Tara Puja Day — Why it’s important; simple ways to celebrate, how to participate; sponsoring pujas for merit; offering from the heart

Tara day — when we celebrate the wisdom activity of all the Buddhas in the form of Mother Tara — is every day, but especially celebrated and meritorious on the 8th day of the lunar month. We call it “Tara Day” for short. In this feature, we offer several concise and meaningful ways to celebrate the Mother of Wisdom and Compassionate Activity, Arya Tara.

“Green Tara is especially swift in granting the wishes of sentient beings. Tara is also known as the “Mother of all Buddhas” because she embodies wisdom – all buddhas are born from this wisdom.” Lama Zopa Rinpoche [3]

 

Buddha Weekly Feature image for Tara Buddhism

Loving face of the Mother of All Buddhas Green Tara. Tara is famous for saving beings from the eight great dangers. Detail from art by Ben Christian.

 

Anyone may celebrate!

Tara Day can be celebrated by anyone! The shortest way to celebrate is simply to chant or say her mantra as much as you can on this day:

OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SVAHA

 

Buddha Weekly mantra garland of green tara ies walker Buddhism

In more advanced mantra practice, and in sadhanas authorized by teachers, Tara’s ten syllable mantra may be visualized surrounding the seed syllable Tam (shown in the centre). Surrounding the Tam, are the Tibetan syllables beginning at the top (Om) then left clockwise.

 

You do not require any empowerment for the mantra or to participate in any Tara Day activity. Traditionally, on the 8th and 15th of the lunar month, Tara Day activities include Puja and chanting of the 21 Praises to Tara. (Most Tara devotees chant the 21 Praises daily!)

“Reciting the 21 Taras’ prayer with devotion – remembering Tara singing praises and reciting mantras at any time of the day or night – protects you from fear and dangers, and fulfils all your wishes.”  Lama Zopa Rinpoche. [3]

No time for puja? Venerable Zasep Rinpoche guides you through a 12 minute Tara practice — very beautiful!

 

 

It is also traditional to abstain from meat, eggs, onions, garlic, leeks, chilis and alcohol — to honor the purity of the Great Compassion Wisdom Mother Tara.

However, you can celebrate in any way that seems right to you — as long as you do observe meaningfully. For example, simply recite the 21 Praises to Tara (see below.) Or, the Song of Longing to Tara — which many devotees of Tara (myself include) recite twice daily. Of course, if you have empowerment, you might do your daily sadhana.

 

Lama Zopa at Lama Chopa Tsog puja

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at a puja.

 

Four Mandala Pujas! Wow Wow…

The most elaborate and wonderful way to celebrate Tara’s day is with the Cittamani Tara Four Mandala Puja. This is a lengthy, but profoundly beautiful practice, where we offer mandalas four times, and the 21 praises eight times. You will often find these scheduled for public Zoom online — don’t forget to share some Dana (generosity) by donating to the organizers.

A simpler puja, as described by Lama Zopa, includes all the devotional aspects of Tara practice — offerings and the 21 praises [2]:

  1. Take refuge and generate bodhicitta: sang gye chhö dang.
  2. Meditate on the four immeasurables.
  3. Offer the seven-limb puja and a mandala.
  4. Recite one set of the long Praises to the Twenty-One Taras. (See below)
  5. Recite, with prostrations, as many as possible of the following short prayer, which contains the essence of the long praise, in English or Tibetan.

Do you feel the need for a little healing energy? Venerable Zasep Rinpoche guides you through a five colour visualization (very powerful) of White Tara. Don’t miss this:

 

 

The most profound practice is simply to pray. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche said (in April 2017): “What I want you to do is supplicate. Supplication, prayer, is important. Prayer is meditation. Prayer is shamatha. Prayer is vipassana. Prayer is so important.” [1]

The Song of Longing to Tara the Liberator (below section) is one of the most magnificent of Tara Prayers — not only for Puja day, but every morning and evening every day. It literally takes five minutes and is so profound and beautiful.

Another practice anyone can do daily or on Tara day is to chant the 21 Praises to Tara. For a beautiful English version, see the Buddha Weekly musical chant below sung by Hrishi. (I chant along with this video twice a day!)  Lyrics to the English praise, as well as Sanskrit versions below!)

 

 

Puja online or at home

For the more ambitious, join a Zoom Puja — there are many scheduled around the world (we’ll link some below). Or, simply undertake your own

No aspect of wisdom and Enlightenment is more active in our world than the Mother of All the Buddhas, Arya Tara. Why is she the Mother of the Buddhas? Because she represents Wisdom — and more particularly “Wisdom in Action” — without which there can be no Enlightenment.

Tara Pujas — Devotion to the Mother of the Buddhas

Tara Pujas can be daily events, but certainly should be enthusiastically celebrated on the 8th day of the lunar month — and the full moon of the month as well. On these days, symbolically, perhaps, but meaningfully, the lineage of teachings has made it clear that merit is increased on these days.

Why merit? The main obstacle to our realizations in Buddhist practice is a lack of merit, and our obscurations created by negative karma. Both of these can be overcome by generating positive merit and engaging in purification practices. And nothing is more purifying than Tara’s puja. By offering Her the entire mandala of the universe on Her sacred day, you certainly create considering and overwhelming positive merit.

 

Buddha Weekly Green Tara feature shot Buddhism

Green Tara as Chittamani Tara, her highest form of practice. Detail from a 21 Taras Thangka by Angeli Lhadripa Shkonda.

 

You do not need any special empowerments to celebrate most Pujas. Pujas are devotional activities and offerings. One of the roots of the word Puja comes from “flower” as it to offer flowers. While a Sadhana given by a teacher to an empowered student will include devotion and purification and offerings — just like a Puja — it also includes deep practices such as self-generation and guru yoga which may require specific empowerment. Puja — whether of Green Tara, White Tara, Chittamani Tara (Cittamani), Medicine Buddha, or any other Enlightened being — is a celebration, offering and devotional practice open to everyone.

Any time it is beneficial and protective to chant the mantra of Green Tara. Here, the amazing Yoko Dharma chants the Green Tara mantra:

 

A Song of Longing for Tara, the Infallible

By Lama Lobsang Tenpey Gyaltsen (1852)
Translated by Lama Thubten Yeshe

From my heart I bow to Divine Mother Tara, essence of love and compassion, the most precious objects of refuge gathered into one. From now until I reach enlightenment, hook me with your great love and kindness to liberate me.

By the witness of the Three Jewels, not just from my mouth but from the depths of my innermost heart and bones, I pray to you morning and evening. Show your blissful face to me, Loving One. Grant me the nectar of your speech.

Great gurus and small gurus cheat us with their made-up teachings, selling Dharma, teaching without comprehension, not observing who is qualified and who is not, being concerned about their own happiness and the eight worldly concerns. Since I can no longer trust friends of this degenerate age, you are my principal guru. Inspire me, Divine Mother, essence of love. Arouse the great power of your compassion and think
of me.

I take refuge in you Tara; like you, no Buddha could ever deceive me. But understanding the odd character of these times, most Buddhas have gone into the bliss of nirvana. Even though they have great compassion, we have no connection. Since for me there are no other deities, you are my principal deity. Bestow realizations upon me, Divine Mother, essence of love. Arouse the great power of your compassion and think of me.

Most Dharma protectors do not show their powers. Tired of those who invoke them, they do not act. Other protectors, lacking insight but proud of their power, may be friendly for a while but will later do me harm. Since I cannot rely on other protectors, you are my principal protector. With divine action, Wisdom Mother, essence of love, arouse the great power of your compassion and think of me.

To ordinary view the names of objects are the same as their meaning. Like this, they produce afflictions and bind us to samsara. When it is time to die, unless I understand the true nature, could a wish-fulfilling gem enable me to carry even a sesame seed with me? Since I do not trust in illusions, you are my real richness. Please grant my desires, Divine Mother, essence of love. Arouse the great power of your compassion and think of me.

I cannot rely on the non-virtuous friends for even a day. They pretend to be close to me and all the while have in mind the opposite. They are friends when they wish it and enemies when they don’t. Since I cannot trust in this kind of friend, you are my best friend. Be close to me, Divine Mother, essence of love. Arouse the great power of your compassion and think of me.

You are my guru, my yidam, my protector, my refuge, my food, my clothes, my possessions, and my friend. Since your divine quality is everything to me, let me spontaneously achieve all that I wish.

Although I am overwhelmed by my habitual, uncontrolled mind, please cut these self-centered thoughts so I will be able to give my body and my life millions of times without difficulty to each sentient being. Inspire me to be able to develop this kind of compassion to benefit all.

Empower me to cut the root of samsara, self-grasping, and to understand the pure doctrine, the most difficult middle way, free from the errors of extremes.

Inspire me to practice as a bodhisattva, turning away from what is worldly, dedicating all my virtues to teaching living beings, never for even one instant thinking of just my own happiness. Let me wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all.

Empower me to actualize as much as possible the most subtle vows and to keep them without a careless mind, thus becoming the most perfect bodhisattva.

Outwardly, let me be simple in my practice, while inwardly, actualize the depth of the diamond vehicle with the strong wish to practice the two stages. Inspire me to attain enlightenment quickly for the benefit of all.

Divine Wisdom Mother Tara, you know everything about my life — my ups and downs, my good and bad. Think lovingly of me, my only mother.

I give myself and all who trust in me to you, Divine Wisdom Mother Tara. Being completely open to you, let us be born in the highest pure land. Set me there quickly with no births in between.

May the hook of your compassion and your skillful means transform my mind into Dharma and transform the minds of all beings, whoever they are. They have all been my mother, the mother of one unable to follow the Conqueror’s teachings.

By reciting this prayer three times a day and by remembering the Divine Wisdom Mother Tara, may I and all beings who are connected to me reach whatever pure land we wish.

May the Three Jewels and especially the Divine Wisdom Mother, whose essence is compassion, hold me dear until I reach enlightenment. May I quickly conquer the four negative forces.

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha!

21 Taras Surya Gupta

The 21 Taras according to Surya Gupta visualization.

21 Praises in English

This is the singable – chantable version, see video (above):

Praise to the Mantra:

Homage to Tara the Swift and Courageous,

You drive away all our fears with TUTTARE,

Saviouress fulfilling all aims with TURE,

With syllables SVAHA, we offer homage.

Tara’s 21 Praises in English

1. Heroic Red Tara

Homage to You, the Swift One, the Heroine,
Your gaze is as quick as flashes of lightning
Who arose from the majestic carolla
From the Lotus face of the Lord of Three Worlds.

2. Moonlight White Tara

Homage to You with a face that resembles
The gathering of one hundred autumn full moons
And who with the brightness of stars by the thousands
Shines in a vast perfect light of resplendence.

3. Golden Color Tara

Homage to You divine golden-blue Goddess
Whose hands are adorned by water-born lotus.
Embody Six Perfections: Giving, Patience
Ethics, Concentration, Vigor, and Wisdom

4. Golden Tara of Crown Victorious

Homage to You who crowns Buddha’s ushnishas,
Whose victorious actions have no limit.
Who has attained ev’ry transcendent wisdom,
On whom the Bodhisattvas themselves rely.

5. Tara Proclaiming the Sound of HUM

Homage to You who with HUM and TUTTARA,
Fill all worlds of desire, direction, space.
Who with your feet press down on the Seven Worlds;
You subdue all beings under your power.

6. Tara Victorious Over the Three Levels of World

Homage to You praised by Indra and Agni,
Brahma, Vayu, Ishvara and all the gods
All the spirits, zombies, and the smell-eaters,
Even the Yakshas give praise in Your presence.

7. Tara Who Crushes Adversaries

Homage to You who with the TRAY and PEY sounds,
Crush every magical wheel, evil forces,
Right leg extended and left bent, you trample,
You burn them completely in Your whirling fire.

8. Tara Who Gives Supreme Spiritual Power

Homage to You, TURE, the Boundless Fierce One,
Who totally destroys leaders of maras.
Whose lotus-like face forms furious wrinkles,
You annihilate foes without exception.

9. Tara of the Khadira Fragrant Forest

Homage to You whose fingers held at Your chest,
Displaying the mudra of the Three Jewels;
Beautiful swirling light in your precious hands
Dharma wheels connect every direction.

10. Tara Who Dispels All Suffering

Homage to You, the majestic and joyful
With brilliant garlands of light around your crown
With the great clangor of laughter TUTTARA
Over power all the worlds and the maras.

11. Tara Who Summons All Beings and Dispels Misfortune

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

12. Tara Who Grants Prosperity and Brings About Aupsiciousness

Homage to You, who is crowned with crescent moon,
And whose ornaments so brilliantly sparkle.
Amitabha in front of your ushnisha,
Eternally radiating beams of light.

13. Tara the Complete Rinpener

Homage to You, who dwell in garlands of flames
Engulfed in fire like the end of the aeon.
Right leg outstretched and left bent with blissful joy
Who with your power destroy all enemies.

14. Wrathful, Shaking and Frowning Tara

Homage to You, striking the ground with your hand
And crushing the earth with your majestic foot.
With wrathful, wrinkled face and the sound of HUM
You fully subdue seven levels of worlds.

15. Tara the Great Peaceful One Who Provides Virtues

Homage to You, happy, virtuous and peaceful,
Who acts from eternal bliss of Nirvana.
And who with the pure sounds of OM and SVAHA,
Eliminates the most unwholesome Karmas!

16. Tara Destroyer of All Attachment

Homage to You, who turns the Wheel of Dharma
For truly devoted, who love the teachings
Crushing enemies — all types of obstacles
with the Hum and the ten syllable mantra.

17. Tara Accomplisher of Joy and Bliss

Homage to You with feet stamping and Ture
Whose essence is the sacred syllable Hum.
You cause Mount Meru, Mandhara and Vindhya
Making all three worlds to tremble and shake!

18. Victorious Tara Who Increases Realizations

Homage to You, holding the moon in Your hand
Like a celestial ocean of nectar.
Sound of the PEY and the twice uttered TARA
You completely dispel every poison.

19. Tara, Extinguisher of All Suffering

Homage to You on whom the devas rely
And also the lords of all the Gandharvas.
Your armor of joy, a radiant brightness,
You eliminate arguments and nightmares.

20. Tara, Source of All Powerful Attainments

Homage to You, whose two eyes are shining bright,
Brilliant with light like the sun and the full moon.
Saying HARA twice and TUTTARE again
You clear and eliminate epidemics.

21. Tara of the Perfection of Wisdom and Compassion

Homage to You whose pure Body, Speech and Mind
Are perfect with the strength and power of peace.
Suppressing Maras, Dons, Zombies and Yakshas
With the most exalted syllable TURE.

Information courtesy of
Tara in the Palm of Your Hand
Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
Available on Amazon.com
21 Tara Paintings by V.V. Sapar
www.vvsapar.com
@artistvvsapar

Don’t miss the 21 Taras Mantra Series sung by Yoko Dharma. YouTube Playlist>>


Resources

Tara Pujas online

Tara Book Resources

[The above list may include affiliate links. Price is unchanged, although Buddha Weekly earns a small percentage used for hosting costs.]

Other Resources Online

Buddha Weekly’s Tara section — it’s growing, many features>>

Khyentse Foundation’s Online Tara Altar is wonderful>>

 

 

NOTES

[1] Khyentse Foundation Tara Puja Page>>

[2] Tara Puja on Lama Yeshe archive>>

[3] Tara Puja Atisha centre, Australia>>

 

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Lee Kane

Author | Buddha Weekly

Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar Sonam choden on February 10, 2022 at 6:09 am

    How can we learn prayers in online

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