Monday, February 17, 2014

The legend of Goddess of Mercy Kwan Yin

Linh Phuoc Pagoda ("Dragon Pagoda"), Da Lat, Vietnam
Golden Buddha in Dragon Pagoda
When first stepping into this area, one notices the cool atmosphere, which is in stark contrast to the blazing sun outside the compound. One can see the giant statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, the Buddhist "Goddess of Compassion." She is accompanied by many smaller statues and an interior of beautiful in-laid terracotta dragons (nagas) and porcelain mosaics.

Goddess of Mercy
Kwan Yin figurine (Holy Mountain Trading Co.)
One of the "deities" most frequently seen on altars in China's temples is Kwan Yin (also Quan Yin, Kuanyin, Guanyin). In Sanskrit, her name is Padma-pâni, or "Born of the Lotus." Kwan Yin, alone among all Buddhist devas, is universally loved. She is the model of Chinese beauty.
Regarded by the Chinese as the "Goddess of Mercy," she was originally male until the early part of the 12th century and has evolved since that time from her prototype, Avalokiteshvara, "the merciful lord who looks down [from on high]," an Indian enlightenment-being (bodhisattva), who chose to remain on Earth to bring relief to those suffering rather than enjoying for himself the ecstasies of complete-liberation (nirvana).
One of the several stories surrounding Kwan Yin is that she was a human Buddhist who through great love and sacrifice during life had earned rebirth in [a paradise] after death.
However, like Avalokiteshvara, while standing before the gates of paradise, she hears a cry of anguish from the Earth below. Turning back, she renounces her reward of bliss but in its place finds immortality in the hearts of the suffering. In China she has many names; she is also known as "Great Mercy, Great Pity, Salvation from Misery, Salvation from Woe, Self-Abiding, Thousand Arms, Thousand Eyes," and so on. 
In addition, she is often referred to as the Goddess of the Southern Sea -- the Indian Archipelago -- and has been compared to the Virgin Mary. She is one of the San Ta Shih, or the "Three Great Beings," renowned for their power over the animal kingdom or the forces of nature. These three bodhisattvas or P'u Sa as they are known in China, are Manjusri (Sanskrit) or Wên Shu, Samantabhadra or P'u Hsien, and Avalokiteshvara or Kwan Yin. More

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