The volume deals with all the important aspects of Tara, specially origin of Tara Cult, forms and iconography of Taras including the forms as found in Hindu Tantra, popularity of Tara cult in the various parts of the country and abroad and Rituals of Tara Cult.
This is perhaps the first attempt of its kind. I am quite sure; lndologists all over the world will welcome this laudable venture of Prof. Pushpendra Kumar.
The Aryans did not admit the feminine principle in their worship until civilization in India had become more refined, but, at the same time. Brahma was given a feminine counterpart-Sarasvati, goddess of Speech and Learning and patroness of the Arts and Sciences. Visnu received as consort the goddess of Love and Beauty, Laksmi; while the Maha-Devi, Parvati, whose ferocious forms were Durga and Kali, goddess of Death, became the Sakti of Siva.
The Mahayana school had also its period of the exclusive adoration of the male principle, from the first to the middle of the fourth century A.D., at which epoch the Yoga system was grafted on to the Northern Buddhist school by Asanga. The adoration of the feminine principle was introduced in the form of the goddess Tara. In the seventh century she took on two distinct forms, and in the succeeding centuries her forms multiplied, forming a group of twenty-one Taras. Other goddesses, also having the rank of Bodhisattva, made their appearance, but none of them gained the popularity of Tara.
Besides these states we have references to this goddess in the caves of Deccan, viz. Ajanta, Ellora, Aurangabad. Even in Nagarjuni Konda ruins we have traces of Tara-cult. Though Kashmir was the seat of Buddhism-we find no image of this goddess there. In Uttara Pradesh also we find many icons of goddess Tara.
Outside India we find images in Tibet, Nepal and Bangladesh. In China and Japan we find the feminine incarnations of Avalokitesvara. No feminine divinity of Buddhism is worshipped there. We find Pattini Devi in Sri Lanka. In Java and Cambodia we have a reference of Tara temple as well references of Tara icons. In the Museums of Britain, U S.A. France, Switzerland and Germany, many images of this goddess have been preserved.
The fourth chapter deals with the ritualism of Tara cult. This chapter mainly discusses the Tibetan form of worship of Tara. This form of worship is also popular in Nepal and Indian Tibet i.e. Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh and Leh. The canons are generally in various dialects of Tibetan language. In Tibet till recently this type of worship of Tara was a living faith. In the end, text of Sadhanas related to Tara is given in appendix, Index as well as Bibliography is added.
It is my foremost duty to thank all those scholars who helped me in this difficult venture. Prof. Burton Page and Prof. D. Snellgrove of the School of Oriental and African Studies-London, deserve special mention-as they helped, inspired, encouraged me and solved many difficulties. I am highly thankful to both of them. In India also, Dr. Lokesh Chandra ex-member Rajya Sabha and Dr. R.C. Pandeya of Delhi University, I owe deepest sense of gratitude they encouraged me from time to time. I am really grateful to Dr. R.K. Sharma who has blessed me by writing a foreword. Thanks to all those scholars, whose works I have consulted and refered. To many of my friends, librarians and students, I am really grateful. I am really grateful to my wife Mrs. Santosh and other family members-who relieved me of my homely duties and encouraged me to work whole-heartedly on this book. They deserve special word of thanks. Last of all-I am really thankful to Mss. Bharatiya Vidya Prakashan, Delhi, Varanasi who did take many pains to publish this book, 'Tara : The Supreme Goddess'. In the end I seek forgiveness of the scholars for the mistakes and pray to the goddess, Tara-to save humanity from great perils of the modern world and bestow peace and happiness to each of us.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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