Special Topics

Q6:Why does Bodhisattva Guanyin often manifest into a female form, if he has a myriad amount of manifestations?

A:In the Universal Gate Chapter, Bodhisattva Guanyin (Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in Sanskrit) transformed into different manifestations in accordance with different causes and conditions. Bodhisattva Guanyin has 33 different kinds of manifestations, including taking the form of sacred entities, devas, humans, the fourfold assembly, women, young boys and girls, the eightfold assembly, and vajrapani deities. Bodhisattva Guanyin transforms into various kinds of manifestations, using skillful means to attune to different sentient beings' temperaments and needs.

In the "Commentary on the Lotus Sutra's Universal Gate Chapter on Bodhisattva Guanyin," Ven. Yen Pei deduced two reasons as to why Bodhisattva Guanyin often manifests into the form of a woman. Firstly, since long ago, women have traditionally suffered more than men, and Bodhisattva Guanyin typically focuses on rescuing those who suffer the most. Secondly, even though women suffer more than men, the former are more tender and compassionate than the latter.
Ven. Yen Pei believes that, with the goal of rescuing the suffering ones in mind, Bodhisattva Guanyin should place the rescue of females as a priority. Therefore, the Bodhisattva often manifests in a female form to guide them on the path of practicing Buddhism, extricate them from their suffering, and allow them to attain freedom and comfort in body and mind. Bodhisattva Guanyin's act of manifesting into a female form to educate and influence women indicates his practice of the perfection of patience (paramita, in Sanskrit). Bodhisattva Guanyin uses motherly love to express the great, compassionate love he has for all sentient beings.

Extended reading:

Q1: Why is Guanyin known as "Guan-shi-yin" in Chinese Buddhism?

Q2: From which kinds of suffering does Bodhisattva Guanyin liberate us from?

Q3: How does Bodhisattva Guanyin hear sentient beings' cries for help?

Q4: How does Bodhisattva Guanyin rescue sentient beings?

Q5: How do sentient beings resonate with Bodhisattva Guanyin?

Q6: Why does Bodhisattva Guanyin often manifest into a female form, if he has a myriad amount of manifestations?

Q7: Is it especially efficacious to pray and ask Bodhisattva Guanyin for a child?

Q8: Why didn't Bodhisattva Guanyin accept Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent's offerings?

Q9: What is the meaning of the term "Universal Gate" from the Lotus Sutra's Universal Gate Chapter on Bodhisattva Guanyin?

Resource: Humanity Magazine #386 (人生雜誌第386期)
Translation: Ariel Shen (沈純湘)
Edited by: Keith Brown, Cheng-Yu Chang (張振郁)
Photo: Quan Tsai (蔡全)