The Hundred and Eight Names of the Goddess Tārā
Degé Kangyur vol. 94 (rgyud ’bum, tsha), folios 219.a–222.a
Translated by Samye Translations
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First published 2022
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In this sūtra, the goddess Tārā recites a dhāraṇī before an assembly of gods, asuras, and spirits of various types, which brings them peace and stills their speech. The assembled beings then sing praise for Tārā in the form of one hundred and eight epithets of the goddess. Tārā gives a pithy teaching on the importance of seeking liberation and on the right attitude needed for this endeavor. Finally, the goddess gives encouragement and extols the power of the dhāraṇī.
This sūtra opens with an homage to the goddess Tārā, to whom the text is dedicated. Tārā immediately pronounces a dhāraṇī in front of an audience of gods, asuras, and spirits of various types. Awed by Tārā’s presence, they all praise her powers. In the central portion of the sūtra, the assembled beings offer homage and praise to Tārā in the form of a list of epithets of the goddess. At the end of this recitation, Tārā responds with some words of encouragement and gives a brief teaching on the path to liberation as well as on the importance of applying unwavering effort to cross over the ocean of cyclic existence. The text concludes with Tārā extolling the power of the dhāraṇī she previously pronounced, detailing its salvific effects, and praising those who uphold it. At the end of the sūtra, the audience is filled with joy, and we are told that their speech has been completely stilled.
The sūtra can be divided into three sections. The first section centers on the dhāraṇī. After a brief introduction, Tārā recites the dhāraṇī, “which had never been seen or heard before,” and we are told of its effect on the audience. The second section, which is the longest and constitutes the core of the text, is composed of the list of epithets of the goddess Tārā. These epithets are given in the form of thirty-five four-line verses, and it is not obvious how to count exactly 108 names in them. This list of names is quite different from the most well-known list of Tārā’s names found in One Hundred and Eight Names of the Noble Lady Tārā (Toh 727; rje btsun ma ’phags ma sgrol ma’i mtshan brgya rtsa brgyad pa). There is very little overlap in the epithets, but many of them echo similar themes related to Tārā’s forms, qualities, attributes, and activities. The third and final section takes the form of a pithy teaching given by Tārā to her audience.
Since this sūtra lacks a colophon, it offers no contextual information besides the original Sanskrit title. In particular, it is not known when or by whom it was translated into Tibetan. The Sanskrit text does not appear to be extant, and there do not appear to be any Indian or Tibetan authors who commented on it. The text was translated into Chinese by Fa Tian in the late tenth century under the title 聖多羅菩薩一百八名陀羅尼經 (Sheng duoluo pusa yibai ba ming tuoluoni jing, Taishō 1105). This sūtra has not been previously translated into any European language, and it has only been mentioned in passing in scholarly works on Tārā,1 which makes it a relatively unexplored text.
This English translation is based on the Tibetan version in the Degé Kangyur. The Comparative Edition (dpe sdur ma) Kangyur, the Stok Palace Kangyur, and the Phukdrak Kangyur were consulted for variant readings.
Homage to the great goddess Tārā, the completely victorious jewel, who, with her exquisite necklace, garments, and lower robes, is a canopy for the great worldly realm. [F.219.b]
At that time, the goddess Tārā uttered this supreme dhāraṇī, which had never been seen or heard before:
oṁ trailokyavijaya | acittajaya | aniracijataya | sujaya | vijaya | mahājaya | vijaya2 | jaya jaya | he he | smara smara | vara vara varada | mahādevi | vilasa | vilasa | vilasa | vaja amotakari vijayadevi | hī hī | kiṇi kiṇi3 vilambase | smara smara | mahāprajñā anipata | vajramahākāruṇika4 | bhagini hruṃ hruṃ | sphuṭa sphuṭa | sphoṭa sphoṭa | āveśaya āveśaya | dhuna dhuna | vidhuna vidhuna | kampa kampa | kampaya | surabhigandha | atisita | mukhe haladavala | saṃgarājana | vimavigi | vināśaya vināśaya | he bhagavati | santrāsaya5 vighanān | parivalāya asmākaṃ asmākaṃ | mādani mādani | saṃbodhaya | saṃmohaya | hara hara | hiri hiri | huru huru | vitakara | varaja | haṃ haṃ | trotāya | haṃ haṃ | santratāya | santroya | manta manta | marda marda | cara cara | saṃcara saṃcara | vega vega vegavati | namo namo namaḥ svāhā |6
This completes the dhāraṇī named “Supreme Tārā, the Hundred and Eight Names of the Goddess Tārā.”
lha mo sgrol ma’i mtshan brgya rtsa brgyad pa (Tārādevīnāmāṣṭaśataka). Toh 728, Degé Kangyur vol. 94 (rgyud, tsha), folios 219.a–222.a. Folio numbers in brackets refer to this edition.
lha mo sgrol ma’i mtshan brgya rtsa brgyad pa. bka’ ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 108 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–9, vol. 94 pp. 582–91.
lha mo sgrol ma’i mtshan brgya rtsa brgyad pa. Stok Palace (stog pho brang) Kangyur vol. 107 (rgyud, ma), folios 122.a–126.a
rje btsun ma ’phags ma sgrol ma’i mtshan brgya rtsa brgyad pa. Toh 727, Degé Kangyur vol. 94 (rgyud, tsha), folios 217.a–219.a
Beyer, Stephan. The Cult of Tārā: Magic and Ritual in Tibet. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.
Blonay, Godefroy de. Materiaux pour servir à l’histoire de la déesse buddhique Tārā. Paris, 1895.
Willson, Martin. In Praise of Tara: Songs to the Saviouress. Somerville: Wisdom Publications, 1996.
Types of attestation for Sanskrit names and terms
Attested in source text
This term is attested in the Sanskrit manuscript used as a source for this translation.
Attested in other text
This term is attested in other Sanskrit manuscripts of the Kangyur or Tengyur.
Attested in dictionary
This term is attested in Tibetan-Sanskrit dictionaries.
The attestation of this name is approximate. It is based on other names where Tibetan-Sanskrit relationship is attested in dictionaries or other manuscripts.
Reconstruction from Tibetan phonetic rendering
This term is a reconstruction based on the Tibetan phonetic rendering of the term.
Reconstruction from Tibetan semantic rendering
This term is a reconstruction based on the semantics of the Tibetan translation.
This term has been supplied from an unspecified source, which most often is a widely trusted dictionary.
- lha ma yin
- spyan ras gzigs
- gi’u wang
- ’byung po
- tshangs pa
- tsam pa ka
- zla ba
- mngon shes
- dri za
- gang ga ma
- ha la ha la
- ’dzam bu’i chu bo
- ka la ping ka
- dod pa’i lha
- mi’am ci
Lord of Love
- dbang phyug rab dga’
- dbang phyug chen po
- lto ’phye chen po
- sred med bu mo
- bdud rtsi
- nim pa
- skye dgu’i dbang phyug
- srin po
- ’og pag
- dbang phyug
- sgrol ma
- sa bcu
- shes pa bcu
- pha rol tu phyin pa bcu
- stobs bcu
- chu lha
- rgyal sras
- rig sngags ’chang
- rig sngags ’chang ma
- rig sngags
- log ’dren
- gnod sbyin
- gshin rje