Quan Yin - her name means "One Who Hears the Cries of the World."


 

Her story is that she lived such a pure life that she earned the right to enter Nirvana after death however, at the gates of Paradise, she heard a tormented cry rise from Earth and turned away from her heavenly reward to help mankind achieve enlightenment. This is a basic premise of Mahayana teachings: It is more important for Mahayana followers to help other sentient beings reach enlightenment than to concentrate on their own self-enlightenment.  Quan Yin is regarded as the goddess of compassion and healing.

As the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion, Quan Yin, (also known as Kuan Yin, Kwan Yin, Guan Yin, and Kuan Shih Yin) plays a significant role in Mahayana Buddhism. She appears in hundreds of manifestations all across Asia, and millions of women look to her for guidance and strength.  

In classic portraits, Quan Yin is usually shown in a white flowing robe, as white is the symbol of purity.  She holds a water jar containing pure water, the divine nectar of life, compassion, and wisdom and she typically wears the traditional necklaces of Indian/Chinese royalty. 


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