Shri Tara DeviIn the centre [of the island of gems] is the wish fulfilling tree. Under this, a sadhaka should meditate on himself as being one with Tarini, as bright as the rising sun, the utmost sphere of light, in a place surrounded by beautiful maidens with fans and bells, wafted by a gentle breeze bearing the odour of scent and incense - Todala Tantra, IV
Tara is quite well known to the West through Her Tibetan manifestations, but some are unaware of the important position She occupies in the Hindu tantrik pantheon. She is the second of the ten Mahavidyas.
The major sources used on this page are an important Kaula tantra called Brihad Nila Tantra (see below) and the Tararahasya (Secrets of Tara) of Brahmananda Giri. The first deals with the exposition of Nila Sarasvati -- the Sapphire Blue Sarasvati. Sarasvati is the Brahma-Shakti, or spouse of the Supreme Deity in his Creative aspect. The other aspects are Vishnu and Mahesh -- all three symbolised in the three heads of Lord Dattatreya, patron guru of the Natha tradition.
Some have attempted to separate the Hindu Tara from the Tibetan Tara, but there is little doubt that She is the same Devi. This is shown in a reference to Tara in the Hindu Tantrarajatantra, where Her mantra is given as Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha -- identical to the Tibetan version. Here Tara takes her form as Kurukulla.
The various other forms are given in Brihad Nila Tantra and Devirahasya, under the names Nilasarasvati, Aniruddha Sarasvati, Ugra Tara, Tarini. Nilasarasvati gives as the fruit of worshipping Her poesy and eloquence. This, aside from clearly relating Nilasarasvati to White Sarasvati, also points to this Goddess being the Shakti of the Letters of the Alphabet, the Matrika Shakti.
She has an important role in Tantrik cosmology because mantra, words, music are considered to be the very source of the cosmos. As Matrika Shakti She deludes the entire human race with Her Maya of letters, and words. This has been expressed in a Tantrik form, but, practically speaking, it is sufficient to say that much hypnosis (Maya) comes about via the medium of words. Millions of people have lost their lives through this power.
Thus Her power and place in the Tantrik pantheon is quite justified, and Her mantra is described as a Siddha-Vidya, the cause of Maya and Englamouring. The background GIF here is the bija mantra of Sarasvati, Aim.
Abstract of Brihad Nila Tantra
Chapter OneThe tantra opens with a request from Devi to Mahakala Bhairava to reveal the Nila Tantra. Bhairava states that this tantra is the secret of all secrets and revealing it will cause lack of sccess. Having it in one's home is like having Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. It protects against all misfortunes and its specific virtue is that through it a person can become a miracle worker. It is the king of all tantras and is the core of the quintessence. Bhairava summarises its contents, which include daily worship (puja), the king of mantras, the rules of puja and preparation of its mantra, optional and occasional rites, the secrets of magical restraint, the rules of Kumari puja, hymns, meditations, how to become eloquent, rites of sacrifice (homa), the attainment of poesy, the secret sadhana, the secret mantra, alchemy, preparation of miraculous ashes (bhasma) and everything related to the six magical acts (satkarma).
Firstly, Bhairava deals with the Devi Tarini, which he says is a siddha vidya, causing Maya and englamouring. Her mantra is Om Hrim Strim Hum Phat. This vidya is said to be the heart of Nila Sarasvati. Its appliction is the attainment of poesy. It is to be pronounced facing north and meditated on as being like a lotus fibre extending from the base of the spine to the 1,000 petal lotus, like ten million fires, suns and moons.
Next the rules of bathing in the morning are described. Again, a sadhaka should face north, visualising the guru in the 1,000 petal lotus. Offering must be given to the rising sun. Then the gayatri or twilight mantra of Tarini should be pronounced, which is given as Tarayai vidmahe mahograyai dhimahi tanno devi prachodayat.
This covers the daily puja of Nila Sarasvati, in the usual way. It should be done in isolated places including cremation grounds, hills and forests. This puja also appears in the Todala Tantra, translated as part of the Magic of Kali.
Describes initiation and the characteristics of guru and disciple, as well as the right times for performing diksha (initiation).
Contains a description of purashcharana, the method of preparing a mantra so that it becomes successful. Tara's rosary is made of human bone and must be purified and made carefully.
Optional rites are the topic of this chapter, as well as the pithas or sacred spots. Kamarupa, where the yoni of the goddess fell after being sliced into fifty parts, is the most important.
Covers Kumari Puja, the worship of a maiden. This is preceded by an offering to jackals, implying that the rite takes place in the cremation ground (shmashana). As in the Kulachadamani Tantra, there is reference to the eight Kula trees, which must also receive their share of worship. A day is the same as a year. Wine must be used when worshipping Kalika but has to be purified first, because Shukra placed it under a curse.
Covers the satkarma, or six magical acts, as well as worship of the kumaris. A most interesting section deals with Maha China Krama, which is, essentially left hand tantra (vamachara). The rule here is that of Svecchachara, the path of acting according to one's own will. In this, there is no need for external worship. All can be performed mentally. There are no rules as to the time the puja should be performed, no rules about the place, no need for preparation. The conjunction of yoni and lingam is the essence of the rite. During intercourse, the partners should mentally recite the Tara mantra. It should be performed in the cremation ground.
Describes the yantra of Tara (see above). In the centre she and Mahakala are in sexual union. The yantra should be engraved on copper, smeared with kundagola and svayambhu flowers (menstrual blood) and scents including camphor. The practitioner meditates in the heart on Tarini and then draws her, by vital breath, using a flower, into the centre of the yantra.
She is then considered to be present in the yantra and various offerings (upacharas) are dedicated to her and to her attendants in the different parts.
Heroic worship is the subject of this chapter, which I have translated on the site. Vira Sadhana.
Continues the subject of the previous chapter and expands on Lata Sadhana (creeper sadhana), a synonym for sexual worship.
Gives the Tara mantras, the foremost of which is Om Hrim Strim Hum Phat. Ugra Tara's seventeeen letter mantra is Om padme mahapadme padmavati maye svaha. Nila Sarasvati mantra is Aim Hrim Shrim Hsaum Shauh vada vada vagvadini Klim Klim Klim Nilasarasvati Aim Aim Aim kahi kahi kararim Svaha.
The origin of Tarini is the subject of the chapter. She was created by Mahakali to destroy the demons and bring the gods back to their former position.
This chapter covers the worship of Mahakali and has been translated in full in the Magic of Kali.
Kamakhya and Tripura worship. The devi Kamakhya dwells at Kamarupa and has a yantra wherein the 64 yoginis receive honour. Tripura's mantra is Aim Klim Sauh, and the tantra says that she represents the triple Kundalini, her puja being triple in every way.
A geographical chapter describing mountains, streams and springs sacred to the worship of various devis and devas.
This chapter outlines the specific festivals of Tara and the things to be done during the twelve solar months, as well as the kinds of offerings which please the goddess.
Outlines and continues details about worshipping Kali. Her favourite time is on the fourteenth day of the dark moon in the month of Kartik, when she should be worshipped at night. The dhyana (meditation image) of Kali is described with details of the types of pits in which to do homa. This chapter also gives puja details of Sandhya (Twilight) Devi.
The thousand names of Tara.
The armour and the secret mantra of Tara are described.
The hundred names of Tara.
A most interesting chapter which deals with alchemy. Copper and lead can be turned into gold. Adepts can create a powerful, magical ash which creates miracles. The chapter also describes the divya (celestial), vira (heroic) and pashu (beast-like) characteristics of tantrik practitioners.
The 1,000 names of Kali.
The hundred names of Kali.
Describes the worship of Devi Annapurna (Full of Food) and gives her mantra and the hundred names.
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1995. Translations are © Mike Magee 1995. Questions or comments to [email protected]Home Page