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Chenrezig - artelino

Chenrezig - with four arms.Chenrezig is a popular character in Tibetan Buddhism and often depicted on objects of Tibetan arts and crafts like thangkas or statues. As he has several names and is shown in different forms, he is a bit difficult to explain to people who are not familiar with the intricacies of Buddhism. This article tries to get the message across stripped down to the essentials.

Chenrezig - the Bodhisattva of Compassion

Chenrezig is among Tibetan Buddhists the great Bodhisattva of compassion, a good character who has only one thing in his mind. How can I help others? What is a Bodhisattva? A Bodhisattva is a deity that has already reached the enlightenment, and thus has the ticket for Nirvana, the eternal bliss, already in his pocket. But a Bodhisattva refuses to go to Nirvana as long as there are still other beings, humans and animals, who have not yet attained enlightenment and who therefore still suffer. In other words, a Bodhisattva is a very unselfish being.

Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara?

Both are the same. The Tibetans speak of Chenrezig while in Sanskrit he is called with this tongue-breaker name of Avalokiteshvara.

Chenrezig - Thousand Arms.

From Chenresig to the 14th Dalai Lama

Chenrezig has some prominent reincarnations. The historic King Songtsen Gampo (617-698 AD) as well as the complete lineage of all Dalai Lamas up to Tenzin Gyatso, the current 14th are regarded as reincarnations of Chenrezig.

The Different Forms of Chenrezig

Chenrezig.Chenrezig is shown with a different number of heads and arms. The heads go from one to eleven and the arms from two to a thousand. And there is of course a story behind it. As Chenrezig is someone who takes his job more than serious, his two arms fell into pieces when he tried to do too many things at the same time. And the same happened to his head when he worried so much about the sufferings of others that his head exploded.

But then the Buddha Amitabha (the Buddha always shown in red) came to his rescue. Amitabha not only reassembled Chenrezig, but he "upgraded" him to this multiplication of arms and heads.

Chenrezig in Tibetan Arts and Crafts

In the arts and crafts you will usually find two versions of Chenrezig. One with one head and four arms, and a second one with eleven heads and a thousand arms - the fully loaded version. Also the "light" version with one head and 4 arms is often to be seen on thangkas or in the form of metal statues. In both versions Chenrezig is shown in white - sitting on a lotus throne in the four arms version, and standing in the fully equipped version.

As the saying goes, a picture tells more than a thousand words, take a look at the images on this page.

Dieter Wanczura, June 2010

Chenrezig with 4 arms.

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 October 2010 23:08  

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