The Bodhisattva protagonist of this wonderful Sutra perhaps better known by his Sanskrit name Avalokitesvara, has the function of protecting us in every situation, are we wrong or right. He does not care about who we are, where we come from or whether we practice in the right way, because he impersonates true compassion, that which does not make calculations to be implemented, and goes beyond our conception of good and evil.
In the text we will learn about his story, why he decided that his mission was to help everyone and, above all, the benefits that those who rely, without letting “even the smallest doubt” be born, to the dharani given to us by this deity will get.
The Dharani of the Great Compassion is one of the most invoked mantra / dharani in the world, after the Om mani padme hum. In fact, despite its length, it is sung daily by many devotees of the Bodhisattva Kannon (his name in Japanese). This great popularity is due to the benefits that this prayer brings, namely the purification of negative karma, protection and healing.
Also known as: Maha Karuna Dharani Sutra, Maha Karunikacitta Dharani Sutra, Nilakantha Dharani Sutra
Dharani is to keep [the letters], retain [the meaning] in mind and never again to forget [the letters], to truly retain [the meanin] the eighty-four thousand multitudes of religion (dhamma), by means of remembrance derived from the earlier piling up roots of good, this is Dharani.
Further, memory is that by which one retains the words [the words and meaning] of all the buddhas, that by which one retains the saying of all the Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, sravakas and all living beings, that by which one retains all good saying without remainder.
The Bodhisattvabh?mi divides dharani into four types:
- Dharma dharani – this type the Bodhisattva acquires the power of remembrance (smrti) and insight (prajna) into the Dharma, and thus is able to retain in memory for endless time any book merely by hearing it once.
- Artha dharani – this type only here one retains the meaning of the book, not just words, as in the first.
- Mantra dharani – at first seems to justify the translation “magical formula”. Here, the bodhisattva acquires the power of concentration, and he employs the Mantras magically to alleviate the sufferings of living beings.
- Bodhisattva ksamti labhaya dharani – this dhara?i consists in pondering a mantra until one understands its meaning, namely, that is without meaning, and accordingly, understand all dharma as being beyond expression.
Source: Buddhism and Australia
In India Avalokitesvara was usually portrayed as a young prince with the image of a Buddha set in the crown, or sometimes even as an ascetic, iconographically very similar to the god Indu Siva. In Tibet it is often depicted with a thousand arms and with an eye placed in the palm of each hand, which symbolizes seeing and reaching out to help those in difficulty. In China, however, Avalokitesvara is more often portrayed as a beautiful woman dressed in white and is known as Kwan Yin. From Mongolia to Sri Lanka, from Afghanistan to Indonesia, the cult of Avalokitesvara has long been popular, even fervent, and has inspired some of the finest examples of Buddhist art.
A whole chapter is dedicated to this great bodhisattva in the Lotus Sutra.