Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Lee W. BaileyEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_9048

Avalokiteshvara is a high-level bodhisattva (“enlightenment being”) in Mahayana Buddhist tradition, expressing the important element of compassion in the Dharma teachings. His name means “Lord who looks down [and hears the cries of the world]”. He was popular in India until the twelfth century, when Muslim invaders expelled Buddhists.

Tibetan Vajrayana tradition regards him as a Buddha. They developed many variations on his imagery, some with many faces or many arms. They see the ultimate source of his tradition as the universal manifestation of compassion itself. Some see the Dalai Lama as an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, also named Chenrezig. His anthropomorphized images are useful ways of conveying his teachings to humans. Some Tibetan traditions tell the story that the goddess Tara came from one of Chenrezig’stears that fell and turned into a lake, and a lotus grew up and revealed Tara. Another account portrays her emerging from his heart. Chinese Buddhists see him in the...
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and ReligionIthaca CollegeIthacaUSA