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Guanyin – Manifestation of Compassion


What is Guanyin?
“Guanyin” is the Chinese transliteration of the sanskrit name Avalokitesvara. Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means “the perceiver of the sounds in the world.” Avalokitesvara is also translated as Guanzizai, which means “to perceive with ease.” In Tibet, Avalokitesvara is commonly known as Chenrezig. In the Chinese society, Avalokitesvara is widely known as Guanyin.

In India, Guanyin would manifest in many different forms. He is known to have attained Buddhahood in the past eon, a disciple of the Buddha in the present eon, and the foremost attendant bodhisattva of Amitabha Buddha in the Western Pure Land. Out of compassion, he alleviates sentient beings from suffering and keeps them safe from danger. He is also known to look after sentient beings in the afterlife.

Is Guanyin male or female?
In the sutras, it mentions that Guanyin manifests in whatever form the person needs in order to enlighten them. The original appearance of Guanyin is mentioned in the 68th fascicle of the Avatamsaka Sutra, where it talks about the Guanyin on Mount Potalaka as being masculine and brave. According to studies, all Guanyin statues were male in appearance prior to the Tang Dynasty and it was not until after the Tang Dynasty that the female version started appearing. The female form is more appealing to female believers as there is more empathy and compassion in the female form.

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