Sho Kannon, sho meaning sacred or holy, is known as the sacred form of the six manifestations of Kannon. While formerly the Buddha known as Shobomyo-nyorai, Sho Kannon became a Bosatsu (one who guides others to the path of enlightenment) to remain closer to the human realm, guiding all people to salvation. Of the Kannon Bosatsu's many forms, Sho Kannon's form is closest to the human figure, and is well-known for bestowing various blessings. Its widespread renown can be gleaned from the number of different regions across Japan where the Sho Kannon is enshrined.
Seikanon (聖観音), known in English as Avalokiteśvara and in Sanskrit as अवलोकितेश्वर, is one of the bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) widely venerated in various Buddhist traditions, also known as Kannon Bosatsu in Japanese Buddhism. Seikanon symbolizes compassion and loving-kindness in Buddhist teachings and holds a special place in Japanese Buddhism.
In Buddhist legends and scriptures, Seikanon is depicted as a compassionate and wise being who alleviates the suffering and distress of people. Seikanon is sometimes referred to as both male and female, reflecting the idea that compassion transcends gender boundaries. Many Buddhists hold deep reverence for Seikanon and make offerings, prayers, and meditations in their honor.
Seikanon is often represented as the "Thousand-armed Kannon" (千手観音, Senju Kannon) or the "Thousand-armed, Thousand-eyed Kannon" (千手千眼観音, Senju Sengan Kannon). In these depictions, the thousand hands and eyes symbolize the ability to assist countless beings in need, emphasizing Seikanon's compassionate nature. Various artistic interpretations exist, sometimes portraying Seikanon as male, female, or a combination of both.
The faith in Seikanon is particularly strong in Japan, where numerous temples and shrines are dedicated to their worship. Within Japanese Buddhist temples, one can find statues and altars dedicated to Seikanon. Many people visit these places to seek solace, healing, and to make wishes or prayers for various aspects of their lives.
The worship of Seikanon highlights the emphasis on compassion and salvation within Buddhism. It provides a sense of comfort and hope to many individuals, encouraging the practice of benevolence and empathy as they face life's challenges and difficulties, aligning with Buddhist teachings.