Guan Yin was the daughter of a cruel father who wanted her to marry a wealthy but uncaring man. She is known as Miao Shan, and her father is identified as Prince Zhuang of Chu.

Miao Shan was shown to be a Buddhist adept at a young age, chanting sutras when old enough to speak. She begged to be able to enter a temple and become a nun rather than enter into a marriage. Her father allowed her to work in the temple, but asked the monks to give her very hard chores in order to discourage her. The monks forced Miao Shan to work all day and all night, while others slept.

However, it is said that she was such a good person that the animals living around the temple began to help her with her chores.

Her father, seeing this, became so frustrated that he attempted to burn down the temple.

Miao Shan put out the fire with her bare hands and suffered no burns. Eventually she was murdered and made into the goddess Guan Yin for all of her kindness, and began her journey to heaven.

She was about to cross over into heaven when she heard a cry of suffering back on Earth. She asked to be sent back
and vowed to stay until all sufferings had ended.

Despite strenuous effort, she realized that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, it is said that her head split into eleven pieces.

Amitabha Buddha, seeing her plight, gave her eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Guan Yin attempted to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that her two arms also shattered into pieces.

Once more, Amitabha came to her aid and gave her a thousand arms with which to aid the many.



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