A number of scholars and authors have noted a connection between Mary in the Christian tradition and Tara in the Buddhist. Even H.H. the XIV Dalai Lama, after visiting the Grotto in Lourdes wrote, "I feel she (Mary) represents love and compassion. She is like a symbol of love. Within Buddhist iconography, the goddess Tara occupies a similar position” (1996c, 83f). China Galland in her book ”Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna,” writes about her quest for understanding through these two figures. This presentation takes these earlier discussions to a more focused level on the role of compassion within the traditions as embodied by these two virgin mother figures. A comparison of their iconography, as well as the prayers and mantras offered to the female figures, will be highlighted. The discussion on the various representations of Mary, including the Black Madonnas, and Tara in her 21 manifestations as well as her in Hindu forms, will be based how the concept of compassion is embodied by these two maternal yet virginal figures. Through this investigation, it will be demonstrated how compassion is viewed as central to each of the traditions, but that the concept of compassion is interpreted very differently in each of them.
|Keywords:||Christianity, Buddhism, Goddess, Mary, Tara, Compassion, Comparative Religion, Mantra, Prayer|
Professor of Humanities, Department of Comparative Cultural Studies, College of Arts and Letters, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA