White Tara (tib. Drolma
Karpo) is the most popular female deity in the Tibetan Buddhist world-view.
White in color, she sits upon a lotus flower in dhyanasana position with her legs locked
together and the soles of both of her feet are shown. Her right hand is in the
vadjra mudra, or boon giving gesture, while her left hand is in the jnan mudra, or
teaching position. Over her left shoulder sits a full bloomed lotus. She has
seven eyes with which to watch over her devotees, two on her face, one on her forehead,
one eye on each palm, and one eye on each sole.
As the first female bodhisattva,
Tara is one of the most popular bodhisattvas in all of the Vadjrayana Buddhist
world. How she became the first female bodhisattva is a wonderful story of a woman
praying while two monks passed her. One monk commented to his friend how much virtue
that the woman before them had shown that maybe she will be reborn as a man. Though
the monk meant no harm by his words, as there was a common belief that men became
bodhisattvas quicker, the woman praying had overheard his words and vowed to be reborn a
female no matter what her incarnation would be. When the virtuous seeds she had
planted throughout her lifetimes came to fruition, she achieved bodhidharma, and in
keeping with her vow, became the first female bodhisattva.
Though Tara has many incarnations, all
involve the overseeing the well being of her devotees. Often associated with
Avalokatesvara (bodhisattva of compassion), Tara is seen as the ideal of compassion that
oversees to the welfare of all sentient beings.