The Shanta of Green Tara

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The Shanta of Green Tara is a powerful example of how this Rasa is manifested through a female archetype. Green Tara is often considered equivalent to Buddha, yet the Rasa of her manifestation is significantly different to that of Buddha.

I go to the famous mantra of Green Tara—Om tare tuttare ture soha—to explore the nature of Shanta in Her space. The mantra’s symbolic meaning is that Green Tara rescues us from suffering in this maya reality, from our fears which arise out of the narrow identification with our selfhood and from disease which is essentially avidya or ignorance about the true nature of reality. ‘Soha’ denotes placing the Green Tara space in the deepest recesses of our heart, thus it is a feelingful, heartfelt transformation that is enabled.

If we think of Shanta as an ascetic, withdrawn space, Green Tara on the other hand suggests that it can be a dynamic and playful space. She invites us to engage with our lives, to acknowledge the sorrows that are an inevitable part of life’s events and to face our fears. In Her domain, insight is the outcome of deep diving into our feeling experience of life. The fears we confront are symbolised in intense experiences such as forest fires and wild elephants. They are not intellectual concepts but visceral experiences of daily lives. Feelings are Her pathway into consciousness and insight.

Her physicality suggests dynamism—Her one leg is shown ever ready to step forward into action. Her dance is at once pliant but firm, unresistant but powerful and deeply rooted but dynamic. The mudra she holds in her hand is one that symbolises ‘separation’ or the ability to discern between the essential and the non-essential.

Green Tara suggests that dynamic action in Shanta is that which is essential, effortless and light (playful). It’s power is not the power we recognise in our usual understanding. Like all aspects of Shanta, the power is subtle but far more transformational than power sourced from the fear-subsumed domains of the mind.

Padma Menon