Guanyin or Kwanyin, the Goddess of Mercy.
~ China Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe, "Thousand-hand Guan Yin" Guan Yin is a Chinese goddess.Feeling music through speakers and guided by hand gestures, a troupe of deaf dancers in Beijing take steps to champion the rights of disabled people across the world ~
" Being deaf and mute, these disabled female performers endure pain and suffering in vigorous training, simply to deliver a message of love to mankind. "
Guanyin or Kwanyin (aka), the Goddess of Mercy also known by Westerners as the Chinese Goddess of love and compassion has long occupied a unique place not only in Buddhism, but also in Chinese culture. The Chinese word "Guanyin is an abbreviation of "Guan shi yin" which denotes" seeing the voice of the world if rendered literally. Such a deity can be called as the deity who looks in every direction or the "Regarder of the cries of suffering beings".
According to legend, Guanyin, the youngest daughter of a king, defied her father when he sought a husband for her. The angry king sent her away to a monastery with instructions that she should be compelled to obey. This only strengthened her resolve. So the king set fire to the monastery and ordered her execution when she was caught sitting erect reciting sutras. As she was about to be beheaded, the sword broke into two and a tiger from nowhere carried her away to a forest.
One day from afar she saw the king was sick and not responding to treatment, so she severed her arms and eyes to sacrifice them for him. The grieved king besought heaven and earth to make his daughter whole again. Soon, Guanyin had arms and eyes by the thousand, and bowing before her father, she urged him to practise good deeds to which the king readily agreed.
Actually legends have Guanyin in various forms. But the story of the Goddess in this one-thousand-hand form has had an immense appeal. Thus the thousand-hand deity is no longer an exclusive religious symbol but has become a popular cultural icon to religious followers and common folks alike.
The legendary Thousand-hand Guanyin as interpreted by the special artists plucked the heartstrings of the audience. In their rendition of the legendary goddess, they not only demonstrated their superb dancing skills in perfect unison with elegant and forceful movements, but attained a ye higher level to turn it into a live myth full of artistic appeal and stirring power on the stage.
Though we only saw one leading dancer on the stage, we saw in our mind's eye a whole collective where 21 troupe members fused together as one human being with one shared heart. What we saw on the stage was the one Thousand-hand Guanyin, serene, holy and beautiful, that existed in each of the dancers' hearts. While enjoying the colourful performance, we experienced a profound sense of tranquility and composure, a process of cleansing and purification of our souls.
We spetators can hardly imagine how much time and effort these artists must have invested in bringing about such a unique work of art. And only a collective with all its crew members bound together in unity, harmony and friendliness could make it.
The image of the Thousand-hand Guanyin is symbolic of maternal love and infinite compassion.
And the enlightenment we gain from the performance itself is that people with disabilities are also creators of both material and spiritual wealth. Such a spirit of perseverance in pursuing and creating a better life in the face of adversity should be followed by all of us.
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