Manifestations of Guan Yin: The Guan Yin of Thousand Arms and Thousand Eyes (Qian Shou Qian Yan Guan Yin)
The Guan Yin of Thousand Arms and Thousand Eyes
Chinese: Qiān Shŏu Qiān Yăn Guān Yīn 千手千眼觀音
Japanese: Senjyu Kannon
Sanskrit: Sahasrabhuja Sahasranetra Avalokitesvara
One of the most popular manifestations of Guan Yin, who can be seen as female or male, depending on place and tradition. She looks after all beings with her thousand eyes, and reaches out to everyone with her thousand arms. In this form, she has two hands in front of her belly forming the Dhyana Mudra, which is the sign of meditation. Two hands form the Anjali Mudra, which is the prayer gesture in front of the chest. The other hands form other mudras, and may hold various symbolic objects. The skin of this Guan Yin is usually of golden color.
Legend has it, that Guan Yin took a vow not to rest until she saved all beings from ignorance. Although she worked a lot, she had to realize, that she was not enough for this monstrous task. As she tried to pay attention to all the sufferers, her head broke into eleven pieces, eleven new heads. Now she heard even more beings, so she tried to reach out to all of them - this caused her hands to break into a thousand hands. She always keeps working with these hands for the happiness of all beings.
According to another version of this story, Guan Yin’s vow stated that her body should break into pieces if she gets disheartened from helping all beings. One day, when her task was especially tiresome, as she was purifying the regions of hell, Guan Yin broke down in tears, and because she became disheartened, her head and hands broke into pieces. This was observed by Amitabha Buddha - the Buddha of Infinite Light, who represents the divine power of the Fire Element of the four Wisdom Buddhas (an aspect of Ignis) - who restored her body, and her broken heads and arms were transformed into many heads and arms. Guan Yin then could perform her task more easily. The story teaches us that although sometimes we may get tired of walking the right path, if we have friends on the path who walk beside us, then they can help us to start are tasks again with new power. Similarly, we also have a responsibility to help those who become disheartened.
Mantra: Om Vajra Dharma Hrih (The Great Compassion/Mercy Mantra)
Vajra – Thunderbolt or diamond
Dharma – The way that maintains the World Order
Hrih – Right action, which is based on self-respect
This mantra is about recognizing divinity in ourselves and others, and it helps us to be able to forgive ourselves and others, because this is the healthy way of things.