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Guanyin
Guanyin
or Guan Yin (/ˌɡwɑːnˈjɪn/[1]) is an East Asian bodhisattva associated with compassion and venerated by Mahayana Buddhists and followers of Chinese folk religions, also known as the "Goddess of Mercy" in English. The Chinese name Guanyin, short for Guanshiyin, means "[The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World".[2] Some Buddhists believe that when one of their adherents departs from this world, they are placed by Guanyin
Guanyin
in the heart of a lotus, and then sent to the western Pure Land
Pure Land
of Sukhāvatī.[3] Guanyin
Guanyin
is often referred to as the "most widely beloved Buddhist Divinity"[4] with miraculous powers to assist all those who pray to her, as is said in the Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
and Karandavyuha Sutra. Several large temples in East Asia
East Asia
are dedicated to Guanyin
Guanyin
including Shitennō-ji, Sensō-ji, Kiyomizu-dera
Kiyomizu-dera
and Sanjūsangen-dō
Sanjūsangen-dō
as well as Shaolin. Guanyin
Guanyin
is beloved by all Buddhist traditions in a non-denominational way and found in most Tibetan temples under the name Chenrezig, and found in some influential Theravada
Theravada
temples such as Gangaramaya and Kelaniya
Kelaniya
of Sri Lanka. Statues are a widely depicted subject of Asian art
Asian art
and found in the Asian art
Asian art
sections of most museums in the world. Generally accepted among East Asian adherents, Guanyin
Guanyin
originated as the Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Avalokiteśvara, but in Chinese folk religion, the mythical accounts about Guanyin's origins do not associate with the Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
described in Buddhist sutras. Commonly known in English as the Mercy Goddess or Goddess of Mercy, often depicted as both male and female to show this figure's limitless transcendence beyond gender[5], and revered by Taoists as an immortal.

Contents

1 Etymology

1.1 Avalokitasvara 1.2 Avalokiteśvara

2 Names in other Asian languages 3 Depiction

3.1 Lotus Sūtra 3.2 Iconography

4 Legends

4.1 Guanyin
Guanyin
and the Thousand Arms 4.2 Legend of Miaoshan 4.3 Guanyin
Guanyin
and Shancai 4.4 Guanyin
Guanyin
and Longnü 4.5 Guanyin
Guanyin
and the Filial Parrot 4.6 Guanyin
Guanyin
and Chen Jinggu 4.7 Quan Am Thi Kinh 4.8 Journey To The West

5 Association with vegetarianism 6 Role in East Asian Buddhism 7 Role in other religions 8 Similarity to the Virgin Mary 9 In popular culture 10 See also 11 References 12 External links

Etymology[edit] Avalokitasvara[edit] Guānyīn is a translation from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Avalokitasvara or Avalokiteśvara, referring to the Mahāyāna bodhisattva of the same name. Another later name for this bodhisattva is Guānzìzài (simplified Chinese: 观自在; traditional Chinese: 觀自在; pinyin: Guānzìzài). It was initially thought that the Chinese mis-transliterated the word Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
as Avalokitasvara which explained why Xuanzang
Xuanzang
translated it as Guānzìzài instead of Guānyīn. However, the original form was indeed Avalokitasvara with the ending svara ("sound, noise"), which means "sound perceiver", literally "he who looks down upon sound" (i.e., the cries of sentient beings who need his help).[6][7][8] This is the exact equivalent of the Chinese translation Guānyīn. This etymology was furthered in the Chinese by the tendency of some Chinese translators, notably Kumarajiva, to use the variant Guānshìyīn, literally "he who perceives the world's lamentations"—wherein lok was read as simultaneously meaning both "to look" and "world" (Skt. loka; Ch. 世, shì).[8] Direct translations from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
name Avalokitasvara include:

Chinese: Guanyin
Guanyin
(觀音), Guanshiyin (觀世音)[9]

Avalokiteśvara[edit] The name Avalokitasvara was later supplanted by the Avalokiteśvara form containing the ending -īśvara, which does not occur in Sanskrit before the seventh century. The original form Avalokitasvara appears in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
fragments of the fifth century.[10] The original meaning of the name "Avalokitasvara" fits the Buddhist understanding of the role of a bodhisattva. The reinterpretation presenting him as an īśvara shows a strong influence of Śaivism, as the term īśvara was usually connected to the Hindu notion of Śiva as a creator god and ruler of the world. While some of those who revered Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
upheld the Buddhist rejection of the doctrine of any creator god,[11] Encyclopædia Britannica does cite Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
as the creator god of the world. This position is taken in the widely used Karandavyuha Sutra with its well-known mantra Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ.[4] In addition, the Lotus Sutra
Sutra
is the first time the Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
is mentioned. Chapter 25 refers to him as Lokeśvara (Lord God of all beings) and Lokenath (Lord and Protector of all beings) and ascribes extreme attributes of divinity to him.[citation needed] Direct translations from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
name Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
include:

Chinese: 觀自在; pinyin: Guānzìzài Tibetan: སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས།, THL Chenrézik

Names in other Asian languages[edit]

Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Guanyin; 11th/12th century A.D.; Polychromed Wood – Wood with multiple layers of paint, H : 241.3 x L : 165.1 cm.; Chinese; Shanxi Province; Liao Dynasty
Liao Dynasty
(A.D. 907–1125) Nelson-Atkins Museum Collection; Kansas City, Missouri

Due to the devotional popularity of Guanyin
Guanyin
in Asia, she is known by many names, most of which are simply the localised pronunciations of "Guanyin" or "Guanshiyin":

The name is pronounced Gwun Yam or Gun Yam in Cantonese
Cantonese
Chinese, also written as Kwun Yam in Hong Kong or Kun Iam in Macau. In Hokkien, she is called Kuan Im (POJ: Koan-im) or Kuan Se Im (POJ: Koan-sè-im) In Japanese, Guanyin
Guanyin
is pronounced Kannon
Kannon
(観音), occasionally Kan'on, or more formally Kanzeon (観世音, the same characters as Guanshiyin); the spelling Kwannon, based on a premodern pronunciation, is sometimes seen. This rendition was used for an earlier spelling of the well-known camera manufacturer Canon Inc., which was named for Guanyin.[12] When iconography of Kannon
Kannon
depicts her with the Nyoihōju (如意宝珠) wishing gem she is known as Nyoirin Kannon
Kannon
(如意輪 観音), which is the Japanese adaptation of the Hindu deity Cintamanicakra. In Korean, Guanyin
Guanyin
is called Gwan-eum (Hangul: 관음) or Gwanse-eum (Hangul: 관세음). In Thai's pronunciation duplicate from Hokkien
Hokkien
Kuan Im (กวนอิม), Phra Mae Kuan Im (พระแม่กวนอิม) or Chao Mae Kuan Im (Thai: เจ้าแม่กวนอิม). In Burmese, the name of Guanyin
Guanyin
is Kwan Yin Medaw, literally meaning Mother Kwan Yin (Goddess Guanyin) (ကွမ်ယင်မယ်တော်). In Vietnamese, the name is Quan Âm or Quán Thế Âm. In Indonesian, the name is Kwan Im or Dewi Kwan Im. She is also called Mak Kwan Im "Mother Guanyin". In Malaysian Mandarin, the name is GuanYin Pusa (GuanYin Bodhisattva), Guan Shi Yin Pusa (GuanYin Bodhisattva). In Khmer, the name is Preah Mae Kun Ci Iem. In Sinhalese, the name is Natha Deviyo (නාථ දෙවියෝ). In Tibetan, the name is Chenrézik (སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས). In Hmong, the name is Kab Yeeb.

In these same countries, the variant Guanzizai "Lord of Contemplation" and its equivalents are also used, such as in the Heart Sutra, among other sources. Depiction[edit]

Early Indian statue of Avalokitasvara Bodhisattva; Gandhāra, 3rd century

Guanyin, sitting in the lotus position, the damaged hands probably performing dharmacakramudra, a gesture that signifies the moment when Buddha
Buddha
put the wheel of learning in motion; painted and gilded wood, China, Song/Jin period, late 13th century

Lotus Sūtra[edit] The Lotus Sūtra ( Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra) is generally accepted to be the earliest literature teaching about the doctrines of Avalokiteśvara.[13] These are found in the twenty fifth chapter of the Lotus Sūtra. This chapter is devoted to Avalokitesvara, describing him as a compassionate bodhisattva who hears the cries of sentient beings, and who works tirelessly to help those who call upon his name.[14] This Chapter also places Avalokiteshwara as Higher than any other being in the Buddhist Cosmology[citation needed] stating that "if one were to pray with true devotion to Avalokiteshwara for one second, they would generate more blessings than if one worshiped with all types of offerings as many Gods as there are in the grains of sand of 62 Ganges Rivers for an entire lifetime". As a result, Avalokiteshwara is often considered the most beloved Buddhist Divinity and is venerated in many important temples including Shitennoji, the first official temple of Japan, Sensoji, the oldest temple of Tokyo, Kiyomizu-dera
Kiyomizu-dera
and Sanjusangendo which are the two most visited temples in Kyoto. The Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
describes Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
as a bodhisattva who can take the form of any type of God including Indra
Indra
or Brahma; any type of Buddha, any type of King or Chakravartin or even any kind of Heavenly Guardian including Vajrapani
Vajrapani
and Vaisravana
Vaisravana
as well as any gender male or female, adult or child, human or non-human being, in order to teach the Dharma
Dharma
to sentient beings.[15] Folk traditions in China
China
and other East Asian countries have added many distinctive characteristics and legends to Guanyin
Guanyin
c.q. Avalokiteśvara. Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
was originally depicted as a male bodhisattva, and therefore wears chest-revealing clothing and may even sport a light moustache. Although this depiction still exists in the Far East, Guanyin
Guanyin
is more often depicted as a woman in modern times. Additionally, some people believe that Guanyin
Guanyin
is androgynous or perhaps without gender.[16] A total of 33 different manifestations of Avalokitasvara are described, including female manifestations, all to suit the minds of various beings. Chapter 25 consists of both a prose and a verse section. This earliest source often circulates separately as its own sūtra, called the Avalokitasvara Sūtra (Ch. 觀世音經), and is commonly recited or chanted at Buddhist temples in East Asia.[14] The Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
and its thirty-three manifestations of Guanyin, of which seven are female manifestations, is known to have been very popular in Chinese Buddhism
Buddhism
as early as in the Sui and Tang dynasties.[17] Additionally, Tan Chung notes that according to the doctrines of the Mahāyāna sūtras
Mahāyāna sūtras
themselves, it does not matter whether Guanyin
Guanyin
is male, female, or genderless, as the ultimate reality is in emptiness (Skt. śūnyatā).[17] Iconography[edit]

Guanyin
Guanyin
as a male bodhisattva. Eleven faced Ekādaśamukha form. Japan, 12th century

Representations of the bodhisattva in China
China
prior to the Song dynasty (960–1279) were masculine in appearance. Images which later displayed attributes of both genders are believed to be in accordance with the Lotus Sutra, where Avalokitesvara has the supernatural power of assuming any form required to relieve suffering, and also has the power to grant children. Because this bodhisattva is considered the personification of compassion and kindness, a mother goddess and patron of mothers and seamen, the representation in China
China
was further interpreted in an all-female form around the 12th century. In the modern period, Guanyin
Guanyin
is most often represented as a beautiful, white-robed woman, a depiction which derives from the earlier Pandaravasini form. In some Buddhist temples and monasteries, Guanyin's image is occasionally that of a young man dressed in Northern Song Buddhist robes and seated gracefully. He is usually depicted looking or glancing down, symbolising that Guanyin
Guanyin
continues to watch over the world. In China, Guanyin
Guanyin
is generally portrayed as a young woman donned in a flowing white robe and usually wearing necklaces symbolic of Indian or Chinese royalty. In her left hand is a jar containing pure water, and the right holds a willow branch. The crown usually depicts the image of Amitābha. There are also regional variations of Guanyin
Guanyin
depictions. In Fujian, for example, a popular depiction of Guanyin
Guanyin
is as a maiden dressed in Tang hanfu carrying a fish basket. A popular image of Guanyin
Guanyin
as both Guanyin
Guanyin
of the South Sea and Guanyin
Guanyin
with a Fish Basket can be seen in late 16th-century Chinese encyclopedias and in prints that accompany the novel Golden Lotus. In Chinese art, Guanyin
Guanyin
is often depicted either alone, standing atop a dragon, accompanied by a white cockatoo and flanked by two children or two warriors. The two children are her acolytes who came to her when she was meditating at Mount Putuo. The girl is called Longnü
Longnü
and the boy Shancai. The two warriors are the historical general Guan Yu from the late Han dynasty
Han dynasty
and the bodhisattva Skanda, who appears in the Chinese classical novel Fengshen Yanyi. The Buddhist tradition also displays Guanyin, or other buddhas and bodhisattvas, flanked with the above-mentioned warriors, but as bodhisattvas who protect the temple and the faith itself. Legends[edit]

This wooden statue of Quan Âm Nghìn Mắt Nghìn Tay (Quan Am with 1000 eyes and 1000 hands) was fashioned in 1656 in Bắc Ninh Province, northern Vietnam. It is now located in the History Museum in Hanoi.

Guanyin
Guanyin
and the Thousand Arms[edit] In the Karandavyuha Sutra, Avalokiteshwara is called "The One With A Thousand Arms and Thousand eyes" and is described as superior to all Gods and Buddhas of the Indian pantheon. The Sutra
Sutra
also states that "it is easier to count all the leaves of every tree of every forest and all the grains of sand in the universe than to count the blessings and power of Avalokiteshwara". This version of Avalokiteshwara with a thousand arms depicting the power of all Gods also shows various Buddhas in the crown depicting the wisdom of all Buddhas. It is called Senju Kannon
Senju Kannon
in Japan and 1000 statues of this nature can be found at the popular Sanjusangendo
Sanjusangendo
temple of Kyoto. One Buddhist legend from the Complete Tale of Guanyin
Guanyin
and the Southern Seas (Chinese: 南海觀音全撰; pinyin: Nánhǎi Guānyīn Quánzhuàn) presents Guanyin
Guanyin
as vowing to never rest until she had freed all sentient beings from saṃsāra or cycle of rebirth.[18] Despite strenuous effort, she realised that there were still many unhappy beings yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, her head split into eleven pieces. The buddha Amitābha, upon seeing her plight, gave her eleven heads to help her hear the cries of those who are suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
attempted to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that her two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitābha
Amitābha
came to her aid and appointed her a thousand arms to let her reach out to those in need. Many Himalayan versions of the tale include eight arms with which Avalokitesvara skillfully upholds the dharma, each possessing its own particular implement, while more Chinese-specific versions give varying accounts of this number. In China, it is said that fishermen used to pray to her to ensure safe voyages. The titles Guanyin
Guanyin
of the Southern Ocean (南海觀音) and " Guanyin
Guanyin
(of/on) the Island" stem from this tradition. Legend of Miaoshan[edit]

Kannon
Kannon
statue in Daien'i, Mount Kōya, Japan.

Chinese porcelain statue depicting Guanyin, Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
(1271–1368 AD)

Guanyin
Guanyin
statue at Seema Malaka
Seema Malaka
in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Another story from the Precious Scroll of Fragrant Mountain (香山寶卷) describes an incarnation of Guanyin
Guanyin
as the daughter of a cruel king who wanted her to marry a wealthy but uncaring man. The story is usually ascribed to the research of the Buddhist monk Jiang Zhiqi during the 11th century. The story is likely to have its origin in Taoism. When Chiang penned the work, he believed that the Guanyin we know today was actually a princess called Miaoshan (妙善), who had a religious following on Fragrant Mountain.[19] Despite this there are many variants of the story in Chinese mythology.[20] According to the story, after the king asked his daughter Miaoshan to marry the wealthy man, she told him that she would obey his command, so long as the marriage eased three misfortunes. The king asked his daughter what were the three misfortunes that the marriage should ease. Miaoshan explained that the first misfortune the marriage should ease was the suffering people endure as they age. The second misfortune it should ease was the suffering people endure when they fall ill. The third misfortune it should ease was the suffering caused by death. If the marriage could not ease any of the above, then she would rather retire to a life of religion forever. When her father asked who could ease all the above, Miaoshan pointed out that a doctor was able to do all of these. Her father grew angry as he wanted her to marry a person of power and wealth, not a healer. He forced her into hard labour and reduced her food and drink but this did not cause her to yield. Every day she begged to be able to enter a temple and become a nun instead of marrying. Her father eventually allowed her to work in the temple, but asked the monks to give her the toughest chores in order to discourage her. The monks forced Miaoshan to work all day and all night while others slept in order to finish her work. However, she was such a good person that the animals living around the temple began to help her with her chores. Her father, seeing this, became so frustrated that he attempted to burn down the temple. Miaoshan put out the fire with her bare hands and suffered no burns. Now struck with fear, her father ordered her to be put to death. In one version of this legend, when Guanyin
Guanyin
was executed, a supernatural tiger took her to one of the more hell-like realms of the dead. However, instead of being punished like the other spirits of the dead, Guanyin
Guanyin
played music, and flowers blossomed around her. This completely surprised the hell guardian. The story says that Guanyin, by merely being in that Naraka (hell), turned it into a paradise. A variant of the legend says that Miaoshan allowed herself to die at the hand of the executioner. According to this legend, as the executioner tried to carry out her father's orders, his axe shattered into a thousand pieces. He then tried a sword which likewise shattered. He tried to shoot Miaoshan down with arrows but they all veered off. Finally in desperation he used his hands. Miaoshan, realising the fate that the executioner would meet at her father's hand should she fail to let herself die, forgave the executioner for attempting to kill her. It is said that she voluntarily took on the massive karmic guilt the executioner generated for killing her, thus leaving him guiltless. It is because of this that she descended into the Hell-like realms. While there, she witnessed first-hand the suffering and horrors that the beings there must endure, and was overwhelmed with grief. Filled with compassion, she released all the good karma she had accumulated through her many lifetimes, thus freeing many suffering souls back into Heaven and Earth. In the process, that Hell-like realm became a paradise. It is said that Yama, the ruler of hell, sent her back to Earth to prevent the utter destruction of his realm, and that upon her return she appeared on Fragrant Mountain. Another tale says that Miaoshan never died, but was in fact transported by a supernatural tiger,[21] believed to be the Deity
Deity
of the Place,[clarification needed] to Fragrant Mountain. The legend of Miaoshan usually ends with Miaozhuangyan, Miaoshan's father, falling ill with jaundice. No physician was able to cure him. Then a monk appeared saying that the jaundice could be cured by making a medicine out of the arm and eye of one without anger. The monk further suggested that such a person could be found on Fragrant Mountain. When asked, Miaoshan willingly offered up her eyes and arms. Miaozhuangyan was cured of his illness and went to the Fragrant Mountain to give thanks to the person. When he discovered that his own daughter had made the sacrifice, he begged for forgiveness. The story concludes with Miaoshan being transformed into the Thousand Armed Guanyin, and the king, queen and her two sisters building a temple on the mountain for her. She began her journey to a pure land and was about to cross over into heaven when she heard a cry of suffering from the world below. She turned around and saw the massive suffering endured by the people of the world. Filled with compassion, she returned to Earth, vowing never to leave till such time as all suffering has ended. After her return to Earth, Guanyin
Guanyin
was said to have stayed for a few years on the island of Mount Putuo
Mount Putuo
where she practised meditation and helped the sailors and fishermen who got stranded. Guanyin
Guanyin
is frequently worshipped as patron of sailors and fishermen due to this. She is said to frequently becalm the sea when boats are threatened with rocks.[22] After some decades Guanyin
Guanyin
returned to Fragrant Mountain to continue her meditation. Guanyin
Guanyin
and Shancai[edit] Main article: Sudhana

An Altar of Guanyin
Guanyin
Worship.

Legend has it that Shancai (also called Sudhana
Sudhana
in Sanskrit) was a disabled boy from India who was very interested in studying the dharma. When he heard that there was a Buddhist teacher on the rocky island of Putuo he quickly journeyed there to learn. Upon arriving at the island, he managed to find Guanyin
Guanyin
despite his severe disability. Guanyin, after having a discussion with Shancai, decided to test the boy's resolve to fully study the Buddhist teachings. She conjured the illusion of three sword-wielding pirates running up the hill to attack her. Guanyin
Guanyin
took off and dashed to the edge of a cliff, the three illusions still chasing her. Shancai, seeing that his teacher was in danger, hobbled uphill. Guanyin
Guanyin
then jumped over the edge of the cliff, and soon after this the three bandits followed. Shancai, still wanting to save his teacher, managed to crawl his way over the cliff edge. Shancai fell down the cliff but was halted in midair by Guanyin, who now asked him to walk. Shancai found that he could walk normally and that he was no longer crippled. When he looked into a pool of water he also discovered that he now had a very handsome face. From that day forth, Guanyin
Guanyin
taught Shancai the entire dharma. Guanyin
Guanyin
and Longnü[edit] Main article: Longnü

20-meter-high Guanyin
Guanyin
statue at Sanggar Agung, Surabaya, Indonesia

Many years after Shancai became a disciple of Guanyin, a distressing event happened in the South China
China
Sea. The third son of one of the Dragon Kings was caught by a fisherman while swimming in the form of a fish. Being stuck on land, he was unable to transform back into his dragon form. His father, despite being a mighty Dragon King, was unable to do anything while his son was on land. Distressed, the son called out to all of Heaven and Earth. Hearing this cry, Guanyin
Guanyin
quickly sent Shancai to recover the fish and gave him all the money she had. The fish at this point was about to be sold in the market. It was causing quite a stir as it was alive hours after being caught. This drew a much larger crowd than usual at the market. Many people decided that this prodigious situation meant that eating the fish would grant them immortality, and so all present wanted to buy the fish. Soon a bidding war started, and Shancai was easily outbid.

14th Century Mu Qi Recreation, Chinese, Ming dynasty

Shancai begged the fish seller to spare the life of the fish. The crowd, now angry at someone so daring, was about to pry him away from the fish when Guanyin
Guanyin
projected her voice from far away, saying "A life should definitely belong to one who tries to save it, not one who tries to take it." The crowd, realising their shameful actions and desire, dispersed. Shancai brought the fish back to Guanyin, who promptly returned it to the sea. There the fish transformed back to a dragon and returned home. Paintings of Guanyin
Guanyin
today sometimes portray her holding a fish basket, which represents the aforementioned tale. But the story does not end there. As a reward for Guanyin
Guanyin
saving his son, the Dragon King
Dragon King
sent his granddaughter, a girl called Longnü ("dragon girl"), to present Guanyin
Guanyin
with the Pearl of Light. The Pearl of Light was a precious jewel owned by the Dragon King
Dragon King
that constantly shone. Longnü, overwhelmed by the presence of Guanyin, asked to be her disciple so that she might study the dharma. Guanyin
Guanyin
accepted her offer with just one request: that Longnü
Longnü
be the new owner of the Pearl of Light. In popular iconography, Longnü
Longnü
and Shancai are often seen alongside Guanyin
Guanyin
as two children. Longnü
Longnü
is seen either holding a bowl or an ingot, which represents the Pearl of Light, whereas Shancai is seen with palms joined and knees slightly bent to show that he was once crippled. Guanyin
Guanyin
and the Filial Parrot[edit] The Precious Scroll of the Parrot (Chinese: 鸚鴿寶撰; pinyin: Yīnggē Bǎozhuàn) tells the story of a parrot who becomes a disciple of Guanyin. During the Tang Dynasty a small parrot ventures out to search for its mother's favourite food upon which it is captured by a poacher (parrots were quite popular during the Tang Dynasty). When it managed to escape it found out that its mother had already died. The parrot grieved for its mother and provides her with a proper funeral. It then sets out to become a disciple of Guanyin. In popular iconography, the parrot is coloured white and usually seen hovering to the right side of Guanyin
Guanyin
with either a pearl or a prayer bead clasped in its beak. The parrot becomes a symbol of filial piety.[23] Guanyin
Guanyin
and Chen Jinggu[edit]

Dry-lacquer sculpture of the "Water-moon Guanyin" theme.[24] The Walters Art Museum.

When the people of Quanzhou, Fujian
Fujian
could not raise enough money to build a bridge, Guanyin
Guanyin
changed into a beautiful maiden. Getting on a boat, she offered to marry any man who could hit her with a piece of silver from the edge of the water. Due to many people missing, she collected a large sum of money in her boat. However, Lü Dongbin, one of the Eight Immortals, helped a merchant hit Guanyin
Guanyin
in the hair with silver powder, which floated away in the water. Guanyin
Guanyin
bit her finger and a drop of blood fell into the water, but she vanished. This blood was swallowed by a washer woman, who gave birth to Chen Jinggu (陳靖姑) or Lady Linshui (臨水夫人); the hair was turned into a female white snake and sexually used men and killed rival women. The snake and Chen were to be mortal enemies. The merchant was sent to be reborn as Liu Qi (劉杞). Chen was a beautiful and talented girl, but did not wish to marry Liu Qi. Instead, she fled to Mount Lu
Mount Lu
in Jiangxi, where she learned many Taoist
Taoist
skills. Destiny eventually caused her to marry Liu and she became pregnant. A drought in Fujian
Fujian
caused many people to ask her to call for rain, which was a ritual that could not be performed while pregnant. She temporarily aborted her child, which was killed by the white snake. Chen managed to kill the snake with a sword, but died either of a miscarriage or hemorrhage; she was able to complete the ritual, and ended drought. This story is popular in Zhejiang, Taiwan, and especially Fujian.[25] Quan Am Thi Kinh[edit] Quan Am Thi Kinh (觀音氏敬) is a Vietnamese verse recounting the life of a woman, Thi Kinh. She was accused falsely of having intended to kill her husband, and when she disguised herself as a man to lead a religious life in a Buddhist temple, she was again falsely blamed for having committed sexual intercourse with a girl named Thi Mau. She was accused of impregnating her, which was strictly forbidden by Buddhist law. However, thanks to her endurance of all indignities and her spirit of self-sacrifice, she could enter into Nirvana
Nirvana
and became Goddess of Mercy (Phat Ba Quan Am)[26] P. Q. Phan's 2014 opera The Tale of Lady Thị Kính (de) is based on this story.[27] Journey To The West[edit] Next to Sun Wu Kong, the monkey king himself, there is no supernatural entity more important to the famous myths from China
China
about a strange mystical monkey, a couple of exiled gods, a dragon, and a priest trying to bring sacred scrolls back to China
China
than her. She delivered the ring that let the priest control the monkey king. She informed all those involved of their great place in the quest which allowed most of them to reach enlightenment. When a demon was too powerful or tricky even for the monkey king she came to their rescue. And when the monkey king was feeling like abandoning the quest she managed to talk him into returning. Association with vegetarianism[edit] Due to her symbolization of compassion, in East Asia, Guanyin
Guanyin
is associated with vegetarianism. Buddhist cuisine
Buddhist cuisine
is generally decorated with her image and she appears in most Buddhist vegetarian pamphlets and magazines. Role in East Asian Buddhism[edit]

Guanyin
Guanyin
Shan ( Guanyin
Guanyin
Mountain) temple in Dongguan, China.

In East Asian Buddhism, Guanyin
Guanyin
is the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. Among the Chinese, Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
is almost exclusively called Guanshiyin Pusa (觀世音菩薩). The Chinese translation of many Buddhist sutras has in fact replaced the Chinese transliteration of Avalokitesvara with Guanshiyin (觀世音). Some Taoist
Taoist
scriptures give her the title of Guanyin
Guanyin
Dashi, sometimes informally Guanyin Fozu.

Guanyin
Guanyin
and child, modern Chinese painting theme, similar to the Madonna and Child
Madonna and Child
theme.

In Chinese culture, the popular belief and worship of Guanyin
Guanyin
as a goddess by the populace is generally not viewed to be in conflict with the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara's nature. In fact the widespread worship of Guanyin
Guanyin
as a "Goddess of Mercy and Compassion" is seen by Buddhists as the boundless salvific nature of bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
at work (in Buddhism, this is referred to as Guanyin's "skillful means", or upaya). The Buddhist canon states that bodhisattvas can assume whatsoever gender and form is needed to liberate beings from ignorance and dukkha. With specific reference to Avalokitesvara, he is stated both in the Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
(Chapter 25 "Perceiver of the World's Sounds" or "Universal Gateway"), and the Śūraṅgama Sūtra
Śūraṅgama Sūtra
to have appeared before as a woman or a goddess to save beings from suffering and ignorance. Some Buddhist schools refer to Guanyin
Guanyin
both as male and female interchangeably. In Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism, gender is no obstacle to attaining enlightenment (or nirvana). The Buddhist concept of non-duality applies here. The Vimalakirti Sutra's "Goddess" chapter clearly illustrates an enlightened being who is also a female and deity. In the Lotus Sutra, a maiden became enlightened in a very short time span. The view that Avalokiteśvara
Avalokiteśvara
is also the goddess Guanyin
Guanyin
does not seem contradictory to Buddhist beliefs. Guanyin
Guanyin
has been a buddha called the " Tathāgata
Tathāgata
of Brightness of Correct Dharma" (正法明如來).[28] Given that bodhisattvas are known to incarnate at will as living people according to the sutras, the princess Miaoshan is generally viewed by Buddhists as an incarnation of Guanyin.

A Chinese Ming dynasty
Ming dynasty
porcelain figure of Guanyin.

Guanyin
Guanyin
is immensely popular among Chinese Buddhists, especially those from devotional schools. She is generally seen as a source of unconditional love and, more importantly, as a saviour. In her bodhisattva vow, Guanyin
Guanyin
promises to answer the cries and pleas of all sentient beings and to liberate them from their own karmic woes. Based on the Lotus Sutra
Lotus Sutra
and the Shurangama sutra, Avalokitesvara is generally seen as a saviour, both spiritually and physically. The sutras state that through his saving grace even those who have no chance of being enlightened can be enlightened, and those deep in negative karma can still find salvation through his compassion. In Pure Land
Pure Land
Buddhism, Guanyin
Guanyin
is described as the "Barque of Salvation". Along with Amitābha
Amitābha
and the bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta, she temporarily liberates beings out of the Wheel of Samsara into the Pure Land, where they will have the chance to accrue the necessary merit so as to be a Buddha
Buddha
in one lifetime. In Chinese Buddhist iconography, Guanyin
Guanyin
is often depicted as meditating or sitting alongside one of the Buddhas and usually accompanied by another bodhisattva. The buddha and bodhisattva that are portrayed together with Guanyin
Guanyin
usually follow whichever school of Buddhism
Buddhism
they represent. In Pure Land
Pure Land
Buddhism, for example, Guanyin
Guanyin
is frequently depicted on the left of Amitābha, while on the buddha's right is Mahasthamaprapta. Temples that revere the bodhisattva Ksitigarbha usually depict him meditating beside Amitābha
Amitābha
and Guanyin. Even among Chinese Buddhist schools that are non-devotional, Guanyin is still highly venerated. Instead of being seen as an active external force of unconditional love and salvation, the personage of Guanyin
Guanyin
is highly revered as the principle of compassion, mercy and love. The act, thought and feeling of compassion and love is viewed as Guanyin. A merciful, compassionate, loving individual is said to be Guanyin. A meditative or contemplative state of being at peace with oneself and others is seen as Guanyin. In the Mahayana
Mahayana
canon, the Heart Sutra
Heart Sutra
is ascribed entirely to Guanyin. This is unique, since most Mahayana
Mahayana
Sutras are usually ascribed to Gautama Buddha
Buddha
and the teachings, deeds or vows of the bodhisattvas are described by Shakyamuni Buddha. In the Heart Sutra, Guanyin
Guanyin
describes to the arhat Sariputta
Sariputta
the nature of reality and the essence of the Buddhist teachings. The famous Buddhist saying "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form" (色即是空,空即是色) comes from this sutra. Role in other religions[edit]

A Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
temple devoted primarily to the goddess Guanyin, in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Shrine of Kwan Yin inside in the Nam Soon Church at Damzen Lane in Kolkata. The statue, however appears to actually be Guan Yu, flanked by Guan Ping
Guan Ping
and Zhou Cang.

Guanyin
Guanyin
is an extremely popular goddess in Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
and is worshiped in many Chinese communities throughout East and South East Asia.[29][30][31][32] In Taoism, records claim Guanyin
Guanyin
was a Chinese woman who became an immortal, Cihang Zhenren in Shang Dynasty or Xingyin (姓音).[33] Guanyin
Guanyin
is revered in the general Chinese population due to her unconditional love and compassion. She is generally regarded by many as the protector of women and children. By this association, she is also seen as a fertility goddess capable of granting children to couples. An old Chinese superstition involves a woman who, wishing to have a child, offers a shoe to Guanyin. In Chinese culture, a borrowed shoe sometimes is used when a child is expected. After the child is born, the shoe is returned to its owner along with a new pair as a thank you gift.[2] Guanyin
Guanyin
is also seen as the champion of the unfortunate, the sick, the disabled, the poor, and those in trouble. Some coastal and river areas of China
China
regard her as the protector of fishermen, sailors, and generally people who are out at sea, thus many have also come to believe that Mazu, the goddess of the sea, is a manifestation of Guanyin. Due to her association with the legend of the Great Flood, where she sent down a dog holding rice grains in its tail after the flood, she is worshiped as an agrarian and agriculture goddess. In some quarters, especially among business people and traders, she is looked upon as a goddess of fortune. In recent years there have been claims of her being the protector of air travelers. Guanyin
Guanyin
is also a ubiquitous figure found within the new religious movements of Asia:

Within the Taiwan-based Yiguandao
Yiguandao
sect, Guanyin
Guanyin
is called the "Ancient Buddha
Buddha
of the South Sea" (南海古佛) and frequently appears in their fuji. Guanyin
Guanyin
is sometimes confused with Yue Hui Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
due to their similar appearance.[34] Guanyin
Guanyin
is called the "Ancient Buddha
Buddha
of the Holy Religion" (聖宗古佛) in Zailiism
Zailiism
and in the teachings of the Lord of Universe Church.[35] In Zailiism
Zailiism
she is the main deity worshipped. Ching Hai
Ching Hai
initiates her followers a meditation method called the "Quan Yin Method" to achieve enlightenment; followers also revere Ching Hai as an incarnation of Guanyin. Guanyin, known as "Quan Am Tathagata" (Quan Âm Như Lai) in the Cao Dai religion, is considered a Buddha
Buddha
and a teacher. She represents Buddhist doctrines and traditions as one of the three major lines of Cao Dai
Cao Dai
doctrines (Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism). She also symbolizes utmost patience, harmony, and compassion. According to her Divine messages via seances, her main role is to teach the Tao to female disciples, and guide them towards divinity. Another of her well-known role is to save people from extreme sufferings, e.g. fire, drowning, wrong accusation/ imprisonment, etc. There is even a prayer named "Salvation from sufferings" for followers to cite in dire conditions.

Similarity to the Virgin Mary[edit]

The Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
disguised as Kannon, kakure kirishitan (Japanese hidden Christians), 17th century. Salle des Martyrs, Paris Foreign Missions Society.

Some Buddhist and Christian observers have commented on the similarity between Guanyin
Guanyin
and the Blessed Virgin Mary. This can be attributed to the representation of Guanyin
Guanyin
holding a child in Chinese art and sculpture; it is believed that Guanyin
Guanyin
is the patron saint of mothers and grants parents filial children, this apparition is popularly known as the "Child-Sending Guanyin" (送子觀音). One example of this comparison can be found in the Tzu Chi
Tzu Chi
Foundation, a Taiwanese Buddhist humanitarian organisation, which noticed the similarity between this form of Guanyin
Guanyin
and the Virgin Mary. The organisation commissioned a portrait of Guanyin
Guanyin
holding a baby, closely resembling the typical Roman Catholic Madonna and Child
Madonna and Child
painting. Copies of this portrait are now displayed prominently in Tzu Chi
Tzu Chi
affiliated medical centres, especially since Tzu Chi's founder is a Buddhist master and her supporters come from various religious backgrounds. During the Edo Period
Edo Period
in Japan, when Christianity was banned and punishable by death, some underground Christian groups venerated Jesus and the Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
by disguising them as statues of Kannon
Kannon
holding a child; such statues are known as Maria Kannon. Many had a cross hidden in an inconspicuous location. It is suggested the similarity comes from the conquest and colonization of the Philippines
Philippines
by Spain during the 16th century, when Asian cultures influenced engravings of the Virgin Mary, as evidenced, for example, in an ivory carving of the Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
by a Chinese carver.[36] The statue of Guanyin
Guanyin
(Gwanse-eum) in Gilsangsa Temple in Seoul, South Korea was sculpted by Catholic sculptor Choi Jong-tae, who modeled the statue after the Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
in hopes of fostering religious reconciliation in Korean society.[37][38] In popular culture[edit] In the 1946 film Three Strangers
Three Strangers
the titular characters wish for a shared sweepstakes ticket to win before a statue of Guanyin, referred to in the film as Kwan Yin. For a 2005 Fo Guang Shan
Fo Guang Shan
TV series, Andy Lau
Andy Lau
performed the song Kwun Sai Yam, which emphasizes the idea that everyone can be like Guanyin.[39][40][41][42] Fantasy author Richard Parks has frequently utilized Guanyin
Guanyin
as a character in his fiction, most notably in the short story "The White Bone Fan" (2009), the novella The Heavenly Fox (2011), and the novel All the Gates of Hell (2013). See also[edit]

Buddhism
Buddhism
portal Arts portal

Mount Putuo, an island famous for pilgrimage to pay respect to Guanyin Boddhisattva

Avalokiteśvara Guan Yin of the South Sea of Sanya, the fourteenth tallest statue in the world Quan Âm Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City Tara (Buddhism), the female aspect of Avalokitesvara in Tibetan Buddhism Tieguanyin, a variety of oolong named after Guanyin Zhang Jigang Wat
Wat
Plai Laem, a Guanyin
Guanyin
temple on Ko Samui, Thailand Xi Wangmu Avalokitesvara (film), a 2013 Chinese film about Guanyin
Guanyin
and Mount Putuo

References[edit] Explanatory notes

Citations

^ "Guanyin". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 4 December 2017.  ^ a b Doré S.J., Henry; Kennelly, S.J. (Translator), M. (1914). Researches into Chinese Superstitions. Tusewei Press, Shanghai.  Vol I p. 2 ^ Johnson, Reginald (2008) [1913]. Buddhist China. Soul Care Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9680459-3-0.  ^ a b "Avalokiteshvara – bodhisattva".  ^ Fathom.lse.ac.uk Archived 26 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Lokesh Chandra
Lokesh Chandra
(1984). "The Origin of Avalokitesvara" (PDF). Indologica Taurinenaia. International Association of Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Studies. XIII (1985–1986): 189–190. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.  ^ Mironov, N. D. (1927). "Buddhist Miscellanea". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. 2: 241–252. JSTOR 25221116.  ^ a b Pine, Red. The Heart Sutra: The Womb of the Buddhas (2004) Shoemaker 7 Hoard. ISBN 1-59376-009-4 pg 44–45 ^ 国学资讯 – 是“观世音”还是“观音”?——兼谈中国古典学的重要性 ^ Studholme 2002, p. 52–57. ^ Studholme 2002, p. 30-31, 37–52. ^ "Kwanon name". Canon.com. Archived from the original on 26 February 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2014.  ^ Huntington, John (2003). The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art: p. 188 ^ a b Baroni, Helen (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Zen Buddhism: p. 15 ^ Kubo Tsugunari, Yuyama Akira (tr.). The Lotus Sutra. Revised 2nd ed. Berkeley, Calif.: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 2007. ISBN 978-1-886439-39-9, pp. 311–312 ^ Fu, James S. (1977). Mythic and Comic Aspects of the Quest: Hsi-yu Chi as Seen Through Don Quixote and Huckleberry Finn. Singapore University Press. ISBN 9780821404713.  P. 26 ^ a b Tan Chung. Across the Himalayan Gap: An Indian Quest for Understanding China. 1998. p. 222 ^ "【明代小说】《南海观音菩萨出身修行传》全集--资料库".  ^ "Chinese Cultural Studies:The Legend of Miao-shan". Retrieved 11 November 2014.  ^ 香山寶卷(1)_蒋建达_新浪博客 ^ "Legend of Miao Shan". Retrieved 11 November 2014.  ^ Williams, Charles Alfred Speed (2006). Chinese Symbolism and Art Motifs. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 234–235. ISBN 0-8048-3704-X.  ^ Wilt L. Idema (2008). Personal salvation and filial piety: two precious scroll narratives of Guanyin
Guanyin
and her acolytes. University of Hawaii Press. p. 33. ISBN 9780824832155.  ^ "Seated Guanyin
Guanyin
(Kuan-yin) Bodhisattva". The Walters Art Museum.  ^ Pregadio 2008, p. 682 ^ "Truyện Việt". 26 March 2014. Archived from the original on 26 March 2014.  ^ The Tale of Lady Thị Kính, program booklet, February 2014 ^ 《千手千眼觀世音菩薩廣大圓滿無礙大悲心陀羅尼經》 卷1 Archived 31 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine. ^ 於君方:《偽經》與觀音信仰[permanent dead link] ^ 中國觀音文化促进會 观音形象 Archived 11 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine. ^ 中国观音信仰的基本体系-宝藏杂志[permanent dead link] ^ 信仰研究现状评析—李利安-学术论文-佛教在线 ^ 太上碧落洞天慈航灵感度世宝忏起赞_仙道贵生。无量度人_百度空间 ^ 香光莊嚴第六十四期/歷史/觀音老母[dead link] ^ "人名規範資料庫".  ^ "Victoria and Albert Museum, 2004 London Proms Performing Art Lecture with Christopher Cook and Marjorie Trusted". Vam.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 26 September 2009.  (mp4 audio, requires Apple QuickTime). ^ " Seoul
Seoul
Tour Plus" (PDF). http://www.visitseoul.net/. Seoul
Seoul
Tourism Organization. Retrieved 27 November 2014.  External link in website= (help) ^ Koehler, Robert. " Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
of Mercy, Gilsangsa Temple". Flickr.com. Retrieved 27 November 2014.  ^ zh:观世音 (2005年电视剧) ^ 观音老人悟明长老 毕生弘扬大悲忏 Archived 10 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine. ^ "果卿居士:回忆宣化上人--学佛网".  ^ "戒杀放生网—提示信息". 

Further reading

Blofeld, John: Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
of Compassion. The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin, Shambhala, Boston 1988, ISBN 0-87773-126-8 Cahill, Susan E.: Transcendence & Divine Passion. The Queen Mother of the West in Medieval China, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1993, ISBN 0-8047-2584-5 Leidy, Denise Patry; Strahan, Donna (2010). Wisdom embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 1588393992.  Ming, Kuan: Popular Deities of Chinese Buddhism, Buddha
Buddha
Dharma Education Association Inc, 1985 Palmer, Martin; Ramsay, Jay; Kwok, Man-Ho: Kuan Yin. Myths and Prophecies of the Chinese Goddess of Compassion, Thorsons, San Francisco 1995, ISBN 1-85538-417-5 Pregadio, Fabrizio (2008). The encyclopedia of Taoism, Volume 1. Princeton, NJ: Psychology Press. ISBN 0-7007-1200-3.  Stoddart, William: Outline of Buddhism, The Foundation for Traditional Studies, Oakton, Virginia, 1996. Studholme, A. (2012). Origins of Om Manipadme Hum, The: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra. UPCC book collections on Project MUSE. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-8848-5.  Yu, Chun-fang, Kuan-yin, The Chinese Transformation of Avalokitesvara, Columbia University Press, New York, 2001, ISBN 0-231-12029-X Yun, Miao: Teachings in Chinese Buddhism: Selected Translation of Miao Yun, Buddha
Buddha
Dharma
Dharma
Education Association Inc, 1995

External links[edit]

Buddhanet: Kuan Yin Description on Kuan Yin Detailed history of Miao Shan Legend of Miao Shan Evolution of Avalokitesvara Heart Sutra
Heart Sutra
Explanation on Kuan Yin and the Heart Sutra Lotus Sutra: Chapter 25. The universal door of Guanshi Yin Bodhisattva (The bodhisattva who contemplates the sounds of the world) (Translated by The Buddhist Text Translation Society in USA) Sinicization of Buddhism
Buddhism
– White Robe Guan Yin – explanation of how Avalokiteshvara transformed into Guan Yin in Chinese Buddhism Surangama Sutra
Sutra
English translation of Chapter 5 "The Ear Organ" which mentions Guan Yin. The Śūraṅgama Sūtra: A New Translation by Buddhist Text Translation Society. Chapter 6 details Kuan Yin's powers. Tzu-Chi organisation: Kuan Yin, Buddhist perspective "Who Is Wonder Woman?", by Jett, Brett. (Manuscript) (2009): 1-71.

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Ksitigarbha
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