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Chenrezig Avalokitesvara – The God of Compassion

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Symbolic Meaning of Chenrezig Avalokitesvara:

Chenrezig, commonly also known as “Avalokitesvara” in Sanskrit, which means the one who looks with unwavering eye. Since he is one of most loved deity among the Buddhism world, he has many names such as “Spyan-ras gzigs” the one with a pitying look in Tibetan language. In Newari language Chenrezig is also called “Changresi” or “Kharcheri”. He is said to reside in the mountain Potala in Lhasa, Tibet.

He is regarded as one of the most admired Bodhisattvas, who expresses the compassion among other forms of Buddhas.  He is said to hear the prayers of every beings at all times including difficult times.One Buddhist story says that Chenrezig has vowed never to rest until he has freed all beings from the cycle of death and rebirth. Even when giving his best efforts, the objective of freeing all the being is overwhelming.

Legend states that when he realized how many wicked beings needed to be saved from the world his head split into many pieces with sorrow. Seeing this, Amitabha Buddha arranged these separated pieces in to three levels of three heads. Each layer contains three heads. Then the 10th head stays on the top of all the heads.This whole arrangement was made to look like Amitabha Buddha’s own image.

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Chenrezig is believed to be earthly form of the eternal Buddha Amitabha, who has been represented in the headdress. He is said to be guarding the world from the time of departure of Buddha till the incarnation of Maitreya. Chenrezig is believed to protect us from wild animals, fire, assassins, and robbers.

Postures and gestures of Avalokitesvara

This is the reason Chenrezig is shown to be the deity with eleven heads and a thousand arms spread out like the tail of a dancing peacock so that he can reach out to all the beings in need. In thangka paintings he is usually shown in white color exception to Nepal where it is shown in the red color.

 It is believed in Tibetan Buddhism White Tara is the consort of Chenrezig. According to myth, from a single tear shed by Chenrezig the White Tara was born. As the tear hit the ground lake was created on the spot and a lotus blossomed in the lake revealing Tara inside it. In another version of legend, from the heart of Chenrezig, White Tara emerged. Whatever the myth, it is clear that Tara is shown as the part of compassion separated from Chenrezig.

Changresi or Kharcheri is another form of Chenrezig

Though in general Chenrezig is represented by thousand armed Avalokitesvara there are other forms of Chenrezig as well This is specially to with another form of Chenrezig that is called “Changresi” or “Kharcheri”. This particular form has four arms where two hands are joined together in namasakar mudra and other two hands are spread apart.One of the other hands holds japamala and the other hand holds a lotus flower. He is seated in meditation mudra with both of legs crossed each other. And his face expresses compassion.

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