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.