Guan Yin

October 6th, 2007 by sabrina

Today’s Goddess is another well-known one, worshipped by millions, and she helps me with my name count!

Guan Yin (pronounced Gwan-yin)¬†is the Buddhist Goddess of mercy and compassion. She is worshipped in China as Guan Yin (also seen as Kuan Yin or Kwan Yin), in Japan as Kannon (also Kwannon and Kanzeon), in Korea as Gwan-eum or Gwanse-eum, in Thailand as Kuan Eim or Prah Mae Kuan Eim, and in Vietnamese as Quan Am or Quan The Am Bo Tat. The name Guan Yin itself is short for Guanshi Yin or Kuan-shih Yin, meaning “she who observes the cries of the world”. She is worshipped by Buddhists and Taoists alike, from India to Japan, as a bodhisattva (enlightened being) who encourages and helps her followers to attain enlightenment as well.

Guan Yin is usually shown holding a willow branch in one hand (symbolizing grief) and a lotus flower containing the nectar of wisdom in the other. She looks down, watching over her followers. In some depictions, she carries a basket of fish, as she is also a patron Goddess of sailors and fishermen. In others, she carries an infant, and is venerated as a Goddess of fertility.

The predominant legend associated with Guan Yin involves her refusal to marry as her father had chosen. He decided to have her executed, and in forgiving her executioner, she took on the karmic guilt that would have been his to bear. Because of this, she ended up in the hellish realm of the dead, where she began to play music. Flowers blossomed around her and hell turned into a paradise, much to the dismay of the ruler of the underworld. He sent Guan Yin back to the world of the living, where she attained enlightenment and entrance to Heaven. On her way to heaven, she heard the cries of earth’s inhabitants and came back, vowing to stay as long as she was needed to relieve the suffering she saw.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 6th, 2007 at 4:25 pm and is filed under Southeast Asian. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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