Kwan YinIn the Buddhist religion a bodhisattva is a person that has foregone their entry in to heaven (or as the Buddhist refers to it as nirvana.) They have instead chosen to return to earth for another incarnation so that they can guide less spiritually evolved people. Any person can become a bodhisattva if they have remarkable status as a healer, sage or teacher. The bodhisattva who according to Mahayana Buddhism is known as a “future Buddha” embarks on a mission to share wisdom and good karma with those less fortunate than themselves, This is done out of a selfless love and compassion.

Miao-shan was the 3rd daughter of a rich and powerful emperor, when she was born legend has it that fragrant flowers fell from the heavens causing everyone to breathe a deep sign of joy.  During childbirth her mother felt no pain and she was born so clean that she did not need bathing; some said she was the perfect baby. The blessed princess grew up to be a young woman that was gentle and yet modest. She did not ask a lot of her nursemaids and her needs were few, she treated all servants and the most noble of aristocrats with equal respect. Inspired by her charity her ladies in waiting renounced their desires and vowed to live a simple life of chastity.

However the emperor was not happy with Miao-Shan and believed that she should marry, Miao-shan refused to give up her celibacy unless the emperor could promise that her marriage could stop all the misfortunes of old age, illness and death. Although the emperor who was rich and powerful he could not comply with Miao-shan’s demands. Angry, he ordered that his daughter work as a gardener with only rice to eat and water to drink, Miao-shan accepted this punishment with grace and had longed for a life of austerity and devotion.

Months passed and Miao-shan quietly laboured away in the garden without complaint. It was clear to her father that his daughter would not return to the palace which angered him even more. He then banished Miao-shan to a convent; little did he know that nothing could have pleased her more. He demanded that the nuns give her all of the hardest tasks such as chopping wood, fetching water and weeding the garden. She did all of these things joyfully and the convent prospered like never before, the well overflowed, and garden bloomed.

After years of separation from his daughter the emperor became ill, no doctor or sage could heal him of his deadly disease. Finally an aged monk came to his bedside and showed him a vision of a bodhisattva on a fragrant mountain who would offer her arms and eyes to make a potion to heal the emperor. His men were immediately dispatched to the mountain to collect the ingredients for the potion. When his emissary told the bodhisattva of the emperors dire situation she freely gave up her arms and eyes to help him.

On their return the monk used the bodhisattva’s arms and eyes to make a potion which completely healed the emperor within minutes. He was unable to thank the monk as he had disappeared as quickly and mysteriously as he had appeared. The emperor then decided that he should thank the bodhisattva personally; when he arrived at the fragrant mountains he discovered that the bodhisattva was no other than Miao-shan, his daughter. He saw his daughters mutilated body and filled with remorse, when he embraced her lotus blossoms drifted down from the heavens. Moments later Miao-shan’s body was fully restored and her soul ascended to heaven. From here on Miao-shan earned the name of Kwan Yin.