Chün-fang Yü

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:

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One major difference between Mahayana Buddhism and early or Mainstream Buddhism is the worship of many buddhas and bodhisattvas (beings of enlightenment). Of the many bodhisattvas, Avalokiteśvara is identified specifically as the embodiment of compassion, and as such has been worshipped throughout Buddhist Asia. However, depending on the cultural traditions into which Buddhism was introduced, the bodhisattva came to assume different roles, inspire different cultic practices, and create distinctive traditions. He is known by different names: Guanyin or Guanshiyin (Perceiver of the Sounds of the World) in Chinese, Kannon or Kanzeon in Japanese, Kwanse’um in Korean, and Quanam in Vietnamese. In Tibet he is known as Chenresi (spyan-ras-gzigs, “One Who Sees with Eyes”). The bodhisattva also served as a legitimizing symbol for the royalty as a result of the cult of divine kings in South and Southeast Asia. For instance, in Cambodia and Java, he is known as Lokeśvara (Lord of the World); in Burma, Lokanātha (Protector of the World); and in Sri Lanka, Nātha Dēviyō. Avalokiteśvara is also the only bodhisattva who underwent a sexual transformation in China.

Article.  6161 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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