Tara's name means One Who Saves. Her compassion for living beings and her desire to save them from suffering is said to be stronger than a mother's love for her children. Tara is the Bodhisattva who represents the miraculous activity of all the Buddhas of the past, present, and future.
Avalokiteshvara, the Lord of the World, was looking down from his heaven on the world of suffering beings, and he wept to see that more and more of them were in pain no matter how many he delivered. From the tears streaming down his face two Taras were born, a peaceful white one from the left and a fierce green one from the right. As the quintessence of the miraculous activities of all Buddhas, they gave him courage not to give up striving in his impossible task. Tara is the female companion to Avalokiteshvara, "Mother of Buddhas of all three times," (as expressed in the Tara Tantra) and the compassionate savior of all beings.
Tara overcomes unharmonious conditions and destroys external threats and obstructions. She is the ultimate reality, the true body of the Buddhas. She is the immovable source from which the miraculous saving activities emerge. Tara shakes the three worlds, dispels the effects of poison, eliminates conflicts and nightmares, cures diseases, and overcomes ghosts and demons.
Tara is the savior from the eight dangers. Just by being called to help, she instantaneously saves the faithful from attacks by: 1) lions and pride; 2) wild elephants and delusions; 3) forest fires and hatred; 4) snakes and envy; 5) robbers and fanatical views; 6) prisons and avarice; 7) floods and lust; and 8) demons and doubts. Her left hand is raised with extended three fingers upward, in the gesture of granting refuge in the Three Jewels of Buddhism -- the Buddha (Teacher), the Dharma (Teaching), and the sangha (Community).
Hindu legends tell of Tara's abduction by Soma, the moon-god. A war was fought for her recovery, and after her return she gave birth to Soma's child. Tara means "star" in the Hindu language.