Guanyin or Guan Yin (/ˌɡwɑːnˈjɪn/) is an East Asian bodhisattva associated with compassion and venerated by Mahayana Buddhists and followers of Chinese folk religions, also known as the “Goddess of Mercy” in English. The Chinese name Guanyin, short for Guanshiyin, means “[The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World”.
Some Buddhists believe that when one of their adherents departs from this world, they are placed by Guanyin in the heart of a lotus, and then sent to the western Pure Land of Sukhāvatī. Guanyin is often referred to as the “most widely beloved Buddhist Divinity” with miraculous powers to assist all those who pray to her, as is said in the Lotus Sutra and Karandavyuha Sutra.
Several large temples in East Asia are dedicated to Guanyin including Shitennō-ji, Sensō-ji, Kiyomizu-dera and Sanjūsangen-dō as well as Shaolin. Guanyin is beloved by all Buddhist traditions in a non-denominational way and found in most Tibetan temples under the name Chenrezig, and found in some influential Theravada temples such as Gangaramaya and Kelaniya of Sri Lanka. Statues are a widely depicted subject of Asian art and found in the Asian art sections of most museums in the world.
Generally accepted among East Asian adherents, Guanyin originated as the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, but in Chinese folk religion, the mythical accounts about Guanyin’s origins do not associate with the Avalokiteśvara described in Buddhist sutras. Commonly known in English as the Mercy Goddess or Goddess of Mercy, often depicted as both male and female to show this figure’s limitless transcendence beyond gender, and revered by Taoists as an immortal.