Kuan Yin is the Goddess of Compassion. There are countless stories as to how she became a Goddess. One such story was that she was once a man who had refused to leave this Earth to enjoy the pleasures of Nirvana and instead gave his life to the people out of love and respect and faithfulness and selflessness. Failed, and laying shattered at their feet, the Buddhas decided that a woman’s form was better suited to a life of selflessness and to relieve the suffering of all humanity and thus they rebuilt the man as the Goddess Kuan Yin with a thousand hands to ease the suffering of the people and a thousand eyes to see those in need.
Another such story begins with the story of a Princess in a far away kingdom. The King and Queen wanted a son but instead the princess was born. She was one of such kindness and beauty but the king was still displeased. He wanted to marry her to a rich man but she refused to do so unless the marriage would relieve the suffering endured in old age ,ease the pain of those who are ill, and comfort the dying and those bereaved. Instead she begged to become a nun. So her father sent her to become a nun but told those at the convent to treat her especially poorly and harshly so she would submit to his will. The nuns put the princess in charge of the food supply . . . managing the garden and collecting water from the distant stream. They thought this would be disheartening since it was the middle of winter. To the shock of all, crops appeared in the garden and a stream sprang up just outside the kitchen door.
When her father got word of these miracles, he decided to put and end to her life and sent one of his henchmen to kill her. The princess knelt to bow her head for the axe, she meekly met the henchman’s eye and said, ‘You must not worry for what you have to do. . . you have been forgiven.’
Shaken, the henchman thrust his weapon on a nearby stone and the axe shattered into a thousand pieces. Then the clouds came down from the hillside and carried the young nun to safety on a nearby island where she continued her religious study, prayer and meditation while living on her own.
Soon her father became incredibly ill, and lay dying. A travelling monk came and said he knew of a cure, the ground up eyes and arms of one who loved him and who were full of forgiveness. The king asked his two other daughters but they refused. As did his wife. Then the monk told him that he knew of someone he was sure would gladly make the sacrifice, so the king sent his envoy to make the request. The princess pulled out her eyes and severed her arms, telling the envoy to hurry to take them to the king so that he might be quickly healed. The monk prepared the medicine and gave it to the king who was quickly cured. He tried to thank the monk but the monk refused, saying, ‘It is the one who made the sacrifice that you should thank.’
So the king and his wife made the journey to the island and when they realized it was their daughter who had given up so much, The princesss told them that ‘Knowing my father’s love, I was honored to be able to repay him with my arms and eyes.’ And just at the moment, the clouds descended.
When the fog cleared the princess was no longer there. The earth again began to tremble and thousands of blossoms floated down from the sky. The royal family looked up and saw the Goddess Kuan Yin in the sky.
To honor their daughter, who was now known as the Goddess Kuan Yin, they built a shrine on the place of her ascension and named it Fragrant Mountain.