Avalokiteśvara: Bodhisattvas and Signs of Change

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Paper examines the evolution and transformation of Buddhism in different cultures by focusing on the example of Avalokiteśvara, a Bodhisattva traditionally depicted as a man who was eventually depicted as Kuan-yin, a woman, once fully transitioned into Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhism.

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11 p. {{{: ill.}}}

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Santayana, S.M. 2010.

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This article is part of the collection entitled: The Eagle Feather and was provided by the UNT Libraries to the UNT Digital Library, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. It has been viewed 11 times. More information about this article can be viewed below.

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Paper examines the evolution and transformation of Buddhism in different cultures by focusing on the example of Avalokiteśvara, a Bodhisattva traditionally depicted as a man who was eventually depicted as Kuan-yin, a woman, once fully transitioned into Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhism.

Physical Description

11 p. {{{: ill.}}}

Notes

Abstract: Bodhisattvas, celestial figures who serve to assist humans on the path towards Buddhist enlightenment, developed new associations with rulers, geography, history, and mythology. None of these developments are quite as striking as the transformation that took place in China. Avalokiteśvara, a traditionally male bodhisattva became Kuan-yin, a female bodhisattva. Why would the Chinese have found Avalokiteśvara more appropriate as a woman than as a man, where other cultures in Asia were satisfied with Avalokiteśvara being represented in the traditional fashion? When looking at visual and textual evidence we see that Buddhism has the nature to change in relation to its surroundings. The thesis of this research is that Kuan-yin’s sexual transformation serves as an example of how Buddhism transforms to take root in its new culture. Kuan-yin’s sexual transformation in China is arguably the result of Buddhism’s growing isolation from other Indic religious traditions as well as its assimilation of certain elements found in Confucianism and Taoism. Once transmitted and fully integrated in Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhism, Kuan-yin sexually transformed to fulfill the needs of the Chinese population.

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  • Eagle Feather, Issue 7, University of North Texas Honors College: Denton, Texas. 2010

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  • Publication Title: Eagle Feather
  • Volume: 7
  • Issue: 2010
  • Peer Reviewed: Yes

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The Eagle Feather

Launched in 2004 by UNT's Honors College, The Eagle Feather was an interdisciplinary undergraduate research journal that promoted the work of students and their faculty mentors. The Eagle Feather was published annually until 2017 when it transitioned into the North Texas Journal of Undergraduate Research.

UNT Undergraduate Student Works

This collection presents scholarly and artistic content created by undergraduate students. All materials have been previously accepted by a professional organization or approved by a faculty mentor. Most classroom assignments are not eligible for inclusion. The collection includes, but is not limited to Honors College theses, thesis supplemental files, professional presentations, articles, and posters. Some items in this collection are restricted to use by the UNT community.

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  • 2010

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  • April 22, 2020, 5:45 p.m.

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  • April 28, 2020, 5:01 p.m.

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Santayana, S.M. Avalokiteśvara: Bodhisattvas and Signs of Change, article, 2010; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1635185/: accessed June 21, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .

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