White Tara mantra

Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puśtiṃ Kuru Svāhā

(Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jñana Pustim Kuru Svaha)

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).

White tara
White Tara

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 kṛ 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:

Pronunciation notes for Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puśtiṃ Kuru Svāhā

  • a is pronounced as u in cut
  • ā is like a in father
  • jñana/jñānā is meant to be pronounced with a hard g, but many people pronounce it as “nyaanaa”
  • the s in pushtim/puśtiṃ has a dot under it which makes it into a sh sound, as in English push
  • m in pushtim/puśtiṃ is pronounced ng, as in song

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.

The mantra then means something like, “May my life be long, may my good qualities and wisdom increase! Make it so! Hail!”

Click below to play the MP3 file of the White Tara Mantra:

Pronunciation notes:

  • a is pronounced as u in cut
  • aa is like a in father
  • jñana is meant to be pronounced with a hard g, but many people pronounce it as “nyaanaa”
  • the s in pushtim has a dot under it which makes it into a sh sound, as in English push
  • m in pushtim is pronounced ng, as in song

White Tara’s Iconography

The first thing about White Tara is that she is white. This is not the whiteness of northern European skin, which is actually light brown. She’s white like a flower, or moonlight, or snow. She’s also known as Sita Tara, sita meaning the color white, but also meaning pale, bright, or light. Additionally, white has the connotation of purity, so that sita can mean pure, as well.

She is an enlightened being appearing in the form of a young goddess, adorned with silks, jewels, and flowers.

She sits cross-legged in meditation. She’s on a lotus, which symbolizes purity. The Buddha himself said that just as a lotus grows from muddy water, but has pure, unspoiled petals, he lives in the world untouched by it. In other words, although he was surrounded by selfishness and hatred, he himself was free of those things.

She has more than two eyes! She has a third eye in the center of her forehead, symbolizing the awakening of her vision as an enlightened being. She also has eyes in the palms of her hands and on the soles of her feet. These symbolize the fact that although she offers help in the world, she does not do so blindly, but is able to help people move toward awakening.

Her right hand is open in a gesture of giving.

Her left hand holds the stem of a blue lotus (Sanskrit, utpala) which blossoms above her shoulder. This type of lotus opens at sunset and blooms at night. It has a sweet scent that symbolizes the way that an ethical life has an uplifting effect on the world.

The fact that she is the color of moonlight and holds a flower that blooms at night, suggests that White Tara appears in the form of a moon goddess.

As mentioned above, her mantra is often chanted with a particular person in mind. Disciples of a teacher might well chant the mantra with the wish that the teacher live long and be healthy, for example. Or one might chant the mantra for a friend who is ill or dying.

86 Comments. Leave new

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    Reply
  • I’ve just started listening to the White Tara Mantra, I seem to be so drawn to it. Tears are always flowing …. Can this mantra be so powerful after 5 days ??? And how do you know if a mantra is for you? Thank you in advance…. Joy

    Reply
  • It would be very helpful if an audio version of mantras could be
    offered with the correct pronunciation that is clear and precise.

    Thank you for taking my comment.

    Reply
  • Thank you.

    Reply
  • Hi,

    I am curious whether Arpad has finished his (or her?) book on Tara? I would love to read it.

    Thanks.

    Sarva Mangalam.

    Reply
  • I had a vision/ visit from what I believe to be white tara. During her visit a white/ silvery/golden (warm) light was all around me. She guided me and protected me and repeated “Buddha Buddha Buddha” to create a safe place for her to show me things. During this time she introduced me to people who I am connected with by lineage who are all over the world (possibly past lives I’ve lived) these were the archangels or guardian angels that protected, and still protect me to this day. During this time she compassionately , but sternly showed me my past life and the sin I had done. There was blood on my hands. I wept and felt saddened… My humbleness accompanied by the path I am pursuing made it possible for white tara to clear my bad karma and be a clean slate in this life. She let me move forward.
    White tara also connected me to another realm. Where she showed me a gift of seeing the dead. I humbly asked to no longer see that side. Although I felt protected it felt “too much” she quickly wiped that experience away. She never stopped protecting me.

    I would like to know more about white tara, If there are similar stories like this,

    Any info would be a great help

    Love light & gratitude
    Kimberly

    Reply
    • Hi. I just chant and cry. I was listening while playing games while my kids wrestled in joy. Well my 3 year old bumped his head and I immediatley growled like a bear with heated eyes at my 8 year old. She wept in grief. I could feel all the times I projected that angry energy at her and she was holding it all. I got an insight to just be with it before talking. Me, my son and daughter all wept. I’m weeping right now. I was able with tara’s assistance say sorry and uplift my sweet little girl. I tild her how I see her as the light of my heart and it is my ignorance that I act like an angry bear sometimes. She forgave me and I am on the road to fogiving myself. Tara is a direct link to compassion to me in way I cannot do without her assitance. I abhore devotion due to my confussion during childhood religeous teachings but I cannot argue with the tears and insight. For today I feel quite safe calling myslef a Tara devote, if there is such a thing. Beats gambeling and Netflix devote in any case :) Svaha friend!

      Reply
  • Hi,
    I am Asha. A friend of mine asked me to do pray White Tara for himself; for his ill health but can anyone tell me how to change the mantra… how to take his name in between.
    I would be very grateful if i receive the answer.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Sorry for the delayed reply, Asha. In the mantra, “Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jñana Pustim Kuru Svaha,” the “mama” refers to yourself, so that’s the word you’d replace with the name of your friend.

      Reply
  • The explanations about the pronountiation are extraordinary and I want to thank you for that. The examples with English words are all I ever looked for! if I may ask, could you please explain (with the same kind of examples) the correct pronounciation of the “Deva picu vajra hum hum hum phat shava” (the Hevajra heart mantra – and the most important thing in my life)

    Reply
    • I’m glad you find the site helpful, Veronica.

      It’s not a mantra I’ve come across before, but it’s Oṃ deva picu vajra h?ṃ h?ṃ h?ṃ phaṭ svāhā. Most of the pronunciation you should be able to work out from the guides here. The “e” in deva is like the sound in “day.” The “i” in “picu” is short and the “c” is a “ch” sound. The “ph” is not an “f” sound, but like the “ph” in “haphazard.” Any letter “a” is pronounced as an “uh” while an ā is sounded as in “father.” The ṃ in h?ṃ is like an English “ng” sound.

      Reply
  • Yangchen Dolkar
    April 15, 2015 9:49 pm

    May I have your permission to use your Link on Tibetan Community FaceBook – (Tassietibs)

    Thank you

    Yangchen Dolkar
    President

    Reply
  • dear Dharma friends,
    KURU in the white Tara Mantra just means “Make!”, it is an imperativ of kr, to do, to make in Sanskrit, the same root that the word Karma stems from. Best wishes, Nicola

    Reply
  • Often came across a variation of chanting: Um dare duddare dure mama ayuh jnana bunya pushtim kuru svaha”. Asked from our Lamas (Mongolia) – they chant it this way too. Any comments?

    Reply
    • There are always difficulties with pronunciation when people who are native to one language try to speak another language. Those difficulties can be more intense when the foreign language is from a different language group and has unfamiliar sounds. Something like that is going on here. As a native English speaker I try to pronounce Pali and Sanskrit words as accurately as I can, but I’m sure an Indian would find my pronunciation painful!

      Reply
  • Often came across a slightly different chanting (order of 2 words): “Um dare duddare dure mama ayuh jnana bunya pushtim kuruye svaha”. Asked our Lamas (Mongolia) – they also use this one when praying. Any comments?

    Reply
    • That’s unusual. There’s a definite order to the words punya and jnana. That’s the order in which those qualities are developed in practice, and in which they’re talked about. Hearing “jnana and punya” is like hearing “Hardy and Laurel” or “for country and God.” I can only assume that there’s an error crept in somewhere. On the other hand if you repeat an error for long enough it becomes a tradition, doesn’t it?

      Reply
      • Strange, the lama I have asked, is geshe graduated in Tibet, founder and head Lama of his Monastery, practicing Nyingma. Most of the audio mantras chant in the way, you describe as incorrect, see “Vajra Drayang” first track for instance. Confused…

        Reply
  • Thanks for the detailed information about the white tara Mantra.
    I feel blessed.

    Reply
  • Very beautifully explained. May White Tara the mother of all Buddhas bless you with Ultimate Enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. 🙏🙏🙏

    Reply
  • Thanks very much indeed for this. I’ve been very ill recently and discovering White Tara and her power to renew one’s vitality, vim and vigour has been a source of deep consolation and inspiration for me.

    Reply
    • I’m sorry to hear this, James, but glad to hear that chanting white Tara’s mantra has helped support your return to good health…

      Reply
  • Buddhism, being non-theist, l don’t understand how the practice of chants to Taras, who seem to be goddesslike, fits into the Buddhist paradigm. The practices seem to be like worship or requests to deities. Please explain.

    Reply
    • That’s a good question.

      Sometimes when I’m meditating I’ll imagine the Buddha sitting beside me, and I can actually feel his presence as a source of warmth and love. I know he’s not really there, but that doesn’t change the experience.

      Technically, Tara (or any other enlightened figure) is seen as being not-separate from the nature of our own minds. You can understand that in terms of her representing our own innate compassion and wisdom, and that in calling upon her we’re calling upon our own latent qualities to manifest within us. We may well act in ways that look like we’re revering and worshiping an external force, but philosophically consider that that’s not what we’re actually doing. It’s helpful, so it doesn’t matter. It’s helpful to our spiritual practice to awaken latent spiritual qualities in this way.

      Even if someone believes that Tara is a god-like figure embodying compassion and wisdom who is “out there somewhere” in an alternate dimension or Pure Land, that will still be spiritually beneficial in that it brings compassion and wisdom into their life.

      It would be a problem if Buddhists turned Tara et al into gods who are judges and punishers (because we would also be evoking those qualities — as tends to happen, say, in some evangelical Christian circles with respect to their own deity), but that doesn’t seem to ever happen. What tends to happen with Buddhists is that they kind of “fall in love” with a particular figure, and this fascination can become a major part of their attraction toward the goal of enlightenment.

      Reply
  • Amy Dubinsky
    June 25, 2022 1:07 am

    No one answered Susan’s question about why White Tara appears and I am curious as well as a similar thing has occurred with me. I have had a connection with Green Tara but not white, now she is in my life. I assume once I begin with her mantra more will be revealed.

    Reply
  • Cristina Garcia Revilla
    February 27, 2024 4:19 am

    Hi!
    I have a question about the mantra, sometimes I see it written differently or with some different signs in the letters. Do you know if there is an “official” way or depends on the translation?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • The version above with the diacritics (Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puśtiṃ Kuru Svāhā) is in correct Sanskrit transliteration. Tibetan sources will mangle the Sanskrit to various degrees, because the two languages have very different sounds that don’t map to each other very well. For example I’ve seen.” People might also not use the diacritics and use different transliteration conventions. And then people make mistakes. I can’t really comment on the other versions you’ve seen without seeing them. I don’t want to give the impression I’m a Sanskrit expert, though. I studied Pali, and depend on others for help with Sanskrit.

      Reply

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