Kurukulle (Red Tara), the passionate lotus dakini, originated from the country of Uddiyana.
She is said to have emanated from the Buddha Amitabha. Among Amitabha’s three female emanations Kurukulle is the most important one. Kurukulle is often called Red Tara or Tarodbhava Kurukulle, “the Kurukulle who arises from Tara.” According to the texts, Kurukulle is a sixteen year old maiden because sixteen is an auspicious number which signifies perfection (four times four). She is red in color because of her magical function of enchantment and magnetism.
She has a single face because she embodies non-dual wisdom beyond conventional distinctions of good and evil. She is naked because she is unconditioned by discursive thoughts. She has four arms because of the four immeasurable states of mind, namely, love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. She holds an arrow stretched on a bow entwined with flowers and leaves because she can give rise to thoughts of desire in the minds of others. In her other two hands she holds the hook that attracts and summons them into her presence and the noose by which she binds them to her will. Both of these implements enable her to catch those of us who have strayed from the path of the Dharma.
Kurukulle wears a crown of five skulls signifying the five perfections, whereas she herself embodies the sixth perfection, that of wisdom. She wears a necklace of fifty freshly severed human heads dripping blood because she vanquishes the fifty negative emotions. She is dancing because she is active and energetic, her compassionate activity manifesting in both Samsara and Nirvana. She dances, treading upon a male human corpse because she enchants and subjugates the demon of ego and desire also known as Kamadeva. She stands within a flaming aura because her nature is hot and enflamed with passion and upon a lotus blossom because she is a pure vision of enlightened awareness. In the practitioner’s meditation, such is the recollection of the purity of the vision of the goddess. Usually she is one faced but can have 2, 4, 6 or 8 arms. In the 6 armed form she has six Dhyani Buddhas engraved on her crown; in the 2 armed form she is known as Sukla Kurkulla; in the 4 armed form she is known as Oddiyana Kurkulle and by several other names.
Her mantra is ‘Om Kukulle Hum Hrih Svaha’.