with rays that blaze,
From a world of one thousand stars.
"A Noble Lady of Life and Enjoyment" Tara No. 3 —
(The Tara who increases all good things, colored yellow, holding a yellow flask that multiplies.)
Honor thy golden mother,
With blue lotus, amidst reflections of gold,
Is water-born from tears.
Giving with generosity...
Ever clear in meditation.
"She Who Grants the Highest Life" Tara No. 4 —
(Lady of complete victory, she is colored yellow, holding a yellow flask of life, and is associated with wealth and prosperity.)
Honor thy mother and queen... infinity alive.
Whose actions are victorious without limit.
Attained to every perfection,
The one upon whom, the transcendent find virtue.
"She Who Fills all Realms of Space" Tara No. 5 [to proof]
(The Tara who crys "HUM" she summons with a gesture of wisdom. Her color is red-yellow, she holds a red flask that ravishes.)
Honor thy mother with fierce HUM,
Completely ravishing all space and direction.
Crushing the seven worlds beneath her feet,
All bow before her!
"She Victorious Over Three Worlds" Tara No. 6 —
(The Tara colored red-black, holding a blue flask that confounds ghosts and awakened corpses.)
Honor thy mother, for whom such respect is offered,
By Hindu devas, now in heaven...
Indra, Agni and Brahma.
With celestial spirits, corpse-raisers, fairies, angels, and mystics of all kinds,
She is victorious over the three worlds.
"She Who Conquers Black Magic Mantras" Tara No. 7 —
(The Tara defeating the black magic mantras of others, her body colored black, holding a black flask that averts evil wishes.)
Honor thy mother with magic means...
External black magic fear her TRAD and PHAT sounds.
With firm posture, left leg outstretched, right drawn in,
Her torso a fire-like glow.
"She Who Conquers Maras and Enemies" Tara No. 8 [to proof]
(The Tara who defeats great fears, her body is red-black and she holds a red flask, which crushes ones demons.)
Honor thy mother with TURE,
Destroyer of Mara, she champions mighty demons!
Her lotus face with wrathful frown,
Defeats utterly, satanic forces.
"She Who Protects from All Fears" Tara No. 9 —
(The Tara from which her hand gesture generates "Three Jewels" of power, holding the white flask that defeats all fright.)
Honor thy mother, her hands and heart are one!
Finding refuge with bliss... the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha,
Her wheel shining in all directions,
She inhabits the light.
"She of Laughter with Garlands of Joy" Tara No. 10 [to proof]
(The Tara who tames all maras, her body is red, she holds a red flask that defeats obstructions.)
Honor thy mother, radiant with joy.
Her crown sparkles happy beams,
Laughing with the resonance of TUTTARE,
Smiling, mocking the Maras, the underworld gives way.
"She Who Eradicates the Suffering of Poverty" Tara No. 11 [to proof]
(The Tara who grants magical attainments, she is red-yellow in color, like refined gold. She holds a yellow flask saving all from every misfortune.)
Honor thy mother who demands with dance,
Vibrating with HUM and fierce frown,
Summoning the hosts of earth's guardians,
Freedom from all misfortune is given.
"She Granting All that is Auspicious" Tara No. 12 —
(The Tara who grants all encouragement, the color of gold, she holds a white flask that grants fortunate blessings.)
Honor thy mother... dignified, radiating white light...
Crowned with a crescent moon, jewels adorn her.
Omni brilliant, beams Amitabha,
Residing eternally, in her piled hair.
"She Who Blazes Like Fire" Tara No. 13 —
(The Tara who defeats hindering demons, her body colored red, holding a flask like fire, which destroys all obstacles.)
Honor thy mother, tempered by flames.
Extinguishing all else,
Her posture reveals... a stance of joy,
And renders foes asunder.
"The Tara with Frowning Brows, Who Destroys Demonic Hindrance" Tara No. 14 [to proof]
(With her brows slightly frowning, she wrathfully smites evil demons. Her body is colored black and she holds the dark blue flask, shattering the seven underworlds.)
Honor thy mother, hands by her side,
Palms striking earth, heels shattering ground.
With a roar and frowning features,
Underworlds, all seven, tremble from HUM.
"She of Supreme Peacefulness" Tara No. 15 [to proof]
(The Tara great and calm, with virtue and happiness, she washes away obscurationns, her body is white, and she holds the while flask that cleanses.)
Honor thy mother, the blissful, virtuous one.
Peaceful in Nirvana, beyond all suffering,
With SOHA and OM, destroyer of sins,
She conquers all great evils.
"She Who Increases Intelligence" Tara No. 16 —
(The Tara of intrinsic awareness. Colored red and holding a red-yellow flask, which increases wisdom.)
Honor thy mother in joyous posture.
With a shattering blow, foes fall asunder.
Bodies fall round her, from ten magic syllables...
The savioress with HUM, whose knowledge is liberation.
"She Who Causes the Three Realms to Tremble" Tara No. 17 [to proof]
(The Tara who shakes the triple world, her body colored red-yellow, holding the yellow flask that conquers demons.)
Honor thy mother with TURE and feet that stamp!
Mount Meru trembles...
Mandara, Binduchal, and the triple world!
With HUM, she seeds her wrath.
"She With Deva-Lake form" Tara No. 18 —
(The Tara pacifying poisons of water serpents, her body colored white, holding a white flask that makes toxins disappear.)
Honor thy mother who holds the moon,
With an ocean of celestial beings that thrive in divine lakes.
Her gift, she dispels any toxins,
Upon hearing TARA TARA PHAT, from all who seek.
"She Who Alleviates All Suffering" Tara No. 19. [to proof]
(The Tara who cures bad dreams, her body is white, and she holds a white flask dispeling all suffering.)
Honor thy mother on whom gods and kings rely.
Horse-headed fairies, and that of bad dreams...
Contentions and conflicts soothe and subside.
Resplendent is her joyous armor.
"She Who Cures all Fevers" Tara No. 20 —
(The Tara who removes disease, her body colored red, she holds a red flask dispelling delirium.)
Honor thy mother, like the sun and full moon she smiles,
Her eyes are radiant, pure and brilliant.
The gaze from which, with lightning force,
Dispels all fatal fevers...
HARA HARA TUTTARA be praised!
"She Perfecting All Enlightenment" Tara No. 21 —
(The Tara who fulfills all active functions, her body is white and radiating colors. She holds the green flask granting all magical powers, abilities, and attainments.)
Honor thy mother, adorned with three natures.
Perfectly endowed with bliss-power;
Destroyer of blood drinking demons, zombies and yakshas.
O TURE, sounds the most exalted and sublime!
Thus the root mantra is spoken...
And the twenty-one praises granted!
Twenty-one verses based on text by the First Dalai Lama — Edited by Eric D. Hatchell — Source translations: Glenn H. Mullin, Thubten Chodron, Robert Thurman, Stephan Beyer, Bokar Rinpoche and Martin Wilson. With additional commentary compiled from oral teachings by the Ven. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche and the Ven. Choden Rinpoche under the guidance of Lama Kunga Rinpoche.
- "Tantric practice dedicated to the 21 Taras is one of the most popular focuses of Tibetan Buddhism, from the Southern Himalayas to the Mongol territories of Eastern Russia. Eric Hatchell's treatment brings "Tara Sacred Iconography" into a contemporary ambiance with the creative excellence expected of this renowned photographer and digital artist." — Lama Glenn H. Mullin, Tibetologist
- In a private teaching regarding Eric Hatchell's digital illustrations of Tara, "When the great masters had profound visions to contribute, they might pickup a pencil, use scissors with cardboard, sculpt clay... or any means they might have... to proficiently illustrate and share their insights. This being the case, if Macintosh computers and Photoshop existed centuries ago, chances are, those same great masters would have used scanners, digital cameras and other such devices to illustrate their perceptions of Buddhist spirits and sacred deities." — Basaa Hambo Lama, Abbott Erdene Zuu Monastery
- "Ah, the Dharma is truly spreading. The excellence of this lies in the simplicity of the philosophy behind it. At essence, that is that if everyone lived according to goodness then the world would live in goodness. The contemporization of buddhadharma into the arts and into the western mind stream is seeding the new ethos. This piece of art allows the non-buddhist person to enter consideration of what might this beautiful Presence be offering? The answer will arise, and the new ethos be seeded." — Donna Mitchell-Moniak, Buddhist Layperson
- Regarding a digital illustration presented to the king and Queen of Bhutan, "Their majesties are indeed very pleased to receive such a unique present and will always cherish it. You will always be remembered for this kind thoughtful gesture." — Col. Kinley Namda, Chief ADC, Palace Guard to King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk
- Regarding a digital illustration presented to the Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour, "Wonderful! It's lovely for everyone to see this beautiful work of yours! Thanks so much. Joy and love." — O.H, Spiritual Philanthropist and Supporter of the 21 Tara project
"Eric Hatchell's devotion to making alive, the art of the dakini as such, along with the feminine energy of Tara into the 21st century, is performed not only with love, but also with great respect of the Buddhist practice. It is something that one can only experience by seeing his illustrations firsthand and feeling the compassion invoked by his work. Throughout Asia and the U.S., Eric searched to find the perfect model for each emanation, and was very particular with each detail of composition, in order to bring the sacred energy of Tara into the art of the digital canvas, faithfully depicting her story.
When we discuss the evolution and origins of Tara, the most revered scenario begins with the Bodhisattva Chenrezig, who solemnly vowed to liberate all beings... only then would he seek enlightenment for himself. This commitment to work for all beings he pledged for kalpas and kalpas until, as it is said in this legend, a certain unimaginable time passed, causing Chenrezig to reflect on his practice, wondering if at last he was getting close to the end. So he had a look around and found that all seemed to be just as it was when he started. Discouraged by the suffering that still remained, he began losing the strength of his commitment... fading dramatically, doubting his resolve so forcefully, his head split apart, into thousands of pieces. As the story continues, appearing to Chenrezig, the Buddha Amitabha offered words to the effect, that he should try to pull himself together. Amitabha went on to suggest that the struggling bodhisattva was being very childish, urging him to do better, by stating that he made a sacred commitment, which meant a more courageous effort was needed to see his task through completion. With that it is said, then Amitabha gathered and shaped all the bits and pieces of Chenrezig's broken form, into the manifestation of a deity with eleven heads to help him hear the cries of those who still suffer, and one thousand-arms with which to reach out and help those in need. Likewise, In Tibetan Buddhism, it is taught that from Chenrezig's compassionate tears, a lake formed and a lotus opened to reveal the Tara as further emanation to help Chenrezig accomplish his commitment more swiftly. So one will generally say that Tara's activities are basically connected to those of Chenrezig.
Eric's work, reminds me of this account, as his Tara illustrations are certain to become a timeless part of Buddhist lore, given his unwavering commitment with great devotion to the dakinis of this time and a wish to, in his own way, liberate all beings through his compassionate artistic endeavor." — Dianita Gorbea, Buddhist Practitioner
- "As dreamlike as it gets — wonderful!" — Felix Paul Knystautas, Student of Philosophy
- Regarding a digital illustration presented to the Maitreya Loving Kindness Tour, "Feeling the blessing and the amazing way that you bridge heaven and earth... healing the illusion of separation... thank you Eric Hatchell...sending love and healing energy to all." — Marilene Isaacs, Owner & Intuitive Therapist, Isaacs Marilene - Center of Peace
- "It's a new era!" — Kuenden Wangmo, Bhutanese Buddhist Layperson
- "I love it...u ve magic in ur hands...thank you so much eric...xoxo." — Tshering Deki Shakchang, Tara Model
- "Nice take of Tara ...my favourite divinity." — Jampa Tenzing Barshee, Canadian Buddhist Layperson
- Regarding a digital illustration of Tara No. 7, "WOW !!!! Eric u ve outdone this time , atlest that's wat I think . Thank u soo much , I loveee it !!!" — Tenzing Deki, Tara Model
- "Amazing" — Karma Dorji, Bhutanese Buddhist Layperson
- "In a word... WOW!" — Molly Christian, Buddhist Layperson
- Regarding a digital illustration of Tara No. 13, "Beautiful young lady, spinning high above in the ether. Where is she from, this model? Just strikingly enchanting. I like the add of the tulips, interesting modern twist. Of course the violet lotus is phenomenal. The softness of the petals comes thru tenderly delicate. I like the shadow on the white lotus, gives depth. You are getting so good at this!" — Michele Miley, Buddhist Practitioner
- "Fantastic! I can not believe all of the detail you illustrate with each work. You are amazing!" — Jasmine Aaron, Buddhist Layperson
- "Great collaboration of model and photographer" — Jason Abigail, Buddhist Layperson
- Regarding a digital illustration of Tara No. 1, "Hot! Love the flow from the stupa. The dakinis inside give an Egyptian feel. So we have the increase and subjugating/magnetizing actions displayed with the golden and ruby red. Beautiful Eric." — Michele Miley, Buddhist Practitioner
- "Wow! Eye and spiritual candy!" — Patricia Burns Auerbach, Buddhist Layperson
- Regarding a digital illustration of Tara No. 1, "Oh I love this sort of christmas, it's better for me ah ah dear dakinis, yes!!! laughs! so special but so good really!" and regarding Tara No. 6, "Big thanks... feeling blessed! So BEAUTIFUL!! tashe delek" — Catherine Cathy Calvez-Ronot, Buddhist Layperson, France
- Regarding a digital illustration of Tara No. 6, "Gorgeous colors, I tend to vibrate with purple and white. I love this Eric, floating on the water and the reflection. I see you are dressing your dakinis more modestly. That should appease some;) I have never seen Tara holding a vase, and yours looks a bit like a phallus so I approve. Really great this one! Congrats and keep up the beautiful, patient, skillful, articulate sensitive art." — Michele Miley, Buddhist Practitioner
- "Beautiful! so so beautiful. I love how you include a wealth of information with your stunning art!!! Thank you!" — Margot Wilson, Buddhist Layperson
- "I dont know how can thank you.its beyond my words. I thank you sooooo much n love you too..." — Tenzin Gi Kbu, Buddhist Monk, Mysore, Karnataka, India
- "We tibetan respect and love you from the core of our heart." — Tenzin Kuncchok, Buddhist Layperson, Udhagamandalam, India
Regarding the Tara in General...
- "The purpose of meditating on Tara isn't to feel good by worshiping an external deity, "I offered apples to Tara, so I'm happy because now she'll help me." The ultimate purpose of showing respect and praising Tara's qualities is to provoke us to contemplate: How can I develop those same qualities? How can I transform my mind to become more like Tara?" — Thubten Chodron, Tibetan Buddhist Nun
- "Many enlightened practitioners in India and later in Tibet practiced Tara as their principle deity of practice. As the embodiment of enlightened activity she is very immediate and very swift in clarifying, in subjugating various obstacles in our lives including natural calamities, epidemics, war and all kinds of danger, harm and fear. This is particularly valuable in the world situation in the times we live in." — H.E. Bokar Rinpoche
- "Both Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike honor the divinity Jetsun Tara. There are quite a few traditions for her sadhana practice, not only in the sutras but also in the tantras. Each of the four levels of tantra, from Kriya to Anuttara, has its own distinct Tara practice." — Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
- "So when we say that to do the meditation we have to understand the great value of Green Tara, what does this mean? The great value of Green Tara is based upon the ability to make a key differentiation. The differentiation is between the enlightened being, that is the Buddha, and ordinary sentient being, the ordinary living being. You could say, very rightly, that the ordinary living being is also very valuable, very precious, but precious in a different way, valuable in a different way from the enlightened being." — Khempo Yurmed Tinly Rinpoche
"Homage to the Three Jewels with body, speech and mind I bow to Tara, the active energy of Buddhas past, present and future..." So said the First Dalai Lama, who explained with enlightened commentary, the twenty-one verses of prostration and praise to Tara, which were offered by the perfect Buddha Vairochana.
According to the translation work of Tibetologist Glenn H. Mullin, The Tara Tantra belongs to a classification of "Action Tantra" specifically the "Twenty-one Verses in Praise of Tara" are found in the tantric scripture entitled, In Praise of Tara, Mother of All Talhagalas. It is also said that the twenty-one verses can be explained in terms of the Highest Yoga Tantra.
The source of these verses is believed to originate from conversation between the Buddha Vairochana and Manjusri, the immortal Bodhisattva of Wisdom. As a female form (of maleness) she/he symbolizes the source of the Buddhas of the three times, Manjusri represents the Buddhas of the past, present and future, and as such embodies a most perfect talisman to praise the Arya Tara.
The actual dharani has two themes, the root mantra itself and the twenty-one verses of prostration and praise. Some traditions hold the following mantra is at the root... Nama sarva tathagata nam tadyatha om namo suhasha nama tare paramita. However, the translator Pong-lo Chen-po provided the following verse from the Indian scriptures:
Om! Homage to Tara, the Ture heroine,
Whose mantra tuttare dispels all chaos,
And ture, which fulfills all needs.
Svaha! To Tara I bow down.
This then, Om tare tuttare ture Svaha (soha), is the mantra that, according to many teachers, is paraphrased and worked into most of the twenty-one verses; therefore it must be the root mantra.
The dharani itself has three parts: (I) the first line of the observance, which provides a brief introduction to the nature of Tara; (II) the twenty-one verses of prostration and praise, and (III) the concluding lines, which describe the benefits of the practice.
I. The First Line (a preamble) "Om to the Venerable Arya Tara I bow down" with the syllable Om, indicating a turning for refuge and the word Venerable, or Je-tsun having two meanings. Je indicating the Tara is supreme amongst all sources and tsun meaning that externally she embodies the Hinayana practice for individual liberation. Further Arya, indicates a transcended state, far above ordinary faults, such that all obscurations to deeper truths have been abandoned.
Tara meaning free, or liberated, is indicative of the state beyond that which might be described as an "ocean of suffering." Being a female distinction, it also refers to the state wherein all sentient beings are held with an equal love, in a place where attachment and aversion have been defeated. With that in mind, Tara symbolizes the love for all sentient beings, which resembles the profoundly tender affection that a mother holds for all her children, being equally strong for each.
Lastly, I bow down having two meanings, the first being to sweep away the negativity caused by delusion, and the second, to make a gesture of respect and awareness with our body, speech and mind.
II. The twenty-one verses of praise, all fall into three main distinctions. (A) Praise by means of legend; (B) praise as the symbolic aspect of her many manifestations, and (C) praise in terms of her enlightened activity.
A) As for praises in reference to legend, the homage made to Tara as being "born from the tears of Avalokiteshvara," it is said that once the Bodhisattva of Compassion became so dismayed by the number of sentient beings suffering in the repeating cycle of birth, life and death, he burst into tears. From the pool that gathered, sprang forth a lotus, and from that flower appeared a form whose lovely face, embodied the delicacy of a million blossoms. Thus the compassion of all Buddhas emanated as a fountain of enlightened energy, in other words, the Tara is in fact, the divine nature of all mystical activity.
B) The verse in praise of Tara's symbolic attributes, might best be examined in terms of her "Beatific Form" [Skt., Sambhogakaya); as well as her Wisdom, or Truth Body [Skt., Dharmakaya]. The Tara has two main types of her most holy forms, peaceful and wrathful... there are six verses in praise of her peaceful emanations and seven in appreciation of her more wrathful manifestations, which have the power to destroy external threats such as the influences of "hungry ghosts" as well as any interference to the attainment of absolute bliss.
C) Ultimately, in praise of Tara's enlightened activity, there are six verses, with the first referencing, "She whose followers are joyous" and concluding with, "She able to eliminate demons, zombies and yakshas." With that one being a White Tara (radiating multi-colors) who illustrates complete perfection.
III. In conclusion, the First Dalai Lama reveals a theme that offers guidance for the practitioner. This includes the time for practice, the benefits of practice, the number of recitations to be performed, along with evidence of the effects that are produced.
Recitation of these twenty-one verses in praise of the peaceful and wrathful hymns of Tara together with prostrations of body, speech and mind, are to be performed on the basis of compassion, conjoined with wisdom. Thus, the warmth of heart-felt love, rather than merely a repetition of meaningless mantra, should guide one's meditational efforts.
* Based on text by the First Dalai Lama, as translated by Glenn H. Mullin in his book the Selected Works Of Dalai Lama I: Bridging the Sutras and Tantras. For more from the First Dalai Lama and other great minds, please visit amazon.com