The venerable Arya Tara is the wisdom form of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions. In the ultimate sense she has since primordial time attained the state of original wakefulness that is the very essence of the female buddha Prajnaparamita. However, to portray her background in a way that ordinary disciples can comprehend, here is her story.
Long time ago, in a past aeon, in the world Myriad Lights, there was a buddha known as Drum Thunder. It was in the presence of this buddha that she was the princess Wisdom Moon and first formed the resolve to attain supreme enlightenment and here she took the oath to work for the welfare of all beings in the form of a woman until the whole of samsara is emptied.
In accordance with her vow, she practiced day and night and became able to liberate every day one hundred billion sentient beings from their mundane frame of mind and made them attain the ‘acceptance of the nonarising of all things.’. Through this she was given the name Arya Tara, the Sublime Savioress, the mere recalling of whose name invokes the blessings to dispel the of both samsara’s suffering and the shortcomings of the passive state of nirvana.
After that she took the vow in front of Buddha Amoghasiddhi to protect the beings of the ten directions from fear and all kinds of harm. At another occasion, she acted as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara’s wisdom in order to assist him in working for the liberation of all beings. In this way, her life examples surpass the reach of ordinary thought.
Particularly in this world, during the Golden Age the compassionate Avalokiteshvara taught one hundred million Vajrayana tantras of Tara on Mount Potala in India, and has continued up through this Age of Strife to teach medium and concise version that accord with people’s capacity.
These practices pacify the eight and sixteen types of fear and causes a wishfulfilling attainment of all needs and aims. Ultimately one can realize the wisdom body of Mahamudra. There are innumerable wonderful stories of past practitioners to support this.
In short, since Arya Tara is the activity of all buddhas embodied in a single form, her blessings are swifter than that of any other deity. Most of the learned and accomplished masters of India and Tibet kept her as their main practice and attained siddhi. That is why we today have such a boundless supply of practices and instructions of Arya Tara.
~ Extracts from Chokling Tersar empowerment manuals of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and the 15th Gyalwang Karmapa
*Image by The Yogini Project founder Michael Ash / Dharma Eye