Avalokiteśvara or Padmapani (/ˌʌvəloʊkɪˈteɪʃvərə/ UV-əl-oh-kih-TAY-shvər-ə; Sanskrit: अवलोकितेश्वर) is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This bodhisattva is variably depicted, described and portrayed in different cultures as either male or female. In Tibet, he is known as Chenrezik, and in Cambodia as Avloketesvar. In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has evolved into the somewhat different female figure Guanyin, also known in Japan as Kanzeon or Kannon. In Nepal Mandal this figure is known as Jana Baha Dyah, Karunamaya, Seto Machindranath.
|Chinese||觀自在菩薩, 觀世音菩薩 or 觀音菩薩|
(Pinyin: Guānzìzài Púsà, Guānshìyīn Púsà or Guānyīn Púsà
(Cantonese: Gun1 Zi6 Zoi6 Pou4 Saat3, Gun1 Sai3 Jam1 Pou4 Saat3 or Gun1 Jam1 Pou4 Saat3)
(romaji: Kanjizai Bosatsu, Kanzeon Bosatsu or Kannon Bosatsu)
|Khmer||អវលោកិតេស្វរៈ , អវលោកេស្វរៈ , លោកេស្វរៈ|
(Avalokitesvarak, Avalokesvarak, Lokesvarak)
(RR: Gwanseeum Bosal)
|Thai||พระอวโลกิเตศวรโพธิสัตว์ ( Phra Avalokitesuan )|
Wylie: spyan ras gzigs
|Vietnamese||Quán Tự Tại Bồ Tát|
|Venerated by||Mahayana, Vajrayana, Theravada*, Taoism, Chinese Folk Religion|
The name Avalokiteśvara combines the verbal prefix ava "down", lokita, a past participle of the verb lok "to notice, behold, observe", here used in an active sense; and finally īśvara, "lord", "ruler", "sovereign" or "master". In accordance with sandhi (Sanskrit rules of sound combination), a+īśvara becomes eśvara. Combined, the parts mean "lord who gazes down (at the world)". The word loka ("world") is absent from the name, but the phrase is implied. It does appear in the Cambodian form of the name, Lokesvarak.
The earliest translation of the name into Chinese by authors such as Xuanzang was as Guānzìzài (Chinese: 觀自在), not the form used in East Asian Buddhism today, Guanyin (Chinese: 觀音). It was initially thought that this was due to a lack of fluency, as Guanzizai indicates the original Sanskrit form was Avalokitasvara, "who looks down upon sound" (i.e., the cries of sentient beings who need help). It is now understood that was the original form, and is also the origin of Guanyin "Perceiving sound, cries". This translation was favored by the tendency of some Chinese translators, notably Kumārajīva, to use the variant 觀世音 Guānshìyīn "who perceives the world's lamentations"—wherein lok was read as simultaneously meaning both "to look" and "world" (Sanskrit loka; Chinese: 世; pinyin: shì). The original form Avalokitasvara appears in Sanskrit fragments of the fifth century.
This earlier Sanskrit name was supplanted by the form containing the ending -īśvara "lord"; but Avalokiteśvara does not occur in Sanskrit before the seventh century.
The original meaning of the name fits the Buddhist understanding of the role of a bodhisattva. The reinterpretation presenting him as an īśvara shows a strong influence of Hinduism, as the term īśvara was usually connected to the Hindu notion of Vishnu (in Vaishnavism) or Śiva (in Shaivism) as the Supreme Lord, Creator and Ruler of the world. Some attributes of such a god were transmitted to the bodhisattva, but the mainstream of those who venerated Avalokiteśvara upheld the Buddhist rejection of the doctrine of any creator god.
In Sanskrit, Avalokiteśvara is also referred to as Padmapāni ("Holder of the Lotus") or Lokeśvara ("Lord of the World"). In Tibetan, Avalokiteśvara is Chenrézik, (Tibetan: སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་) and is said to emanate as the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa and other high lamas. An etymology of the Tibetan name Chenrézik is spyan "eye", ras "continuity" and gzig "to look". This gives the meaning of one who always looks upon all beings (with the eye of compassion).
According to the Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra, the sun and moon are said to be born from Avalokiteśvara's eyes, Shiva from his brow, Brahma from his shoulders, Narayana from his heart, Sarasvati from his teeth, the winds from his mouth, the earth from his feet, and the sky from his stomach. In this text and others, such as the Longer Sukhavativyuha Sutra, Avalokiteśvara is an attendant of Amitabha.
Some texts which mention Avalokiteśvara include:
The Lotus Sutra is generally accepted to be the earliest literature teaching about the doctrines of Avalokiteśvara. These are found in the Lotus Sutra chapter 25 (Chinese: 觀世音菩薩普門品). This chapter is devoted to Avalokiteśvara, 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. A total of 33 different manifestations of Avalokiteśvara are described, including female manifestations, all to suit the minds of various beings. The chapter consists of both a prose and a verse section. This earliest source often circulates separately as its own sutra, called the Avalokiteśvara Sūtra (Chinese: 觀世音經; pinyin: Guānshìyīn jīng), and is commonly recited or chanted at Buddhist temples in East Asia.
When the Chinese monk Faxian traveled to Mathura in India around 400 CE, he wrote about monks presenting offerings to Avalokiteśvara. When Xuanzang traveled to India in the 7th century, he provided eyewitness accounts of Avalokiteśvara statues being venerated by devotees from all walks of life: kings, to monks, to laypeople.
In Chinese Buddhism and East Asia, Tangmi practices for the 18-armed form of Avalokiteśvara called Cundī are very popular. These practices have their basis in the early Indian Vajrayana: her origins lie with a yakshini cult in Bengal and Orissa, and her name in Sanskrit "connotes a prostitute or other woman of low caste but specifically denotes a prominent local ogress ... whose divinised form becomes the subject of an important Buddhist cult starting in the eighth century". The popularity of Cundī is attested by the three extant translations of the Cundī Dhāraṇī Sūtra from Sanskrit to Chinese, made from the end of the seventh century to the beginning of the eighth century. In late imperial China, these early esoteric traditions still thrived in Buddhist communities. Robert Gimello has also observed that in these communities, the esoteric practices of Cundī were extremely popular among both the populace and the elite.
In the Tiantai school, six forms of Avalokiteśvara are defined. Each of the bodhisattva's six qualities are said to break the hindrances respectively of the six realms of existence: hell-beings, pretas, animals, humans, asuras, and devas.
Veneration of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva has continued to the present day in Sri Lanka:
In times past both Tantrayana and Mahayana have been found in some of the Theravada countries, but today the Buddhism of Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia is almost exclusively Theravada, based on the Pali Canon. The only Mahayana deity that has entered the worship of ordinary Buddhists in Theravada countries is Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. In Ceylon he is known as Natha-deva and mistaken by the majority for the Buddha yet to come, Bodhisattva Maitreya. The figure of Avalokitesvara usually is found in the shrine room near the Buddha image.
In more recent times, some western-educated Theravādins have attempted to identify Nātha with Maitreya Bodhisattva; however, traditions and basic iconography (including an image of Amitābha Buddha on the front of the crown) identify Nātha as Avalokiteśvara. Andrew Skilton writes:
... It is clear from sculptural evidence alone that the Mahāyāna was fairly widespread throughout [Sri Lanka], although the modern account of the history of Buddhism on the island presents an unbroken and pure lineage of Theravāda. (One can only assume that similar trends were transmitted to other parts of Southeast Asia with Sri Lankan ordination lineages.) Relics of an extensive cult of Avalokiteśvara can be seen in the present-day figure of Nātha.
Avalokiteśvara is popularly worshiped in Myanmar, where he is called Lokanat or lokabyuharnat, and Thailand, where he is called Lokesvara. The bodhisattva goes by many other names. In Indochina and Thailand, he is Lokesvara, "The Lord of the World." In Tibet he is Chenrezig, also spelled Spyan-ras gzigs, "With a Pitying Look." In China, the bodhisattva takes a female form and is called Guanyin (also spelled Quanyin, Kwan Yin, Kuanyin or Kwun Yum), "Hearing the Sounds of the World." In Japan, Guanyin is Kannon or Kanzeon; in Korea, Gwan-eum; in Vietnam, Quan Am.
Avalokiteśvara is worshipped as Nātha in Sri Lanka. Tamil Buddhist tradition developed in Chola literature, such as in Buddamitra's Virasoliyam , states that the Vedic sage Agastya learnt Tamil from Avalokiteśvara. The earlier Chinese traveler Xuanzang recorded a temple dedicated to Avalokitesvara in the South Indian Mount Potalaka, a Sanskritzation of Pothigai, where Tamil Hindu tradition places Agastya having learnt the Tamil language from Shiva. Avalokitesvara worship gained popularity with the growth of the Abhayagiri vihāra's Tamraparniyan Mahayana sect.
Western scholars have not reached a consensus on the origin of the reverence for Avalokiteśvara. Some have suggested that Avalokiteśvara, along with many other supernatural beings in Buddhism, was a borrowing or absorption by Mahayana Buddhism of one or more deities from Hinduism, in particular Shiva or Vishnu. This seems to be based on the name Avalokiteśvara.
On the basis of study of Buddhist scriptures, ancient Tamil literary sources, as well as field survey, the Japanese scholar Shu Hikosaka proposes the hypothesis that, the ancient mount Potalaka, the residence of Avalokiteśvara described in the Gaṇḍavyūha Sūtra and Xuanzang’s Great Tang Records on the Western Regions, is the real mountain Pothigai in Ambasamudram, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. Shu also says that mount Potalaka has been a sacred place for the people of South India from time immemorial. It is the traditional residence of Siddhar Agastya, at Agastya Mala. With the spread of Buddhism in the region beginning at the time of the great king Aśoka in the third century BCE, it became a holy place also for Buddhists, who gradually became dominant as a number of their hermits settled there. The local people, though, mainly remained followers of the Hindu religion. The mixed Hindu-Buddhist cult culminated in the formation of the figure of Avalokiteśvara.
Mahāyāna Buddhism relates Avalokiteśvara to the six-syllable mantra oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ. In Tibetan Buddhism, due to his association with this mantra, one form of Avalokiteśvara is called Ṣaḍākṣarī "Lord of the Six Syllables" in Sanskrit. Recitation of this mantra while using prayer beads is the most popular religious practice in Tibetan Buddhism. The connection between this famous mantra and Avalokiteśvara is documented for the first time in the Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra. This text is dated to around the late 4th century CE to the early 5th century CE. In this sūtra, a bodhisattva is told by the Buddha that recitation of this mantra while focusing on the sound can lead to the attainment of eight hundred samādhis. The Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra also features the first appearance of the dhāraṇī of Cundī, which occurs at the end of the sūtra text. After the bodhisattva finally attains samādhi with the mantra "oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ", he is able to observe 77 koṭīs of fully enlightened buddhas replying to him in one voice with the Cundī Dhāraṇī: namaḥ saptānāṃ samyaksaṃbuddha koṭīnāṃ tadyathā, oṃ cale cule cunde svāhā.
The Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī is an 82-syllable dhāraṇī for Avalokiteśvara.
One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokiteśvara vowing never to rest until he had freed all sentient beings from saṃsāra. Despite strenuous effort, he realizes that many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his head splits into eleven pieces. Amitābha, seeing his plight, gives him eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Avalokiteśvara tries to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that his two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitābha comes to his aid and invests him with a thousand arms with which to aid the suffering multitudes.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Tãrã came into existence from a single tear shed by Avalokiteśvara. When the tear fell to the ground it created a lake, and a lotus opening in the lake revealed Tara. In another version of this story, Tara emerges from the heart of Avalokiteśvara. In either version, it is Avalokiteśvara's outpouring of compassion which manifests Tãrã as a being.
Avalokiteśvara has an extraordinarily large number of manifestations in different forms (including wisdom goddesses (vidyaas) directly associated with him in images and texts). Some of the more commonly mentioned forms include:
|Āryāvalokiteśvara||Sacred Avalokitesvara||The root form of the Bodhisattva|
|Ekādaśamukha||Eleven Faced||Additional faces to teach all in 10 planes of existence|
|Sahasrabhuja Sahasranetra||Thousand-Armed, Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara||Very popular form: sees and helps all|
|Cintamāṇicakra||Wish Fulfilling Avalokitesvara||Holds the bejeweled cintamani wheel|
|Hayagrīva||Horse-necked one||Wrathful form; simultaneously bodhisattva and a Wisdom King|
|Cundī||Extreme purity||Portrayed with many arms|
|Amoghapāśa||Unfailing Rope||Avalokitesvara with rope and net|
|Pāndaravāsinī||White and Pure|
|Parnaśabarī||Cloaked With Leaves|
|Raktaṣadakṣarī||Six Red Syllables|
Cundī (Wylie: skul byed ma, Chinese: 準提菩薩) is a bodhisattva and an incarnation of Avalokiteśvara.
Cundī appears with eighteen arms on a lotus and is sometimes referred to as the "Goddess of the Seventy Million [Buddhas]".Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama (UK: , US: ; Standard Tibetan: ཏཱ་ལའི་བླ་མ་, Tā la'i bla ma, [táːlɛː láma]) is a title given by the Tibetan people for the foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" school of Tibetan Buddhism, the newest of the classical schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso.
The Dalai Lama is also considered to be the successor in a line of tulkus who are believed to be incarnations of Avalokiteśvara, a Bodhisattva of Compassion. The name is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning "ocean" or "big" (coming from Mongolian title Dalaiyin qan or Dalaiin khan, translated as Gyatso in Tibetan) and the Tibetan word བླ་མ་ (bla-ma) meaning "master, guru".The Dalai Lama figure is important for many reasons. Since the time of the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century, his personage has always been a symbol of unification of the state of Tibet, where he has represented Buddhist values and traditions. The Dalai Lama was an important figure of the Geluk tradition, which was politically and numerically dominant in Central Tibet, but his religious authority went beyond sectarian boundaries. While he had no formal or institutional role in any of the religious traditions, which were headed by their own high lamas, he was a unifying symbol of the Tibetan state, representing Buddhist values and traditions above any specific school. The traditional function of the Dalai Lama as an ecumenical figure, holding together disparate religious and regional groups, has been taken up by the present fourteenth Dalai Lama. He has worked to overcome sectarian and other divisions in the exiled community and has become a symbol of Tibetan nationhood for Tibetans both in Tibet and in exile.From 1642 until 1705 and from 1750 to the 1950s, the Dalai Lamas or their regents headed the Tibetan government (or Ganden Phodrang) in Lhasa which governed all or most of the Tibetan Plateau with varying degrees of autonomy under the Qing Dynasty of China, up to complete sovereignty. This Tibetan government also enjoyed the patronage and protection of firstly Mongol kings of the Khoshut and Dzungar Khanates (1642–1720) and then of the emperors of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1720–1912). Tibet's sovereignty was later rejected, however, by both the Republic of China and the current People's Republic of China.Gandantegchinlen Monastery
The Gandantegchinlen Monastery (Mongolian: Гандантэгчинлэн хийд, Gandantegchinlen khiid, short name: Gandan Mongolian: Гандан) is a Mongolian Buddhist monastery in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar that has been restored and revitalized since 1990. The Tibetan name translates to the "Great Place of Complete Joy". It currently has over 150 monks in residence. It features a 26.5-meter-high statue of Avalokiteśvara. It came under state protection in 1994.Guanyin
Guanyin or Guan Yin () is the most commonly used Chinese translation of the bodhisattva known as Avalokiteśvara. In English usage, Guanyin refers to the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion and venerated chiefly by followers of Mahayana Buddhist schools as practiced in the sinosphere. Guanyin also refers to the bodhisattva as adopted by other Eastern religions such as Taoism, where she is revered as an immortal, as well as Chinese folk religions, where the mythical accounts about Guanyin's origins do not associate with the Avalokiteśvara described in Buddhist sutras.. In English, she is often known as the "Goddess of Mercy" or the Mercy Goddess . The Chinese name Guanyin, is short for Guanshiyin, which means "[The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World".Some Buddhists believe that when one of their adherents departs from this world, they are placed by Guanyin in the heart of a lotus, and then sent to the western Pure Land of Sukhāvatī. Guanyin is often referred to as the "most widely beloved Buddhist Divinity" with miraculous powers to assist all those who pray to her, as is said in the Lotus Sutra and Karandavyuha Sutra.
Several large temples in East Asia are dedicated to Guanyin including Shitennō-ji, Sensō-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Sanjūsangen-dō, Shaolin, and Dharma Drum Mountain. 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 temples such as Gangaramaya and Kelaniya in Sri Lanka. Statues are a widely depicted subject of Asian art and found in the Asian art sections of most museums in the world.Hall of Guanyin
The Hall of Guanyin or Guanyin Hall (simplified Chinese: 观音阁; traditional Chinese: 觀音閣; pinyin: Guānyīngé or simplified Chinese: 观音殿; traditional Chinese: 觀音殿; pinyin: Guānyīndiàn) is the most important annex halls in Chinese Buddhist temples and mainly for enshrining Guanyin (Avalokiteśvara). Guanyin, also called "Guanshiyin" (觀世音), "Guanshizizai" (觀世自在), "Guanzizai" (觀自在), etc., is the attendant of Amitabha and one of the "Western Three Saints" (西方三聖). Guanyin is renowned for his mercy and sympathy. According to Chapter of the Universal Gate of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva (《觀世音菩薩普門品》), if people are in danger, they just need to call his name and he will hear them and go to save them. Since he has many manifestations, different places enshrine different statues of Saint Guanyin (圣觀音), Guanzizai (觀自在), and Thousand-armed and eyed Guanyin (千手千眼觀音菩薩).Hayagriva (Buddhism)
In Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism, Hayagrīva ("having the neck of a horse") is an important deity who originated as a yaksha attendant of Avalokiteśvara or Guanyin Bodhisattva in India. Appearing in the Vedas as two separate deities, he was assimilated into the ritual worship of early Buddhism and eventually was identified as a Wisdom King in Vajrayana Buddhism.In Tibet, Hayagriva was promoted especially by Buddhist teacher Atiśa and appeared as a worldly dharmapala. His special ability is to cure diseases, especially skin diseases even as serious as leprosy, which is said to be caused by nāgas.
In Japanese Mahayana Buddhism, Hayagriva is considered as a Avalokiteśvara with wrathful form (Batō Kannon 馬頭觀音, lit.Hayagrīva-Avalokiteśvara) , one of the six Avalokiteśvaras intended to save the sentient beings of the six realms: deities (deva), demons (asura), human beings, animals, hungry ghosts, beings of hell. Hayagriva's sphere is realm of animals (or beings whose state of mind are animal-like). In Folk religion in Japan, Hyagriva was also worshipped as the guardian deity for horses because of its name Horse-head (Batō). The horse was symbolized as a vehicle, not as one of Hayagriva's heads.
In Chinese Buddhism and folk tradition, Hayagriva was assimilated into Horse-Face, one of two theriomorphic guardians of Diyu, the underworld.Karmapa
The Karmapa (honorific title His Holiness the Gyalwa (རྒྱལ་བ་, Victorious One) Karmapa, more formally as Gyalwang (རྒྱལ་དབང་ཀརྨ་པ་, King of Victorious Ones) Karmapa, and informally as the Karmapa Lama) is the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyu (བཀའ་བརྒྱུད, Wylie: bka' brgyud), itself one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
The historical seat of the Karmapas is Tsurphu Monastery in the Tolung valley of Tibet. The Karmapa's principal seat in exile is the Dharma Chakra Centre at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, India. His regional monastic seats are Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in New York and Dhagpo Kagyu Ling in Dordogne, France.
Due to a controversy within the Karma Kagyu school over the recognition process, the identity of the current 17th Karmapa is disputed by some. See Karmapa controversy for details.List of bodhisattvas
In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist thought, a bodhisattva (Chinese: 菩薩; pinyin: púsà; Japanese pronunciation: bosatsu; Korean pronunciation: bosal) is a being who is dedicated to achieving complete Buddhahood. Conventionally, the term is applied to beings with a high degree of enlightenment. Bodhisattva literally means a "bodhi (enlightenment) being" in Sanskrit. Mahayana practitioners have historically lived in many other countries that are now predominantly Hindu, Muslim or Theravada Buddhist; remnants of reverence for bodhisattvas has continued in some of these regions.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of bodhisattvas primarily respected in Indian, Tibetan Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism.Longnü
Longnü (traditional Chinese: 龍女; simplified Chinese: 龙女; pinyin: Lóngnǚ; Sanskrit: nāgakanya; Vietnamese: Long nữ), translated as Dragon Girl, along with Sudhana are considered acolytes of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara in Chinese Buddhism. However, there are no scriptural sources connecting both Sudhana and Longnü to Avalokiteśvara at the same time. It is suggested that the acolytes are representations of the two major Mahāyāna texts, the Lotus Sūtra and the Avataṃsaka Sūtra, in which Longnü and Sudhana appear, respectively.
The depiction of Longnü and Sudhana with Avalokiteśvara may have been influenced by the Jade Maiden (Chinese: 玉女; pinyin: Yùnǚ) and Golden Youth (traditional Chinese: 金僮; simplified Chinese: 金童; pinyin: Jīntóng) who both appear in the iconography of the Jade Emperor. She is described as being the eight-year-old daughter of the Dragon King (traditional Chinese: 龍王; simplified Chinese: 龙王; pinyin: Lóng Wáng; Sanskrit: nāgarāja) of the East Sea.Mahasthamaprapta
Mahāsthāmaprāpta is a bodhisattva mahāsattva that represents the power of wisdom, often depicted in a trinity with Amitābha and Avalokiteśvara (Guanyin), especially in Pure Land Buddhism. His name literally means "arrival of the great strength".
Mahāsthāmaprāpta is one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism, along with Mañjuśrī, Samantabhadra, Avalokiteśvara, Ākāśagarbha, Kṣitigarbha, Maitreya and Sarvanivarana-Vishkambhin.
In Chinese Buddhism, he is usually portrayed as a woman, with a likeness similar to Avalokiteśvara. He is also one of the Japanese Thirteen Buddhas in Shingon Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, Mahāsthāmaprāpta is equated with Vajrapani, who is one of his incarnations and was known as the Protector of Gautama Buddha.
Mahāsthāmaprāpta is one of the oldest bodhisattvas and is regarded as powerful, especially in the Pure Land school, where he takes an important role in the Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra.
In the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, Mahāsthāmaprāpta tells of how he gained enlightenment through the practice of nianfo, or continuous pure mindfulness of Amitābha, to obtain samādhi. In the Amitayurdhyana Sutra, Mahāsthāmaprāpta is symbolized by the moon while Avalokiteśvara is represented by the sun.Mount Potalaka
Mount Potalaka (simplified Chinese: 补陀洛伽山 or 普陀洛伽山; traditional Chinese: 補陀洛伽山 or 普陀洛迦山; pinyin: Bǔtuóluòjiā Shān or Pǔtuóluòjiā Shān, Japanese: 補陀洛 Fudaraku-san), which means "Brilliance", is the mythical dwelling of the Buddhist bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, said to exist in the seas south of India.Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī
The Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī, also known as the Mahākaruṇā(-citta) Dhāraṇī, Mahākaruṇika Dhāraṇī or Great Compassion Dhāraṇī, (or Mantra) (Chinese: 大悲咒 Dàbēi zhòu; Japanese: 大悲心陀羅尼 Daihishin darani or 大悲呪 Daihi shu; Vietnamese: Chú đại bi or Đại bi tâm đà la ni; Korean: 신묘장구대다라니 (Hanja: 神妙章句大陀羅尼) Sinmyo janggu daedarani), is a Mahayana Buddhist dhāraṇī associated with the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.
The dhāraṇī is thought to have originally been a recitation of names and attributes of Harihara (a composite form of the Hindu gods Vishnu and Shiva; Nīlakaṇṭha 'the blue-necked one' is a title of Shiva) said to have been recited by Avalokiteśvara, who was sometimes portrayed as introducing popular non-Buddhist deities (e.g. Hayagriva, Cundi) into the Buddhist pantheon by reciting their dhāraṇīs. Over time, these deities became considered to be the various forms or incarnations of Avalokiteśvara, who was described in texts such as the Lotus Sutra as manifesting himself in different forms according to the needs of different individuals; the dhāraṇī thus came to be considered as addressed to Avalokiteśvara as Nīlakaṇṭha, now understood to be a manifestation of the bodhisattva. From Nīlakaṇṭha Avalokiteśvara, this particular dhāraṇī eventually became associated with another of Avalokiteśvara's forms, namely the thousand-armed (sahasra-bhuja) one, and became attached to Buddhist texts concerning the thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara.
Different versions of this dhāraṇī, of varying length, exist; the shorter version as transliterated into Chinese characters by Indian monk Bhagavaddharma in the 7th century enjoys a high degree of popularity in East Asian Mahayana Buddhism - especially in Chinese Buddhism - comparable to that of the six-syllable mantra Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ, which is also synonymous with Avalokiteśvara. It is often used for protection or purification. In Korea, copies of the dhāraṇī are hung inside homes to bring auspiciousness. In Japan, it is especially associated with Zen, being revered and recited in Zen schools such as Sōtō or Rinzai.Om mani padme hum
Auṃ maṇi padme hūṃ (Sanskrit: ॐ मणिपद्मे हूँ, IPA: [õːː mɐɳɪpɐdmeː ɦũː]) is the six-syllabled Sanskrit mantra particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. It first appears in the Mahayana Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra where it is also referred to as the sadaksara (six syllabled) and the paramahrdaya, or “innermost heart” of Avalokiteshvara. In this text the mantra is seen as condensed form of all the Buddhist teachings.The first word Aum/Om is a sacred syllable found in Indian religions. The word Mani means "jewel" or "bead", Padme is the "lotus flower" (the Buddhist sacred flower), and Hum represents the spirit of enlightenment.In Tibetan Buddhism, this is the most ubiquitous mantra and the most popular form of religious practice, performed by laypersons and monastics alike. It is also an ever present feature of the landscape, commonly carved onto rocks, known as mani stones, painted into the sides of hills or else it is written on prayer flags and prayer wheels.Due to the increased interactions between Chinese Buddhists and Tibetans and Mongolians during the 11th century, the mantra also entered Chinese Buddhism. The mantra has also been adapted into Chinese Taoism.Potala Palace
The Potala Palace (Tibetan: ཕོ་བྲང་པོ་ཏ་ལ་, Wylie: pho brang Potala) in Lhasa, Tibet was the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Chinese invasion. It is now a museum and World Heritage Site.
The palace is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. The 5th Dalai Lama started its construction in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (died 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. It may overlay the remains of an earlier fortress called the White or Red Palace on the site, built by Songtsen Gampo in 637.The building measures 400 metres (1,300 ft) east-west and 350 metres (1,150 ft) north-south, with sloping stone walls averaging 3 metres (9.8 ft) thick, and 5 metres (16 ft) thick at the base, and with copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes. Thirteen storeys of buildings, containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues, soar 117 metres (384 ft) on top of Marpo Ri, the "Red Hill", rising more than 300 metres (980 ft) in total above the valley floor.Tradition has it that the three main hills of Lhasa represent the "Three Protectors of Tibet". Chokpori, just to the south of the Potala, is the soul-mountain (Wylie: bla ri) of Vajrapani, Pongwari that of Manjusri, and Marpori, the hill on which the Potala stands, represents Avalokiteśvara.Puning Temple (Hebei)
The Puning Temple (Chinese: 普宁寺; pinyin: Pǔníng Sì; literally: 'Temple of Universal Peace'), commonly called the Big Buddha Temple, is a Buddhist temple complex in Chengde, Hebei province, China. It was built in 1755 during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor in the Qing dynasty. It is near the Chengde Mountain Resort and alongside the equally famed Putuo Zongcheng Temple. Puning is one of the "Eight Outer Temples" of Chengde.
The Puning Temple was modeled after the Samye Monastery, the sacred Lamaist site in Tibet (much as the Putuo Zongcheng Temple was modeled after the Potala Palace in Lhasa). The front temple was constructed in the Chinese style, although the temple complex follows both Chinese and Tibetan architectural styles. The Puning Temple houses the world's tallest wooden sculpture of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (22.28-meter-high and 110 ton), hence it is often nicknamed the "Big Buddha Temple". The complex features temple halls, pavilions, drum towers and bell towers.Purbuchok Hermitage
Purbuchok Hermitage (Phur bu lcog ri khrod) is a hermitage situated in the northeastern corner of the Lhasa Valley in the northern suburb of Dodé in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. Destroyed by the Chinese in 1959, it was mostly restored in 1984. Affiliated to the Sera Monastery, it is the last hermitage to be visited on the “Sixth-Month Fourth-Day” (drug pa tshe bzhi) pilgrimage circuit. The hills surrounding the monastery have been given name tags of the three protectors of the divine paradise namely the Avalokiteśvara, Manjusri and Vajrapani. It is also identified with the six-syllables divine mantra (sngags)- OM Mani Padme Hum.Tara (Buddhism)
Tara (Sanskrit: तारा, tārā; Tib. སྒྲོལ་མ, Dölma), Ārya Tārā, or White Tara, also known as Jetsun Dölma (Tibetan language: rje btsun sgrol ma) in Tibetan Buddhism, is an important figure in Buddhism. She appears as a female bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism, and as a female Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism. She is known as the "mother of liberation", and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. She is known as Tara Bosatsu (多羅菩薩) in Japan, and occasionally as Duōluó Púsà (多羅菩薩) in Chinese Buddhism.Tārā is a meditation deity worshiped by practitioners of the Tibetan branch of Vajrayana Buddhism to develop certain inner qualities and to understand outer, inner and secret teachings such as karuṇā (compassion), mettā (loving-kindness), and shunyata (emptiness). Tārā may more properly be understood as different aspects of the same quality, as bodhisattvas are often considered metaphors for Buddhist virtues.
There is also recognition in some schools of Buddhism of twenty-one Tārās. A practice text entitled Praises to the Twenty-One Taras, is the most important text on Tara in Tibetan Buddhism. Another key text is the Tantra Which is the Source for All the Functions of Tara, Mother of All the Tathagatas.The main Tārā mantra is the same for Buddhists and Hindus alike: oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā. It is pronounced by Tibetans and Buddhists who follow the Tibetan traditions as oṃ tāre tu tāre ture soha. The literal translation would be “Oṃ O Tārā, I pray O Tārā, O Swift One, So Be It!”Ten Principal Disciples
The ten principal disciples were the main disciples of Gautama Buddha. Depending on the scripture, the disciples included in this group vary. The Vimalakirti Sutra includes:
Śāripūtra (Sanskrit), or Sāriputta (Pāli), is a top master of Wisdom. In Heart Sutra, the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara preaches to him.
Maudgalyāyana (Sk.) or Moggallāna(Pl.), also known as Mahāmaudgalyāyana or Mahāmoggallāna. He is a top master of supernatural powers. Maudgalyayana and Śāriputra were once disciples of Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, the skeptic, but they became disciples of the Buddha. In Chinese Buddhism, the Mass that Maudgalyayana held to save his mother who had gone to the Hungry Ghost realm (one of the Six realms) is the foundation of ullambana (Ghost Festival).
Mahākāśyapa (Sk.) or Mahākassapa (Pl.). He was a top master of ascetic training. After the death of Shakyamuni Buddha, he assumes the leadership of the sangha, compiled the Buddha's sayings (suttas) with 500 other disciples (First Buddhist councils), and became the first man who preached the Buddha's teachings directly.
Subhūti (Sk. & Pl.) understood the potency of emptiness. He appears in several Sutras of Mahāyāna Buddhism which teach Śūnyatā (Emptiness or Voidness). He is the subject of the Subhūti Sutta.
Pūrṇa Maitrāyaniputra (Sk.) or Puṇṇa Mantānīputta (Pl.). He was also called Purna for short. He was the greatest teacher of the Law out of all the disciples. He was the top master of preaching.
Kātyāyana or Mahākātyāyana (Sk.) or Mahākaccāna (Pl.). He understood Shakyamuni Buddha's lecture the best. Although he had only five master in the rural areas, he was permitted to learn Vinaya by the Buddha.
Anuruddha (Pl.) or Aniruddha (Sk.) was a top master of clairvoyance and the practice of the four foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana). Aniruddha was a cousin of Shakyamuni Buddha. He and Ananda became monks at the same time.
Upāli (Sk. & Pl.) was a top master of Vinaya. He was born in the Shudra class and worked as a barber, ayurveda vaidya. Buddha had denied the class system, he ranked his disciples according to the order in which they joined. So Upali was ranked ahead of the ex-princes. In the First Buddhist council, the Vinaya was compiled based on his memory.
Rāhula (Sk. & Pl.) was the only son of the Buddha (when he was still Prince Siddhartha) and his wife Princess Pṛthī. He was a scrupulous, strict and shrewd person. When the Buddha went to his hometown, he became the first Sāmanera (novice monk).
Ānanda (Sk. & Pl.) listened to the Buddha's teachings the most among the disciples. He was a cousin of the Buddha. Ananda means great delight. After he became a monk, he took care of the Buddha for 25 years, until the Buddha died. In the First Buddhist council, the suttas/sutras were compiled based on his memory. He lived to 120 years old.Vajrapani
Vajrapāṇi (Sanskrit: "Vajra in [his] hand") is one of the earliest-appearing bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism. He is the protector and guide of Gautama Buddha and rose to symbolize the Buddha's power.
Vajrapāni is extensively represented in Buddhist iconography as one of the earliest three protective deities or bodhisattvas surrounding the Buddha. Each of them symbolizes one of the Buddha's virtues: Manjushri manifests all the Buddhas' wisdom, Avalokiteśvara manifests all the Buddhas' immense compassion, and Vajrapāni protects Buddha and manifests all the Buddhas' power as well as the power of all five tathāgatas (Buddhahood of the rank of Buddha).Vajrapāni is one of the earliest Dharmapalas of Mahayana Buddhism and also appears as a deity in the Pali Canon of the Theravada school. He is worshiped in the Shaolin Monastery, in Tibetan Buddhism and in Pure Land Buddhism (where he is known as Mahasthamaprapta and forms a triad with Amitābha and Avalokiteśvara). Manifestations of Vajrapāni can also be found in many Buddhist temples in Japan as Dharma protectors called Nio. Vajrapāni is also associated with Acala, who is venerated as Fudō-Myōō in Japan, where he is serenaded as the holder of the vajra.
Topics in Buddhism
Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra