Dharmapala Thangka CentreSchool of Thangka Painting

Tara's Protection


The Tara protects against the Eight Great Dangers of Life.

Lions [Tib. name: sengé jik kyob drolma]

The first of the eight dangers is the lion, whereby the wild beast represents our pride. It is our pride that provides us with a false perception and wrong understanding of reality.

Poisonous Snakes [Tib. name: lü jik kyob drolma]

Tara’s supreme protection from the dangerous snake represents her powerful ability to quell our jealousy. Like a snake, jealousy wraps its way around us – often without us even realising – and soon has us firmly in its grip. At its worst, the snake bites before we can do anything to stop it.

The results of jealousy are like this – we act impulsively and hurtfully towards others when we are jealous, often causing irreversible damage; realising our harm and suffering its after-effects comes at a time when it is too late to do anything.

Imprisonment [Tib. name: hepé jik kyob drolma]

Tara also protects us from greed, likened to prisons which entrap us and keep us forever unsatisfied. While the Bodhisattvas extend their generosity to all beings, the rest of us think mostly of gain for ourselves and how to protect our assets.

Eventually, we become imprisoned by our own possessions, wealth, ownership and our attachment to these things. Tara helps us to transform that energy into one that is more giving and less attached.

Thieves / Robbery [Tib. name: mi gö jik kyob drolma]

Here, thieves are representative of our doubts. Like a thief, doubt robs us of all our faith, knowledge and everything we have accomplished through our practice. A single doubt can erase years of practice, and eventually lead to us giving up the path completely.

By remembering Tara, we develop a firm, stable mind which grows in the Dharma and finds success, instead of doubt.

Drunken Elephants [Tib. name: langpö jik kyob drolma]

The drunken elephant is a symbol of ignorance in its two forms: misinterpretation and unknowing. The “drunken elephant” represents our mind, which is intoxicated with craving and indulgence. This constant deluded state leads us down the wrong paths – the path to pain and suffering.

Just as reciting Tara’s mantra subdued the wild elephant, meditating on Tara subdues the elephant of ignorance in our minds. She thus protects us from the dangers arising from ignorance, which is the cause of suffering. The resultant effect is that Arya Tara reveals the true nature of reality

Fire [Tib. name: mé jik kyob drolma]

The parallel connotation to the damaging, raging fire is our anger. Fire [anger] ignited by our negative thought and distorted perception of reality may result in negative actions. These actions are akin to the thick and black smoke which comes from a fire that could raze down a whole forest

A forest took a long time to grow and cultivate. Trusting in Tara suppresses the fire of anger in our minds and helps us to find more peace and tranquillity to deal with situations more patiently and more effectively

Demons / Ghosts [Tib. name: mi gö jik kyob drolma]

Spirits do not necessarily have supernatural references, but refer to our ape-like mind. One spirit stands for doubt and the other for hesitation. Our attention is constantly wavering between these two spirit.

A person troubled with persistent doubts and hesitation cannot focus in making decisions in all important life situations. By relying upon and meditating on Tara, our hesitation and indecisiveness can be dispelled and we create a link to Buddha’s activity.

Flood [Tib. name: chü jik kyob drolma]

This Tara protects us from the fear of the sea or drowning. The deeper meaning of water in this context are our attachments. If we are not careful, we can be overwhelmed by attachments, which can be compared to drowning.

In a figurative sense, it also protects against eight types of fear:

  1. Pride, symbolised by the lion
  2. Delusion, symbolised by the elephant
  3. Anger, symbolised by the fire
  4. Envy, symbolised by the snake
  5. Wrong views, symbolised by the robbers
  6. Avarice, symbolised by the prison
  7. Desire, symbolised by the flood
  8. Doubt, symbolised by demons