Universal Wisdom Hall

As you walk behind the Hundred Dragons Hall, you will enter the Universal Wisdom Hall. You will see a beautifully hand carved Tang period Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara sitting atop an elaborate lotus throne. The Heart Sutra is embroidered on the rear wall, along with the embroidered lotuses waving in the breeze. Along the sides are the 8 Zodiac Protectors, surrounded by smaller Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara statues.

All together creating a peaceful and calm atmosphere to reflect and pray for compassion.



Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara in BTRTM



The Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara sits in a typical Rajalilasana (royal ease posture), bare to the waist, atop a large Padmasana (lotus) throne floating on the sea waves, with a phoenix at each corner. The aureole is shaped like a lotus petal curved towards the head. It has colorful swirling aura and clouds radiating from the head.



The image of Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara have six hands - first right hand touches the cheek in a pensive pose, second right hand holding a wish granting jewel (cintamani), third right hand holding prayer beads, first left hand pressing the Mount Meru, second left hand holding lotus flower and the third left hand holding a Dharma wheel. On the head is a highly decorated chignon with an elegant gilt crown denoting the royal status.



About Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Kwan Yin) is one of the most respected Bodhisattva in the Buddhist cosmos.

The Kwan Yin with one hand holding the Cintamanicakra pearl is known as Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara. The Cintamani pearl is able to fulfill the wishes of all living, therefore called ‘Ru Yi’ (meaning ‘as what you wish’). Here ‘Ru Yi’ means Cintamani pearl, and ‘wheel’ means turning the Dharma Wheel. According to the Padma Cintamani Dharani Sutra, Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara, have the powers for this and future lives, not only helps all living beings to achieve wealth and wisdom in the coming life, but also helps develop the compassionate heart and keeps away sufferings.

Normally, the image of Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara have six hands - first right hand supporting the head, second right hand holding a pearl, third right hand holding prayer beads, first left hand pressing the ground, second left hand holding lotus flower and the third left hand holding a Dharma wheel.


About Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Avalokiteśvara (Sanskrit: अवलोकितेश्वर lit. "Lord who looks down"; Chinese: Guānshìyīn Púsà, 觀世音菩薩; Tibetan: Chenrezig, སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་, Wylie: spyan ras gzigs; Japanese: Kannon, 観音, Kan'on, Kanzeon, 観世音; Korean: Gwan-eum, 관음, Gwanse-eum, 관세음; Thai: Kuan Eim, กวนอิม, Phra Mae Kuan Eim, พระแม่กวนอิม; Vietnamese: Quan Âm, Quán Thế Âm; Indonesian: Kwan Im, Dewi Kwan Im).

In Sanskrit, Avalokitesvara is also referred to as Padmapāni (Holder of the Lotus); Lokeśvara (Lord of the World); Lokanatha (Protector of the World).

Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He is one of the most popular, most complex and most widely revered bodhisattva in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism. He appeared early in the texts and imagery of Mahayana Buddhism in India.

The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is expounded by Sakyamuni Buddha in the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, first translated into Chinese by Dharmaraksa in 286 AD. The belief in Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara entered China and spread rapidly after the 3rd century.

Amongst the Bodhisattvas, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is the most popular and venerated with the largest number of forms. This bodhisattva is variably depicted as male as originally or female in China and Japan. The images may be observed as exoteric (based on Mahayana sutras – Lotus Sutra, Avatamsaka Sutra, Sukhavativyuha Sutra); esoteric (Sutra of the Eleven-headed Kuan-yin, Sutra of the Thousand-armed Kuan-yin of Great Compassion, Cundi Sutra); and sinified (Chinese texts, tales, scrolls, native stories, legends).

In China, his festive dates are the nineteenth day of the lunar second (Birth), sixth (Ordination) and ninth (Enlightment) months and the pilgrimage site is Mount Putuo, China.

In Tibet, Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is associated with the Dalai Lamas, who are his reincarnations.


Birth

According to legends, he was born from a ray of light emanating from the right eye of Buddha Amitabha, causing a lotus to open.


Legends

Thousand Arms


One Buddhist legend from the Complete Tale of Guanyin and the Southern Seas (Chinese: 南海觀音全撰; pinyin: Nánhǎi Guānyīn Quánzhuàn) presents Guanyin as vowing to never rest until she had freed all sentient beings from samsara or reincarnation. Despite strenuous effort, she realized that there were still many unhappy beings yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, 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 and comprehending them, Avalokitesvara attempted to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that her two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitabha came to her aid and appointed her a thousand arms with which to aid the many. Many Himalayan versions of the tale include eight arms with which Avalokitesvara skillfully upholds the Dharma, each possessing its own particular implement, while more Chinese-specific versions give varying accounts of this number.

Miao Shan
Another story from the Precious Scroll of Fragrant Mountain describes an incarnation of Guanyin as the daughter of a cruel king who wanted her to marry a wealthy but uncaring man. The story is usually ascribed to the research of the Buddhist monk Chiang Chih-ch'i during the 11th century CE. The story is likely to have a Taoist origin. Chiang Chih-ch'i, when he penned the work, believed that the Guanyin we know today was actually a Buddhist princess called Miaoshan (妙善), who had a religious following on Fragrant Mountain. Despite this there are many variants of the story in Chinese mythology.

According to the story, after the king asked his daughter Miao Shan to marry the wealthy man, she told him that she would obey his command, so long as the marriage eased three misfortunes.

The king asked his daughter what were the three misfortunes that the marriage should ease. Miaoshan explained that the first misfortune the marriage should ease was the suffering people endure as they age. The second misfortune it should ease was the suffering people endure when they fall ill. The third misfortune it should ease was the suffering caused by death. If the marriage could not ease any of the above, then she would rather retire to a life of religion forever.

When her father asked who could ease all the above, Miao Shan pointed out that a doctor was able to do all of these.

Her father grew angry as he wanted her to marry a person of power and wealth, not a healer. He forced her into hard labor and reduced her food and drink but this did not cause her to yield.

Every day she begged to be able to enter a temple and become a nun instead of marrying. Her father eventually allowed her to work in the temple, but asked the monks to give her the toughest chores in order to discourage her. The monks forced Miao Shan to work all day and all night, while others slept, in order to finish her work. However, 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. Now struck with fear, her father ordered her to be put to death.

In one version of this legend, when she was executed, a supernatural tiger took Guanyin to one of the more hell-like realms of the dead. However, instead of being punished by demons like the other inmates, Guanyin played music and flowers blossomed around her. This completely surprised the head demon. The story says that Guanyin, by merely being in that hell, turned it into a paradise.

A variant of the legend says that Miao Shan allowed herself to die at the hand of the executioner. According to this legend, as the executioner tried to carry out her father's orders, his axe shattered into a thousand pieces. He then tried a sword which likewise shattered. He tried to shoot Miao Shan down with arrows but they all veered off.

Finally in desperation he used his hands. Miao Shan, realising the fate the executioner would meet at her father's hand should she fail to let herself die, forgave the executioner for attempting to kill her. It is said that she voluntarily took on the massive karmic guilt the executioner generated for killing her, thus leaving him guiltless. It is because of this that she descended into the Hell-like realms. While there she witnessed first hand the suffering and horrors beings there must endure and was overwhelmed with grief. Filled with compassion, she released all the good karma she had accumulated through her many lifetimes, thus freeing many suffering souls back into Heaven and Earth. In the process that Hell-like realm became a paradise. It is said that Yanluo, King of Hell, sent her back to Earth to prevent the utter destruction of his realm, and that upon her return she appeared on Fragrant Mountain.

Another tale says that Miao Shan never died but was in fact transported by a supernatural tiger, believed to be the Deity of the Place, to Fragrant Mountain.

The Legend of Miao Shan usually ends with Miao Chuang Yen, Miao Shan's father, falling ill with jaundice. No physician was able to 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 anger. The monk further suggested that such a person could be found on Fragrant Mountain. When asked, Miao Shan willingly offered up her eyes and arms. Miao Chuang Yen was cured of his illness and went to the Fragrant Mountain to give thanks to the person. When he discovered that his own daughter had made the sacrifice, he begged for forgiveness. The story concludes with Miaoshan being transformed into the Thousand Armed Guanyin, and the king, queen and her two sisters building a temple on the mountain for her. She began her journey to heaven and was about to cross over into heaven when she heard a cry of suffering from the world below. She turned around and saw the massive suffering endured by the people of the world. Filled with compassion, she returned to Earth, vowing never to leave till such time as all suffering has ended.

After her return to Earth, Guanyin was said to have stayed for a few years on the island of Mount Putuo where she practised meditation and helped the sailors and fishermen who got stranded. Guanyin is frequently worshipped as patron of sailors and fishermen due to this. She is said to frequently becalm the sea when boats are threatened with rocks. After some decades Guanyin returned to Fragrant Mountain to continue her meditation.


Dharma

According to Mahāyāna doctrine, Avalokiteśvara is the bodhisattva who has made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty, and to postpone his own Buddhahood until he has assisted every being on Earth in achieving Nirvāṇa. Mahāyāna sūtras associated with Avalokiteśvara include the following:

  • Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra (Lotus Sūtra)
  • Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra
  • Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra (Heart Sūtra)
  • Mahākaruṇā Dhāranī Sūtra (Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī)
  • Avalokiteśvara Ekādaśamukha Dhāraṇī Sūtra
  • Cundī Dhāraṇī Sūtra

The Lotus Sūtra (Skt. Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra) is generally accepted to be the earliest literature teaching about the doctrines of Avalokiteśvara. These are found in the Lotus Sūtra chapter 25, The Universal Gateway of Avalokitasvara Bodhisattva (Ch. 觀世音菩薩普門品). This chapter is devoted to Avalokitasvara, describing him as a compassionate bodhisattva who hears the cries of sentient beings, and who works tirelessly to help those who call upon his name.

A total of 33 different manifestations of Avalokitasvara are described, including female manifestations, all to suit the minds of various beings. The chapter consists of both a prose and a verse section. This earliest source often circulates separately as its own sūtra, called the Avalokitasvara Sūtra (Ch. 觀世音經), and is commonly recited or chanted at Buddhist temples in East Asia.


About Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara

Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara (Wish-granting Jewel Wheel; Chinese: Ju-i-lun Kuan-yin; Japanese: Nyoirin Kannon) with predictable strong powers, developed over the many lives, thus achieving the Awakening called “Zheng Fa Ming Ru Lai”. In practicing benevolence and saving many lives, He appears in the form of a Bodhisattva, or sometimes as the future Buddha. As He would become the Buddha after Sukamoni Buddha leaves the Western World, He would take charge of the Western World called “Pu Kuang Gong De Shan Wang Ru Lai”.

The six hands rescue beings from birth in the six realms:

Hand Realm Description
Pensive mudra (1L) Hell Thinks of compassion towards sentient beings
Cintamani (2L) Pretas Satisfies all desires
Rosary (3L) Animals Rescues from sufferings
Mountain (1R) Assuras Immovable and untilting
Lotus (2R) Men Purifies those who lack Dharma
Cakra (3R) Gods Preaches the Supreme Dharma


Heart Sutra

In the Mahayana canon, the Heart Sutra is ascribed entirely to the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin/Kwannon. This is unique, as most Mahayana Sutras are usually ascribed to Shakyamuni Buddha and the teachings, deeds or vows of the bodhisattvas are described by Shakyamuni Buddha. In the Heart Sutra, Guanyin/Avalokitesvara describes to the Arhat Sariputra the nature of reality and the essence of the Buddhist teachings. The famous Buddhist saying "Form is emptiness, emptiness is form" comes from this sutra.


Great Compassion Djarani

The Mahākaruṇā Dhāraṇī (Great Compassion Dhāraṇī), also called the Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī, is an 82-syllable dhāraṇī for Avalokiteśvara.


Cundī Dhāraṇī

“Namaḥ saptānāṃ samyaksaṃbuddha koṭīnāṃ tadyathā oṃ cale cule cundī svāhā”


Mantra

"OM MANI PAD ME HUM"


Art of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is usually represented standing, with an effigy of Buddha Amitabha in his headdress. His is usually holding the lotus, willow branch and water or flower vase. His mount is usually a goose, peacock, phoenix or pheasant.



Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was originally depicted as a male bodhisattva, and therefore wears chest-revealing clothing and may even sport a moustache. Although this bare-chested and moustached depiction still exists in the Far East, Guanyin is more often depicted as a woman in modern times.



Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara has an extraordinarily large number of manifestations in different forms (including wisdom goddesses (vidyaas) directly associated with him in images and texts). Some of the more commonly mentioned forms include:

Sanskrit Meaning Description
Aryavalokitesvara Sacred Avalokitesvara The root form of the Bodhisattva
Ekādaśamukha Eleven Faced Avalokitesvara Additional faces to teach all in 10 planes of existence
Sahasra-bhuja Sahasra-netra Thousand-Armed, Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Very popular form: sees and helps all
Cintāmani-cakra Wish Fulfilling Avalokitesvara Holds the bejeweled cintamani wheel
Hayagrīva Horse Headed Avalokitesvara Wrathful form; simultaneously bodhisattva and a Wisdom King
Cundi Mother Goddess Avalokitesvara Portrayed with many arms
Amoghapāśa Avalokitesvara with rope and net
Bhrkuti Fierce-Eyed
Pāndaravāsinī White and Pure
Parnaśabarī Cloaked With Leaves
Rakta Shadaksharī Six Red Syllables
Śvetabhagavatī White-Bodied
Udaka-śrī Water Auspicious


Art of Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara

Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara, “He who holds the wheel and the wish-fulfilling jewel”, sits in a royal posture. He has six arms which symbolizes His ability to help beings in each of the six Realms—hell, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras, human beings and devas.



It is found in a terracotta sealing from Nalanda in the Calcutta University. This form was represented very early in China and can be seen in the Longmen and Yungang grottoes. Also found as early as 605 in Japan.

About Mount Putuo

Mount Putuo (Chinese: 普陀山; pinyin: Pǔtúo Shān; literally "Mount Potalaka") is a small island southeast of Shanghai, in Zhoushan prefecture of Zhejiang province, China. The nearest city is Ningbo.

Mount Putuo lies on Eastern Sea of China and displays the beauty between sea and mountain. The area is about 12.5 square kilometers and has lots of famous and sacred temples.



It is famous in Chinese Buddhism, and is considered the bodhimanda of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Guan Yin).

Every year on the nineteenth of the second lunar month, nineteenth of the sixth lunar month, nineteenth of the ninth lunar month, it welcomes millions of people for the celebration of the birth, ordination and enlightenment, respectively of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.

The Puji Monastery is the main and largest temple, with 9 halls, 13 pavillions, towers and subsidiary buildings.



Development of BTRTM Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara Statue

The elegant Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara is modeled after a similar Tang period statue at 兴福寺 (Japanese: Kōfuku-ji Chinese: Xingfu-si) a Buddhist temple in the city of Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan.



A small wood model was commissioned to China Chin Ting Enterprise Co Ltd, Fuzhou, China which arrived in March 2006. This was displayed in our showroom office at 293 South Bridge Road for evaluation and public feedback.



It was carved from the same hinoke log as the Maitreya Buddha by the renowned Taiwanese master carver Mr Chen Mingfeng of Taiwan Huangmu Art Center at Miao Li, Taiwan.



A polystyrene full scale model was made to ascertain the desired characteristics before carving commence. Ven Shi Fa Zhao inspected and fine tuned the polystyrene model in early November 2005.



A commencement of wood carving blessing ceremony was held on 7 November 2005, led by Venerable Shi Fa Zhao with a number of Taiwan Sangha and Singapore devotees.




After which, the careful and rigorous carving by Mr Chen Mingfeng and his team started in earnest. Ven Shi FaZhao made several trips to monitor the progress and fine tune the work. By 27 March 2006, the main features of the carving were completed.



The Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara Sumeru Vault ceremony was held on 26 September 2006 to prepare the altar for receiving the Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara statue. This was then cladded in special lacquered panels by China Chin Ting Enterprise Co Ltd, Fuzhou, China into a Pheonix throne altar. You will notice the many Tang phoenixes around the base of this altar.



The fully completed Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara statue was shipped to Singapore on November 2006.



On 21 January 2007, the Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara Throne Sealing ceremony was held.



The team from Shanghai You Shan Guan Decorative Design Co Ltd, led by Mr Zhang Jian commenced the painstaking painting of the Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara, the lotus throne and the aureole.

The base coat was applied in January 2007.



Then the team added colours using grounded natural stones and vegetable dyes, as well as gold leaf.



By Chinese New Year 2007, this was partially coloured.



After Chinese new year, work resumed to complete the painting works.



In April 2007, the Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara was finally hoisted into place.



From 1 to 7 May 2007, 12 monks from a Thailand monastery conducted a 24 hours by 7-days, purification and blessing ceremony. This was followed by the final laying of the gold trimmings and final paint touchups.

The Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara was consecrated by Most Venerable Shi Kwang Sheng, President Singapore Buddhist Federation, during the BTRTM Grand Consecration Ceremony on 17 May 2008.

The Bodhisattva Cintamanicakra Avalokitesvara image placed in the Universal Wisdom Hall dedicated to world peace, compassion, fulfillment of wishes and to transfer merits to all sentient beings for good health, peace, prosperity and be reborn in the Amitabha Pureland for guidance towards enlightenment.



Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Celebrations in BTRTM

Birth (the nineteenth day of the lunar second month)

Ordination (the nineteenth day of the lunar sixth month)

Enlightment (the nineteenth day of the lunar ninth month)


Bibliography:

  1. The Threefold Lotus Sutra, translated by Bunno Kato, Kosei Publishing Co, 1975, ISBN 4-333-00208-7
  2. John Blofeld, Bodhisattva of Compassion, The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin, Shambala Dragon Editions, 1977, ISBN 0-87773-126-8
  3. Lokesh Chandra, Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography, International Academy of Indian Culture and Aditya Prakashan, 1999, Vol 3, pages 808 - 830
  4. Louis Frederic, Buddhism, Flammarion Iconographic Guides, 1995, ISBN 2-08013-558-9, pages 153 – 180
  5. Meher McArthur, Reading Buddhist Art, An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs & Symbols, Thames & Hudson,2002, pages 43 - 45
  6. Yu Min Lee, Visions of Compassion: Images of Kuan-yin in Chinese Art, National Palace Museum Taipeh, 2000, ISBN 957-562-388-6
  7. Ling Haicheng, Buddhism In China, translated by Jin Shaoqing, China Intercontinental Press, pages 68 -73
  8. Famous Chinese Mountains – Sacred Buddhist Lands, 1996, Hong Kong tourism Press, ISBN 062-7799-39-4, pages 20 – 33
  9. Fan Jinshi, Peng Jinzhang, A Study of the Textual Presentations of the Avalokitesvara Cintamanicakra Sutra, Buddhism and Buddhist Art of the Tang, edited by Ku Cheng Mei, Chue Feng, 2006, ISBN 957-98434-8-1, pages 131 – 150
  10. Nandana Chutiwongs, Visualizing Avalokitesvara in 7th to 9th Century South and Southeast Asia, Buddhism and Buddhist Art of the Tang, edited by Ku Cheng Mei, Chue Feng, 2006, ISBN 957-98434-8-1, pages 167 – 182


Websites:

  1. Avalokiteśvara - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Guanyin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  3. Saidai-ji - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. AN EXPLANATION OF THE NAME AVALOKITESHVARA, Geshe Palden Dakpa
  5. Arya Avalokitesvara and the Six Syllable Mantra
  6. Lotus Sutra - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  7. Wonderful Dharma Lotus Sutra
  8. 中华佛典宝库--大乘妙法莲华经 7
  9. Mount Putuo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  10. Mount Putuo travel guide - Wikitravel
  11. Glossary of Terms for Antique Chinese Porcelain