Saturday, December 24, 2011


Avalokita, or more properly, Avalokitesvara ("Lord Avalokita"), is the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion, said to have one thousand arms, which symbolize His never-tiring work to save all souls from the Ocean of Illusion. From His tears were born the Goddess Tara, whose two principle forms are White Tara and Green Tara. He is also linked to the Chinese goddess Kwan Yin, another deity of compasssion.
FROM HERE: Avalokitesvara
By the most popular and beloved of the Mahayana bodhisattvas. The name Avalokitesvara means something like " the Lord who looks down on the World" or according to another interpretation " the Regarder of the Cries of the World". This bodhisattva is first mentioned in the Lotus Sutra (approx. 1st century AD) which together with the Karandavyuha Sutra describe him as rescuing from all kinds of distress and danger anyone who calls out his mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum (Om the Jewel in the Lotus Hum). This desire and ability to help all without distinction is due to Avalokitesvara's great compassion, indeed he is seen as the very embodiment of the Buddha's compassion.

In India Avalokitesvara was usually portrayed as a handsome young prince with the Buddha nestled in his crown, or sometimes as an ascetic, iconographically very similar to the Hindu god Siva. He was also given some of Siva's names - the Blue Throated One, Mahesvara etc. In Tibet he is often portrayed with a thousand arms, each hand with an eye in it, symbolising the seeing and reaching out to help those in distress. In China however Avalokitesvara is more usually represented as a beautiful white robed woman and is known as Kwan Yin. From Mongolia to Sri Lanka, from Afghanistan to Indonesia, the worship of Avalokitesvara has long been popular, even fervent, and has inspired some of the most beautiful examples of Buddhist art.

A. On, In China. J. Blofield, Bodhisatva of Compassion. Boston, 1988; in Sri Lanka, J.C. Holt, Buddha in the Crown. Oxford, 1991.

FROM HERE: Dharma Data: Avalokitesvara
Avalokitesvara (pronounced and sometimes written as Avalokiteshvara) is one of Buddhism's most inspiring figures. The literal meaning of 'Avalokitesvara' is 'the Lord who looks down', the implication being that he looks down with perfect compassion. He is depicted with a number of heads, between two and eleven, and up to a thousand arms. Such depictions show him to be all seeing and all helping, ready to acknowledge and support all suffering beings.

The accompanying picture (Courtesy of the Buddha Hunter) to this article shows Avalokitesvara with one head and four arms. In his outer left hand he holds the lotus, a major Buddhist symbol, and in his outer right hand a 'rosary' or mala in a figure of eight. The mala usually consists of 108 beads and is used for the recitation of mantras. The two central hands hold a jewel, again another potent Buddhist symbol.

The lotus is an inspirational symbol in itself. Though it has its roots in mud and slime, it blossoms into a beautiful flower. Similarly, though we dwell in ignorance, we have the potential to grow into fully enlightened beings. The beads signify Avalokitesvara's purity of speech, exercised through his mantra recitations. The jewel in the center of the picture is the wish-granting jewel, symbolizing Avalokitesvara's ability to help all those who call upon him.

The Lotus Sutra
In Chapter 24 of the Lotus Sutra Avalokitesvara is seen as a figure who can be called upon in times of adversity: 'If some creature, young man of good family, shall be bound in wooden or iron manacles, chains or fetters, be he guilty or innocent, then those manacles, chains or fetters shall give way as soon as the name of the Bodhisattva Mahâsattva Avalokitesvara is pronounced'. Similarly, he can grant whatever one desires: 'If a woman is desirous of getting a daughter, a nice, handsome, beautiful girl shall be born to her; one possessed of the (good) characteristics of a girl, generally beloved and winning, who has planted good roots'.

The Lotus Sutra emphasizes Avalokitesvara's chameleon-like nature, assuming different guises appropriate to his audience:'To those who are to be converted by a goblin, he preaches the law assuming the shape of a goblin'. He is described as possessing the perfection of all virtues', beholding 'all beings with compassion and benevolence'.
In the Tibetan tradition Avalokitesvara is known as Chenrezi of whom, in the Tibetan tradition, the Dalai Lama is considered the living embodiment. In China Avalokitesvara takes a female form and is known as Kuan Yin.

FROM HERE: Avalokitesvara
Avalokitesvara, merciful lord, is one of the most important deities in the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. He is thought to have originated in India, and worshipped from around 500 BC to the present. In Lamaism he is the tutelary god of Tibet. He is equated with Vishnu in Hinduism, and is somewhat connected with Padmapani. In cosmic mythology he is considered a creator god. His Shakti is Pandara, and his attendant animal is a lion. There exist many forms of Avalokitesvara including varieties with up to eleven heads, occasionally arranged in a pyramid. His colors are white and red; and his attributes are the blue lotus, image of Amitabha (top-most pyramidal head), lotus, rosary, sword, and water jar.

FROM HERE: Avalokitesvara
Also search for: Chenrezig and Kwan Yin (whom Avalokitesvara is also associated with).

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