Guan Yin In South East Asia

Guan Yin Dancers

  • Guan Yin is a Chinesse Goddess [ Bodhisattva ] worshiped by Chinese Buddhists as a Goddess of Mercy. In Thailand Temples revering Guan Yin can be seen everywhere either as traditional Chinese Temples in Chinese art and architecture style exclusively revering Guan Yin, or as adjuncts within Thai style Buddhist temples in which Chinese Dieties also are present. In Chinatown Bangkok and at points along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok Chinese Temples honoring Guan Yin can be seen and visited. In Chinese '' Guan '' as with '' Guan Yu '' and Guan Yin '' means to watch, monitor and observe and Yin means to refer to the sounds of those you who suffer. The Goddess Guan Yin refers to she who is compassionate, who watches for and assists those who seek assistance and help.
  • The word '' Bodhisattva '' comes from India and translates from the word '' Bodhi '' meaning enlightenment and wisdom and ''sattva '' meaning essence, being or presence. Thus a Bodhisattva refers to a being of enlightenment transcending circles of life and death assisting others attain enlightenment and demonstrating compassion in the process.
  • In Thailand and elsewhere in Chinese communities in Asia tourists will see images in statue form of Guan Yi with hundreds, if not thousands of arms out stretched in a circle form. Additionally these often have eyes in each of these many hands.  The thousand arms and hands are a demonstration representing Guan Yin's numerous abilities to assist so many and the thousand eyes demonstrate equally her ability to see the world everywhere at once. In other cases Guan Yin Images can be shown with numerous faces to demonstrate she can also become  who circumstance requires who she be and that she is '' selfless ''. In Chinese temple art she is seen as a lovely lady. A Bodhissattva is not a god or Diety, but rather a spiritually advanced being.
  • In Chinese folklore the concept of Guan Yin was not always present and has in fact changed from time to time. Buddhism came to China before BCE and the cult of compassion did not emerge there until the Song Dynasty period. Images of Guan Yin in China were made after the Yuan Dynasty period. These were first images carrying holy water as tears of compassion and later a bowl of lotus leaves as a symbol to confer on believers the capacity to give believers male children. Later her worship extended to include images of her at sea, in White, with a fish basket and later with a thousand hands, arms and eyes.
  • So you might wonder who believes what when they kneel before the images of Guan Yin in Thailand and South East Asia generally. This depends upon the level of understanding and comprehension of the believer. Whilst Bodhisattvas are not gods, to the misguided they might be or are, to some she is the White Goddess, to others a symbol of compassion and reminder of the need for compassion in all of us. To others she can produce children where fertility is lacking, to ancient sea men she was the protector of sailors on the high seas, and now a protector for some on international air flights. So when you read any text about Guan Yin, this is what the writer thinks, not what all who worship at these temples in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia think, believe or pray for.

Guan Yin at Wat Phanam Cheong Ayutthaya