White Tara (Sitatara) is associated with long life. Her mantra is often chanted with a particular person in mind. She’s another representation of compassion, and she’s pictured as being endowed with seven eyes (look at the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and her forehead) to symbolize the watchfulness of the compassionate mind.
Unlike Green Tara, White Tara has both legs folded in meditation (Green Tara is stepping down onto a lotus).
As a variant form of Green Tara, her mantra begins very similarly. But added to the play on the name of Tara are several words connected with long life and wellbeing.
Mama means “mine” and indicates that you’d like to possess these qualities of long life, merit, wisdom, happiness, etc. You can of course choose to wish these qualities for someone else — perhaps for a teacher or for a loved one who is ill.
Ayuh is long life (as in Ayurvedic medicine).
Punya means the merit that comes from living life ethically, and this merit is said to help one to live long and happily.
Jnana is wisdom.
Punya and Jnana are known as the Two Accumulations. In order to become enlightened we need to accumulate merit (that is, to develop positive qualities through living ethically and meditating) but we also need to develop wisdom through deep reflection. Wisdom cannot arise without a basis of merit, but merit alone is not enough for us to become enlightened, meaning that becoming a nicer person isn’t enough — we have also to look deeply into ourselves and the world around us and to see the impermanent and insubstantial nature of all things.
Pushtim means wealth, abundance, or increase.
Kuru is a mythical land to the north of the Himalayas, which was said to be a land of long life and happiness (it may have been the original northern home of the aryans). Perhaps the association with the mythical realm of Kuru doesn’t hurt when doing the mantra. But here the word kuru is a verb form meaning “do it!” or “make it so!” (second person singular active imperative or the root k.r if that’s of any interest to you) which is what it means here. With this “make it so!” we’re imploring White Tara for an increase in wisdom, merit, and long life so that we can gain enlightenment and help all sentient beings.
svaha is an exclamation meaning “hail” or “may blessings be upon” and is a common ending to Buddhist mantras. So after making the rather bold request of White Tara above, we end with an equally emphatic salutation.
Click below to play the MP3 file of the White Tara Mantra: