Green Tara Mantra: Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

 

Green Tara

Green Tara, from an applique thangkha created by Tibetan artisans at the Norbulingkha Institute.

 

In Tibetan Buddhism, om tare tuttare ture soha is an ancient mantra that is related to Tara, the “Mother of all Buddhas,” and especially to her manifestation as Green Tara.

Tara, who Tibetans also call Dolma, is commonly thought to be a Bodhisatva or Buddha of compassion and action, a protector who comes to our aid to relieve us of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering.

Tara has 21 major forms, each of which has a different color and spiritual attribute.

Of these 21 forms, two are especially popular among Tibetan people — White Tara, who is associated with compassion and long life, and Green Tara, who is associated with enlightened activity and abundance.

 

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We usually think of om tare tuttare ture soha as Green Tara’s mantra, although sometimes it is used as the main mantra for all the Tara’s.

 

Green Tara Mantra

Green Tara Mantra, from ‘Praises to the 21 Taras’ by the Federation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition

 

Tibetans love to pray and recite mantras, and the Green Tara mantra is one of the main three or four mantras that we say to help ourselves and others. (See our posts on om mani padme hum and om muni muni maha muniye soha, two other very popular mantras.)

Basically, any mantra is “a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of ‘creating transformation.’” 1

To better understand the Green Tara mantra, let’s first talk a little about who Green Tara is, and then look at the deeper meaning of the mantra.

 

Green Tara: Compassion in Action

As we see in the image above, Green Tara is usually depicted as a compassionate being ready to step down from her lotus throne to offer comfort and protection from all of the sufferings we experience in the world.

She is shown “in a posture of ease and readiness for action. While her left leg is folded in the contemplative position, her right leg is outstretched, ready to spring into action. Green Tara’s left hand is in the refuge-granting mudra (gesture); her right hand makes the boon-granting [giving] gesture. In her hands she also holds closed blue lotuses (utpalas), which symbolize purity and power.” 2

 

His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Reciting the Green Tara Mantra:
(HH begins a few minutes after the beginning of the recording)


The First Dalai Lama’s Teachings on Tara

The first Dalai Lama wrote that we can call on her to instantly save us from eight particular dangers, each of which represents a corresponding human mental problem:

  • lions — pride
  • wild elephants — delusion and ignorance
  • forest fires — hatred
  • snakes — jealousy
  • robbers — wrong views, including fanatical views
  • prisons — greed and miserliness
  • floods — desire and attachment
  • demons — doubts caused by delusion

Ordinary Tibetans pray to her when we are sick, when leaving for a long journey, or when we hope for success or wealth. His Holiness’ teaching shows us that this is not actually the true purpose of praying to or reciting mantras to Tara.

When we chant the Green Tara mantra, we are not simply asking for Tara’s blessings and help with our lives and our “real world” problems.

Actually, we are also asking to be liberated from the misery of the mental delusions and negative emotions that blind us to true freedom, and to achieve the same enlightened body, speech and mind that Tara represents, not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all sentient beings.

 

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Meaning of the Green Tara Mantra

A 1987 teaching by Lama Zopa Rinpoche really opens up to us the profound meaning and benefits of practicing Tara’s powerful mantra. 3

Lama Zopa walks us through the mantra in a long discussion on Tara, which we have excerpted and shortened below:

  • In short, om tare tuttare ture soha means “I prostrate to the Liberator, Mother of all the Victorious Ones.”
  • The Tara mantra is om tare tuttare ture soha. To explain the meaning of tare tuttare ture: tare means liberating from samsara.
  • Tare shows that Mother Tara liberates living beings from samsara, from true suffering, or problems. You can relate this to the particular sufferings of human beings: birth, old age, sickness and death; meeting undesirable objects and experiencing aversion; not finding desirable objects or finding them but gaining no satisfaction… All these are the problems of true suffering. If you rely upon Tara by taking refuge in her and doing Tara practices—such as the recitation of mantra or praises — with tare, Tara liberates you from all these true sufferings.
  • The second word, tuttare, liberates you from the eight fears. There are eight fears related to external dangers from fire, water, air, earth, and also from such things as thieves and dangerous animals. However, the main dangers come from ignorance, attachment, anger, pride, jealousy, miserliness, doubt and wrong views. These eight disturbing thoughts that you have in your mind are the main dangers… This second word, tuttare, which liberates you from the eight fears, frees you from the true cause of suffering: karma and the all-arising disturbing thoughts.
  • The third word, ture, liberates you from disease. Now, of the Four Noble Truths, ture shows the cessation of suffering, which is the ultimate Dharma. In terms of liberating from disease, the actual disease we have is ignorance not knowing the absolute nature of the I, and all the disturbing thoughts that arise from this ignorance… By liberating us from disease, ture actually liberates us from the true cause, disturbing thoughts, and also the true sufferings.
  • The rough meaning of these three words tare tuttare ture is: “To you, embodiment of all the Buddhas’ actions, I prostrate always — whether I am in happy or unhappy circumstances — with my body, speech and mind.”
  • The final word soha means establishing the root of the path within your heart. In other words, by taking refuge in Tara and doing Tara practice, you receive the blessings of Tara in your own heart. This gives you space to establish the root of the path, signified by tare tuttare ture, in your heart. By establishing the path of the three capable beings within your heart, you purify all impurities of your body, speech and mind, and achieve Tara’s pure vajra holy body, holy speech and holy mind, which are signified by om. Your body, speech and mind are transformed into Tara’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind. This is the rough meaning of om tare tuttare ture soha.

Like om mani padme hum, the Green Tara Mantra is much greater than the sum of its parts, with layers of meaning and benefit that resonate with us beyond what our minds perceive.

By calling on Tara’s protection from danger and from our fears with a sincere motivation to be relieved of our suffering for the benefit of all beings, we can gain the multiple benefits of selfish altruism, and compassionate action, becoming happier ourselves as we help others.

 

His Holiness the Karmapa reciting the Green Tara Mantra:

 

 

Buddhism Series

 

Footnotes

1. Feuerstein, G. The Deeper Dimension of Yoga. Shambala Publications, Boston, MA. 2003. (Via Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantra)

2. Religionfacts.com on Tara

3. Lama Zopa’s Teaching on Tara – from two teachings given at Kopan Monastery and Himalayan Yogic Institute, Nepal in May 1987. Originally published as a Wisdom Transcript by Wisdom Publications in 1993(Discussion of Tara starts halfway down the page, though full article is wonderful. Discussion of Tara includes a visualization you can practice while reciting the mantra.)

 

Other Sources

 

More Resources on Tara

 

Comments

  1. Mervin says

    Hi Yowangdu,
    I have a few questions to Green Tara reciting.

    – does one need to be sitten upright when reciting ?
    – can one do it was one is walking, jogging or during ones daily work ?
    – I like to chant lying down, it help me to sleep, it that ok ?

    – I was told to recite the mantra 108 time for at least twice daily,
    – is it ok to do less ?

    I live a very busy life taking care of my family and with work. That’s why I was wondering if it’s ok or appropriate to chant well I am walking ?

    Thank you.

    Kind regards,
    Mervin

    • says

      Hi Mervin,
      Most important is to have a respectful attitude. His Holiness has said it is okay to recite or pray while walking. Traditionally one would need to be seated properly but in modern times it seems to be changing. Lying down not as clear an answer though again we personally think it is okay as long as your attitude is respectful. Hope this helps.

  2. Elena says

    Thank you Yolanda and Lobsang la for the amazing work, every time I landed to the site, I easily spent hours absorbing your amazing energy and great information. You certainly are great teachers. Just for my curiosity, which teaching do you guys mainly belong to? Gelupa, Kagyu nyingma or sakya? Thanks in advance! Sorry if the Q is too personal. Cheers

    • says

      Hi Elena, and thanks so much for the kind thoughts. Lobsang comes from the Gelukpa tradition, and Yolanda is really a newbie and generally Gelukpa. Neither of us are proper dharma teachers — just sharing what we know about basic Tibetan Buddhism as it is practiced by normal Tibetan people. All the best to you :-)

  3. Rajjer says

    What an amazing day this was. I traveled many miles to see the Maitrea relic tour and receive the blessings. While I was there I saw this green ring and it seemed that I should buy it. Tonight I find that it’s a Green Tara ring. And now I’m doing the mantra and learning about her. What an amazing day! Thank you for the information.

  4. Tiffany E. Earley says

    Hi there! I love learning about mantras. I’m wondering if there is a book that has mantras written in their tradition language, the pronunciation, and meanings?
    Also are mantras constantly made or are all mantras the same ones that have been around since the Buddha?
    Lastly, if I’m saying a mantra in english with positive intent does it count as a mantra?

  5. says

    Thank you so much for this explanation. I am a new practitioner in New Zealand and this was very helpful following my first prayer session to Tara last night at my local Buddhist centre. Much love and blessings to you xox

    • says

      That’s a good question, enpath. There is no way to know. Each person would have to decide for him or herself if they feel it is helpful.
      Best to you.

  6. MAY SIM says

    Guru,

    I am pregnant 4 months now. I would like to know any suitable mantra for me to practice everyday. I want a healthy and easy care baby and a smooth and normal labour later. Please advise.

    Thank you.

    • says

      Congratulations May, and thank you for your question. We are sorry, but we don’t think we’re qualified to answer this. For ourselves, we would pray any of the basic mantras, like the Avalokiteshvara mantra, or Green Tara or Buddha Shakaymuni, as these are good for many things, but we can’t speak specifically about pregnancy. Also, although you are kind to address the question to “Guru” Lobsang is not a guru, just a basic Tibetan Buddhist practitioner. We wish you the best of luck and are truly sorry that we can’t help more!

      • Elena says

        Just my personal experience for my 4 children, we recited Vajrasattva mantra to purify the karma and chanting green Tara mantra daily dedicate to the babies, family and beings around our family. It worked for me perfectly. Good luck.

    • melanie says

      Yea I just want a mantra for morning sickness (early pregnancy sickness) cause it is SO bad right now :(
      xxxx hope your pregnancy is going well May

      • says

        Hi Melanie, We are sorry to hear that you don’t feel well. For mantras, we don’t if there is one specifically for morning sickness. When Tibetans are sick normally we recite one of the Tara mantras.

  7. MAY SIM says

    Hi, guru,

    I am pregnant with 4 months now. I would like to practice any mantra which suitable for me. I would like my baby to be healthy and easy to care later and a smooth and normal labour later. Please advise.

    thank you.

    • Elena says

      Try Kurukulle mantra : om kurukulle hirh soha
      Or red tara mantra: om tara tam soha.
      These are two mantras traditionally associated with love. And I swear by Green Tara for swift actualizations to your wishes, always nice to chant praise to 21 Tara and Green Tara mantra, works perfectly for many ppl I know. Good luck.

  8. Kazmin says

    I am British but was lucky enough to learn om tare tuttare ture soha and om mani padme hum from my father when I was young, so I’ve used them automatically in bad times for a many years. But I’ve been without a Buddhist community for a long time too. Thanks for teaching me more about them and Tara today, your website is a wonderful connection to Buddhism for me.

  9. dolker says

    Its been few months since i am having bad dreams nd obstacle in my daily life .. I start recite of dolma nd guru mantra.

  10. yangchen says

    Very englightning! Thnk u very much.i recite mantras of cherenzi n guru rimpoche too.can we just focus on one boddhisatva as all n recite any one particular mantra or recite all of them in a prayer sessionwould llke to know how it effects reciting mantras before and after getting empowerment from a guru.
    Thankyou.

    • says

      Thank you Yangchen la,
      For the mantras, you can recite one for a whole prayer session, or a mix of two or more, as you feel motivated. The mantras have more effect after you receive the transmission from a guru, though of course we can say all these basic ones without receiving them from a guru, too, if need be. All the best to you!

  11. says

    Hi,Yowangdu
    i am very happy to find this websites in internet.. i was going through the meaning of seven bowls of water and Budha helped me to find your site.. it was really a mesmerizing and very useful to me.. i have seen many mantra here in your sites.. which is very use ful to me

    Once again thanks a lot and BUDHA Bless you always

    Madan Gurung from Sikkim

  12. Justin says

    “I had a dream last night I went on a pilgrimage to see his holiness The Dalia Lama and I arrived I was in a tree with a Green Lady and in turn I found the Green Tara having never have heard of it before , thank you for having it on your site and allowing others to learn and share this great wisdom . Namaste

  13. Nicole says

    Hi
    I’ve recently started to use mantras and was surprised at how comforting , along with a great peace that it leaves me after.
    My question to you is

    Are there any mantras that can help me find self acceptance and have a more possitive oulook on my self. As this is a large journey for myself. I feel prehaps mantras would be a great guide to contuine through out my lifetime.

    thankyou for any support you can give me

    Namaste

    • says

      Hi Nicole,
      We are so happy this mantra is useful for you. We hesitate to give any kind of advice about these spiritual matters since we are just normal people and not any kind of gurus. In general, you may like to recite “Om mani padme hung”, as this mantra is associated with compassion, which can apply both to oneself and others. All the best to you!

    • Brett Miller says

      Hello Nicole,
      Tara practice is relatively new to me, as a personal tool on the path, yet relying on Tara has already enabled me to do so much less harm to others already — the reason for the path.

      For my specific ego, and its many flaws, the dharma [and practice of] has been a personal source (generator) of humility and especially patience. Though I understand the importance, I admit it could be years before I truly understand patience. So my self esteem was at times flying around out of control, and now I can sometimes reel it in and see reality now and then.

      Nicole, I believe, it is quite likely, that the answers to finding self-acceptance. In order to practice lojong and relative bodhichitta during post-meditation, one must have a healthy self-esteem. So one must take care of immediate serious needs in order to create the foundation for eventual release of attachment to self? I tried to make sense a little bit, but I am no expert myself. What I meant to say in the first sentence of this paragraph (I can’t seem to backspace in this form), was, “I am quite sure that most/all of the answers to finding self-confidence/esteem are in the dharma. Stay on the path and stay diligent and you will find serenity as your life becomes defined by helping rather than harming the world. I cannot describe the joy that comes when old illusions begin to disperse like raindrops on hot sand.

      I too am not a guru and what helped me on the path may not be exactly the way you need to hear things said or visualized. Yet I feel that I have to share……you see my problem, deep down I feel I need to share, so I can talk too much, hahaha.

      Stay strong and on the path what you give to others will shine out from within you in time.

      Generate (during your meditation) and rely on Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara).

      Sorry this was so long guys…

      Brett

  14. mala says

    have been cheated on a tenancy contract and now the tenant who sublet his premises to me wants me to vacate. Its a clinic and I had just build it. I am not at peace at all. A jodhidar told me to recite the green tara mantra. Can someone guide.

    • says

      Hi Mala,
      Reciting Green Tara is pretty much always a good thing to do in our opinion, but generally speaking, one wants to recite these mantras or prayers for your long term mental and spiritual well-being, and also for that of others. We believe that these mantras are not like painkillers that you take and are relieved of pain right away, but rather part of a long-term practice in which we progress to greater spiritual and mental good. Hope this helps!

      • Brett Miller says

        I agree 100% about meditation and mantras not being an ad hoc or PRN (for this case only or “take only as needed) solutions. In fact, I meditated from 1985 – 2010 without really knowning what I was doing. I got only some temporary tranquility. After delving into Tibetan Buddhism, I have been trying to meditate properly and with the proper aims (including keeping on the path during post-meditative life). Since then, I am bored with selfish menial life and find joy in seeing others’ faces light up with happiness. The road is still long, the horizon distant and the path will be walked humbly, one stone at a time.

        -brett

        PS: sorry for the misspellings and grammatical errors here.

  15. chewang says

    hi ! glad to see this website it is so useful us to understand the true meaning of mantras…
    kindly let me know the more about the mantras of our gurus….

    thank you.

    • Naropa says

      Hi Ramesh,

      If I may, recite the simple yet powerful mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. Do this with fervent devotion consistently for a long time. When you feel that it has been long enough then do it some more. If done with sincerity and focus on the devotion and compassion you inherently possess then all will be well. Be honest in the recitation and be true. The outcome of your situation whatever it may be will then be satisfying for you.

      Peace be with you

      And on another note, thank you for the explanations to the mantras on this website. Keep up the great work.

      Naropa

      May All sentient beings feel happiness and the cause of happiness
      May all beings be free from suffering and the cause if suffering
      May all beings never be separated from the great happiness, devoid of suffering
      And may all beings be free from attachment and aversion

    • rigzin gyamtso says

      in my opinion.chanting mantras are good for us..its basically to enable us to remove negativity in us..
      in your case i think it will be good if you find the cause of your divorce and rectify it..if she left there must be some reason ..find that and correct it…just chanting mantras without rectifying one’s wrong views and behaviour is not going to be much of help..be practical man.

  16. Sangeeta Shakya says

    Thank you very much. I pray on tare tuttare ture soha every morning. And when I came to know more about Gren Tara I fell very happy. Everyday I search about Buddha and tara. Please let me know if I can buy online the pictures od 21 taras. Now I am in Canada.
    thanks

    Sangeeta Shakya

    • says

      Hi Sangeeta, and thanks so much for your nice thoughts. We don’t know right now where you can buy the pictures of the 21 Taras. If anyone reading this knows, let us know and we will pass it on to you.

  17. Kinga Dorji says

    Thank you so much. This web has been very useful and helpful to understand the meaning of green tara’s mantra.

    Thanks.

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