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These are the three deities of long-life: Amitayus in the middle, White Tara to his lower left, and Ushnishavijaya to his lower right. Amitayus, whose name means Limitless Life, is a sambhogakaya manifestation of the Buddha. He represents the realization that life has no beginning and no end. It was as Amitayus and his consort Chandali that Guru Padmasambhava and Lady Mandarava achieved immortality in the cave of Maratika in Nepal.

White Tara grants every wish and dispels every fear and so she is often called upon to extend a person's life. A human woman who became a bodhisattva, Tara goes from lifetime to lifetime as a saviouress from the horrors of samsara. As a goddess, she is represented in all classes of tantra and, in company with Amitayus and Ushnishavijaya, Long-Life Arya Tara inspired 19th century teachings uniting Mahamudra and dzogchen.

Ushnishavijaya, the Crown Adornment's Victory, is meditated upon as the build-up of matter, the ushnisha, which appears upon a Buddha's head. From there she supplies her practitioner with a constant stream of ambrosia (amrita) which brings victory over the death lord Mara. Her first three right hands hold a vishvavajra, Amitabha seated on a lotus, and an arrow, and the fourth makes the gesture of giving. Of her four left hands, one makes the gesture of protecting, and the other three hold a lasso, a bow, and a vase filled with the ambrosia, the elixir of immortality.

James Rutke (Palden Lotsawa)
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