The Red Tara or Kurukulla presents the curious instance of a being who is---from the point of view of Christianity---earthy, sensual, erotic, and therefore demonic---and yet at the same time spiritual because of her Bodhisattva vow. In the Bodhisattva vow the Arhat or Buddhist saint promises: “I will not enter Nirvana until I have brought all sentient beings unto enlightenment”. In actual practice the Bodhisattva limits her activity of salvation to humanity, for as the Red Tara humorously (but insightfully) suggests, “Why should I spoil the perfect happiness of my cat by teaching her the Dharma?” The Bodhisattva vow, in other words, is a solemn resolution to enter into embodiment again and again as a service to mankind. There is no time limit for this service.
The Red Tara is an erotic being who serves us as a Cupid might, with an arrow made up of utpala (blue lotus) flowers. She is a Venus or erotic faerie who decided to become selfless and spiritual. Many a Venus, whatever her actual name might be---Aphrodite, Freyja, Astarte, Hathor, Ishtar, Rati, or the like---is content to simply be sexual and selfish. From her place in the astral plane she can magnetically draw the devotion of men and women to herself, often using art, music, actresses, models, and prostitutes to focus her “charms”.
What if one of these goddesses of doubtful moral value wished to give instead of take? She would become a Red Tara. She would help everyone to whom the erotic nature of humanity had become a source of suffering instead of joy. Her task, however, would not be the simple fulfillment of erotic desire, as so many books seem to imply. She wants people to understand their erotic natures correctly. Then her students can either fulfill their desires with a minimum of suffering, or begin to transcend their desires without harmful guilt, shame, or repression.
In the 19th century the Bodhisattva had a double incarnation in Europe and India as Lou Salome, the first female psychoanalyst, and Bhairavi Brahmani, the tantric teacher of Sri Ramakrishna of Bengal. She is the Kali of Bengali devotion, who is sweet and motherly, unlike Kali in other parts of India. She is also the magical, elusive "Life" that enchants us in Also Sprach Zarathustra. Friedrich Nietzsche proposed marriage to Lou Salome three times and composed his famous work after three refusals. Lou Salome's famous book is entitled Die Erotik.
The Red Tara mantra, which is used to evoke her presence and help, is
“Om Kurukulla Hrih Swaha”. The Hindu mantra "Jaya Kali Maa" can also be used, but it is advisable to read some of the works of Sri Ramakrishna or the Begali poet Ramprasad before reciting a Kali mantra in order to avoid the hateful forms of Kali.