Tārā Who Protects from the Eight Dangers
Degé Kangyur, vol. 94 (rgyud ’bum, tsha), folios 222.b–224.b
Translated by Samye Translations
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
First published 2020
Current version v 1.2.9 (2023)
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In this sūtra, the goddess Tārā warns the gods of the desire realm about the miseries of saṃsāra and offers a pithy Dharma teaching to free them from harm. Tārā begins by vividly portraying the various kinds of suffering endured by beings in each of the six realms of saṃsāra and then points out the futility of reciting mantras without maintaining pure conduct. She goes on to encourage the listeners to engage in virtue, which puts an end to saṃsāra, and she bestows on them a dhāraṇī that will help them to achieve this goal, a praise of her qualities, and a request for her divine protection that they should recite. Finally, she enjoins the audience to read and practice the teaching and share it with others.
Translated by Samye Translations under the guidance of Phakchok Rinpoche. The translation and introduction were produced by Stefan Mang and Peter Woods, and edited by Oriane Lavolé.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
While the Buddha is dwelling on top of Mount Meru, along with the goddess Tārā and an assembly of gods, Tārā warns the divine gathering about the various kinds of suffering endured by beings in each of the six realms of saṃsāra. She explains that the fate of each being is the result of past negative actions and that virtuous conduct is the only way to avoid suffering in the future. Tārā describes the path to liberation using a series of evocative metaphors and also offers a sacred dhāraṇī as a means to help others achieve liberation from saṃsāra. She also outlines for recitation a praise of her myriad qualities, in particular of her ability to protect beings from the eight dangers. Finally, she encourages the audience to read, practice, and share this teaching widely.
The sūtra can be divided into three sections: (1) a concise teaching given by Tārā on the suffering of saṃsāra and the virtuous practices that will eradicate such suffering and lead to fortunate states; (2) a dhāraṇī that practitioners can employ as a method for advancing toward liberation;1 and (3) a praise to be recited to Tārā. In this third section, Tārā is praised as an awakened protectress2 and requested to keep those who petition her safe from the eight dangers. These dangers are identified in this text as lions, elephants, fire, snakes, robbers, waters, infectious diseases, and demons. These final verses, in which Tārā’s ability to protect beings from the eight dangers is described, are thus what lend the text its title.3
There is to our knowledge no extant Sanskrit version of this sūtra, nor is there a Chinese version recorded in the Taishō Buddhist Canon. It is also not found in the Denkarma (ldan dkar ma) or Phangthangma (’phang thang ma) Tibetan imperial translation inventories. The translation has no colophon, so we do not know who the translators were, nor do we have knowledge of any other circumstances surrounding the translation into Tibetan.4
Thus did I hear at one time. The Blessed One was dwelling in the realm of gods atop Mount Meru. At that time, the goddess Tārā, who was in the assembly, spoke the following words:
oṁ tāre tuttāre ture sarvaduṣṭān praduṣṭān mama kṛte jambhaya stambhaya mohaya bandhaya hūṁ hūṁ hūṁ phaṭ phaṭ phaṭ svāhā |10
nama āryāvalobhayā narā bodhisattvā mahāsattvāni adhiṣṭhānādhiṣṭhite mama sarvakarmāvaraṇa svabhāvaśuddhe [F.224.a] viśuddhe śodhaya viśodhaya hūṁ phaṭ svāhā |11
“Sons and daughters of noble family should write down this teaching, read it, recite it, understand it, contemplate it correctly, and explain it extensively to others.” [F.224.b]
At her words, the whole assembly rejoiced and offered praise.
This completes the sūtra “Venerable Lady Tārā Who Protects from the Eight Dangers.”13
’phags ma sgrol ma ’jigs pa brgyad las skyob pa’i mdo (*Āryatārāṣṭaghoratāraṇīsūtra). Toh 731, Degé Kangyur vol. 94 (rgyud, tsha), folios 222.b–224.b.
’phags ma sgrol ma ’jigs pa brgyad las skyob pa’i mdo (*Āryatārāṣṭaghoratāraṇīsūtra). Toh 731, Lhasa Kangyur vol. 90 (rgyud, na), folios 473.b–476.a.
’phags ma sgrol ma ’jigs pa brgyad las skyob pa’i mdo. 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), 2006–2009, vol. 94, pp. 597–602.
sgrol ma’i gzungs [The Dhāraṇī of Tārā]. Toh 729, Degé Kangyur vol. 94 (rgyud, tsha), folio 222.a. English translation in Samye Translations (2021).
sgrol ma’i gzungs [The Dhāraṇī of Tārā]. Toh 1001, Degé Kangyur vol. 102 (gzungs, waM), folio 160.a. English translation in Samye Translations (2021).
dam pa’i chos pad ma dkar po zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo (Saddharmapuṇḍarīkanāmamahāyānasūtra). Toh 113, Degé Kangyur vol. 51 (mdo sde, ja), folios 1.b–180.b. English translation in (2018).
Bhattacharyya, Benoytosh, ed. Sādhanamālā: Vol I. Baroda: Central Library, 1925.
Butön Rinchen Drup (bu ston rin chen grub). “sgrol ma ’jigs pa brgyad skyob kyi sngags.” In gsung ’bum rin chen grub [Collected Works], vol. 16 (ma), folio 218.b. Lhasa: zhol par khang, 2000.
Beyer, Stephan. The Cult of Tārā: Magic and Ritual in Tibet. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.
Herrmann-Pfandt, Adelheid. Die lHan kar ma: ein früher Katalog der ins Tibetische übersetzten buddhistischen Texte. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2008.
Samye Translations, trans. The Dhāraṇī of Tārā. 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, 2021.
Roberts, Peter Alan, trans. The White Lotus of the Good Dharma Sutra. 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, 2018.
Shaw, Miranda. Buddhist Goddesses of India. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.
Shin, Jae-Eun. “Transformation of the Goddess Tārā with Special Reference to Iconographical Features.” Indo Koko Kenkyu: Studies in South Asian Art and Archaeology 31 (2010): 17–31.
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.
- n+ya gro d+ha
- sha za
- ’jigs pa brgyad
- ’jigs pa brgyad
- aṣṭaghora RS
- ka la ping ka
- dpag tshad
- ha lo
- ri rab
- pha rol tu phyin pa
- yi dwags
realm of gods atop Mount Meru
- ri rab kyi steng lha’i gnas
- sgrol ma
- ug chos
- rig sngags
- gshin rje