Ci'en Temple, Shenyang, Liaoning
(August 27, 2011)

(1) Moving on, to the larger Ci'en Temple in Shenyang. At first I thought the Heavenly Kings Hall had been given over to rubbish collection. Then I saw someone bringing more donations, of food, clothing, bedding, etc. That made me happy.


(3) Compared to Banruo Temple, this one was filled with surprises. One of them was the high quality of the "Eighteen Arhats," a commonly-seen grouping of the Buddha's disciples (historical and imaginary). I loved the painting and the expressions on these guys; I wish I could have gone inside and shot them individually.

(4) A second surprise: At either end of the Buddha platform were these unidentified figures. [There are actually three Buddhas; I have shown you Amitabha Buddha (left) and the Medicine Buddha (right), but left out Shakyamuni and his usual attendants (Ananda and Kashyapa) in the center.] Anyway, I asked a temple worker and he told me these were two of the 20 (or 24) "Heavenly Kings" (Tian wang, or Devaraja in Sanskrit). They are in fact 大梵天王 (Da Fantian Wang, the Hindu god Brahma) and 帝釋尊天 (Dishi Zuntian the Hindu god Indra). I was delighted to see them here, and won't get into the polemics of their worshipful attitude toward the Buddhas!

(5) My third and final pleasant surprise was the figures at the back of the hall: Here are Dizang Pusa (a bodhisattva who saves beings from Hell) and Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. On the other side of the hall are Puxian and Wenshu, Bodhisattvas of Great Practice and Great Wisdom, respectively. I thought that, since the altar had three Buddhas, this was an ingenious way to place the Four Great Bodhisattvas in the temple.

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Last Updated August 6, 2019

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