Venerable Ngawang Tenzin, a Tibetan monk, that has set up three schools for the destitute in Bodh Gaya, became our impromptu guide of Tara Devi Temple.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, the goddess Tara, is the second of the Dasa (ten) Mahavidyas or “Great Wisdom goddesses”, and is a form of Shakti, the tantric manifestations of the goddess. The word ‘Tara’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘tṛ’, meaning to cross. In many other contemporary Indian languages, the word ‘tara’ also means star in reference to their motion in crossing the sky. According to some people, being the Goddess of stars, she watches over everyone from the skies and showers her blessings.
The origin of the goddess Tara is documented in the tantrik text Tara Rahasya. The legend begins with the churning of the ocean between the Devas and Asuras. Lord Shiva drank the poison (Halahala) that was created from the churning of the ocean (in the process turning his throat blue and earning him the epithet Nilakantha), thus saving the world from destruction, but fell unconscious under its powerful effect. Mahadevi Parvati appeared as Maa Tara and took Shiva on her lap. She suckled him, the milk from her breasts counteracting the poison, and he recovered.
According to a text named Adbhuta Ramayana, when Sita in the form of Kali slew Sahasraskandha Ravana, Brahma and other deities propitiated Her with hymns. Appeased, Devi assumed the calmer form of Tara. Holding Her sword with the right hand, Devi accepted the clothing of tiger skin from Brahma, removed her golden crown,piled Her hair into Jatamukuta and bound it with the serpent Akshobhya. Rudra laid on the ground and requested the boon of Brahmavidya from Her,to which Devi placed Her left foot on his chest and enlightened him. Hence, Rudra offered Her a blue lotus and a skull cup.
Tara Devi temple was built by Sen dynasty kings sometime around 1766 A.D. According to a story which traces back to 250 years, the king Bhupendra Sen built the temple and after he had a vision in which Goddess Tara Devi asked him to install a temple there so that people could get her blessings. He also installed a wooden Goddess statue at the site.
Later, King Balbir Sen had a vision of Goddess Tara where she asked him to install the temple on Tarav hill top. The king did the same and also erected an idol of Goddess made up of “Ashtadhatu”, a mix of eight precious elements. The idol was carried on an element named Shankar.
The statue of Tara Devi was also installed on 20 July 2018 in the presence of 90 priests. Idols of Saraswati and Kali are also installed in the temple.
When we reached the summit of the Tara Devi Temple we prayed and chanted together before the Tara Devi statue.. See video.