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Śrī Tārā Devī
In the centre [of the island of gems] is the wish fulfilling tree. Under this, a sādhaka 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 – Toḍala Tantra, IV
Tārā 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 Tārārahasya (Secrets of Tārā) 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 Tārā from the Tibetan Tārā, but there is little doubt that She is the same Devi. This is shown in a reference to Tārā in the Hindu Tantrarajatantra, where Her mantra is given as Hrīṃ Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha — identical to the Tibetan version. Here Tārā takes her form as Kurukullā.
The various other forms are given in Brihad Nila Tantra and Devirahasya, under the names Nilasarasvati, Aniruddha Sarasvati, Ugra Tārā, 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, Aiṃ.
Abstract of Brihad Nila Tantra
The tantra opens with a request from Devi to Māhakāla 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 (pūja), the king of mantras, the rules of pūja and preparation of its mantra, optional and occasional rites, the secrets of magical restraint, the rules of Kumari pūja, 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 Hrīṃ Hrīṃ Strim Hum Phat. This vidya is said to be the heart of Nila Sarasvati. Its application 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 sādhaka 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 pūja of Nila Sarasvati, in the usual way. It should be done in isolated places including cremation grounds, hills and forests. This pūja also appears in the Todala Tantra, translated as part of the Magic of Kālī.
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. Tārā’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 pūja 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 Tārā mantra. It should be performed in the cremation ground.
Describes the yantra of Tārā (see above). In the centre she and Māhakāla 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. Vīra Sādhana.
Continues the subject of the previous chapter and expands on Lata Sadhana (creeper sadhana), a synonym for sexual worship.
Gives the Tārā mantras, the foremost of which is Hrīṃ Hrīṃ Strim Hum Phat. Ugra Tārā’s seventeen letter mantra is Hrīṃ padme mahapadme padmavati maye svaha. Nila Sarasvati mantra is Aiṃ Hrīṃ ñ Hsaum Shauh vada vada vagvadini Klīṃ Klīṃ Klīṃ Nilasarasvati Aiṃ Aiṃ Aiṃ kahi kahi kararim Svaha.
The origin of Tarini is the subject of the chapter. She was created by Māhakālī to destroy the demons and bring the gods back to their former position.
This chapter covers the worship of Māhakālī and has been translated in full in the Magic of Kālī.
Kamakhya and Tripura worship. The devi Kamakhya dwells at Kamarupa and has a yantra wherein the 64 yoginis receive honour. Tripura’s mantra is Aiṃ Klīṃ Sauh, and the tantra says that she represents the triple Kundalini, her pūja 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 Tārā 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 Kālī. 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 Kālī is described with details of the types of pits in which to do homa. This chapter also gives pūja details of Sandhya (Twilight) Devi.
The thousand names of Tārā.
The armour (kavaca) and the secret mantra of Tārā are described.
The hundred names of Tārā.
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.
Here is this short chapter in Itrans.
taamrasisakametattu pittala.m chaapi yatnataH .
sarala.m bhasma kuryaachcha vivarjaa~Ngaarasa.myutam.h .
taapayet.h parameshaani dinaani sapta chaivahi .
paatre lohamaye devi tamaadaaya maheshvari .
draviibhuuta.m tathaa taamra.m yena jaayeta sundari .
vijaavarasamkenaiva aTaruuSharasena cha .
tatashcha svarNa.m jayeta satya.m suragaNaarchite .
sahasradashajaapena siddhyatyeva na sa.mshayaH .
sam.hR^itya tatra dadyaachcha sisaka.m ruupyataa.m vrajet.h .
prayogaarho bhaved.h devi satya.m satya.m varaanane .
yena viGYaanamaatreNa ma.ntrasiddhirbhavet.h priye .
haridragomayenaatha lepayet.h parameshvari .
vaijayantyaashcha muulena tathaa siddhirasena cha .
shuddhasuuta samaadaaya ma~Ngale vaasare nishi .
ashvatthapallavenaiva sa.myukta.m parameshvari .
ashvadantana deveshi vaajimaareNa chaiva hi .
dhaatunaa saha yukta.m tad.h baddhibhavati sundari .
aadau cha gulikaa.m baddhvaa paschaad.h rasena taaDayet.h .
triraatrasya vidhaanena japa.m kuryaachChuchismite .
bhaavanaarasasa.mpanno bhaved.h yogii mahaakaviH .
bhaavastu trividho devi divyaviirapashukramaat.h .
aadyo bhaavo mahaadevi shreyaan.h sarvaagameShu cha .
bahujaapaat.h tathaa homaat.h kaayakleshaadivistaraiH .
ki.m viirasaadhanailaxaiH ki.m vaa kR^iShTikulaakulaiH .
svayoShitapriitidaanena ki.m pareShaa.m tathaiva cha .
yadi bhaavavishuddhaatma na syaat.h kulaparaayaNaH .
bhaavena gotravR^iddhiH syaad.h bhaavena kulasaadhana.m .
ki.m tathaa puujanenaiva yadi bhaavo na jaayate .
tena bhaavena deveshi puujayet.h parameshvarii.m .
yatra kutra kuje vaare shmashaanagamane kR^ite .
chaturdashyaa.m gate tatra paxapuNyaphala.m labhet.h .
naanyaH syaadadhiko deva iti chintaaparaayaNaH .
tasmaad.h yatnaad.h bhogayuto bhaved.h viravaraH sadaa .
vinaa hetukamaasaadya xobhayukto maheshvaraH .
yadyad.h vadai nidraati yatkaroti yadarchati .
tasmaad.h bhuktvaa cha piitvaa cha puujayet.h parameshvariim.h .
ekaakii nirjane deshe shmashaane parvate vane .
viiraaNaa.m japakaalastu sarvakaalaH prashasyate .
iti viGYaaya deveshi sarva.m kuryaad.h varaanane .
iti shribR^ihanniilatantre bhairaviibhairavasa.mvaade##(##rasaayana bhaavaniruupaNa.m##)## ekavi.mshaH paTalaH .. 21..
The 1,000 names of Kālī.
The hundred names of Kālī.
Describes the worship of Devi Annapurna (Full of Food) and gives her mantra and the hundred names.
Artwork is © Jan Bailey, 1975-2022. Translations are © Mike Magee 1975-2022.Questions or comments to email@example.com