Kashmir, Tamilnadu, Panini, Abhinavagupta, etc.

Petr Mares erpet at COMP.CZ
Fri Feb 19 22:38:53 UTC 1999

Dear Mr. Ganesan

Below is a short abstract from  a recent (1987) article of a foremost
Chinese Buddhist scholar prof. Ba1 Zhou4. For many years he is
certainly one of the most knowledgable Chinese expert on Buddhism in
Tang Dynasty. This is just a short abstract of his long article (20pages)
on the cult of Guan Yin (Avalokiteshvara ) that appeared in Taiwanese
Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal (1987 .03 ). I thought it may be interesting
as it mentions Potalaka in very recent article that is not available in


Petr Mares

Abstract of the article called "Guan Yin and Asian Buddhism":
Throughout East Asia Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva has been one of the
most popular divinities in the Mahayana pantheon. He is known as Kuan
yin in Chinese, and Kwannon-Sama in Japanese. We shall concentrate
our discussion in the following chapters. 1.The origin of `Avalokitesvara`
Bodhisattva Regarding the origin of Kual yin, the Sutra on the Prophecy
concerning `Avalokitesvara` Bodhisattva indicates a combination of
mythical and mysterious elements. It is stated that he was a spiritual
contemporary of Sakyamuni Buddha and there was com- munication
between the bodhisattvas of the Pure Land and the presiding Buddha of
India. Further it is indicated that he would eventually succeed Amitabha
Buddha. 2. `Avalokitesvara` in Buddhist philosophy The Mayopama-
samadhi-Sutra, Lotus Sutra, and the Heart Sutra provide additional
insight into the philosophical significance related to Kuan yin. These texts
enunciate the Mahayanic virtues of perfect wisdom and compassion.
Symbolically then, Kuan yin becomes the embodiment of these ideals. In
his infinite wisdom and compassion he takes on a universal status
transcending temporal and cultural boundaries. 3.The historical sources
and sacred sanctuaries Based on the translations of Sanskrit works such
as the Lotus Sutra and the Sukhavati-vvuha-Sutra, it is evident that from
the second to the fifth centur- ies the worship of Kuan yin began to gain
popularity. Later when Fa-hsien and Hsuan-tsang visited India it is
recorded in their writings that many shrines and sanctuaries were
dedicated to Kuan yin. In addition, during the sixth century the famous
Mount P'u-t'o shan (Potala) in China became a famous spot of
pilgrimage associated with Kuan yin. Similarly, the official residence of
the Dalai Lama in Lhasa is also known as Potala in his honor. 4.The
interaction of psychology and religion Generally humans are faced with
numerous struggles and uncertainties such as natural, social, and
biological dangers. During such crises, faith in the saving power of Kuan
yin can give one the necessary strength and hope, thus making a suitable
solution possible. It is in this interaction of faith and positive thinkinh that
the interplay of psychological and religious concerns is achieved. 5.Kuan
yin in Asian Art In India the bodhisattva was depicted in masculine form
while feminine images are a distinctly Chinese creation. With the
development of Tantric Buddhism around the fifth century the artistic
presentation about him became more sophisticated. Eventually there
evolved a system of seven Kuan yins: 1.Arya Kuan yin,
2.Elevenheadaed Kuan yin, 3.Kuan yin with a thousand arms, 4.Kuan
yin with a lasso, 5.Kuan yin with a wishing gem and wheel, 6.Chundi
Kuan yin, and 7.Horse-headed Kuan yin. The traditional human form,
however, is usually preferred by the masses. 6.Kuan yin Folk Religion
The formation of a folk religion centering on Kuan yin was dependent on
the establishment of Buddhist beliefs and practices. Therefore, Kuan yin
in feminine form cannot be dated earlier than the fifth or sixth century. A
number of instances of the folk aspect of Kuan yin are discussed. These
include Kuan yin with a fish basket, Tara in Tibet, and Kuan yin's
revelation to Chujo Hime. Conclusion Our examination of the mythical,
historical, religious, philosophical, psychological and artistic aspects of
Kuan yin has indicated that he was a symbol of compassion and
wisdom. Throughout the centuries he has captivated the minds of the
masses, a trend which we believe will continue in the future.

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