Who is Avalokiteshvara?

Avalokiteshvara (अवलोकितेश्वर) is a well known and revered figure in buddhism. He is known as the bodhisattva of great compassion and mercy, who embodies the compassion of all buddhas.

He goes by many names with multiple possible spellings for each depending on the country, such as Chenrezig (Tibet), Guanyin (China), and Kuanyin (Japan). His name roughly translates to "looks down with compassion". As a divine entity, Avalokiteshvara can take on a multitude of forms including male or female, but is almost always depicted as female in East Asia.

In some artistic depictions and stories, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara has 10 heads and 1000 arms- each with an eye on the palm. This striking form allows him to observe all of the mortal world and simultaneously aid all those who suffer.