Family Activity: Loving Tara

Find out more about the compassionate and loving Buddhist goddess Tara. Includes discussion questions and an art-making activity.


Introduction:

In this painted, wooden sculpture, the Buddhist goddess Tara (tar-uh) stands gracefully. Her right hand makes the mudra of reassurance.

Tara was born when a tear from a weeping bodhisattva (bow-dee-saht-vah), or future buddha, fell to earth and formed a lake. When a lotus flower grew out of the lake the petals opened and Tara was inside.

Millions of Buddhists honor Tara as a compassionate goddess. She is a deity of protection, to whom people tell her their troubles and ask for help with their problems.

If this sculpture of Tara were in a temple, worshippers would decorate it with beautiful robes and jewelry as a gesture of honor and caring.

Discussion Questions:

  • What in Tara's expression and gestures makes her appear loving and protecting?
  • Look at the sculpture's surface. Do you see different textures?
  • What jewelry is Tara wearing?

Activity:

Decorate an image of Tara with robes and jewelry.

Materials Needed:

  • Printout of Tara
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Glue
  • Scraps of cloth
  • Beads or other decorative items

Glossary:

bodhisattva (n)
compassionate being destined to become a buddha who refrains from entering nirvana to guide others on the path to Buddhahood

Buddha/Buddhist/Buddhism (n/n or adj/n)
historical figure, Buddha Shakyamuni, who lived in India in the sixth century B.C. During this lifetime, Shakyamuni discovered a means to escape the endless cycle of death and rebirth that, according to his teachings, is determined by an individual's karma. Through meditation Buddha attained a state of being known as nirvana, signifying the merging of the inner spirit with the void from which all reality is believed to emerge. Buddha's teachings developed into what in known today as Buddhism; literally means "the enlightened one;" a follower of the Buddha's teachings; the religion born of Buddha's teachings.

deity (n) supreme being, such as a god or goddess

lotus (n)
graceful flowering water plant, which in India and other eastern civilizations is and has been a symbol of purity, perfection, and enlightenment since its growth in ancient times. The enlightened state is symbolized by its blossom, which grows on top of the water, compared to its roots in the mud below, symbolizing earthly existence.

mudra (n)
one of numerous symbolic hand gestures that indicate concepts, such as reassurance or meditation, of Hinduism and Buddhism



Art Access