Part 2, Surya Gupta 21 Taras: meditating on virtuous body of Tara; distinct embodiments of Tara’s Compassion and Wisdom

“As Tara did, we develop the potential of our minds to attain full Enlightenment through meditation. Meditation is a process of focusing our mind on a virtuous object.” — From Tara in the Palm of Your Hand [1]

Part 2 in our series on Surya Gupta 21 Taras [Part one found here>>]

In Vajrayana Buddhism — specifically here in the Surya Gupta 21 Taras practice — we engage the path with meditation that involves all of Sacred Body, Speech and Mind. In meditation on the 21 Forms of Tara, we explore in our minds, the rich symbolism of all the aspects of Tara in visual form. Of course, Tara, and all Enlighteneds Buddhas transcend appearances. But for the unenlightened, the meditator seeking enlightenment, its is supremely effective to embody Tara various aspects as a virtuous object of our visualization. By involving all three of Body, Speech and Mind, the meditation is more intense.

For “Body”, we  learn to project the “virtuous object” in our mind. For Speech, we engage with mantras, among other methods. In the Surya Gupta method of meditation, each of the Taras has Her own mantras (although the main mantra Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha is fine for each as a focus.) For mind, we contemplate her “Praise”, her virtues, her symbolism, and her powers.

 

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The 21 Taras according to the Surya Gupta visualizations.

 

Ultimately, the object of “Body” meditation can be anything (if we are advanced). In Tara in the Palm of Your Hand”, H.E. Zasep Rinpoche pointed out the example of great Asanga and the maggots:

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Zasep Tulku Rinpoche is the author of Tara in the Palm of Your Hand, a commentary and practice of the 21 Taras in the tradition of Surya Gupta. The book is available on Amazon>>

“There is a story about Asanga, a great Buddhist teacher from the fourth century CE who founded the Yogacara or Mind Only School of Tibetan Buddhism. He attained a realization of loving kindness through having a maggot as his object of meditation. For 12 years Asanga had been doing a solitary meditation retreat on Buddha Maitreya, the Buddha of Loving Kindness.

“Though Asanga devoutly wished to see Maitreya, Maitreya had not appeared to him. Asanga was ready to give up. With a heavy heart, he left his retreat.

As he was walking along the road, he saw a dying dog being eaten by maggots; he was filled with compassion for the dog, and cut off a piece of his own flesh to feed it. Then he decided to further ease the dog’s suffering by removing the maggots. But he suddenly had a realization: the maggots were sentient beings too, no different from the dog; there was no inherent difference between the dog and the maggots because all sentient beings have Buddha Nature. Both were worthy of compassion.

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Dogs also have Buddha Nature — as do maggots (story of Asanga.)

“Initially, Asanga had been going to use his fingers to pluck the maggots from the dog, but now he was afraid he would hurt the maggots if he did that. So he decided to use his tongue. Kneeling by the dog, he bent his head down, ready to do what would seem to the ordinary person to be a completely repugnant act. As he bent his head towards the maggots, the dog and maggots suddenly disappeared; in their place was Maitreya. He told Asanga that the compassion Asanga had felt for both the dog and the maggots had so purified his Karma that he could now see him, Maitreya.”

For those of us less advanced than great Asanga, it is best to meditate on the Enlightened Forms of the Body of the Buddhas. Tara, especially in her 21 aspects, has many forms.

Here are the remaining fourteen: [See part 1 for the first seven, and, of course, Rinpoche’s book, “Tara in the Palm of Your Hand” for much more detail, including the mantras for each Tara.]

Surya Gupta 21 Taras 8-14, including “principal Green Tara”

In this feature, we cover Taras 8-14, the second set of seven Tara manifestations. These Taras are according to the Mahasiddha Surya Gupta’s rich system — where each of the 21 Taras has a unique name and praise, with deeply profound symbolism, attributes and practices.

In this system, Tara 9, Tara of the Khadira Fragrant Forest, is the Green Tara we all know and love. [Part 1 of this series, with the history/introduction to Surya Gupta’s rich system of 21 Taras and a detailed description of the first seven Taras is here>>]

Tara 8 Tara Who Gives Supreme Spiritual Power

 

 

Mara Sudana Vasitottama Da Tara / Wang Chug Terwe Drolma

Power or Rite: completion stage practices; destroyer of Maras (demons) and the two obstructions

  • Seed syllable TU
  • Colour: ruby black
  • Number of arms: four
  • Peaceful or wrathful: wrathful

Praise

Homage to you, TURE, the Great Fierce One,
Who totally destroy the leaders of the maras,
Whose lotus face forms wrathful wrinkles,
And who annihilate all enemies without exception.

 

 

 

Tara 9 Tara of the Khadira Fragrant Forest (Principle Green Tara)

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Khadiravana Tara / Seng Ding Nag Che Drolma

NOTE: In the Surya Gupta system, the sadhana for the 9th Tara, Green Tara, also includes her principle two attendants: Marici and Ekajati.)

Power or Rite: Principle Green Tara

  • Seed syllable TAM
  • Colour: green
  • Number of arms: 2
  • Peaceful or wrathful: peaceful

Praise

Homage to you whose fingers, held at your chest,
Are in the mudra of the Three Jewels;
The gathered light from your hands,
Decorated with wheels, extends in all directions.

 

 

 

 

Tara 10 Tara Who Dispels All Suffering

 

 

Soka Vinodana Tara / Na Nyen Me Pi Drolma

Power or Rite: Her rite is entering the mandala

  • Seed syllable SA
  • Colour: red
  • Number of arms: 4
  • Peaceful or wrathful: peaceful

 

Praise

Homage to you who are so joyful,
With a garland of light around your crown,
And whose great laughter of TUTTARA
Overpowers all the worlds and maras.

 

Tara 11 Tara Who Summons All Beings and Dispels Misfortune

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From the book Tara in the Palm of Your Hand.

 

Jag Vasi Vipan Nirbarhana Tara / Dro Wa Gug Pa Am Pungpa Sel We Drolma

Power or Rite: Increasing enjoyments and accomplishing activities through the ten guardians

  • Seed syllable HA
  • Colour: black
  • Number of arms: 2
  • Peaceful or wrathful: wrathful

Praise

Homage to you, endowed with the power
To draw the assembly of worldly guardians,
The One who with the HUM of wrathful wrinkles
Rescues completely from all poverty.

 

Tara 12 Tara Who Grants Prosperity and Brings about Auspicious Circumstances

 

 

Kalyana Da Tara or Manga Laloka Tara / Tashi Nang We Drolma

Power or Rite: Her rite is the fire offering

  • Seed syllable AH
  • Colour: yellow
  • Number of arms: 8
  • Peaceful or wrathful: peaceful

Praise

Homage to you who are crowned with a crescent moon,
And whose ornaments shine brightly,
With Amitabha Buddha seated in front of your ushnisha
Eternally sending forth beams of light.

 

Tara 13 Tara the Complete Ripener

 

 

Pari Pacaka Tara / Young Su Min Par Zed Pi Drolma

Power or Rite: Her rite is for subduing hindrances

  • Seed syllable DRUM
  • Colour: red
  • Number of arms: 4
  • Peaceful or wrathful: wrathful

Praise

Homage to you who dwell within a garland of flames
Like the fire at the end of the aeon;
With your right leg outstretched and your left bent with joy,
You destroy all enemies.

 

Tara 14 Wrathful, Shaking and Frowning Tara

 

 

Bhrkuti Tara / Tro Nyer Yo We Drolma

Power or Rite: Her rite is the protective circle

  • Seed syllable AH TA
  • Colour: black
  • Number of arms: 6
  • Peaceful or wrathful: wrathful

 

Praise

Homage to you who strike the ground with the palm of your hand
And trample it with your foot;
With a wrathful, wrinkled face and the sound of HUM,
You subdue all seven levels of the world.

 

 

 

NOTES

[1] Tara in the Palm of Your Hand, by H.E. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

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Josephine Nolan

Author | Buddha Weekly

Josephine Nolan is an editor and contributing feature writer for several online publications, including EDI Weekly and Buddha Weekly. She is Editor-in-Chief for Blogertize Publications.

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