Tara represents the entire range of virtuous and enlightened activity and is therefore said to be the mother of the buddhas of the past, present and future. Tara’s body is emerald green in colour. The gesture of her left hand symbolizes refuge while her right hand is in the boon-granting pose.
Because she is quick to answer the petitions of those who request her aid, Tara is known as the Great Liberator. It is said that when Avalokiteshvara looked down upon the misery of the world he shed tears of compassion and from the pool of these tears two emanations of Tara were born to help him bring relief to all suffering beings.
In lifetime after lifetime Tara has manifested in female form, demonstrating that enlightenment is attainable by all – men and women alike. There are many stories which illustrate her virtuous activity, this is one of them.
Once there was a lone traveler making his perilous way across the forbidding plateau of Tibet. Exhaused and without food he was in immediate danger of losing his life when he came upon a young girl tending a herd of yaks. She took the weary man into her tent, nursed him back to health and fed him until his strength returned. As the man was recovering he observed that the young girl was alone. Single-handedly she was doing the work that even a number of strong men would have found difficult. Eventually he was fit to travel again and the girl sent him on his way with a bag of provisions. Although it was a long journey, the man discovered that the food she had given him never ran out until he was back in his own valley again. Marvelling at all that had happened he thought, ‘Perhaps that girl was actually Tara!
When he went to his lama and told him the story, the lama upbraided him saying, ‘Of course she was Tara, you blockhead! How stupid of you not to recognize her. You must have a strong connection with her, but if you ever want to see her again you had better purify your delusions and practice harder’.
Source: Jonathan Landaw from Tara’s Colouring Book.