The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit अवलोकितेश्वर Avalokiteśvara “lord which observes”, Khmer Lokeśvara, Vietnamese Quán Thế Âm, Tibetan Chenrezig, Chinese 觀 (世) 音 Guān (shì) yīn, Japanese Kan' not) is undoubtedly most popular among the Buddhist of the Grand vehicle. It is also used like Yidam in the tantric meditations.
Its name is also translated by “Considering the voices of the world”, “Which considers the sounds of the world”, “That which considers the calls”. In the beginning the name of the bodhisattva was Avalokita- (observant, “perceiving”) - will svara (its), which indicates the role of emissary that it fills near the Bouddha S Shakyamuni and Amitābha in Kārandavyūha Sūtra. The translation Kwan Yin reflects this first name, whereas Kwan-shih-yin, just like Avalokiteshvara, express later popular etymological comprehension, loka - world and will lokèshvara - lord of the world seeming implicit in Avalokitasvara.
Protean and syncretic Bodhisattva (it can represent all the others bodhisattva), incarnating the ultimate compassion, it is female in China and with the Japan; with the Tibet, the Dalaï LAMA is regarded as its reincarnation.
Also named Padmapāṇi or Maṇipadmā, he is called upon by famous the Mantra Om̐ Maṇipadme hūm (ॐमणिपद्मेहूम्).
Birth of AvalokiteshvaraThis bodhisattva appears in the twenty-fifth chapter Sūtra of the Lotus of the Good Law , one of the most important books of Mahâyâna, probably written in the North-West of India. Its first twenty-two chapters would go back from the 1st century and the last six of the 2nd century to our era. In the Chinese world, the translation which has made authority is that of the monk koutchéen Kumârajîva (344-413). The Buddha states that a great figure is drawn up to help any person in difficulty. He hears any person who pronounces her name. He is thus “That which considers the calls”. In Chinese, guan means “which considers, which turns its glance towards” and yin is the sound or rather the incantation. Avalokiteshvara can take thirty-three forms: those of a Buddha, a bodhisattva, a Brahman, King Céleste and even of a woman. Sūtra of the Lotus exposes then cases where it can intervene. It protects from the black magic, the wild animals or the snakes which kill by the glance. The chief of a caravan attacked by brigands can call upon it. A mother can also call upon him to have a son or a girl.
Avalokiteshvara in ChinaFollowing its penetration in China, Avalokiteshvara was the subject of an increasingly frequent feminization, become final under the Song. It is as mainly in female form as it was established with the Japan. Important deity in China, Guanyin joined there to its nature Bodhisattva that of a goddess of the popular religion, counted to the Taoïsme with the number of the immortal . She is called upon like protective in the daily life, particularly in favor of the children and the sailors, and like spiritual liberator of the departeds or the stray hearts. On the Chinese continent, its place of the most famous worship is Putuoshan 普陀山 in the Zhejiang. One allots the Dabeizhou 大悲咒 to him, “incantation of the great compassion”, which makes it possible to release the hearts in sorrow.
Avalokiteshvara is also present in the Chinese world in its form Tibetan because Buddhism tantric Tibetan has many followers there.
Its feminization most probably first of all was spontaneous and popular. Its image in the iconography and the Hindu statuary ─ beardless face with the fine features, buckled chignon, embryo of chest, gracious silhouette, sometimes earrings and collar ─ very far away from the Chinese masculine representations, associated with her sympathizing nature, had to rather quickly decide its change of sex near the faithful ordinary one. One can however find of it a justification canonical in the Karandavyuha Sutra and the Sūtra of the Lotus , which mentions the capacity of the Bodhisattva to take multiple aspects like its function of donor of child.
Worship in Taiwan
In the Chinese world, and particularly with Taiwan where the religious practice did not undergo political obstacles, Guanyin is one of the deities towards which one generally turns oneself to ask for help. In 1981, on the island of Formosa, it counted 572 temples, a little more than the large Taiwanese goddess Mazu.
Only part of these temples is exclusively Buddhist (if 寺); the majority belong to the wide-area network of the temples of the popular religion. The mode of worship depends on the administration of the temple, taken in hand sometimes by bonzesses, sometimes by laymen. Some keep Buddhist only one space with the back of the building reserved for the reading of the Soutra S, whereas in the principal room one practices Divination S, exorcisms, or incineration of paper money; the food offerings are at least partly flesh-colored there; the goddess, like all the Chinese divinities, makes her round of inspection of the “parish” at the time of the festivals. The statues of various temples are sometimes dependant between them by hierarchical relations or of relationship expressing the social relations between the communities the faithful ones or the administrators of the temples.
In the Buddhist temples, Guanyin typically has the aspect of a “standard” bodhisattva vêtu of one draped coward, in meditation the mi-clos eyes on a lotus at the sides of the Bouddha S, and its female physique is accentuated little. In the other temples, its female aspect is obvious; it carries sometimes a noble costume of lady instead of the usual loose dress; its face can be avoided human colors (pink cheeks) or similar to that of the popular divinities (black e.g.); it is often upright on a lotus of reduced size. It is acompagnée characters of popular Buddhism ( shancai and liangnu 善才良女, two exemplary converts of each sex, or eighteen luohans - Arhat S), as well as God of the ground and the donneuse goddess children, occupants usual of the popular temples. Sometimes it shares its place of worship with another important divinity.
In almost all the cases, it is vêtue of white and holds in hand the bottle containing the water which purifies, a branch of Saule (plant apotropaïque in China) or a Sutra, unless its empty handed does not make a Buddhist gesture of protection. Another characteristic common to almost all its places of worship is their function of help to the departeds: one can find there funerary shelves ancestral or even ashes. Guanyin, that the popular tradition makes reign with Amitabha on the Paradis of the “pure Earth of Occident”, plays a big role at the time of the pudu , ceremony of release accompanied by a feast offered to the hearts wandering at the time of the Fête of the phantoms.
CaptionAs all the Chinese divinities it received a terrestrial biography, which exists in some different versions, most widespread being that which makes of it a princess, itself Réincarnation of Avalokiteshvara. The goddess Mazu, who plays like it a role of protective, is sometimes regarded as one of her misadventures.
The princess Miaoshan 妙善 was the girl of a king of Sumatra which had chosen to become nun rather than to marry the rich person left selected by his father. This one had ordered to the monks to make it work night and day in order to discourage it, but the animals of the neighborhoods came to its help and it was always able to achieve the task requested, whatever its importance. Exasperated, his/her father decided to put fire at the Monastère. Miaoshan then extinguished the fire of its hands without suffering the least burn. His/her father finally made it put at death. Whereas it moved towards the Paradis, it lowered the head and saw the suffering of the world. It then decided to remain there to save the hearts in distress.
An alternative of the history offers an explanation to the existence of the “Guanyin to the thousand arms and the thousand eyes” whose worship, launched by the installation with the temple of Xiangshan 香山 of a tantric effigy, dates from the Tang.
Her father being falls ill, the Miaoshan princess sacrificed her arms and her eyes to ask for her cure. At once after its Sacrifice, it appeared briefly equipped with thousand arms and thousand eyes before finding its intact body.
Names of Guanyin
With Taiwan Guanyin is sometimes simply named fozu 佛祖, “Buddha-ancestor”, honorary name for any divinity resulting from Buddhism. Fozu without another precision generally indicates Guanyin, most popular of the Buddhist deities.
The table opposite recapitulates the forms which its name in the various Asian countries takes where it is present.
Similarities with the Worship marialThe image of Guanyin offers a certain resemblance to that of the Virgin Mary; this fact is sometimes exploited with an aim of syncretism or cumenism (e.g. by the humane ONG Taiwanese Chuzi , or the Buddhists of the Filipino ). At the Japan under the Tokugawa, of the Christian started to adore statues mariales with the aspect of Kannon (Maria Kannon) to escape persecutions. These statues carry the mark of a cross to a not very visible place.
Avalokiteshvara in JapanIn Japan one does not count less than 33 forms of Kannon (Kanzeon, Kanjizaï) who gave place has one of the most famous pilgrimages of Japan.
Among these 33 forms, 6 are more particularly known and correspond to the 6 worlds:
- Sho Kannon : principal form with a lotus in a hand
- Juitchimen Kannon: Avalokiteshvara with 11 heads
- Senju Kannon: Avalokiteshvara with the 1000 arms
- Nyorin Kannon: Avalokiteshvara with the wheel of jewel which satisfies all the desires
- Junteï Kannon ( skt Chundi ), “the pure one” or, for the Tendaï, Fukukensaku Kannon: Amoghapashavalokiteshvara with the lace, “That which fishes the human ones to take them along to the awakening”
- Bikuchi Kannon ( skt Bhrikuti ), “That which wrinkle the eyebrows”
- Bato Kannon ( skt Hayagriva ) which is the irritated form of this bodhisattva, represented with a head of horse in the hairstyle.
Kannon is at the origin of the name of the company Canon.
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