Skip to Main Content

The Tara Tantra

Tara's Fundamental Ritual Text (Tara-mula-kalpa)

A groundbreaking English translation of a key tantric text in the history of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.

This volume contains an English translation of the “root text” of the Tara-mula-kalpa, a scripture-ritual compendium that captures an important Buddhist tantric tradition in mid-formation. In this regard it is utterly unique and unlike any other text in the Buddhist canon. Its contents document the emergence of the quintessential female Buddha Tara in seventh-century India. As her popularity grew, her cult spread throughout Southeast Asia, as well as Tibet, where she became revered as the “Mother” of the Tibetan people. Tara is worshiped for a variety of reasons, from health and long life, to wealth, protection from enemies, and ultimately, the mind of enlightenment. Her presence pervades the evolution of Buddhism in Tibet, including within royal circles, as well as mentor and guide to many important Buddhist scholars, practitioners, and lineage holders.

“Famously vowing to become a Buddha in the body of a woman, Tara is the most important female figure in the vast Buddhist pantheon. In this impressive work of translation and exegesis, Susan Landesman presents Tara’s root tantra, a welcome gift to scholar and practitioner alike.”

– Donald S. Lopez Jr., Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, University of Michigan

“Beloved across the Himalayan region and beyond, the figure of Tara has offered inspiration to artists, meditators, rulers, and ordinary women and men for centuries. Susan A. Landesman has done an exceptional service to English readers with her groundbreaking translation and study of the core ritual text, inviting readers to discover new aspects of this most famous exemplar of enlightenment in female form.”

– Annabella Pitkin, assistant professor of Buddhism and East Asian religions, Lehigh University

“Susan Landesman’s translation of the Tara-mula-kalpa is a major and accessible work of scholarship that should be of great interest to both scholars and practitioners. It sheds light on an important and early tantric Buddhist work that played a foundational role in the development of the practice traditions connected with one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most popular deities. Her translation of Buton Rinpoche’s masterful Tibetan translation is excellent, both clear and accurate, and her introduction illuminates the history of this text, its reception in Tibet, and the development of practice traditions associated with Tara. I congratulate Dr. Landesman for her excellent work on this volume.”

– David B. Gray, Bernard J. Hanley Professor and chair of Religion, Santa Clara University

More books in this series: Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences