Avilokiteshvara (Quan Yin)

Avilokiteshvara (Quan Yin)

Yesterday I visited the Chinese temple of Quan Yin (Chinese), also known as Avilokiteshvara (Tibetan) at Bugis in Singapore.


Avilokiteshvara means, “the Goddess who looks upon the world with compassion”.


Quan Yin means “the hearer of the worlds cries”.


Avilokiteshvara is a feminine bohisattva – an enlightened being who is eligible for nirvana (liberation from suffering) because of exemplary living, great wisdom and self-cultivation. However, like all bodhisattvas, she delays accepting this lofty status of becoming a Buddha, in order to help all other sentient beings gain nirvana first.


It is interesting that Buddha was himself an agnostic, a believer that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God and therefore his philosophy was focused only on rightful living.


Even though Quan Yin is supposed to be a bodhisattva (enlightened being) but to believers coming to this temple in search of compassionate blessing to free them from their cries, she is seen as a Goddess.


Looking at the crowds of devotees, kneeling before Quan Yin, tossing divine lots, interpreting their fortune through numbers, it seemed everyone here was in search for compassion. 


I was reminded of the verse below from Adi Granth (the sacred scripture of Sikhs) on page 487 by Bhagat Ravi Daas (15th century Saint of North India). In this verse, the intrinsic state of every person is seen in parallel to a puppet of clay whom the puppeteer has engaged in the worldly dance but being conscious beings they remain struggling between the dual play of acquiring and loosing.


Look, how this puppet of clay dances?

He looks, listens, hears, speaks and runs around. ||1||Pause||


When he acquires something, he gets inflated with ego.

But when his wealth is gone, he cries and bewails. ||1||


Look, how this puppet of clay dances?

He looks, listens, hears, speaks and runs around. ||1||Pause||


In thought, word and deed, he is attached to the flavors of the world.

When he dies, no one knows where he has gone. ||2||


Look, how this puppet of clay dances?

He looks, listens, hears, speaks and runs around. ||1||Pause||


Says Ravi Daas, the world is just a dramatic play.

I have enshrined love for the Lord, the star of the show. ||3||


Look, how this puppet of clay dances?

He looks, listens, hears, speaks and runs around. ||1||Pause||


The verse in Gurmukhi script is provided below.


 Gurbani Text


In this photo series, I am showing Avilokiteshvara (Quan Yin) in the first picture, followed by Buddha and finally an artistic shot of the statue of a devotee with folded hands taken from above the head.


Click first photo below and scroll to view series in slide show.


  1. Harawant Singh

    Man, I was so engrossed on the picture of Avilokiteshvara.

    Is it the maker of the statue or the glory to the maker of Avilokiteshvara herself? To whom shall I acknowledge?

    Thank you for sharing.

    • It’s fantastic information! and lovely poem with such deep insights and meaning. Thanks.

  2. Barathan N

    Hi Amardeep,

    Happy New Year.

    Beautiful pictures and a lovely narration. It’s wonderful to know that there is still some good in people and feel compassion for their fellow being.

    You have showed that to us and open our eyes.


  3. Karamjeet Singh

    Amardeep! at times I am surprised as to how Buddha,being agnostic and against idol worships,become an idol himself and lot of Gods and goddesses propped in.This is truly a Brahmanical practice that intruded into Buddhism.Anyhow Bhagat Ravidass is sarcastic on Human beings and rightly calls them puppets who rejoice and cry on material aquisitions or the absence of it.This is how your narration become very informative.Photo shoot is superb.Thanks!

Leave a Reply to Dhiraj Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *