Indian Mythology


Are there other mythological figures in Buddhism?

Mahayana and Vajrayana provide many myths to create a post-Pali Buddhist mythology. That mythology is particularly developed in Tibet. Partly influenced by Bon, a pre-Buddhist religion, Tibetans speak of such figures as mountain gods, nature spirits, and evil spirits. But the real contribution of Buddhism to Tibetan mythology is the concept of the bodhisattva. Two Tibetan bodhisattvas who are, in effect, divinities, stand out. These are Avalokiteśvara and his Shakti, Tara. Tibetans hold that Avalokiteśvara was their progenitor and that he is reincarnated in each Dalai Lama, who lives as the bodhisattva had on Potola, a mountaintop from which the cries of suffering humanity may be heard. As for his female self, Tara, it is said by some that Tara was born from one of Avalokiteśvara’s tears. Another Tibetan myth says that in ancient times Tara took the form of a rock demoness and mated with the bodhisattva in his form as a monkey. She then gave birth to monkeys who became the Tibetans. Avalokiteśvara would take various forms in Chinese and Japanese mythology.


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