Notes: The Ugra-Tara goddess and the cinas

The Vajrayana pantheon’s deities are regarded as emanations of the tathagatas …which include Akshobya. Mention of Akshobya on Ugra-Tara’s head is unusual… Siva is regarded as an epithet of Akshobya.
P. 475-476
Ugra-Tara was born in a lake named Cola west of Mt. Meru. She is visualized in the water covering the Universe in the region of Cina. Hindu images show snakes on her head, or Akshobya sitting on a snake on her head. Buddhist images have no snake depictions.
Krsnanda: Akshobya has three shapes and form of a snake, perhaps three-headed snake, on Ugra-Tara. In Hindu tradition, Akshobya also figures as a seer(rishi) in Ugra-Tara’s mantra.
It is thought that Mahanacina-Tara was part of Tibetan Bon religion and entered the Buddhist pantheon around the 7th c.

Akshobhya appears in the “Scripture of the Buddha-land of Akshobhya” (Chinese: 阿閦佛國経; pinyin: Āchùfó Guó Jīng), which dates from 147 AD and is the oldest known Pure Land text. According to the scripture, a monk wished to practice the Dharma in the eastern world of delight and made a vow to think no anger or malice towards any being until enlightenment. He duly proved “immovable” and when he succeeded, he became the buddha Akshobhya.

Akshobhya is sometimes merged with Acala (jap. 不動明王 Fudō-myōō?), whose name also means ‘immovable one’ in Sanskrit. However, Acala is not a buddha, but one of the Five Wisdom Kings of the Womb Realm in Vajrayana.

Prior to the advent of Bhaisajyaguru (Jap. Yakushi Nyorai), Akshobhya was the subject of a minor cult in Japan as a healing buddha, though even now both are found within the Shingon school of Buddhism in Japan.

Recently, newly discovered Gāndhārī texts from Pakistan in the Bajaur Collection have been found to contain fragments of an early Mahāyāna sutra mentioning Akshobhya. Preliminary dating through palaeography suggests a late 1st century to early 2nd century AD provenance. More conclusive radiocarbon dating is under way. A preliminary report on these texts has been issued by Dr Ingo Strauch, with a forthcoming paper on Akshobhya texts expected soon.

One of the most widely diffused of her tantric manuals is known as Tara of the Acacia Groveie. the Khadira Forest, and Nepal is certainly well known for its dark green rain forest called terai.  This lends support for those who think that Green Tara must represent the Nepalese woman.  However, Nepal is also the direction from which reading and writing, not to mention the dharma itself, came — attributes more of White Tara.  That opinion, that the Nepali woman is the model for White Tara, is the views of Waddell and Grundwedel.

In yet another, she is called Mother of the Buddhas and as such, resembles in many ways the Great Goddess of India.

White Tara is referred to as “Mother of all the Buddhas.”  This is because she embodies the motivation that is compassion.  Her whiteness “Radiant as the eternal snows in all their glory” is indicative of the selflessness — the purity — of this compassion but especially the undifferentiated Truth of the Dharma.
On the Different manifestations of Tara 

Divine bodhisattva: Tara occupies a unique status in that she has mythological origins as a goddess, as a bodhisattva and is also frequently viewed as a Buddha. 

Karma Ozer, an ordained monk and student of HH Karmapa says:

In all her forms she is the perfect body speech and mind, activities peace[ful] and powerful. … in all her colors she reflects the 5 Buddha families and the Kayas. Within [this] one practice we can realize all the blessings, according to our method we will experience the complete result.  … . … . … all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are the pure reflection of the Buddha nature, so we can try not to get fixated on the external [forms] but instead through the practice try to realize this aspect of our own Buddha nature through transforming the way we view ordinary reality and experiences.

 In sankhu, Nepal is
This place is also known as the Eighty Siddhas as there are four of five caves where the siddhas of India are said to have stayed. One of the caves is also said to have been the practice cave of Nagarjuna, and an image of the great master which was originally in the cave has been taken outside and placed some distance away.The present temple was built by Raja Prakas Malla in 1655. It enshrines the main sacred representations of this site, Ugra-tara manifesting as Ekazati, which are said to give very powerful blessings, particularly the image in the upper temple. The image in the lower temple is red in colour with one face and four arms, two of which hold a skull-cup (kapala) and knife at her heart, and the remaining two hold a sword and an utpala lotus. In the upper temple is an identical image of Ugra-tara in bell metal, in which her left leg is outstretched. In the upper temple is the loom of the Nepali Princess Brhikuti, spouse of the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. In both the upper and lower temples, Vajrayogini is flanked Baghini and Singhini, the Tiger and Lion-headed Yoginis. In the same upper room in the upper temple is a solid bronze standing Buddha and a standing Lokeshvara. Below this shrine room is a small room containing self-arisen (swayambhu) stupa in stone.

Wikipedia entry on Ekajati:

Ekajaṭī or Ekajaṭā, (Sanskrit; Tibetan: ral chig ma. English: One Braid of Hair), also known as Māhacīna-tārā,[1] one of the 21 Taras, is one of the most powerful and fierce goddesses of Indo-Tibetan mythology. According to Tibetan legends she is an acculturation of the Bön goddess of heaven, whose right eye was pierced by the tantric master Padmasambhava so that she could much more effectively help him subjugate Tibetan demons. Ekajati is also known as ‘Blue Tara’. She is generally considered one of the three principal protectors of the Nyingma lineage, along with Rāhula and Vajrasādhu (Dorje Legpa).

Often she appears as liberator in the mandala of Green Tara. Along with that her ascribed powers are removing the fear of enemies, spreading joy and removing personal hindrances on the path to enlightenment.

Ekajati is the protector of secret mantras and “as the mother of the mothers of all the Buddhas,” represents ultimate unity. As such her own mantra is also secret. She is the most important protector of the Vajrayana teachings, especially the inner tantras and termas. As the protector of mantra she supports the practitioner in deciphering symbolic dakini codes and properly determines appropriate times and circumstances for revealing tantric teachings. Because she completely realizes the texts and mantras under her care, she reminds the practitioner of their preciousness and secrecy.[2]

It appears that at least in some contexts she is treated as an emanation of Akshobhya.

She is of a blue skin tone, with a high, red chignon (“she who has but one chignon” is another one of her titles). She has one head, three breast, two hands and a third eye. However, she can also be depicted with more body parts; up to twelve heads and twenty four arms, with different tantric attributes (sword, kukuriphurba, blue lotus axe, vajra)

In another form her hair is arranged in the same single bun with a turquoise forehead curl. This and her other features signify her blazing allegiance to nondualism. Ekajati’s single eye gazes into unceasing space, a single fang pierces through obstacles, a single breast “nurtures supreme practitioners as [her] children.” She is naked, like awareness itself, except for a garment of white clouds and tiger skin around her waist. The tiger skin is the realized siddha‘s garb, which signifies fearless enlightenment. She is ornamented with snakes and a garland of human heads. In some representations, she stands on a single leg. Her body is dark in color, brown or deep blue. She stands on a flaming mandala of triangular shape. She is surrounded by a fearsome retinue of mamo demonesses who do her bidding in support of the secret teachings, and she emanates a retinue of one hundred ferocious iron she-wolves from her left hand. For discouraged or lazy practitioners, she is committed to being “an arrow of awareness” to reawaken and refresh them. For defiant or disrespectful practitioners, she is wrathful and threatening, committed to killing their egos and leading them to dharmakaya, or the ultimate realization itself. She holds in her right hand the eviscerated, dripping red heart of those who have betrayed their Vajrayana vows.[9]

In her most common form she holds an axe, drigug (cleaver) or khatvanga (tantric staff) and a skull cup in her hands. In her chignon is a picture of Akshobhya.

Her demeanour expresses determination. With her right foot she steps upon corpses, symbols of the ego. Her vajra laugh bares a split tongue or a forked tongue and a single tooth. She is dressed in a skull necklace and with a tiger and a human skin. She is surrounded by flames representing wisdom.

When Ekajati appears to yogins in hagiographies, she is especially wrathful. She speaks in sharp piercing shrieks, her eye boils, and she gnashes her fang. At times she appears twice human size, brandishing weapons and served by witches drenched in blood.

“The Hindus imported the Mahacina-Tara tradition from the Buddhists (in Tibet)” See


Besides China and Parama-China, there is also a reference to Mahachina in the Manasollasa which text mentions the fabrics from Mahachina.[1] It is thus possible that China probably referred to western Tibet or LadakhMahachina to Tibet proper, and Parama-Chinato Mainland China.

Popular goddess of northern India, Nepal and Tibet.

Visions of Ugra-Tara goddess  were seen at:

  • Tarapith, 290 mls north of Calcatta is Chandipur,
  • On the river banks of sunandha river, 13  mls north of Barisal, Bakarganj, West Bengal.
  • Punjab Hills.

Attributes of the Ugra-Tara goddess:

  • She is seen with a Cutter kartris which is a dagger with diamond on scepter.
  • With Akshobya on her head, she stands on pericarp of lotus with a downward pointing triangle (in a mandala representation)..there are directional guardians
  • Small snakes on her head, standing over a corpse on a funeral pyre.
  • In Tibet, surrounded by a halo of fire, with a figure crushed underfoot
  • In Nepal, Ugra-Tara is a two-armed goddess with sword and lotus.
  • The figure being crushed underfoot of Aksobya is interpreted to be Siva – indicating that Ugra-Tara has been incorporated into Hindu  pantheon
  • Tantric Acara practice of wine, meat and women


Who are the Cinas and Mahacinas? According to The Goddess Machina-Tarakrama (Ugra-Tara)  in Buddhist and Hindu Tantrism:

The name Cina is commonly believed to have been derived from the Qin (Tsin or Chin) dynasty which rule in China from 221 BC.[1] The Greco-Romans referred to China as Sina, or Sinae.

Another theory by Geoff Wade is based on a polity known as Yelang, in what is now China’s Yunnan province. The inhabitants of this region referred to themselves as zina.[2]


In the epic of the Mahabharata, the Chinas appear together with the Kiratas among the armies of king Bhagadatta of Pragjyotisa (Assam). In the Sabhaparvan, the same king is said to be surrounded the Kiratas, and the Cinas. Also in the Bhismaparvan, the army of Bhagadatta is said to consist of the Kirtas and the “yellow-colored” Cinas.

Bhishamaparva of Mahabharata also lists the Cinas with the Mlechha tribes of the north like the YavanasKambojas, Kuntalas, Hunas, Parasikas, Darunas, Ramanas, Dasamalikas.[3] These verses date to fifth century AD when the Hunas came into contact with Sassanian dynasty of Persia

Shantiparvan of Mahabharata groups the Cinas with the barbarous tribes of the Uttarapatha viz the YavanasKiratasGandharas, Shabras, BarbarasShakasTusharas, Kanakas, PahlavasAndhrasMadrakas, Ramathas, and the Kambojas and states them as living the lives of Dasyus. These verses of epic expect these tribes to perform certain duties which are different from those performed by the BrahmanasKshatriyasVaisyas, and Sudras.[4]

Vanaparvan of the Mahabharata states that the territory of the Cinas can be reached by a land-route across the country of the Kiratas in the mountain regions of the north.


Vasistha’s hermitage is said to have been located east of Gauhati, Assam

Vanaparvan of the Mahabharata states that the territory of the Cinas can be reached by a land-route across the country of the Kiratas in the mountain regions of the north.

Kiskindhakanda of Valmiki‘s Ramayana makes reference to Cinas as well as Parama-Cinas and associates them with the trans-Himalayan tribes of the Daradas, Kambojas, the Yavanas, the Sakas, the Kiratas, the Bahlikas, the Rishikas, and the Tañkanas of the Uttarapatha.[5]

The epic literature asserts that the Cinas, KhasasHunasShakasKambojasYavanasPahlavasKiratas, Sinhalas, Mlechchas etc. were created by sage Vashistha through the divine powers of cow Sabala or Nandini (Kamdhenu).[6]


In the Kalika Purana, the Cinas are again grouped with the KambojasShakasKhasas and the Barabaras etc. and are said to have sided with Buddhist king Kali in the war against Vedic king Kalika.[7]

Bhuvanakosha section of numerous Puranas locates the Cinas along with the TusharasPahlavasKambojas, and Barbaras in theUdichya or northern division of ancient India.[8]

According to Vayu Purana and the Matsya Purana, the Cinas and several other tribes would be annihilated by king Kalika or Pramiti at the end of Kali age.[9]

In the Matsya Purana, the Chinas are said to be unfit for performing shraddhah.[10]

There is yet another reference to China as Cina-maru as referred to in the Vayu Purana and Brahmanda Purana. However, at the same place, Matsya Purana mentions Vira-maru. China-maru or Vira-maru has been identified with the lands of Turkestan situated above And-khui in the north of Afghanistan (Dr K. P. Jayswal, Dr M. R. Singh).

Buddhist literature

The Cinas also find reference in the Buddhist play, Mudrarakshasa, where they are listed with other contemporary tribes, such as theShakasYavanasKiratasCambojasBhalikasParasikas, Khasas, Gandharas, Kalutas, etc.

Buddhist text Milindapanho (see: Sacred Books of the East, xxxvi, 204), associates the Chinas with the SakasYavanasKambojas and Vilatas(?) etc., and locates them in the western Tibet/Ladakh, according to Dr Michael Witzel.[11]

Source: Ekajati


Source readings and references:

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