From The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen translated by Michael H. Kohn; © 1991 by Shambhala Publications, Inc. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., www.shambhala.com
Skt. (Tib., Dolma), lit., “savior”; an emanation of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, said to arise from his tears in order to help him in his work. She embodies the feminine aspect of compassion and is a very popular deity in Tibetan Buddhism. The cult of Tārā was propagated in the 11th century, primarily by Atīsha. Since that time, veneration of Tārā as a yidam has been quite widespread. There are twenty-one forms of Tārā, which are differentiated iconographically by color, posture of the body, and differing attributes, and can in addition appear in either a peaceful or a wrathful manifestation. The most frequently encountered forms are Green Tara and White Tara. The two consorts of the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo (7th century) are regarded as having been embodiments of these two Tārās.