Bodhisattva Thousand Arms Mythology and Folklore

The Bodhisattvas Thousand Arms is a picture with multiple arms and heads. Many people believe in this particular symbolism. Padmapani is considered to be a Bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddha.

In different cultures, Bodhisattva is depicted differently either as a female or a male. It is famous by different names like Kannon in Japan and Karunamaya in Nepal.

Mythology of Bodhisattva Thousand Arms

Origin and History
Origin and History

The sun and moon are believed to be born from Avalokitesvara’s eyes, Brahma from his shoulders, Shiva from his eyebrows, Narayana from his heart, the winds from his mouth, Saraswati from his teeth, Earth from his feet and the sky from the stomach.

Bodhisattva is also considered to be the attendant of Amitabha.

Talking about the recent times, some of the western-educated institutes have tried to find Natha with Maitreya Bodhisattva.

Video: Avalokiteshvara or Bodhisattva Thousand Arms

In the context of this, the famous Andrew Skilton has written that:

It is clear from sculptural evidence alone that the Mahāyāna was fairly widespread throughout [Sri Lanka], although the modern account of the history of Buddhism on the island presents an unbroken and pure lineage of Theravāda.

(One can only assume that similar trends were transmitted to other parts of Southeast Asia with Sri Lankan ordination lineages.)

Relics of an extensive cult of Avalokiteśvara can be seen in the present-day figure of Nātha.

In the Hindu tradition and culture, the Bodhisattva is depicted as the emanation of Lord Shiva.

Symbolism of Bodhisattvas Thousand Arms

The Bodhisattva thousand arms statue is worshipped in various places all around the world and has religious sentiments attached to it.

Bodhisattva Thousand Arms Symbolism
Bodhisattva Thousand Arms Symbolism

In the country of Myanmar, it is famous by the name of Loknath while in Thailand, it is known as Lokeswara.

It is present in various countries and regarded as The Lord of the world. In the country of China, Bodhisattva takes of the female form and is famous by the name of Guanyin.

In Japan, it is famous by the name of Kannon.

Talking about Hindu tradition, the Bodhisattva thousand arms are worshipped and have religious sentiments attached with it as it is believed that he is the emanation of Lord Shiva.

Bodhisattva Mantras

Mahayana Buddhism has related Avalokitesvara with the famous six syllables Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum.

Bodhisattva Mantra
Bodhisattva Mantra

In Tibetan Buddhism, this association with the mantra is famous by the name of Sadaksari, which has the meaning of Lord of the six syllables.

This Mantra is recited while using prayer beads in many popular and religious places in Tibetan Buddhism.

Historical text, which is dated somewhere around the 4th century CE to the fifth century CE has stated the presence of this Mantra and the relation with the six syllables.

After the bodhisattva finally attains Samadhi by reciting the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum.

He was able to observe the 77 kotis of fully enlightened Buddhas who were replying to him in one chorus voice.

Compassionate Bodhisattva Thousand Arms

The Avalokitesvara is believed to be the Bodhisattva who heard the cries of the world and embodied the compassion of the Buddhas.

Compassionate Bodhisattva
Compassionate Bodhisattva Thousand Arms

When a person can hear and feel the suffering of others and can respond to that suffering, then they are considered to be the head and arms of the bodhisattva.

Bodhisattva has so many arms and hands that no one can count them. The compassion of Bodhisattva is not dependent on the belief system or the Creed.

It is manifested in the most unselfish, sincere, and unconditional response to the suffering of the people and not in the believes or the objectives of the receiver or the giver of help.

It is rightly quoted in the Visuddhi Magga:

“Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found. The deeds are, but no doer of the deeds is there. May response to suffering be unhindered”.

Visuddhi Magga

Manifestations of Bodhisattva

Avalokitesvara as an extraordinarily large number of manifestations which are present in different forms, including the wisdom Goddess, who is directly associated with him.

Manifestations of Bodhisattva
Manifestations of Bodhisattva

Some of the most famous and commonly mentioned manifestation forms are listed below in the table:

ĀryāvalokiteśvaraSacred AvalokitesvaraThe root form of the Bodhisattva
EkādaśamukhaEleven FacedAdditional faces to teach all in 10 planes of existence
Sahasrabhuja SahasranetraThousand-Armed, Thousand-Eyed AvalokitesvaraVery popular form: sees and helps all
CintamāṇicakraWish Fulfilling AvalokitesvaraHolds the bejeweled cintamani wheel
HayagrīvaHorse-necked oneWrathful form; simultaneously bodhisattva and a Wisdom King
CundīExtreme purityPortrayed with many arms
AmoghapāśaUnfailing RopeAvalokitesvara with rope and net
PāndaravāsinīWhite and Pure
ParnaśabarīCloaked With Leaves
RaktaṣadakṣarīSix Red Syllables
ŚvetabhagavatīWhite Lord
UdakaśrīAuspicious Water

Bodhisattva Thousand Arms with Sanskrit Meaning


The Bodhisattva Thousand Arms has always been considered an emanation of Lord Shiva in the Hindu tradition and cultures.

He is believed to have countless heads and arms attached to his body.

Some of the religions consider the Bodhisattva to be a male while others worship her as a female. Bodhisattva has always been linked to the various forms of Buddha.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Why does the Bodhisattva have many arms and heads attached to the body?

The Bodhisattva is considered to be the one that embodies the compassion of all the forms of Buddha. Thus, he has many arms and head attached to his body.

Is Guanyin considered to be a Buddha?

Yes, the Guanyin is considered to be the Buddha in Chinese culture and traditions. She is believed to be the God of Mercy.

Who is considered to be the female Buddha?

Tara, who appears in Mahayana Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism is considered to be the female Buddha. She is also famous by the name of the mother of liberation and is the symbol of success and positive virtues.

What is the symbolism of the long ears of Buddha?

The Buddha has long ears or earlobes. This is believed to be a symbol of the conscious rejection and ignorance of all his materialistic desires and moving towards the path of spiritual enlightenment.