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The article compares three texts in wasan genre – poetic laudations to bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokiteśhvara). From them one can see which provisions of the canonical texts dedicated to the bodhisattva are considered to be the main ones in various traditions of Japanese Buddhism. One of the wasan is based on the description of the merciful care of Kannon for all living beings from the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, supplemented by the doctrine of the vows underlying the miraculous power of the bodhisattva. The other wasan is based on the Sutra of Kannon in ten lines for prolonging life, and in it, Kannon acts as a mentor, reveals to people the teaching that “all thoughts come from the heart”. The third wasan, written in the form of a rebus, represents the tradition of veneration of Kannon in Amidaism – as a guide to the Pure Land, embodied in Japan as Ptince Shōtoku. A common feature of the three wasan is the identification of Kannon with a person pronouncing the hymn. This setting is carried out by means of not only narrative or didactic, but actually poetic: the ability to “listen to the sounds” of the changing world, to respond mercifully to them, turns out to be inherent not only to the bodhisattva, but also to the adept, who expresses his feelings in verse.

Keywords: Buddhism in Japan, Bodhisattva Kannon, wasan hymns

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2020.2.29-41

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About the author 

Nadezhda N. Trubnikova – DSc (Philosophy), Leading researcher at School for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration,
build. 9, 82 Vernadsky prosp., Moscow, Russia, 119606; Deputy Chief Editor of Voprosy Filosofii Journal, Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences,
12/1 Goncharnaya St., Moscow, 109240, Russian Federation; Professor at Institute of Asian and African Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University,
11/1, Mokhovaya str., Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.