Who is Guan Yin ?
Guan Yin (Kuan Yin or Guan Yin) is the bodhisattva of great compassion. A bodhisattva is a human being that has made a vow to dedicate all of their lifetimes to the enlightenment of all humankind. Bodhisattvas continue to reincarnate and return to the world to help guide others to enlightenment. This bodhisattva is considered the personification of mercy, compassion and kindness, who helps those in need.She has many different incarnations and is often portrayed seated or standing holding a lotus flower or a vase of water.The Legend of Miao Shan Guan Yin (originally known as Miao Shan), was the daughter of the cruel father Prince Zhuang of Chu, who wanted her to marry a wealthy but uncaring man. Miao Shan was shown to be a Buddhist adept at a young age, chanting sutras when old enough to speak. She begged to be able to enter a temple and become a nun rather than enter into a marriage. Her father allowed her to work in the temple, but asked the monks to give her very hard chores in order to discourage her. The monks forced Miao Shan to work all day and all night, while others slept. However, it is said that she was such a good person that the animals living around the temple began to help her with her chores. Her father, seeing this, became so frustrated that he attempted to burn down the temple. Miao Shan put out the fire with her bare hands and suffered no burns. Eventually she was murdered and made into the goddess Guan Yin for all of her kindness, and began her journey to heaven. She was about to cross over into heaven when she heard a cry of suffering back on earth. She asked to be sent back and vowed to stay untilall sufferings had ended. The Legend of Miao Shan usually ends with Prince Zhuang, the father of Miao Shan, falling ill with jaundice. It is said that no physician could cure him. Then a monk appeared saying that the jaundice could be cured by making a medicine out of the arm and eye of one without malice. The monk further suggested that such a person could be found on Fragrant Mountain. Miao Shan, the goddess living on the mountain, offered up her eyes and arms willingly, and Prince Zhuang was cured of the illness. Thereafter, he went to the Fragrant Mountain to give thanks to the one who lovingly provided a cure for him. When he discovered that his own daughter gave up her arm and eyes for him, he begged for forgiveness.
Guan Yin and the Thousand Arms
One Buddhist legend presents Guan Yin as vowing to never rest until she had freed all sentient beings from samsara (the reincarnation cycle of rebirth-life-death and rebirth). Despite strenuous effort, she realized that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, it is said that her head split into eleven pieces. Amitabha Buddha, seeing her plight, gave her eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries, Guan Yin attempted to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that her two arms also shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitabha came to her aid and gave her a thousand arms with which to aid the many.