Tag Archive: buddhism


This was eye opening for me in terms of how crucial the role of women played in the development of early Christianity and Islam – names of women I had never heard of before (Empress Theodora, Khadija bint Khuwaylid, and Aisha bint Abu Bakr).  I truly wish their stories and accounts were taught along side that of their male counterparts – that their names were as well known and considered “common knowledge”; but those in power tried to slander, bury and stamp them out for a reason…to demote their significance and thus the social status of women.  “Forget or ignore them, and we impoverish history and ourselves.”

“Programme Three explores a missed ‘golden age’ for women, when historical characters such as the Empress Theodora in Byzantium, Wu Zetien in China (the Empress who called herself Emperor), the early women of Islam and Anglo-Saxon Hilda of Whitby, used the power of ancient traditions and new ideas about religion and philosophy to wield influence in a man’s world – notably through the power of reform, education and the word. We look at evidence through the Byzantine Empire, early Islam, in China, Northumbria and Oxford.”

 

Goddess Vasudhara

“Vasudhara” by Sundar Sinkhwal

“Vasudhara’s themes are religious devotion, charity, thankfulness and abundance. Her symbols are cows and golden items. In India, this golden-breasted earth Goddess provides us with enough abundance to be able to give back freely of what we receive. Vasushara’s golden color alludes to some solar attributes, including manifesting financial prosperity for those who call upon Her. In Her wealth-giving aspect, Vasudhara sometimes appears as a cow.

Around this date, many churches in the United States and Canada begin their annual fund-raising campaign by asking parishioners to give back a little of what the divine has given them.  While many New Age practitioners don’t belong to a church, this idea still holds merit and would please Vasudhara greatly. Donate a little money to a pagan defense fund, for example.  Put on something gold to draw the Goddess’s prosperity back to you, then buy some good magic books for your library. The proceeds indirectly ‘give back’ to the teachers whom you admire through royalties!

If your schedule allows, stop in at your favorite New Age store and volunteer an hour of your time to give back to the community. Write thank-you letters to people who have somehow touched your life deeply. Should any of these people live nearby, help them with chores or bring them a special dish for dinner.  These acts of kindness are a type of stewardship that reflects Vasushara’s spirit by blessing others.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

A Newari Representation of Vasudhara

From Wikipedia: “Vasudhārā whose name means ‘stream of gems’ in Sanskrit, is the Buddhist bodhisattva of wealth, prosperity, and abundance. She is popular in many Buddhist countries and is a subject in Buddhist legends and art. Originally an Indian bodhisattva, Her popularity has spread to southern Buddhist countries. Her popularity, however, peaks in Nepal where She has a strong following among the Buddhist Newars of the Kathmandu Valley and is thus a central figure in Newar Buddhism.  She is named Shiskar Apa in Lahul and Spiti.

The origin of Vasudhārā in Buddhism appears in the Buddhist text The Vasudhara Dharani.  According to a legend in the text known as ‘The Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra,’ an impoverished layman named Sucandra approaches the Buddha Shakyamuni requesting a way to obtain large amounts gold, grain, silver, and gems in order to feed his large family and engage in acts of charity with the surplus fortune. Shakyamuni, aware of a mantra about the bodhisattva Vasudhara that would suit his purposes, bestows Sucandra with an incantation and religious ritual that when followed would result in good fortune and prosperity brought on by Vasudhara Herself. Upon commencing the rituals and teaching them to others, Sucandra begins to prosper. Noticing his success, the monk Ananda asked Shakyamuni how he had obtained this fortune so quickly. Shakyamuni instructs Ananda to also practice the Vasudhara Dharani and ‘impart it to others ‘for the good of many’.’

Although ‘The Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra’ seems to contradict the Buddha’s renunciation of material possessions and earthly pleasures, Shakyamuni does not instruct the monk to recite the mantra for material benefit but instead he stresses that the mantra is for ‘the good of many’ and for ‘the happiness of many’.  Thus the mantra is meant more as means of alleviating suffering rather than obtaining wealth through Vasudhara, who not only grants physical wealth and abundance but also spiritual wealth and abundance. Click here to continue reading about Her legends from Taranatha.

Like the legend of the ‘Inquiry of the Layman Sucandra’ these legends are significant because they encourage both the lay and monastic worship of Vasudhara.  In addition, they stress the importance of charity, teaching worshippers to share in their good fortune rather than amassing it for themselves.

Vasudhara [Tib. Norgyun(ma)]

In Buddhist art, Vasudhara has a consistent iconography. She can easily be identified as a bodhisattva by the elaborate headdress and the extensive amount of jewelry she wears.  Her skin has a golden hue in bronze and painted images. This color is associated with precious metals and symbolizes opulence, fertility, and generosity in Buddhist iconography. Vasudhara is typically seated on a lotus flower base in the lalitasana, or royal pose, with one foot tucked in towards her and the other hanging of the flower base but resting on a small treasure.  She can, however, also be represented in a standing position.  When standing, Vasudhara has a full vase representing abundance underneath each foot.

Despite this consistency in Her representations, the number of Her arms may differ from image to image. In visual representations, Vasudhara can have as few as two arms and as many as six. The two-armed representations are more common in Tibetan art and Indian art, while six-armed representations are almost exclusive to Nepalese art.  Although the six-armed image originates in India, they are rare and only few examples have been found.

In Her hands, Vasudhara holds a variety of objects attributed to Her. Most representations show Her holding a sheaf of corn in Her left hand, symbolizing an abundant harvest.  She may also be holding a gem or small treasure, a symbol of wealth. Representations with more arms, such as the six-armed Nepali representation, also depict Her holding a full vase and the Book of Wisdom. With Her free hands, Vasudhara performs mudras. A commonly seen mudra in paintings and figurines featuring Vasudhara is the varada mudra, also known as the charity mudra, which symbolizes the ‘pouring forth of divine blessings.’ Vasudhara is the subject of numerous bronzes and paintings. She is predominantly the central figure of bronze sculptures or painted mandalas. She may also, however, appear alongside Her consort, Vaiśravaṇa (Jambhala) the Buddhist God of Riches. Despite his status, She surpasses him in popularity and is more commonly the central figure of Her own mandalas.

Vasudhara is particularly popular in Nepali Buddhism among the Buddhist Newars of the Kathmandu Valley. In this region she is a common household deity. This is known from the countless number of bronzes and paintings found representing Her. These images are small in size, typically 18 cm or smaller.  Because of their small size it is known that these images were primarily for private use, namely household veneration of the Goddess. Additionally, there is a cult dedicated to Her worship followed by the Buddhist Newars.  Followers of this cult believe that Her worship brings wealth and stability. Despite the strong following of this cult by the Buddhist Newars, unfortunately, it is now in decline.

As the Bodhisattva of abundance and prosperity, Her popularity in this region is due to the predominance of agriculture and trade essential to the economy of the Kathmandu Valley.  The Newars believe that Her veneration will generally result in good fortune.

One of the earliest Nepalese representations of Vasudhara is a pauhba (textile art depicting Hindu and Buddhist images on course cotton), dating back to 1015 C.E.  This pauhba is known as the Mandala of Vasudhara. The Goddess is the central image of this mandala, which depicts scenes of dedication, ritual initiation, festive music, and dance associated with Her worship. Its purpose is didactic (to teach). The mandala teaches the importance of worshipping Vasudhara primarily through the narrative of a non-believer whom She converted to belief.

In addition to Her popularity in Nepal, Vasudhara is also an important ‘wealth deity’ in Tibetan Buddhism.  Although popular in Tibet, Vasudhara does not assume as important of a role as She does in Nepalese Buddhism. In Tibet, the worship of Vasudhara is limited to mostly lay people as opposed to worship by both lay and monastic life. This is because Tibetan monastic life regards Vasudhara as a ‘benefactor of the laity’ and instead primarily engages in the worship of the Goddess Tara for all their needs.  This, however, does not mean that monastic life disregards Her completely. They do perform rites and rituals to the Goddess habitually but it is usually at the request of a patron.

The iconography of Vasudhara varies slightly in this region. In Tibetan art She appears more commonly with two arms. The six-armed representations, however, also exist and it is believed they filtered into Tibet through Nepal because of the late appearance of these images in manuscripts and art.  Unlike Nepalese art, Vasudhara rarely appears alone in Tibetan art. Instead She is paired with Jambhala or appears alongside other deities.  Despite these slight differences, most of Her iconography remains unchanged and Vasudhara can be easily recognized by Her attributes in most Buddhist art.

Vasudhara is often compared to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. As Goddesses of wealth, both deities have a similar iconography and are worshipped for their role in an abundant harvest.  Both assume a golden hue in artistic representations, perform the same mudra, and hold similar objects. For example, Vasudhara and Lakshmi are often depicted holding gems or having pots of treasure under their feet. It is believed that the convention of depicting Vasudhara standing on vases originated from earlier representations of Lakshmi.  Furthermore, both Goddesses are often depicted paired with their respective consorts, Lakshmi alongside Vishnu and Vasudhara alongside Jambhala.” [1]

“Invite Vasudhara into your home, offer Her flowers and water, and recite Her mantra daily to invite wealth and abundance into your life. Her mantra is: OM SHRI VASUDHARA RATNA NIDHANA KASHETRI SOHA.” [2]

Sources:

Fsmegamall.com, “Bejeweled Vasudhara – Goddess of Wealth and Abundance“.

Wikipedia, “Vasudhara“.

 

Suggested Links:

Huntington, John C. & Dina Bangdel. The Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art, “125| Vasundhara“.

Isley, A. Krishna. Krishna76.deviantart.com, “Vasundhara in Vajrayana Buddhi“. (An excellent academic essay!)

News.richmond.edu, “Religion professor researches Buddhist goddesses of Tibet“.

Shaw, Miranda Eberle. Buddhist Goddesses of India.

Smithsonian Institution. Asia.si.edu, “Devi: The Great Goddess“.

Goddess Srinmo

“Srinmo’s themes karma, Universal Law, excellence, sports and cycles. Her symbols are the wheel and boomerang. In Tibet, this Goddess holds the Great Round, a cosmic wheel upon which the movement of human life is recorded with each thought, word, and deed. Srinmo’s demonic visage represents the human fear of death and reminds that one should strive for good in this life for the beauty it brings now and n our next incarnation.

In Virginia, the Boomerang Festival is a festival of skill centering on the ancient boomerangs believed to have been used originally by the Egyptians.

Metaphysically speaking, the boomerang’s movement represents the threefold law and Srinmo’s karmic balance (i.e., everything you send out returns to you thrice).
To give yourself a greater understanding of this principle, or to recognize the cycles in your life that may need changing, carry any round object today, such as a coin. Put it in your pocket, saying

‘What goes around comes around.’

Pay particular attention to your routine and the way you interact with people all day, and see what Srinmo reveals to you.

For aiding the quest for enlightenment, and generally improving karma through light-filled living, try this little incantation in the car each time you make a right-hand turn today:

‘As I turn to the right,
I move closer to the Light!'”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Today’s research comes from a fantastic piece written by  Victor & Victoria Trimondi; and the following excerpt is the story of the bondage of the earth Goddess Srinmo and the history of the origin of Tibet.  “According to Tibetan tradition, the whole Tibetan territory can be represented as a vast wild female demon lying on her back facing East and stretching her limbs all over the country. The accounts of this conception are found in several Tibetan texts that originated between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, including the famous terma-revealed chronicle Maṇi Kabum (ma ni bka’ ‘bum, 12th century) and above cited chronicle The Clear Mirror (rgyal rabs gsal ba’i me long) written by the great scholar Södnam Gyaltsen (bsod nams rgyal mtshan, 1312-1375).” [1]

“The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is considered the progenitor of the Tibetans, he thus determines events from the very beginning. In the period before there were humans on earth, the Buddha being was embodied in a monkey and passed the time in deep meditation on the ‘Roof of the World‘. There, as if from nowhere, a rock demoness by the name of Srinmo appeared. The hideous figure was a descendent of the Srin clan, a bloodthirsty community of nature Goddesses. ‘Spurred on by horniness’ — as one text puts it — She too assumed the form of a (female) monkey and tried over seven days to seduce Avalokiteshvara. But the divine Bodhisattva monkey withstood all temptations and remained untouched and chaste. As he continued to refuse on the eighth day, Srinmo threatened him with the following words: ‘King of the monkeys, listen to me and what I am thinking. Through the power of love, I very much love you. Through this power of love I woo you, and confess: If you will not be my spouse, I shall become the rock demon’s companion. If countless young rock demons then arise, every morning they will take thousands upon thousands of lives. The region of the Land of Snows itself will take on the nature of the rock demons. All other forms of life will then be consumed by the rock demons. If I myself then die as a consequence of my deed, these living beings will be plunged into hell. Think of me then, and have pity’ (Hermanns, 1956, p. 32). With this she hit the bullseye. ‘Sexual intercourse out of compassion and for the benefit of all suffering beings’ was — as we already know — a widespread ‘ethical’ practice in Mahayana Buddhism. Despite this precept, the monkey first turned to his emanation father, Amitabha, and asked him for advice. The ‘god of light from the West’ answered him with wise foresight: ‘Take the rock demoness as your consort. Your children and grandchildren will multiply. When they have finally become humans, they will be a support to the teaching’ (Hermanns, 1956, p. 32).

Nevertheless, this Buddhist evolutionary account, reminiscent of Charles Darwin, did not just arise from the compassionate gesture of a divine monkey; rather, it also contains a widely spread, elitist value judgement by the clergy, which lets the Tibetans and their country be depicted as uncivilized, underdeveloped and animal-like, at least as far as the negative influence of their primordial mother is concerned. ‘From their father they are hardworking, kind, and attracted to religious activity; from their mother they are quick-tempered, passionate, prone to jealousy and fond of play and meat’, an old text says of the inhabitants of the Land of Snows (Samuel, 1993, p. 222).

Two forces thus stand opposed to one another, right from the Tibetan genesis: the disciplined, restrained, culturally creative, spiritual world of the monks in the form of Avalokiteshvaraand the wild, destructive energy of the feminine in the figure of Srinmo.

In a further myth, non-Buddhist Tibet itself appears as the embodiment of Srinmo (Janet Gyatso, 1989, p. 44). The local demoness is said to have resisted the introduction of the true teaching by the Buddhist missionaries from India with all means at Her disposal, with weaponry and with magic, until She was ultimately defeated by the great king of law, Songtsen Gampo (617-650), an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara (and thus of the current Dalai Lama). ‘The lake in the Milk plane,’ writes the Tibet researcher Rolf A. Stein, ‘where the first Buddhist king built his temple (the Jokhang), represented the heart of the demoness, who lay upon Her back. The demoness is Tibet itself, which must first be tamed before She can be inhabited and civilized. Her body still covers the full extent of Tibet in the period of its greatest military expansion (eighth to ninth century C.E.). Her spread-eagled limbs reached to the limits of Tibetan settlement … In order to keep the limbs of the defeated demoness under control, twelve nails of immobility were hammered into Her’ (Stein, 1993, p.34). A Buddhist temple was raised at the location of each of these twelve nailings.

Mysterious stories circulate among the Tibetans which tell of a lake of blood under the Jokhang, which is supposed to consist of Srinmo’s heart blood. Anyone who lays his ear to the ground in the cathedral, the sacred center of the Land of Snows, can still — many claim — hear Her faint heartbeat. A comparison of this unfortunate female fate with the subjugation of the Greek dragon, Pythonat Delphi immediately suggests itself. Apollothe god of light (Avalokiteshvara), let the earth-monster, Python (Srinmo), live once he had defeated it so that it would prophesy for him, and built over the mistreated body at Delphi the most famous oracle temple in Greece.

The earth demoness is nailed down with phurbas. These are ritual daggers with a three-sided blade and a vajra handle. We know these already from the Kalachakra ritual, where they are likewise employed to fixate the earth spirits and the earth mother. The authors who have examined the symbolic significance of the magic weapon are unanimous in their assessment of the aggressive phallic symbolism of the phurba.

In their view, Srinmo represents an archetypal variant of the Mother Earth figure known from all cultures, whom the Greeks called Gaia (Gaea). As nature and as woman She stands in stark contrast to the purely spiritual world of Tantric Buddhism. The forces of wilderness, which rebel against androcentric civilization, are bundled within Her. She forms the feminine shadow world in opposition to the masculine paradise of light of the shining Amitabha and his radiant emanation son, AvalokiteshvaraSrinmo symbolizes the (historical) prima materia, the matrix, the primordial earthly substance which is needed in order to construct a tantric monastic empire, then She provides the gynergy, the feminine élan vitale, with which the Land of Snows pulsates. As the vanquisher of the earth Goddess, Avalokiteshvara triumphs in the form of King Songtsen Gampo, that is, the same Bodhisattva who, as a monkey, earlier engendered with Srinmo the Tibetans in myth, and who shall later exercise absolute dominion from the ‘Roof of the World’ as Dalai Lama.

Tibet’s sacred center, the Jokhang (the cathedral of Lhasa), the royal chronicles inform us, thus stands over the pierced heart of a woman, the earth mother Srinmo. This act of nailing down is repeated at the construction of every Lamaist shrine, whether temple or monastery and regardless of where the establishment takes place — in Tibet, India, or the West. Then before the first foundation stone for the new building is laid, the tantric priests occupy the chosen location and execute the ritual piercing of the earth mother with their phurbas. Tibet’s holy geography is thus erected upon the maltreated bodies of mythic women, just as the tantric shrines of India (the shakta pithas) are found on the places where the dismembered body of the Goddess Sati fell to earth.

Srinmo with different Tibetan temples upon her body

In contrast to Her Babylonian sister, Tiamat, who was cut to pieces by Her great-grandchild, Marduk, so that outer space was formed by Her limbs, Srinmo remains alive following Her subjugation and nailing down. According to the tantric scheme, Her gynergy flows as a constant source of life for the Buddhocratic system. She thus vegetates — half dead, half alive — over centuries in the service of the patriarchal clergy. An interpretation of this process according to the criteria of the gaia thesis often discussed in recent years would certainly be most revealing. (We return to this point in our analysis of the ecological program of the Tibetans in exile.) According to this thesis, the mistreated ‘Mother Earth’ (Gaia is the popular name for the Greek earth mother) has been exploited by humanity (and the gods?) for millennia and is bleeding to death. But Srinmo is not just a reservoir of inexhaustible energy. She is also the absolute Other, the foreign, and the great danger which threatens the Buddhocratic state. Srinmo is — as we still have to prove — the mythic ‘inner enemy’ of Tibetan Lamaism, while the external mythic enemy is likewise represented by a woman, the Chinese Goddess Guanyin.

Srinmo survived — even if it was under the most horrible circumstances, yet the Tibetans also have a myth of dismemberment which repeats the Babylonian tragedy of Tiamat. Like many peoples they worship the tortoise as a symbol of Mother Earth. A Tibetan myth tells of how in the mists of time the Bodhisattva Manjushri sacrificed such a creature ‘or the benefit of all beings’. In order to form a solid foundation for the world he fired an arrow off at the tortoise which struck it in the right-hand side. The wounded animal spat fire, its blood poured out, and it passed excrement. It thus multiplied the elements of the new world. Albert Grünwedel presents this myth as evidence for the “tantric female sacrifice” in the Kalachakra ritual: ‘The tortoise which Manjushri shot through with a long arrow … [is] just another form of the world woman whose inner organs are depicted by the dasakaro vasi figure [the Power of Ten]’ (Grünwedel, 1924, vol. II, p. 92).

The relation of Tibetan Buddhism to the Goddess of the earth or of the country (Tibet) is also one of brutal subjugation, an imprisonment, an enslavement, a murder or a dismemberment. Euphemistically, and in ignorance of the tantric scheme of things it could also be interpreted as a civilizing of the wilderness through culture. Yet however the relation is perceived — no meeting, no exchange, no mutual recognition of the two forces takes place. In the depths of Tibet’s history — as we shall show — a brutal battle of the sexes is played out.” [2]

Well damn…who knew??  I really had no idea how misogynistic Buddhism was until it was brought to my attention back in mid June of this year.  A person had shared several links with me and to be honest, it was very unsettling.  One relevant link that was shared I will share here in this entry is entitled Thai Buddhism and Patriarchy by Ouyporn Khuankaew.

“Although many people believe Buddhism is an ‘egalitarian’ religion, the fact will remain that sexism/gender bias has been a very integral part of the faith for many centuries. Overall, there is less virulent anti-woman bigotry within Buddhism than many other religions, especially the Abrahamic cultus of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but misogyny and chauvinism have been apparent enough in the Eastern faiths as well, including the Buddhist.” [3]

Man, way to pop my happy little Zen bubble, huh?

 

 

 

Sources: 

Murdock, D.M. Examiner.com, “Women in Buddhism“.

Sehnalova, Anna. 4shared.com, “The Myth of the ‘Supine Demoness’“.

Trimondi, Victor & Victoria. Trimondi.de, “2. The Dalai Lama (Avalokiteshvara) and the Demoness (Srinmo)“.

Suggested Links:

Cabezón, José Ignacio. Thlib.org, “Pabongkha Hermitage“.

O’Neill, Brendan. Reason.com, “The Truth About Tibetan Buddhism“.

Trimondi, Victor & Victoria. Trimondi.de, “Part I – 1. Buddhism and misogyny – an historical overview“.  (Here is a link to the Contents page)

Visitourchina.com, “History of Jokhang Temple“.

Wikipedia, “Women in Buddhism“.

Goddess Drol-Ma

Painting in the Dunhuang Series by Zeng Hao

“Drol-ma’s themes are kindness, overcoming, charity and change. Her symbols are any acts of kindness.  This Nepalese Goddess’s name means ‘deliverer’. So it is that Drol-ma visits us with compassion and transformative power, turning sadness into joy, poverty into wealth and despair into hope.

On this day in 1910, the inspiring Mother Teresa was born. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her charitable works. To remember her and honor the spirit of Drol-ma that her life reflected so powerfully, do something nice for people today. Pick up a friend who normally has to take the bus, shop for someone who can’t get out, baby-sit for a flustered mother, give a few bucks to a food bank, donate blood to the Red Cross, volunteer your time at a youth center. Drol-ma lives in all these selfless acts.

To help recognize an opportunity for kindness or charity, pray to Drol-ma before leaving the house today, using words like these:

‘Great Deliverer, She whose heart knows no limits,
renew in me the spirit of benevolence that seeks
not after it’s own reward but does good for good’s
sake. The world is a much lovelier place when
Your kindness flows through our hearts, reaching
out to those in need. Take my hand and guide my
way. Let it begin today. Amen.’

Go out and keep your eyes and ears open!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Green Tara” by Zeng Hao

Today’s Goddess is actually another name of the great Goddess Tara.  “In Tibetan, [Tara] is called Dolma or Do’ma, though often we see Drolma because it follows the Tibetan spelling (a little more; if we transliterate, it is actually sgrolma.).” [1]  “Tara (Tib. Dolma) is worshipped for Her assistance in aiding the believer to overcome obstacles on the path to enlightenment.” [2]

See my March 3rd entry on the Goddess Tara for more information.

 

 

 

Sources:

Dharmasculpture.com, “Tara, the Mother of All Buddhas“.

Khandro.net, “Tara“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Wikipedia, “Tara (Buddhism)“.

“Light of the Dharma” by Anya Langmead

“Buddhabodhiprabhavasita’s themes are wisdom, meditation, Universal Law, overcoming, spirituality and banishing. Her symbols are the color yellow and Prayer Wheels.  This Buddhist Goddess controls the awareness of Buddha, personifying spiritual regeneration and the power of light to overcome any darnkess in our lives. Since Buddhabodhiprabhavasita has the ear of Buddha, She makes an excellent mediator and teacher of universal truths.

In Tibet, this is a time for the Cham-ngyon-wa (“Old Dance”) in which monks to bring out costumes fashioned after Manchu dynasty tradition and dance in a parade of cymbals, flutes, gongs and drums. Their dance portrays the demons of hell fighting against the favorite regional deities (who of course win the symbolic battle by the end of the exhibition). To adapt this, go through your living space making lots of noise to banish any negativity that lurks within. Turn on the lights as you go to literally ‘turn on’ Buddhabodhiprabhavasita’s insight within yourself and use any wheel as the focus for your prayers. For example, write your needs on your automobile tires or attach them to bicycle spokes so that each time the wheel goes round, the prayer goes out to the Goddess.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Expansion and Fulfilment” from Circle of Good Will

I could not find anything on a specific Goddess called Buddhabodhiprabhavasita (try saying that 3 times fast!).  I did run across this tidbit of information from a blog called The One and Only; according to it’s author, ketutar, “Buddha and Bodhi are basically the same – Bodhi means enlightenment and Buddha The Enlightened Prabha is the Universal Light and one of the names of Lakshmi.  Vashita is the Goddess of Air and communication – She controlls the senses and thus can make you see and hear what ever She wants. (Vasitas are minor Buddhist Goddesses).  So Buddhabodhiprabhavasita is one of Lakshmi’s aspects, the Light and Air that carries communication – that makes communication possible.” [1]

So, I’ve got the “Buddha” and “Bodhi” broken down.  Looking up “Prabhavati”, I found mention of “a 4th century regent of the western Indian Vakataka dynasty” [2] and Prabhavati Devi whowas at the forefront of freedom struggle in Bihar” [3].  According to babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com, Prabhavati means “Having light; luminous” in Sanskrit and Indian. [4]

I FINALLY came across this entry in the Encyclopedia of Hinduism by Sunil Sehgal: “Buddhabodhiprabhavasita (Control of the light of knowledge of Buddha) Minor Goddess. Buddhist. One of a group of twelve vasitas personifying the disciplines of spiritual gegeneration. Colour: yellow. Attributes: prayer wheel and jewelled banner” (p. 309). [5]

 

 

 

Sources:

babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com, “Prabhavati“.

ketutar. The One and Only, “Buddhabodhiprabhavasita“.

Sehgal, Sunil. The Encyclopedia of Hinduism, “Buddhabodhiprabhavasita“.

Wikipedia, “Prabhavati“.

Wikipedia, “Prabhavati Devi“.

“Grismadevi’s themes are cycles, recreation, rest, summer and time. Her symbols are summer flowers, the color red and cups.  The Buddhist Goddess whose name means ‘summer’ joins us to welcome the season and energize our efforts for Goddess-centered living. In works of art She often appears wearing the color red, the hue of life’s energy and carrying a cup offering refreshment to all in need.

On this day, people in Hong Kong take a much deserved reprieve from their labors to welcome summer and mark the halfway point in the year; we can do likewise today. This is a moment to pat yourself on the back for the magical goals you’ve attained thus far and the growing power of the Goddess within you.

Wear something red or flowery today to accent Grismadevi’s energies in and around your life. Drink red juices or eat red foods to internalize the vibrancy of summer and this Goddess. Suggestions include red grapefruit juice for purification, red peppers for zest, strawberry pie to partake in life’s sweet abundance, a tossed tomato salad for love (the dressings brings harmony), raspberries to protect your relationships and rhubarb for devotion.

FInally, leave a cup filled with reddish-colored liquid or a bouquet of fresh flowers on your alter or family table today to honor Grismadevi and welcome both Her and the summer sunshine into your home.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

The information that  I found on today’s Goddess was very limited.  Mythologydictionary.com states, “Grismadevi: Buddhist – A Goddess of summer. One of the attendants of Sri. She is sometimes depicted as having the head of an animal. Also commonly known as dByar-gyi-rgyal-mo or Tibetan dByar-gyi-rgyal-ma.” [1]

The Encyclopedia of Hinduism: C – G, Volume 2 states that She is a “seasonal Goddess.  Buddhist-Lamaist [Tibet].  Also an attendant of Sridevi.  Usually accompanied by a yak.  Colour red.  Attributes: axe and cup.” [2]

 

 

 

Sources:

Mythologydictionary.com, “Grismadevi“.

Sehgal, Sunil. Encyclopedia of Hinduism: C – G, Volume 2, “Grismadevi” (p. 638).

Ratna Dakinis

“Ratna Dakini” by Phyllis Glanville

“The Ratna Dakinis’ themes are banishing, victory, kindness and Karma. Their symbols are the color yellow.  In Tibet, these Goddesses rule over all gestures of goodness and compassion, which naturally help improve Karma. Collectively, their name means ‘inestimable,’ showing us the true power and value in acts of kindness that are driven by a pure heart.

The The Hemis Festival includes a ritual playing which all manner of mythic creatures are poised against the Tibetan lamas, symbolizing the battle between good and evil.  Bells, censers, cymbals and drums draw in positive magic, banish evil and win the fight for Ratna Dakinis’ goodness. In keeping with this idea, string together some yellow-colored brass bells for a Ratna Dakinis house amulet. Hold these in your hand and empower them by saying,

‘Let you goodness ring, let purity sing, with each wind Ratna Dakinis’ blessing bring!’

Hang these where they will catch the wind regularly, releasing the magic.

Wear something yellow today to keep Ratna Dakinis in mind so that your actions will be gentle and filled with kindness. Do something nice for someon who’s been feeling blue lately, ‘just beause.’ Give them some yellow flowers, offer a hug, or maybe make an extra bell amulet for them too! This boosts good Karma, makes both of you feel good and invoks Ratna Dakinis’ blessings through thoughtfulness.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Golden Dakini” by A. Andrew Gonzalez

“The term Dakini is Sanskrit. It’s Tibetan equivalent is Khadrokha meaning ‘sky’ and dro meaning to ‘go’. Taking it together, Khadro means one who can move through the sky.  It’s very important we think about this literal meaning in trying to understand Dakinis. Now, all dakinis are portrayed in female form — there male counterpart being called dakas. There are enlightened dakinis and unenlightened dakinis.

The unenlightened dakinis are termed worldly dakinis because they are still caught in the cyclic world of samsara. Worldly dakinis are found in human form as well as in astral (lunar) form and could have a form of a beautiful fairy-like being or a demonic flesh-eating being. An example of a worldly dakini are the Five evil Tseringma sisters Padma Sambhava tamed (control) into protectors. Another example of a worldly dakini is a celestial messenger falling into the category of a protector bodhisattva performing beneficial actions. Another example might be a great human practitioner that has accomplished some insight but who is not yet released from suffering.

The enlightened dakinis are the Wisdom Dakinis. They have passed beyond samsara into liberation and an example of an enlightened dakini would be any one of the female yidam or one of the female consorts to the Five Dhyana Buddhas.

Art by Penny Slinger

There are five families of Worldly and Wisdom Dakinis: Vajra Dakinis, Ratna Dakinis, Padma Dakinis, Karma Dakinis, and Buddha Dakinis. And both the worldly dakinis and wisdom dakinis can have supernatural powers. You may recall the story of Tilopa where he encountered a number of various dakinis. The worldly dakinis who had control over sight and sound bombarded him with mirages after which he met the dakinis embodying the five activities and finally he met with the wisdom dakini in the heart of the mandala.

The dakinis are born in three manners: 1) Spontaneously enlightened ones arise from Sabogakaya‘s unfoldment from Dharmakaya. Example of these Dakinis being Tara and Vajrayogini. 2)Those born in heavenly realms. Those who are born from within the heavenly realms and those who reach the heavenly realms though their own attainment. 3)Finally, those born by realization of mantra. These are humans who have reached various levels of inner realization.

So, as you can see, there are many different types and levels of dakinis. Dakinis in general can be a guiding light along the path removing physical and spiritual hindrances. They can play a great part in an individual’s attainment of enlightenment. They are the forces that awaken dormant qualities of spiritual impulses hidden in the subconscious. It is the dakini’s inspirational influence that can open one and remove obstacles. But, it is the Wisdom Dakinis that we should be interested in learning about and who we can rely on to truly release us from samsara.” [1]

Ratna Dakini

“The Ratna (Precious) Dakinis represent South, grandness and compassion.” [2] The family is Ratna Family, or the jeweled family, have the following associations:

  • The color is golden yellow.
  • The element is earth.
  • The symbol is the jewell.
  • The afflicted pattern is arrogance, pride; which covered feeling of inadequacy, not being good enough, creating greed, consuming hunger, consuming of all kinds.
  • The wisdom is of fundamental reality, the reality of equality, which is the same energy when the struggle is released.  Release of all self-advancements, self-importance and over barring attitudes to a relaxed state of equanimity and generosity, like the earth.
  • The Ratna Dakini has full body, has good sense of humour, and likes bright colours. Her knife is ornamented with the jewell. In Her left hand She holds the scull cup, with nectar of knowledge brimming out of it. In the crook of her left arm is the Katvanga staff – the inner consort. She is golden. Wisdom flames of equanimity and unchanging stillness emanate from Her body.
  • The seed syllable is – “RI”      [3]

 

 

Sources:

A Buddhist Library, “The Dakini Principle“.

Bundyuk, Maryna Brij. Creative Seedlings.com, “Meditation in the Mandala of the 5 Dakinis, the Enlightened Feminine“.

Chinaroad Löwchen. Tibetan Goddess Names, “Dakinis,the“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Buddha Nature.com, “The Vajra Dakini“.

Dakini Yogini Central, “Five Wisdom Dakini“.

Labdron, Machik. Machik’s Complete Explanation: Clarifying the Meaning of Chod (Tsadra Foundation).

Shaw, Miranda. Buddhist Goddesses of India.

Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Trantric Buddhism.

Simmer-Brown, Judith. “Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism“.

Vajranatha.com, “Wisdom Dakinis, Passionate and Wrathful“.

Wikipedia, “Dakini“.

The Tennin

Painting by Zeng Hao

“The Tennin’s themes are protection and anti-theft.  Their symbols are drums and feathers.  These semi divine beings are a kind of angel in Buddhist tradition. They like to make music, and their singing voices are as lovely as their stunning visages. Art renderings show them wearing feathered robes and sprouting wings a bit like oversized sylphs. On this day they join their voices to our celebration and wrap us in wings of safety.

Follow Japanese conventions of the Furukawa Matsuri festival and go through your home or entire town making as much noise as possible by banging pots, blowing horns, ringing bells. This protects you from the threat of thievery and unwanted ghostly visitations, as well singing sacred songs that draw the Tennin’s attention and aid. A flurry of lantern lighting or in our case, lamp lighting often accompanies this activity, to shine a light on the darkness and reclaim the night with divine power.

To remember the Tennin specifically and invite their protective energy, put a lightweight item (like a silk scarf, a sheer curtain, or something else with diaphanous qualities) in the region that needs guarding. Put on a tape, record, or CD of vocal music (or sing yourself), and they will come. To protect yourself, carry a feather in your purse or wallet.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Tennin which may include tenshi (lit. heavenly messenger) and the specifically female tennyo are spiritual beings found in Japanese Buddhism that are similar to western angels, nymphs or fairies.  They were imported from Chinese Buddhism, which was influenced itself by concepts of heavenly beings found in Indian Buddhism and Chinese Taoism.

Tennin are mentioned in Buddhist sutras, and these depictions form the basis for depictions of the beings in Japanese art, sculpture and theater.  They are usually pictured as unnaturally beautiful women dressed in ornate, colorful kimonos (traditionally in five colors), exquisite jewelry, and flowing scarves that wrap loosely around their bodies.  They usually carry lotus blossoms as a symbol of enlightenment or play musical instruments such as the biwa or flute.

Tennin are believed to live in the Buddhist heaven as the companions of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.  Some legends also make certain tennin solitary creatures living on mountain peaks. Pilgrims sometimes climb these mountains in order to meet the holy spirits.

Painting by Cheryl Kirk Noll

Tennin can fly, a fact generally indicated in art by their colored or feathered kimonos, called hagoromo (‘dress of feathers’).  In some legends, tennin are unable to fly without these kimonos (and thus cannot return to heaven).  More rarely, they are shown with feathered wings.  In a Noh play, Hagoromo, which bears a number of similarities to the western Swan Maiden legends, tennyo come down to the earth and take off their hagoromo.  A fisherman spies them and hides their clothes in order to force one to marry him.  After some years, he tells his wife what he did, and she finds her clothes and returns to heaven.  The legend says it occured on the beach of Miyo, now part of the city of Shizuoka.” [1]

"Heaven Song" by Jia Lu

 

This sounds very much like one of the versions of the story of the Chinese Goddess Chihnu and  Niu-Lang.  One version of Her tale asserts that Chihnu came down to Earth and had Her clothes stolen while She bathed in a river. The culprit was Niu-Lang, a humble cowherd who was amazed at Her beauty and fell instantly in love.

Without Her clothes She could not return to Heaven. So She decided to marry him instead as he was sweet and gentle, and not bad looking for a mortal and had two children with him.  Seven years later She found Her clothes. Some say that She returned to Heaven on Her own accord, others say Heaven found out eventually, and whisked Her off to the stars…

 

 

Sources:

Wikipedia, “Tennin“.

 

Suggested Links:

OnMark Productions.com, “Japanese Buddhism – Apsaras, Celestial Beings, Heavenly Maidens & Musicians, Tennyo, Karyobinga“.

Goddess A-Ma

"The Grace of Mer" by Autumn Skye Morrison

“A-Ma’s themes are water, providence, protection, magic, and weather.  Her symbols are fish and red cloth.  This Goddess is the patroness of all fishermen and sailors in the region of Macau, where today is Her festival day and Her birthday. Also sometimes called Matsu, this divine figure offers safety in any of life’s literal or figurative storms, often by teaching magical weather charms.

Legend says that A-ma achieved enlightenment and a mastery of magic at the young age of twenty-eight, after which She went to nirvāna and became a Goddess.

In Portugal, the day is spent enjoying parades for the Goddess, eating lots of seafood, adorning altars with food and incense, and setting off firecrackers in A-ma’s honor. So by all means, have some type of fish today (if you’re allergic, eat fish-shaped candy instead).

Before eating it, thank the founder of your feast with this prayer:

 ‘A-ma, thank you for your providence and protection
Let the seas of my soul find solace in you
Let the waters of my spirit be refreshed in you
So be it.’

Wear any red-colored clothing today to commemorate A-ma’s birthday and inspire Her magical assistance. Ties or scarves are especially nice for this, as you can bind one of A-ma’s attributes within the knot for the day. Anything bearing a fish motif is also suitable.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Statue of A-Ma on Coloane Island measuring 65.6 feet high made of striking white marble. The statue is erected on the highest point of Coloane and its construction was financed by Taiwanese Taoists and also those from Fujian.

“A-Ma is a Taoist Goddess and is particularly revered in Macau. Also known as Tin Hau, She is the deity of fisher folk and other seafarers. Legend told of the story where a junk, while sailing across the South China Sea, was caught in a tremendous storm and was about to sink. All aboard were terrified but at the last-minute, a beautiful young woman stood up and ordered the elements to calm down. It did and the junk reached land safely. This mysterious woman is none other than the Goddess A-Ma. A temple was built on the spot where She landed and it is still there to this day, on the Inner Harbor. The name Macau came to be when many centuries later, when Portuguese soldiers asked for the name of the place, the locals replied “A-Ma-Gao” (Bay of A-Ma). It was eventually shortened to Macau. In recent times, a statue of A-Ma was erected on the highest point of Coloane Island. During the A-Ma Festival, offerings are made. There are also performances of Chinese opera.” [1]

“Tianhou, meaning heavenly mother in Chinese or “Empress of the Sky”, is a Goddess with many names. She is also known as Tianfei, Matsu-po (meaning Elder Lady Matsu), and A-Ma (Grandmother). Historically, She was given official titles by the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties in China. In 1839 Chinese Emperor Dao Guang bestowed upon Her the last title of Holy Mother in Heaven.” [2]

“According to legend the Goddess was at one time mortal. According to legend, Lín Mòniáng was born on March 23, 960 AD (during the early Northern Song Dynasty) as the seventh daughter of Lin Yuan on Meizhou Island, Fujian. She did not cry when she was born, and thus her given name means “Silent Girl.”  Although she started swimming relatively late at the age of 15, she soon became an excellent swimmer.  She wore red garments while standing on the shore to guide fishing boats home, even in the most dangerous and harsh weather.” [3]

 

“Many miracles are attributed to Lín Mòniáng. It is said she saved her brother, caught in a terrible typhoon, while fishing. As the stormed raged her family feared her father and brother drown. Lín Mòniáng fell into a trace while praying for the pair. While praying she reached out to the drowning pair, holding her brother out of the water with her hands, and her father with her mouth, to keep them out of harm’s way.

Lín Mòniáng’s mother found her, and in her deep trance thought her dead. Her mother broke down, thinking her daughter was dead, as were her husband and son. Lín Mòniáng, listening to her mother’s cries, made a small noise to reassure her she was still among the living. Because she opened her mouth, she dropped her father, whom drowned in the storm. Her brother returned from the ordeal and told the villagers how he was miraculously held out of the water during the savage typhoon.”  [4]

 

 

There are two stories concerning Lín Mòniáng’s death. In one, she dies at 16-years-old, drowning while searching for her father’s body. In another, she dies at 28-years-old after climbing a mountain. In one account, “Lín Mòniáng’s death, at the age of 28, was as remarkable as her birth.  One day, she simply told her family it was time for her to leave and that she must go alone.  Her neighbors and family watched as she walked to the top of a mountain near her home.

Reaching the top, Lín Mòniáng was encircled by clouds of dense fog, and to the accompaniment of enchanting celestial music, was carried into the heavens in a golden glow of light.  Where she had been last seen, a great rainbow appeared.

"Mazhu and the Dragons" by BlackUniGryphon

In Chinese mythology, the rainbow signifies the presence of a dragon, a symbol of great blessing and good fortune.  The dragon is a serpent that quenches its thirst in the sea and, as a sky dragon, unites heaven and earth.

The rainbow also has a significance in Taoism – the colors representing the five Buddha families, with the color orange associated with the bodhisattva, those who have achieved enlightenment but choose to remain on earth to be of service to their fellow humans.

Honoring her humility and compassion, her devotion and spiritual enlightenment, following her death Lín Mòniáng was elevated to the list of Buddhist deities and declared a Goddess by the Chinese government as well. During the millenium after her death, the Imperial Courts of several different dynasties, raised her status with new and grander titles (twenty-two promotions in all) and the construction of new temples and extensive repairs to the ancient ones. Yet the true power of the Goddess Matsu, who was once the female shaman Lín Mòniáng, is the great and abiding love of Her people.” [5]

“Fishers and sailors started to worship the compassionate and protective Goddess after Her death. Her fame spread. There are 1500 temples to Her in 26 countries around the world.

The Tian Hou Temple in Shekou is now surrounded by shipyards, and is a little piece of tranquility in a city of approximately 10 million.” [6]

“As Mazu, She is widely worshipped in the south-eastern coastal areas of China and neighbouring areas in Southeast Asia, especially ZhejiangFujianTaiwanGuangdongHainan and Vietnam, all of which have strong sea-faring traditions, as well as migrant communities elsewhere with sizeable populations from these areas. She also has a significant influence on East Asian sea culture, especially in China and Taiwan.” [7]

Her many names include but are not limited to:

Tian Hou
Tin Hau
Thiên Hâu
Tianhou Shengmu (Heavenly Holy Mother)
Tianshang Shengmu
Thiên Hâu Thánh Mâu
Tian Fei (Heavenly Princess Consort)
Huguo Mingzhu Tianfei (Protector of the Empire and the Brilliantly Outstanding Heavenly Princess)
Mazu (Mother-Ancestor)
Mazu-po (Elder Lady Mazu)
Matsu
A-Ma or A-Po (Grandmother)
Holy Mother of Heaven Above
Holy Mother in Heaven   [8]

“Secondarily, She is also a Goddess of procreation to whom prayers are addressed for conception. In this She shares definite associations with both Guanyin and Xiwangmu.” [9]

“Like Kuan Yin, Matsu decided not to marry in spite of immense social pressure to do so.  Two warriors of great fame became inflamed with lust when they saw the beautiful young girl and wanted to “marry” her. She challenged the pair to fight her for the privilege, insisting that they would have to do her bidding forever if she won.

General Chien-li-yen (Eyes that See a Thousand Miles) and General Shun Feng Erh (Ears that Can Hear the Wind) died that day during the fight that took place on Mount Peach Blossom.  To this day, the pair of defeated subordinates are seen by Her side in statuary and images and as puppets in the annual processional that celebrate Matsu’s birth.  The entourage traditionally includes guards costumed as ancient soldiers, and thirty-six martial artists carrying special weapons.  Tens of thousands make the eight-day pilgrimage to the oldest temple of Matsu in Taiwan each year. Countless other treks and festivals are held on Her birthday throughout the coastal regions where the Goddess Mazu is still revered.” [10]

Sources:

The Art of War: Physical, Social, Mental and Spiritual Success, “Chinese Goddess: Tianhou“.

GoddessGift.com, “Mazu, Chinese Goddess of the Sea“.

Peer, S. Yahoo! Voices, “The Legend of Tianhou: The History of the Asian Sea Goddess“.

Sabrina. Goddess A Day, “Tien-Hou“.

Wikipedia, “Events and festival in Macau“.

Suggested Links:

Camau Association of America – Thien Hau Temple, Los Angeles, “Shrines – Mazu: the Indigenous Goddess of the Sea“.

ChinaCulture.org, “The Goddess of the Sea – Mazu“.

Chinese Folktales, “Two Legends About the Sea Goddess Mazu (Fujian & Taiwan)“.

DameBoudicca. Pride & Sensibility, “Goddess of the Week: Mazu“.

Opentopia, “Who is Matsu?“.

Shenjiaqing. Pengerang Sea Shore, “The Parade of Goddess Mazhu“.

TravelChinaGuide.com, “A-Ma Temple“.

Wikipedia, “Matsu Islands”.

Wikipedia, “Thean Hou Temple“.

Goddess Kwan Yin

Painting by Zeng Hao

“Kwan Yin’s themes are children, kindness, magic, health and fertility.  Her symbols are a lotus, black tea, rice and rainbows.  Kwan Yin is the most beloved of all Eastern Goddess figures, giving freely Her unending sympathy, fertility, health and magical insight to all who ask. It is Her sacred duty to relieve suffering and encourage enlightenment among humans. In Eastern mythology, a rainbow bore Kwan Yin to heaven in human form. Her name means ‘regarder of sounds’, meaning She hears the cries and prayers of the world.

If you hope to have children or wish to invoke Kwan Yin’s blessing and protection on the young ones in your life, you can follow Eastern custom and leave an offering for Kwan Yin of sweet cakes, lotus incense, fresh fruit and/or flowers. If you can’t find lotus incense, look for lotus-shaped soaps at novelty or import shops.

For literal or figurative fertility, try making this Kwan Yin talisman: During a waxing-to-full moon, take a pinch of black tea and a pinch of rice and put them in a yellow cloth, saying:

 ‘As a little tea makes a full cup
so may my life be full
As the rice expands in warm water
so may my heart expand with love and warmth
The fertility of Kwan Yin, wrapped neatly within.’

Tie this up and keep it in a spot that corresponds to the type of fertility you want (such as the bedroom for physical fertility).”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Padmapani Avalokiteshvara

“The Goddess Kwan Yin is known as the Goddess of Mercy and Her specialty is compassion, for She knew all about suffering.  In Her first life in India She was born as a male named Avalokitesvara, who sought to help poor lost souls be reborn to a better life on their journey to enlightenment. But he was overwhelmed and anguished when more lost souls kept coming in what seemed an endless cycle. In his despair he shattered into a thousand pieces.

From his remains they shaped him as a woman, a Goddess — more suitable for bringing compassion and mercy into the world, they thought.

Painting in Dunhuang Series by Zeng Hao

They gave Her a thousand arms and eyes in the palms of each of Her hands so that  She would always see the people’s distress and be able to reach out to encircle them.

Then they sent Her back to earth to do Her work. So successful was She at comforting the people, that word of Her began to spread to other lands and other religions. ‘We need Her here,’ the people cried.

And so She went, reincarnating Herself wherever She was needed. Known by many names and stories in many places, She was revered as a Buddhist deity and then a Taoist one.” [1]

In Chinese tradition, “Kwan Yin (‘She Who Hears the Prayers of the World’) was originally the mother Goddess of China, who proved so popular She was adopted into the Buddhist pantheon as a bodhisattva (much like the Goddess Bride was made a saint). A bodhisattva is a person who has attained enlightenment but chooses to forgo Nirvana and remain in the world to help others attain enlightenment.” [2]

Before She became a bodhisattva, Kwan Yin was a princess named Miao Shan. “At the time of Miao shan’s conception the queen, Pao-ying, dreamed that she swallowed the moon. When the time came for the child to be born, the whole earth quaked, and wonderful fragrance and heavenly flowers were spread near and far. The people of that country were astounded. At birth She was clean and fresh without being washed. Her holy marks were noble and majestic, Her body was covered over with many-colored clouds. The people said that these were signs of the incarnation of a holy person. Although the parents thought this extraordinary, their hearts were corrupt, and so they detested Her.” [3]  As Miao Shan, She was rejected at birth and abused by a father who had wanted a son.  He sought to marry Her off, but She refused, only wanting to become a nun.  She endured many trials, but eventually Her father relented and She was allowed to pursue her dream of religious life and dedicated Her life to Buddhism.

But Her suffering did not end there. Her vengeful father even hired a man to kill Her, but She forgave him. In the end, Her great love and mercy saved his life and reconciled Her parent’s to Her divinity. [4] [5]

“As the still-popular mother Goddess of China, Kwan Yin is known as a great healer who can cure all ills. She is also a Goddess of fertility, and is often shown holding a child. In this aspect She is known as Sung-tzu niang-niang, “The Lady Who Brings Children”. She is shown holding a crystal vase, pouring out the waters of creation. Simply calling Her name in time of crisis is believed to grant deliverance.” [6]

"Kwan Yin" by Pamela Matthews

“Guanyin is also revered by Chinese Taoists (sometimes called Daoists) as an Immortal. However, in Taoist mythology, Guanyin has other origination stories which are not directly related to Avalokiteśvara.” [7]

“She is known as the Goddess Tara in the Himalayas and Mazu in Her incarnation as the Goddess of the Southern Seas, but She is best known by Her Chinese name, Kwan Yin (also spelled Kuan Yin), the Goddess of Compassion.

Depicted in statues and paintings, the Goddess Kwan Yin often appears as a calm, gentle woman of middle-age who radiates serenity. She is sometimes referred to as an Asian madonna.”  [8]

Guanyin (Kannon) & Child
Painting at Tzu-chi Foundation Hospital, Hualien, Taiwan.

“Some syncretic Buddhist and Christian observers have commented on the similarity between Guanyin and Mary of Christianity, the mother of Jesus Christ. This can be attributed to the representation of Guanyin holding a child in Chinese art and sculpture; it is believed that Guanyin is the patron saint of mothers and grants parents filial children. When the Tzu-Chi Foundation, a Taiwanese Buddhist organization, noticed the similarity between this form of Guanyin and the Virgin Mary, the organization commissioned a portrait of Guanyin and a baby that resembles the typical Roman Catholic Madonna and Child painting.

Some Chinese of the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Philippines, in an act of syncretism, have identified Guanyin with the Virgin Mary.

During the Edo Period in Japan, when Christianity was banned and punishable by death, some underground Christian groups venerated the Virgin Mary disguised as a statue of Kannon; such statues are known as Maria Kannon. Many had a cross hidden in an inconspicuous location.” [9]

 

 

Kuan Yin has countless stories and countless forms. You can view a few by clicking here to visit Goddessgift.com.

 

"Kuan Yin #2" by Penny Slinger

ASSOCIATIONS:

  • the color white
  • white flowing robes
  • white lotus blossom
  • avase of dew/nectar
  • fish (carp) & oysters
  • rice-cakes
  • oranges
  • garlic
  • six arms or a thousand
  • eight heads, one sitting atop the next
  • eyes on the palms of the hands
  • peacocks
  • vase of dew
  • willow branches
  • jade and pearls
  • the number 33
  • a boat made of bark
  • blossoming flowers
  • the Hou (a mythological creature resembling the Buddhist lion)
  • a rosary in one hand or a book
  • rose quartz, pink tourmaline, emerald (pink or green stones)

NAMES OF THE GODDESS

  • Kuan Yin (Kwan Yin. Guan Yin, Guan Shih Yin, Quan Yin, Guanyin, Kuanin)
  • Avalokitesvara
  • Mazu, A-ma, Matsu
  • Goddess of the Southern Sea
  • Kwannon (Japan)
  • the Asian Santa Maria
  • One Who Hears the Cries of the World
  • Sung-Tzu-Niang-Niang
    (Lady Who Brings Children)
  • The Maternal Goddess
  • The Observer of All Sounds
  • Bodhisattava of Compassion
  • The Thousand-hand Kuanyin    [10]

 

Om Mani Padme Hum is the six syllabled mantra particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan Jainraisig, Chinese Guanyin), the bodhisattva of compassion. Mani means “the jewel” and Padma means “the lotus”.  The following Om Mani Padme Hum mantra is sung by OM Carol with Tibetan singing bowls.

I had to include the following video.  If you’ve not seen this before, be prepared to be amazed.  The performance is called “Thousand-handed Goddess of Mercy” performed by China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe.  They are all deaf and mute.  The amazing leading dancer is Tai Lihua , who is a dance teacher at a deaf-mute school in Hubei, China.  Through this amazing dance, these disabled performers demonstrated their passion, love and divine grace.

 

 

Sources:

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, “Chinese Cultural Studies: The Legend of Miao-shan“.

Goddessgift.com, “The Goddess Kwan Yin“.

Goddessgift.com, “Symbols & Names of the Goddesses Who Embody Kuan Yin“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Kwan Yin“.

Wikipedia, “Guanyin“.

 

Suggested Links:

Axinia. 1000 Petals by Axinia, “She Has Been Worshipped By More Devotees Than Any Other Goddess In History“.

Goddessgift.com, “Avalokitesvara and the Origins of the Goddess Kuan Yin“.

Lotus Moonwise. The Order of the White Moon, “Kwan Yin: Goddess of Compassion“.

My Kwan Yin, “About Kwan Yin“.

OnmarkProductions.com, “Virgin Mary & Kannon, Two Merciful Mothers“.

Revel, Anita. Reconnect With Your Inner Goddess, “Kwan Yin“.

Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism: Thai Exotic Treasures – Gifts and Information, “Kuan Yin, Kwan Yin, Avalokiteshvara, Chenrezig“.


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Diversified subsistence farming in Whatcom County, WA since 2005

The World According to Hazey

I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right. I'm the Witch. You're the world.

Migdalit Or

Veils and Shadows

Of Axe and Plough

Musings from a Germanic polytheistic Pagan with Roman inclinations

Walking the Druid Path

Just another WordPress.com site

body divine yoga

unlock your kundalini power, ignite your third eye, awaken your inner oracle

The Slavic Polytheist

Spirituality through historical research.

Joyous Woman! with Sukhvinder Sircar

Leadership of the Divine Feminine

The Raven's Knoll Quork

Spirituality - Nature - Community - Sacred Spaces - Celebration

Journeying to the Goddess

Journey with me as I research, rediscover and explore the Goddess in Her many aspects, forms and guises...

The Well Of Mímir

A pantheist pagan's journey for the wisdom of Mímir

Thrudvangr

The Journey of a Thor's Wife

witchery

trapped in the broom closet

Rune Wisdom

Just another WordPress.com site

Sarenth Odinsson's Blog

Exploring Myself and the Northern Shaman Path

Stone of Destiny

Musings of a Polytheistic Nature

1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

Adventures in Vanaheim

Musings on Vanic Paganism (and life in general) from a lesbian feminist geek

virgo magic

astrology for healing and evolution

Flame in Bloom

Dancing for Freyja

Golden Trail

A wayfarer's path

Boar, Birch and Bog

Musings of a Vanic Godathegn

The Druid's Well

Falling in Love with the Whole World

Georgia Heathen Society's Blog

Heathen's in Georgia

Mystic Fire Blog

A Spiritual Blog by Dipali Desai. Awaken to your true nature.

art and healing Blog

Art heals yourself, others, community and the earth

My Moonlit Path.....

The Story of My Everyday Life.....

Raising Natural Kids

Because knowledge is the key to making informed decisions for your family.

Her Breath

Fused with the Fire of Inspiration

Womb Of Light

The Power of the Awakened Feminine

Philip Carr-Gomm

Philip Carr Gomm

Works of Literata

The art of living with a broken heart.

The Northern Grove

Celebrating Pagan History and Culture of Northern Europe