Avalokitesvara

Avalokitesvara

The One Who Responds to the Cries of the World; Lord of the Six Syllables

Also known as:

Avalokiteshvara

Classification:

Bodhisattva

Avalokitesvara, Bodhisattva of compassion, embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, past, present, and future. His name means “the lord who responds to the cries of the world.”

Avalokitesvara eliminated all his negative karma, broke the cycle of rebirth, and achieved nirvana. However, he refused to leave the Earthly plane until he could save everyone else, too. Avalokitesvara delayed his own final release in order to help suffering souls still trapped in suffering and negativity. He tirelessly travels to all corners of all realms helping all who seek his help. Call him by name or via his mantra (the six syllables):

OM MANI PADME HUM!

(Hail the jewel in the lotus!)

Chanting this mantra on a regular basis allegedly prevents evil, subdues evildoers, eases pain, heals illness, banishes evil spirits, and leads one’s soul to paradise.

Avalokitesvara is first described in the Lotus Sutra, dating to approximately the first century CE. According to the Lotus Sutra, if called, Avalokitesvara will help those swept away by floods or menaced by other deadly perils. He also fulfills petitions for those desiring children but facing obstacles or unable to conceive. Veneration of Avalokitesvara was brought to Tibet by the Bengali monk Atisha in 1042.

According to an ancient Tibetan legend that long predates Darwin, back in primordial times, before the appearance of humans, Avalokitesvara was a monkey living in Tibet’s Yarling Valley. Tara was an abominable snow-woman (yeti) living in a nearby rock crevice. The two eventually became friendly, fell in love, and became the parents of six humans, ancestors of the Tibetan people. Within the context of Tibetan Buddhism, Avalokitesvara is intrinsically associated with Tara. Green and White Tara are his constant companions.

In Mongolian Buddhism, three Bodhisattvas— Avalokitesvara, Manjusri, and Vajrapani— are considered similar to archangel protectors and venerated together, as together they contain all the compassion (Avalokitesvara), wisdom (Manjusri), and power (Vajrapani) of all Buddhas past, present, and future.

Favored people:

Avalokitesvara will protect anyone and everyone on Earth if asked. He is the definition of compassion and mercy. Avalokitesvara is venerated throughout the Buddhist world but especially in Tibet. Avalokitesvara is patron of Tibet, where he has appeared in many incarnations throughout history:

• He is the ancestor of the Tibetans.

• As King Songtsen Gampo, in the mid-seventh century, he first brought the Dharma to Tibet.

• He was the first Dalai Lama; all Dalai Lamas, including the present one, are considered incarnations of Avalokitesvara.

Manifestations:

Avalokitesvara can take any form in order to reach a soul in need.

Iconography:

In India, Avalokitesvara is traditionally portrayed as a young prince with the Buddha nestled in his hair or as an ascetic who resembles Shiva. He may have two arms, eight, or one thousand. (According to legend, Buddha gave Avalokitesvara one thousand arms the better to reach those in need.) In China, Avalokitesvara transformed into Kwan Yin and so is depicted in female form.

Attribute:

Lotus flower

See Also:

Bodhisattva; Buddha; Hayagriva; Jambhala; Kwan Yin; Manjusri; Shiva; Tara (2)

Source:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.