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Journey to the West - Research Paper Example

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The novel brings to our attention the existence of Guan Yin, a Chinese goddess who among other things synthesizes Buddhist, Confucian, Daoist and the Chinese indigenous shamanic elements. According to the novel China was first introduced to Buddhism in the era of Han dynasty. …
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Download file to see previous pages . First Guan Yin appeared as a male (avalokiteshvara) as a monk with mustache though thin (Yu, 1984). After some years Guan Yin transformed into a woman. She became a very famous feminine Guan Yin in the whole of China. Among other reasons Guan Yin gained her popularity from spiritual or religious reasons. From all Buddhist deities who were imported, Guan Yin was the sole gainer of genuine Chinese figure. Guan Yin, the Chinese goddess, assisted in the removal of women’s supposed pollution that related to reproduction. This was contrary to the ancient Confucian thoughts about women who were seen as inferior and polluted.
According to “Journey to the West”, the Chinese Buddhists, bodhisattvas and Buddha did not only exist in the spiritual world. They were not taken as the pictures on alters or statues in the temple. The Buddhists deities are regarded universal and are “present” in the daily lives of common people and put emphasize on individual salvation. Guan Yin being physical is the first Chinese deity to have left heaven and appeared with saving during crisis (Kristeva, 2000) Women can perform miracles; this is evident from the accounts of Guan Yin miracles and divine powers. Women are seen participating in various religious ceremonies. This can be cited from nuns’ participation in singing “praising incense,” in the temple during the pilgrimage festivals in China. Women too can be seen as religious as they participate in prayers during the pilgrimage festivals. During the pilgrimage festivals it is said that people could call out the name of Guan Yin and immediately their prayers could be answered. Guan Yin being a woman shows that women can be senior religious leaders and perform miracles just as male religious leaders do today. In the novel, Guan Yin plays an important role in the tale. She is first sent to China by Buddha to get a suitable messenger who could come and get Dharma. She picks Monkey, which is a symbol of ego, who struggles his way out with several monsters or shadow beasts. The Journey to the West is a trip from China to India aimed at getting Dharma in sutras back to China. This is also called “Tripitaka” a monk’s honorary title (Yu, 1984). Guan Yin appears gracious and converts every one- pigsy, sandy and dragon. She forgives their sins and promises them to behave and help them along the journey. This episode displays women as people who can easily forgive and convert others to their religion. If Guan Yin managed to convert pigsy, sandy and dragon to be her disciples, then it shows that she had power to convince. Basing on the characters and backgrounds of the three it was not an easy task to make disciples out of the three. Guan Yin tries to tame the balance for the traditional role of women. Women were taken as subservient and their relegation to an impure task in life because of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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