Thousand hands wooden Guanyin in Chinese temple,Thailand - Stock Image

Stock Photo: 24807049
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Description

Guanyin and the Thousand Arms

One Buddhist legend from the Complete Tale of Guanyin and the Southern Seas presents Guanyin as vowing to never rest until she had freed all sentient beings from the samsara or reincarnation.Despite strenuous effort, she realised 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. The buddha Amitabha, upon seeing her plight, gave her eleven heads to help her hear the cries of those who are 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 to let her reach out to those in need. 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.

In China, it is said that fishermen used to pray to her to ensure safe voyages. The titles Guanyin of the Southern Ocean and "Guanyin the Island" stem from this tradition.
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