The Thousand - Armed Avalokitesvara

The Thousand - Armed Avalokitesvara

Product ID: 15150

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Author: Lokesh Chandra
Publisher: Abhinav Publications
Year: 1988
Language: English
Pages: 304
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8170172470


A fundamental work based on original Sanskrit, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and the lost Iranian language Sogdian and Tibetan works-on the origin of Avalokitesvara. It indentifies the several prevalent folk-deities, which were assimilated into the iconographical form. The worship of Avalokitesvara was accompanied by a dharani (recited hymn). This work describes five versions of thedharani. The dharani is an essential part of the Zen repertoire of sutras. It was transliterated into Chinese eight times over a span of eight enturies: from the 7th to the 14th century.

The present edition is not only a reconstruction of the original Sanskrit text of the hymn, but a detailed study with the texts of Bhagavad-dharma Amoghavajra, Vajrabodhi and Chih-t’ung in Chinese characters. The Korean, Sogdian, and Tibetan texts are also given in their indigenous scripts. Siddham manuscripts from Korea and Japan have been done in facsimile.

Popular iconic vocabulary becomes the essence of ever-renewing theogony. From an attendant acolyte of Amitabha in the Sukhavativyuha, Avalokia gained independence as a separate deity in his own right.

The system of iconographic classification of 33 types, with their symbols, bijas and mudras presents a new model for Buddhist iconographic studies. The Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Tibetan and Sogdian transliterations of Sanskrit hymns to the thousand-eyed, thousand-armed Avalokitesvara have the attributes of Hari and Hara and have the faces of Narasimha and Varaha. In reconstructing these versions it became imperative that Sanskrit texts bearing on Harihara be consulted and the iconography of Harihara be analysed with precision. The 36orphological types of Harihara have been defined in a succinct manner on the principles of icono-taxonomy. A novel departure in the study of the history of art.

Comparison has resulted in the discovery of the mythogenesis of primal Arya Avalokitesvara, as well as his form with a thousand arms, with a thousand eyes on each of the thousand palms. The emergence of the thousand-armed Avalokitesvara is linked with the interiorisation of Isvara-Siva into Avalokita as Visvarupa. Amoghavajra’s version indicates the connection of the Thousand-armed Thousand-eyed Avalokitesvara with the security of the State. New new readings of the dharant that emerge out of comparative exegesis are refreshing like the ozone-laden morning air, with a distinct character, with poetic profundity and devotional fervour. While this volume resurrects the dharani, it traces the very origins of the first Avalokita-svara, and the continuous and perplexing processes of assimilation that travel into a phantasmagoria of universes. Avalokita becomes a wave of many waves.


FOREWORD: Kapila Vatsyayan


The Origin of Avalokita-savara/Avalokitesvara
Assimilation of Deities into Avalokitesvara
Iconography of the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara
Vulgate Version of the Hymn to Thousand-armed Avaloitesvara
Longer Version of the Hymn to Thousand-armed Avalikitesvara
Tibetan Version of the Hymn to Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara
Early Version of the Hymn to Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara
Later Version of the Hymn to Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara
Iconographic Types of Harihara
Literature Cited