Tara2 Buddhist goddess. The word Tara is derived from the word tarana, meaning salvation, because she is the saviour of people. There are numerous goddesses called Tara in the Vajrayana Devisangha. The goddesses named Tara described in the Buddhist treatises such as Sadhanamala, Nispannayogavali, Advayavraja, etc, are supposed to save people from danger when invoked; that is why they have this appellation. But each of the goddesses called Tara has her own complexion, representing the lineage she is from. The complexion of the chief Buddhists of the clans determines the complexions of each of the goddesses called Tara.

The idol of Tara usually has two arms: she holds a green lotus in her left hand and a varadamudra (a benedictory sign or coin) in the right at night. Some idols of Tara have miniature images of the contemplative Buddha in their headdress. This makes it difficult for someone to identify the lineage of the Taras. It is even more difficult to distinguish the lineage of the Taras from the stone statues, because stones cannot be coloured.

Tara started to be considered a goddess in buddhism from around 6th century AD. The famous Chinese traveller Hsuen Tsang, while touring Bangladesh in 7th century AD, found many idols of Tara on altars. From the 8th to the 12th century, Tara was worshipped like other popular goddesses of the mahayana community and grew steadily in popularity. At this time, many temples, schools and colleges had her idol. The tradition of offering prayers to Tara extended to Java and in 779 AD, a Buddhist temple for her worship was also established there.

The Tibetans call the goddess Taradevi, Sgrol-ma, which means saviour. The Mongolians call her Dara Eke, which means Mother Tara. Moreover, she is respected as the mother of Buddha and bodhisattva (the incarnation of Gautama immediately preceding his birth as Buddha).

Taradevi remains in a sitting posture except when she is seen as an associate of Avalokiteshvara, or gods of the same rank. Like other gods and goddesses, she is also depicted as touring with her entourage. The thirteen gems adorning the Bodhisattvas also adorn Tara when she is in a form not in accordance with the tantras (religious order). With her hair curled and bulged out, she keeps smiling at this time. Her form in accordance with the religious order was always adorned with ornaments and held aloof symbols. With unkempt hair, she kept watching the world with her third eye on such occasions. [Bhikkhu Sunithananda]