From Bodhisattva to Goddess: Guanyin and Chinese Buddhism

Guanyin or Guanshihyin is the Chinese name for Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who has been worshiped throughout the Buddhist world. A Chinese saying aptly describes the great popularity of this savior bodhisattva: “Every body knows how to chant Omituofo, and every household worships Guanyin.” Under Chinese influence, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese have also used the same names (Kannon or Kanzeon in Japanese, Kwanse’um in Korean and Quan-am in Vietnamese) and worshiped her. However, the cult of Avalokiteśvara is, of course, not limited to East Asia, but exists all throughout Asia. Called Lokeśvara (Lord of the World) in Cambodhia and Java, Lokanatha (Protector of the World) in Burma, Natha Devio in Sri Lanka, and Chenresi (spyan-ras-gzigs, “One Who Sees with Eyes”) in Tibet, Avalokiteśvara might not be identified by the same name, but all t

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