There are accounts to state that she was the daughter of Amshuvarma, the co-ruler and successor of Sivadeva. It is said that King Gampo married a Chinese Princess Wengcheng. Now, she is also considered to be an incarnation of White Tara. There is compromise between the wives, in that Bhrikuti and Wengcheng worked hand-in-hand to establish Buddhist temples in Tibet.
According to Tibetian traditions, Bhrikuti Devi was a devout Buddhist. She is said to have brough expert craftsmen called Newari and sacred images as part of her dowry. Tibetian Budddhist take Tara to have twenty-one manifestation, in which different colors are attributed. Each manifestation offers a different energy or virtue to assist one in their spiritual paths. Of these, Green Tara and White Tara are the most popular versions. Her Tibetian name is Dolma. The name ‘Dolkar’ is a shortened verion of Dolma Karpo which means White Dolma.
MAHAYANA BUDDHISM: In Buddhism, it was the male principle that was worshipped. However feminine worship was introduced in the form of Tara. Only known to be Green and White Tara, her forms increased to twenty-one. White Tara came to be regarded to be Shakti of Avalokiteshvara. This system of worshiping is said to have come to Nepal from Tibet. Green and White Tara are distinguishable by their symbols. White Tara holds a full-blown lotus while Green Tara holds a utpala, water lily with petals closed. White Tara represents day and Green Tara represents night.
DEPICTION: She is generally portrayed as seated meditatively, dressed and crowned like a Bodhisattva. White Tara has seven eyes. An eye of knowledge is found on Her forehead while the remaining ones are the usual eyes on the face and on one on each of the palms of her hands and soles of Her feet. Composite eyes are indicative of compassionate vigilance to see all the sufferings of the world.
Her left hand is in Jnana Mudra or teaching gesture. She also holds a stem of the Utpala Lotus flower with three blossoms. This is symbolic also. The first blossom indicates a seed representing Buddhas of the past; the second blossom indicates readiness to bloom representing Buddhas of the future and the third blossom indicating a full bloom represents Buddhas of the present moment.
Her right is Varada Mudra indicating Boon Granting gesture. At times the right hand gestures the Abhaya Mudra or Protection Gesture with a full blown lotus at one or both shoulders.
As opposed to the Green Tara who is depicted seated with one leg on the ground and ready to pounce for the bhakta’s defence, White Tara is more on a meditative diamond lotus position with both legs folded under her. Her face is shown facing skyward.
If her right leg is depicted hanging down supported by a lotus, that is also known as Lalita asana. This is a pose of ease-one leg pendent and other resting on a lotus flower. The other leg is in the usual position of Buddha. Taras, the consort of Dhyani Buddha, Saraswati, Basundhara are found in this Asana. Often, a small image of Amitabha, a Buddha known for longevity is portrayed as seated in White Tara’s headdress.
BUDDHAS: Tara is described as having ‘the youth of 16 years’ one that she shares with the Mahavidya Kamala. She is often depicted as more full-bodied than Green Tara. White Tara is referred to as Mother of all the Buddhas. This is because she embodies the motivation that is compassion. Her whiteness “Radiant as the eternal snows in all their glory” is indicative of the selflessness — the purity — of this compassion but especially the undifferentiated Truth of the Dharma. In the Buddhist tradition, Chintamani Chakra Tara or The Jewelled Wheel is a protector form of White Tara with a violet or rainbow aureole.
AVILOKITESVARA: He is also known as Chenrezig, the Boddhisattva of Compassion. Tara is said to have her origins in Avilokesvara’s tears. There is much to say that more than his female manifestation, Tara was his consort. With Avilokitesvara, Tara shares the characteristics of compassion. Both are characterised for their essential compassionate nature, compassion for human suffering. Tara’s white hair is said to symbolize a mother’s love for her child. Whiteness is the mark of purity. In Buddhist thoughts, this indicates the ‘undifferentiated truth of the Dharma’.
MANTRA: There are different ways to pray to White Tara. This includes the ‘Praises to the Twenty One Taras’ prayers. White Tara Sadhana is attributed to her solely. Tara’s mantras have a multitude of variations. The usual mantra is ‘Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jnana Pustime Kuru Svaha.’ Breaking this down explains the essence. ‘Mama’ means mine; that I would like to posses the following qualities. ‘Ayur’ means long life. ‘Punya’ means merits that come from living life ethically. Jnana is wisdom. Pushtim means to increase. Kuru is to do so or do it now. Svaha means, hail or may blessings be upon. This mantra is often associated as Green Tara mantra also. ‘Om Tara Tuttare Ture Soha’ is often used as the main mantra for all Tara mantras.
HINDUISM: White Tara as the Shakti of Avilokitesvara in Tibet and Nepal is much in consensus with the Hindu Shakti of Shiva. Both Tara and Shakti are Goddesses of Peace and Protection. This epithet is hardly geographical. Tara’s similarities are seen more in Hindu and Buddhist Tantric practices. Goddess Tara is probably the oldest of the Mahavidya Mothers, the Mother Creator representing the eternal life force that fuels all life. Tara, irrespective of being Hindu, Nepalese or Tibetian is an archtype of our inner wisdom; Tara guides and protects us as we navigate the depths of our unconscious minds, helping us to transform consciousness, our own personal journeys of freedom.
‘Tar’ in Sanskrit means ‘to traverse’ implying cross over. This is indicative of a bridge to cross over a stream. In the Hindu tradition, Tara refers to the second of Ten Means to Realization. Tara Devi according to Hindu Tanra is the deification of the Dasa Mahavidya. She is Tarini, one that carries the bhakta across the river of samsara to get to immortality. ‘Tar; in Tara can also refer to the compassionate shade giving tree. It refers to the tree of wisdom. Under this tree pan-Indian bhaktas remain centered while they are reminded of our oneness with all of creation and that we should nurture the spirit within.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Buddhism – Gods, Goddesses, Minor Deities and Sages) by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi
Also from the Yogini Project on FB regarding White Tara Mata
:: White Tara ::
Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puṣtiṃ Kuru Svāhā
As a variant form of Green Tara, her mantra begins very similarly. But added to the play on the name of Tara are several words connected with long life and wellbeing.
Mama means "mine" and indicates that you’d like to possess these qualities of long life, merit, wisdom, happiness, etc. You can of course choose to wish these qualities for someone else — perhaps for a teacher or for a loved one who is ill.
Ayuh is long life (as in Ayurvedic medicine).
Punya means the merit that comes from living life ethically, and this merit is said to help one to live long and happily.
Jnana is wisdom.
Punya and Jnana are known as the Two Accumulations. In order to become enlightened we need to accumulate merit (that is, to develop positive qualities through living ethically and meditating) but we also need to develop wisdom through deep reflection. Wisdom cannot arise without a basis of merit, but merit alone is not enough for us to become enlightened, meaning that becoming a nicer person isn’t enough — we have also to look deeply into ourselves and the world around us and to see the impermanent and insubstantial nature of all things.
Pushtim means wealth, abundance, or increase.
Kuru is a mythical land to the north of the Himalayas, which was said to be a land of long life and happiness (it may have been the original northern home of the aryans). Perhaps the association with the mythical realm of Kuru doesn’t hurt when doing the mantra. But (and with due thanks to Arpad Joo’s comment below) it’s also a verb form meaning “do it!” or “make it so!” (second person singular active imperative or the root k.r if that’s of any interest to you) which is what it means here. The “make it so!” refers back to an increase in wisdom, merit, and long life (for the practitioner). We’re imploring White Tara for these things so that we can gain enlightenment and help all sentient beings.
Svaha is an exclamation meaning “hail” or “may blessings be upon” and is a common ending to Buddhist mantras. So after making the rather bold request of White Tara above, we end with an equally emphatic salutation.