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Khadiravani Tara

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Khadiravani Tara.jpg

Sengdeng Nakkyi Drolma (seng ldeng nags kyi sgrol ma; Skt. Khadiravani Tara)

Khadiravani Tara, (Sengteng Nag) or 'Tara of the acacia forest', is shown here with were her two bodhisattva attendants, Marici and Ekajata, who appear at her lower right and left sides. Marici (Tib: Od-zer Can-ma), meaning 'the goddess of light rays', holds the attribute of a flowering branch of the ashoka tree (Saraca Indica) in her right hand. And the semi-wrathful blue goddess Ekajata (Tib: Ral Chig-ma), meaning 'the single hair-lock', holds the attribute of a nectar-filled skull-cup in her left hand. Tara of the Khadira Forest, which is said to be located in the Pure Land of Mount Potalaka. Indo-Nepali texts locate Mount Potalaka off the coast of South India.

Tara, born from Avalokiteshvara's tears of compassion, assists those who meet obstacles on their paths to enlightenment. She is seated on a lotus throne between the deities Marichi and Ekajati. The Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, seated with an alms bowl, appears in the niche on the upper floor of the palace behind Tara. Khadiravani Tara, or the saviouress of the Khadira (catechu) forest, is an emanation of the Dhyani Buddha Amoghasiddhi, who is taken to be a condensation of the Green cosmic color.

In order to show her origin, the Khadiravani deity usually has, on her crown, a miniature figure of her sire with the Abhaya Mudra. Khadiravani is two-armed, showing the Varada Mudra in the right hand and Utpala (night lotus) in the left and is accompanied by the two goddesses Asokakanta Marici and Ekajata. Sometimes the companion deities are not present

She appeared to Nagarjuna while he was meditating at a khadira (acacia) forest in the south of India. "Reting deity" because of its association with this location, just as a particular emanation of the goddess in India came to be known as Khadiravani Tara, because her shrine was in a grove of Khadira trees.

Khadiravani Tara (is sometimes referred to as the "22nd Tara") sits in a posture of royal-ease upon a white moon disc and a multicoloured lotus, with her left foot drawn up and her extended right foot resting upon a small lotus pedestal. She is beautiful and youthful, green in colour, and wears all manner of divine silk garments and jewel ornaments. Her right hand rests upon her knee in the boon-granting varada-mudra, symbolizing that she bestows liberation upon all beings. Her left hand is held in front of her heart in the gesture of granting refuge or protection, symbolizing that she protects all beings from the 'eight great fears', which are: fear of thieves (false views); snakes (jealousy); fire (anger); lions (pride); elephants (ignorance); drowning (attachment); demons (doubt), and imprisonment (greed).

With both hands she holds the stems of a blue utpala lotus, each of which blossom at the level of her shoulders. She abides amidst a tranquil landscape of rocks, clouds, mountains, lakes and flowers, and behind her throne ascends the branched canopy of an acacia (khadira) tree. "Khadira literally means acacia, among the most popular of Himalayan shamanic plants ... Khadiravani may be an indigenous Bon Po spirit eventually identified with Tara..." ; "Buddhist deities such as ... Khadiravani Tara are associated with specific trees ... [She] is described with khadira trees (acacia catechu) surrounding her..."