White Tara (Skt. Sita Tara) is also known as Saptalocana Tara, the 'Seven-eyed Saviouress', and along with Amitayus and Ushnishavijaya she appears as one of the three principal Buddhist deities of longevity. Her meditational practices are mainly employed to confer long-life, alleviate illnesses, and to remove the obstacles that are indicative of an untimely death. Thangkas of White Tara and the 'Trinity of Long-Life Deities' are frequently commissioned for such purposes, and also to auger an auspicious rebirth for a deceased relative or friend.
White Tara sits gracefully in vajra-posture upon her moon disc, lotus seat and enlightenment throne. She is youthful and beautiful, with full breasts and a sweetly smiling face. Her radiant white body is adorned with seven bow-shaped eyes; with the three eyes of her face representing the perfection of her body, speech and mind; and the four eyes in her palms and soles representing the 'Four Immeasurables' of her boundless compassion, loving kindness, sympathetic joy, and perfect equanimity. With her lowered right hand she makes the boon-granting varada-mudra of supreme generosity, while she gently holds the stem of an immaculate white lotus between her thumb and third finger. And with her left hand she makes the abhaya-mudra of protection or granting refuge, while she likewise holds the stem of another white lotus in front of her heart
Tara in a literal sense means getting from point A to point B. So when Tara is attached to a beings name - it refers to a state of mind that is always seeking to bring all the sentient beings from the point of suffering to the point of happiness all the time. Whenever this pure state of motivation to liberate beings from the suffering of samsara arises in any being, that state of mind is transformed into Tara right then and there ( just like a boatsman takes and brings people from one shore to the other ).
White Tara Sadhana is performed mainly for two reasons - 1.For longevity of life and 2.For gaining Wisdom
Why do we need a long life? We need a long life to develop skills to free ourselves from samsara and to earn merits. Without Gyana and Punya (Wisdom and Merits) we cannot imagine liberation.
White Tara has 7 eyes, two on her palms, two on her feet, and 3 on her face including the one on her forehead.
Having eyes means being able to see. Seeing is wisdom. So, with a longer time to live and with multiple eyes one tends to earn more merits and wisdom . This is one of the main reasons for paying homage to Whtie Tara and performing her Sadhana.
Tibetans usually perceive of Tara as having 21 manifestations, as she does in the common Tibetan Buddhist prayer. In each form, she takes a different color like Blue Tara and Black Tara and offers different energy or virtue to help us on our spiritual paths.
Of these 21 Taras, the two most renowned are Green Tara and White Tara. Tara’s name in Tibetan is Dolma, and you can see then that White Tara’s Tibetan name, Dolkar, is a short form of Dolma Karpo, which means White Dolma. Tibetans pray to White Tara especially for health, healing, and longevity of life. She offers to heal to our wounds, whether it is our bodies or our minds that have been hurt.
Benefits of and Reasons for Seeking White Tara Initiation
You might have glitches in your life that could cause your untimely death. If the obstacles are due to your good karma and merit being exhausted, then to prolong your life now and to have longevity in future lives, you need to practice powerful ways to collect a lot of merits, such as taking long-life initiations, reciting the mantras of long-life deities, saving the lives of animals and people, offering medicine to people and taking care of sick people, offering food, clothing, and shelter to the poor people.
If the problem in your life and untimely death is due to negative karma, the solution is to purify it. You can also make butter lamp (light) offerings to the Triple Gem. Butter lamp offerings help you develop Dharma wisdom and clairvoyance due to their nature of dispelling the darkness around holy objects.
White Tara is extremely powerful. Tara is very close to sentient beings like a mother to her children. She is very quick to fulfill our wishes and to grant us happiness and long life, as well as to help us develop wisdom. By taking refuge in Tara and practicing meditation, visualizations, and having faith, you have the power to remove obstacles to your life and to prolong your life.
Though all the manifestations of Tara share the characteristic of compassion through this connection to Chenrezig, it is White Tara who is most closely linked to his essentially compassionate nature.
Her pure compassion for our suffering, which is thought to be greater even than a mother’s love for her child, is symbolized in images of White Tara by her white color. Her whiteness also indicates the “undifferentiated truth of the dharma”
In comparison to Green Tara, who is shown seated with one leg on the ground, ready to come to our defense, White Tara is seated in the more meditative diamond lotus position, with both legs folded under her, and her feet facing skyward.
White Tara has 7 eyes with an eye in her forehead, and one on each hand and foot symbolizing her compassionate vigilance to see all the suffering of the world.
Her left hand is in the protective mudra and her right in the wish-granting mudra. In her left hand, she usually holds a stem of the Utpala lotus flower with three blossoms. One blossom is represented as a seed, a second as ready to bloom, and the third in full bloom. These represent the Buddhas of the past, future, and present.
Often, a small image of Amitabha, a Buddha is known for longevity, is portrayed as seated in White Tara’s headdress or slightly above her head.