21 Emanations of Tara


Tara represents the enlightened wisdom of all Buddhas, and since all Buddhas are born from that wisdom, she is considered to be the Mother of all Buddhas. Being of the nature of dharmadatu, the realm of absolute reality, Tara has no single appearance or color, but because she is perceived by sentient beings in their own realms, as an expression of her skillful means, she manifests as 21 different forms. Each form represents a different aspect and quality of Tara’s enlightened consciousness and each form personifies a different function in order to meet the needs of the beings Tara protects and watches over.

These 21 forms of Tara vary according to color corresponding to the four Buddha activities—white for pacification, yellow for magnification and enhancement, red for magnetization and attraction, and black for destruction. White Tara is associated with wisdom and long life, Yellow Tara with increasing merit and other virtues, Red Tara is connected to attracting resources a practitioner needs to skillfully follow the Buddha Dharma, and Black Tara is known for destroying obscurations and obstacles.

Despite these differences in form, activity, and function, the essence of all Taras are one and the same. Green Tara is considered to be the embodiment of all the forms, qualities, and activities of the Taras. In depictions of the 21 Taras, Green Tara is the central figure surrounded by the other Taras: the Tara Who Averts Disasters, the Tara Who Averts Earth–born Calamities, the Tara Who Averts Destruction Caused by Water, the Tara Who Averts Destruction Caused by Fire, the Tara Who Averts Destruction Caused by Wind, the Tara Who Increases Wisdom; the Tara Who Averts Heaven-born Calamities, the Tara Who Averts Destruction Caused by Armies, the Tara Who Averts Hell-born Calamities, the Tara Who Averts Evil Caused by Robbers, the Tara Who Increases Power, the Tara Who Averts Evil Caused by Demons, the Tara Who Averts Evil Affecting Cattle, the Tara Who Averts Evil Caused by Wild Beasts, the Tara Who Averts the Evil Effects of Poison, the Wrathful Tara Who Subdues Demons, the Tara Who Heals Sickness, the Tara Who Bestows Longevity, the Tara Who Bestows Prosperity, and the Wishfulfilling Tara.

All 21 Taras sit on lotus thrones, left leg withdrawn to symbolize renunciation of worldly passion and right leg extended to show her readiness to act on behalf of those who call upon her. They each have one head and wear tiaras adorned with jewels, the central jewel red to represent Amitabha, the spiritual father of Tara and head of their Buddha family. Their faces gaze warmly and compassionately on all sentient beings. Their right hands are in the mudra of supreme generosity, and upon the palm of this hand they hold the flasks that accomplish their various functions. Their left hands are in front of the heart in a mudra bestowing refuge. Thumb and ring finger are touching to represent the union of method and wisdom, the remaining three raised fingers stand for the Triple Jewel (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha). In this hand they hold a lotus flower with three blossoms that indicate that she is the Mother of all Buddhas of the past, present, and future. They are all adorned with silks of royalty and precious ornaments that symbolize her mastery of generosity, morality, and the other perfections. They radiate measureless light and are surrounded by hosts of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, deities, dakinis, and protectors.

Support Our Project

Stupas are places where the energy of the Buddhas is all abiding; physical embodiments of the Enlightened Minds of the Buddhas,the perfection and balance of compassion and wisdom.