2 posts tagged bodhisattva
Kannon bosatsu - Avalokitaśvara - Guanyin - Spyan-ras-gzigs - Nidubarüsheckchi etc……is a bodhisattva with a very interesting history.
Based on Brahmā, the God and creator of Hinduism Avalokitaśvara is the most worshipped and has the most forms of all the Buddhist Gods. A bodhisattva of the Mahāyanā Buddhist cults, he rose to popularity in the late 4th century C.E. and can be found right across Asia from India to Sri Lanka, Java, Cambodia, Thailand, Tibet, China, Korea and Japan.
Some cults of Buddhism recognise certain forms of Avalokitaśvara while others deny their existence, classifying them as illegitimate. The Tibetans consider the Dalai Lama as a living incarnation of Avalokitaśvara with all the attributes of the bodhisattva outlined in the sutras. The palace of the Dalai Lama is in fact considered to be the paradise of the deity on Earth.
In both Thailand and neighbouring Cambodia and Myanmar Avalokitaśvara is also worshipped as a “Lord of the world” and bringer of compassion and love.
Avalokitaśvara is usually represented standing with an effigy of Amitabha Buddha in his headdress. He carries the attributes of the lotus which in the Hindu scriptures represents purity, a water vase which quenches one’s thirst and Buddhist prayer beads. He can be found also sitting on a goose, a peacock, a pheasant or the fiery phoenix (itself originally Egyptian).
Interestingly, in China and Japan Avalokitaśvara is also often depicted as a female or androgynous. In China especially Avalokitaśvara seems to have become combined with Mary of Christianity at around the first century C.E. - when Assyrian migrants were introducing Christianity to northern China. These images carried over to Japan where they are known as Juntei Avalokitaśvara. Depicted as either a male or female (more often female) holding a baby wrapped in blankets this form of Avalokitaśvara was worshipped by Japanese Christian converts in the Tokugawa era (1600-1868) to save them from government persecution when Christianity was banned.
Combined over the years with Juntei Avalokitaśvara is the Shintõ God Koyasu-gami - herself an early Korean shaman connected with childbirth.
This guy is Vajrapani or Niō (仁王) in Japanese. He is actually Heracules (Hercules). Borrowed from the Greeks.
I’ve met a great number of Mahayana Buddhists (both Japanese and non-Japanese) who believe that all the various bodhisattvas of Buddhism are in fact REAL living beings - living in another realm or some hidden place.
They pray to them, give them offerings (a carry over from earlier Indian pagan religions), and generally worship all these bodhisattvas as if they were real.
It is surprising to see them get all upset and defensive when I point out that ALL of the bodhisattvas were borrowed from other religions from Greece, Persia, India (Brahmanism), China (Taoism), Japan (Shinto), Tibet (Bon).
I’ve heard many a Buddhist teacher try to explain this away as popular Buddhism for the masses, or misinterpreted Buddhism - but the fact is, there ARE a great number of Buddhists who believe these to be actual living beings.
Perhaps one day in the future Jesus or Allah will join the Buddhist pantheon?