Tara appears in many aspects represented by different colors, the most famous of which are green and white. Red Tara is less famous in the West though in the East She is widely known and worshipped.
Red Tara is responsible for the so-called “Red magic” or Vashya-karma (dbang gi phrin-las). The function of Red magic is bringing people under one’s power, enchanting, bewitching, attracting, subjugating, and magnetizing them. This is the primary function of Kurukulla and hence her red color.
In this article, I will introduce you to Red Tara, Her emanations, and mantras that can be used for manifesting different forms of reality and spiritual growth. Read on!
Tara & Four Kinds Of Magic
Before reaching Buddha consciousness, Tara was a woman walking on the bodhisattva path. This woman made a vow to continue her journey until she reached Enlightenment in the female body. After reaching the highest Enlightenment, she manifested herself in different female forms.
Tara supports those who seek enlightenment and those who seek protection in it. She is an example that anyone can achieve Enlightenment, regardless of whether it is a man or a woman.
There are twenty-one manifestations of goddess Tara. These manifestations have their distinctive features, and each of them has its own mantra.
The different colors of 21 Taras correspond to four different types of awakened functions. The sadhana texts describe these functions:
#1: White magic or Shantika-karma (zhi-ba’i ‘phrin-las) has the function of calming and pacifying conditions and healing. White Tara is an example of a deity that specifically has this white function.
#2: Yellow Magic or Pushtika-karma (rgyas-pa’i phrin-las) has the function of increasing wealth, prosperity, abundance, merit, knowledge, and so on. Yellow Tara is an example of a deity that specifically has this yellow function.
#3: Red Magic or Vashya-karma (dbang gi phrin-las) has the function of bringing people under one’s power, enchanting, bewitching, attracting, subjugating, magnetizing them. This is the primary function of Kurukulla.
#4: Black Magic or Rudra-karma (drag-po’i phrin-las) has the function of destroying evil and obstructions to the spiritual path. This is the specific function of Black Tara.
These four functions are allotted to the four gates of the mandala palace:
- the white or pacifying function in the east;
- the yellow or increasing function in the south;
- the red or enchanting function in the west;
- the black or destroying function in the north.
Western tradition knows only two kinds of magic: white and black magic. The former comes from God and his angels and the latter from the Devil and his minions. However, the Buddhist approach is different. The Buddhist distinction between white and black magic is according to function and not the intention. We have to keep in mind that the Buddhist’s intention in practicing magic is always compassionate and aims at preventing evil acts, to help others and alleviate suffering. On the contrary, the Western understanding of black magic involves the deliberate attempt to harm and injure.
Therefore, in Buddhist terms, the motivation in these four magical actions is always “white”. Without the presence of the thought of compassion, no action or ritual is considered to be genuinely Buddhist.
Red Tara (Dolma Marpo) has a number of manifestations (emanations). Here are some of them:
- Red wisdom (Jnana Dakini) – female buddha aspect embodying the highest wisdom of all buddhas. She is depicted in a Joy State in a joyfully dancing form. She holds a chopping knife with her raised right hand and her left hand holds a skull bowl at her heart. Wisdom Dakini is Red Tara’s peaceful form.
- Vajrayogini (Dorje Naljorma) – is one of the tantric goddesses who is said to be the embodiment of compassion and wisdom. Her name “Vajrayogini” can be translated as “the diamond female yogi“. She is responsible for the transformation of the most mundane of daily experiences into something that is essentially a higher spiritual path. Vajrayogini is considered to be Red Tara’s semi-wrathful form.
- Vajravarahi (Dorje Pakmo), also known as “The Diamond Sow”. The conventional iconography for Vajravarahi shows the deity holding a knife and a bowl of blood, and wearing other grotesque attributes that symbolize her power over worldly concerns and fear of death. Vajravarahi is considered to be Red Tara’s wrathful form.
- Dakini Kurukulla – is the Dakini of Magic and Enchantments.
Red Tara is often depicted as a dancing voluptuous female figure. The dancing form symbolizes the elusive, playful nature of Emptiness (Shunyata) and the pure joy of Clear Light.
Her red color symbolizes the west, fire, Padma Family, Lotus, and notably the “family of Speech” or Dharma.
Red streams of light emanating from her symbolize her compassion reaches out to all beings.
She is often depicted as sixteen years old which indicates her power to attract, to mesmerize, to draw-in and enchant followers to her inner Wisdom and the Dharma. In Tibetan Buddhism, a sixteen-year-old usually symbolizes youthful vitality.
Her left leg stands on top of a prone male which symbolizes subduing of our egos. The left leg is always the lead leg in female Dakinis.
Her face is flaming red. The red color indicates the power of her energy, but this power is combined with peace. Her face is beautiful, and her expression teeters on the edge between calm and aggression.
Red Tara has three eyes, and her dark brown hair is usually styled in a high hairstyle that symbolizes her inner strength.
Usually, Red Tara has depicted with four arms, although in other aspects she may have eight. She usually holds a bow and arrow made of beautiful flowers in one of her pairs of hands. Her other hands hold a hook and a noose of flowers.
Red Tara is an aspect of the power of Tara. She is associated with the attraction of all good things. Red can do both – attract or enslave. She embodies compassion, redemption, and the removal of obstacles (repressed fears or troubles).
Red Tara is the goddess of great wisdom, power, magic, and charm. She is the mother of liberation.
It is believed that if the red Tara mantra is repeated 10,000 times, all wishes will be fulfilled.
Red Tara helps us in the accumulation of spiritual forces. She can subdue and enslave a demon or person who stands in your way.
Red Tara is the goddess of wealth and abundance. Sometimes, to help humanity, Red Tara even comes down to earth. She helps people overcome difficult obstacles and changes people’s lives in the blink of an eye.
Red Tara is the Buddhist goddess of magic and occult science. She represents the feminine principle in nature. Her compassion and kindness help everyone who is in trouble or afraid of something.
Red Tara is a manifestation of the pure power of enlightenment, the amazing purity of an awakened consciousness that overcomes all negativity. She is known for enslaving evil spirits, demons, or people who tried to interfere with the spiritual development of mankind.
In Tibet, Red Tara is worshipped before starting a new monastery, before starting a new business venture, when faced with legal problems, etc.
Here is the simplest appeal to the Goddess:
“Red Tara, I’m asking for your blessings, so that all my actions will be good and bring the Highest Good for all.”
Kurukulla: Patroness of Magic, Love, Sorcery, And Healing
Kurukulla (“Knowledge-Causing Mother-Buddha”) is one of the dakinis of Tibetan Buddhism. It is considered to be the embodiment of Red Tara.
Kurukulla is the patroness of magic, love, sorcery and healing.
In traditional iconography, Kurukulla has a red body. She wears a crown made of human skulls, and her hair stands on end.
There is a tiger skin around her waist, and a garland of severed human heads hang from her shoulders.
She is four-armed, holding a stretched flower bow.
According to the texts, Kurukulla is sixteen years old. Her face is beautiful, and her body is sensual and seductive. She is red because of her magical ability is to charm and attract.
She has one face because she embodies non-dual wisdom that transcends the usual division into good and evil.
Kurukulla has four arms that symbolize the four immeasurable states of mind: love, empathy, joy, and detachment.
She wears a necklace of fifty freshly cut human heads that bleed as a representation of the fifty negative emotions that she has conquered.
Her dance shows her activity and energy.
She tramples on the male corpse as a symbol of that she has charmed and subdued the demon ego.
Kurukulla stands on the red sun disk (a symbol of her hot nature and burning with a passion), and on the red Lotus flower because she is a pure vision of enlightened awareness.
In one Kurukulla Sadhana found in the Sadhanamala (No. 72), there occurs a list of eight great siddhis (or magical powers) acquired through her practice:
1. Khadga-siddhi (ral-gri), the power to be invincible in battle with a sword (khadga);
2. Anjana-siddhi (mig-rtsi), the power to remove ordinary lack of sight by using a magical ointment that enables the user to see Devas, Nagas, and other spirits;
3. Padalepa-siddhi (rkang-pa’i byug-pa), the power to be swift of foot by using a magical ointment that, when applied to the feet, allows the user to run with incredible swiftness;
4. Antardhana-siddhi (mi snang-bar ‘gyur-ba), the power to become invisible;
5. Rasayana-siddhi (bcud-len), the power of rejuvenation and long life through obtaining the elixir of life by way of an alchemical process;
6. Khechara-siddhi (mkha’-spyod), the power to levitate or to fly through the sky;
7. Bhuchara-siddhi (zhing-spyod), the power to move freely through the earth, mountains, and solid walls;
8. Patala-siddhi (sa-‘og), the power to have command over the spirits of the underworld (patala).”
Any practices (including mantra chanting) dedicated to Kurukulla should be kept in secret. You can’t share with anybody that you perform these practices. If you tell, someone let’s say, that you chant Kurukulla mantra every day, you remove magical power from your practice. Such practice won’t bring you any benefits.
108,000 of secretive Kurukulla mantra repetitions lead to unity with the energy of the Goddess herself. That is, the energy of Red Tara manifests itself in your body.
The text of Kurukulla mantra:
OM KURUKULLE HRIH SVAHA
The text of Kurukulla mantra for increasing your abilities:
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE KURU KULLE NRI DZA SVAHA
Mantras To Other Manifestations Of Red Tara
Except Kurukulla, there are other manifestations of Red Tara we can appeal to. Let me introduce you to some of them.
She is also known as ‘Swift Lady of Glory’. This Tara will bring speedy results by pacifying problems and will help develop a spiritual nature. She destroys demons, as well as gives the power of control and effective persuasion.
Image: Her body is red. She holds a red vessel that conquers.
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE VASHAM KURU SVAHA
This mantra helps to attract power, authority, and respect.
METAR BARMA TARA
She is also known as “She Who Blazes Like Fire”. This Tara defeats hindering demons and obstacles.
Image: Her body is red and blazing like fire. She holds the red flask that protects from obstacles.
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE BHAYA BHASMIM KURU SVAHA
DUDANG JIGTEN WANGDU DEMA
She is also known as “She Who Brings Maras and the World Under Her Power”. This Tara tames all maras and obstructions.
Image: Her body is colored red. She holds the red flask that defeats mara demons.
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SARVA MARA PRAMARDHANI SVAHA
RIGPA HUNGLE DROLMA
She is also known as “She Who Arises from the Hung of Intrinsic Awareness”. This Tara is victorious over the contentions of others, who increases one’s intelligence.
Image: Her body is red. She holds the red-yellow flask that increases wisdom.
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SARVA DHARMAH PRATI-PARISHODHAYA SVAHA
RIMNE SELWE’I DROLMA
She is also known as “She Who Removes Pestilence”. This Tara dispels all fevers and eliminates the epidemic.
Image: Her body is red. She holds the red flask that dispels fevers.
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE VISARATA SVAHA
All the mantras listed in this article are supposed to be used only for informational purposes. Performing Red Tara Practices (including chanting Red Tara mantras) requires one to be an actual practitioner who has received an initiation or permission of a qualified teacher.