Guan Yin, YU FO SI, Shanghai
To begin with, Guanyin, also
can be pronounced as GUAN SHI YIN PUSA (translated as Mercy Goddess or Goddess of
Other popular names used in Asia are: Kannon, Kwannon* (Japan); Gwanse-eum (Korea); Kuan
Eim, Phra Mae Kuan Eim (Thai); Kwan Im or Dewi Kwan Im (Indonesia) or Kwun Yum (Cantonese).
Widely believed originated as the Sanskrit,
her male form, but traditions in China and other East Asian countries have added
many distinctive characteristics and legends behind the character, and later, Guanyin
is usually depicted as a woman and this has been long controversial on its origin/form.
Guanyin has other forms, For an instance, fishermen at southern part of China used
to pray to her to ensure safe voyages which named it as Guanyin for Southern Ocean
(NAN HAI GUANYIN). Guanyin is also accepted in many other Asian beliefs, such as
some Taoist records claim Guanyin was a Chinese female who became immortal during
the Shang Dynasty. In Chinese Buddhist iconography, Guanyin is often depicted as
a women, meditating or sitting alongside one of the Buddha and usually accompanied
by another bodhisattva. The whole thing is, Guanyin has been evolved by various stages
in history as well as story telling, miracles and legends throughout the centuries,
and today among the East Asian community who has the belief in her, it is accept
and depicted as a well faced woman, holding a small jar containing pure water, and
the right hand holds a willow branch.
At the back exit door way of this YUFOSI,
I find a very different arrangement in temple interior design and placement of Buddhist
characters, where a Guanyin is guarding the exit, which is directly behind the Buddha
statues placed at the main reception hall. Next, the presentation of this Guanyin
Pusa at YUFOSI is also very different from other popular style and form found in
many other areas and/or Buddhist locations. To me, given the long history and legends
behind its evolution in acceptable traditional belief, the Guanyin here in this temple
looks very close to what she is supposed to be in both, noticeably the dress code,
facial expression, that was why I got hooked at the large statue here for a while
and took an all new perspective of how I perceive this very popular Buddhist and/or
Taoist figure among the Asian here in this temple. Somehow, I like what I saw ...
* an original, old trade name used by Canon Inc.
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