Guan Yin was revered throughout the Asia as a compassionate goddess of mercy. Originally a Sanskrit god, Guan Yin evolved to become an Immortal in Taoist tradition and a goddess to Eastern Buddhists. Temples to Guan Yin can be found in China, Korea, Japan and more.
Legends of Guan Yin
A goddess known best for her mercy and compassion, one early legend depicts Guan Yin's determination to save all humans from the pain of reincarnation, allowing them to rest after only one life. So great was her determination that she split her head into eleven pieces at the cries of those she had yet to save. Another god, seeing her plight, gifted her with eleven heads to better hear the pleas of her people.
In other legends, Guan Yin was the daughter of a ruthless king who wished to see his daughter married to a powerful, dispassionate man. Unhappy with such a match, Guan Yin told her father she would agree only if the marriage could cure three ills. When her father asked her which ills, she listed them as the suffering of the aged, the suffering of the ill and the suffering caused by death. When it proved that this marriage could not solve those ills, Guan Yin refused.
Father and daughter argued, with Guan Yin pleading to enter a temple and serve as a nun or priestess. The King sent her away but charged the monks with creating an existence so brutal that she would have no choice but to surrender. Like Cinderella, she worked night and day, but so good was Guan Yin's spirit that the animals of the forest and the mountain helped her. Stymied and angry, her father attempted to burn the monastery down, but Guan Yin extinguished the flames with her bare hands.
Terrified now, the king ordered his daughter to be put to death.
The Death of Guan Yin
The executioner failed in every attempt to kill Guan Yin, his axe shattered, his sword broke and the arrows all bounced off of her. Guan Yin knew her father would kill the executioner if he failed, so she forgave him and accepted the karmic debt for the act. Thus, Guan Yin allowed herself to die. She traveled the hell realms where the suffering faced their karmic debts incurred in life. So great was her compassion that she used all of her karma to free the suffering. The King of the Hell Realms restored her to life lest she destroy his realm completely.
Alive again, Guan Yin opened a retreat upon the mountain where she supported the study of medicine and more to continue to ease the suffering of the world. In her kindness and compassion, Guan Yin is revered as mother of mankind and likened to the Virgin Mary of the Christian faith.