• Germans slaughter Italian civilians... • Oil megaspill... • Jonesboro school shooting... • Boys to become Scottsboro Boys... • Jules Verne dies... • Elizabeth I dies... • NATO bombs Serbia... • Rhode Island is established... • Shannon Lucid enters Mir... • Kuan Yin Day... • Acquitted of letting python kill toddler... • US~Cuba negotiations... • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opens... • Great poet dies... • Great Western explorer is born... • Founder of Wang Labs dies... • North Vietnamese final assault on Saigon...
On a 24 March:
2000 Elián González and his cousin Marisleysis González are not smiling as they return home after learning that the US Attorney General is dead set on forcing the prompt return of Elián to Cuba. [photo >]
2000 Los quince países de la Unión Europea (Francia, Gran Bretaña, Italia, Bélgica, Nederlandia, Luxemburgo, España, Portugal, Alemania, Austria, Irlanda, Dinamarca, Suecia, Finlandia, Grecia), reunidos en Lisboa, aprueban un paquete de reformas entre las que se incluye las desregulación inmediata de las telecomunicaciones, lo que permitirá la expansión de Internet como instrumento para desarrollar la economía y crear empleo.
2000 US couple not guilty of letting python kill son. ^top^
A judge acquits a Carlyle, Illinois (about 80 km east of St. Louis. ) couple of charges filed against them after the family's pet python squeezed their 3-year-old son to death.
Judge Harold Pennock of the Clinton County Circuit Court issues a directed verdict of acquittal at the end of a weeklong trial, just before the case is to have gone to a jury.
He finds Robert and Melissa Altom not guilty of child endangerment, a charge that could have resulted in a 10-year prison sentence for the couple. To have made the charges stick, prosecutors had to show the couple acted willfully -- something the judge said had not been proven.
The couple's 2.1-meter African rock python slithered out of its aquarium in August 1999, killing the couple's son, Jesse, as he slept.
They should have read: When giant snakes such as pythons are kept as "pets" certain precautions must be taken. I strongly recommend the following two articles: Lenny Flank's article on handling large constrictors and the A.F.H. guidelines for keeping large constrictors. Mistakes do happen and the results can be fatal. Be careful and be informed.
[Should there be a Darwin Jr. award for people who remove their offspring from the gene pool?]
1999 NATO starts bombing Serbia to help relieve Kosovo ^top^
The assault includes air and sea-launched cruise missiles and bombing runs by American, German and French airplanes. It is the first time in NATO's 50-year existence that it has ever attacked a sovereign country.
For months, the Yugoslav government of dictatorial President Slobodan Milosevic had refused to sign a peace plan that would have ended officially sanctioned persecution of the ethnic Albanian majority in its province of Kosovo. The final straw came when Yugoslavia finally promised to sign, then backed off. Yugoslavia was clearly teasing the alliance, and possibly stalling to solidify its air defenses.
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commences air strikes against Yugoslavia with the bombing of Serbian military positions in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. The NATO offensive came in response to a new wave of ethnic cleansing launched by Serbian forces against the Kosovar Albanians on March 20.
The Kosovo region was at the heart of the Serbian empire in the late Middle Ages but was lost to the Ottoman Turks in 1389 following Serbia's defeat in the Battle of Kosovo. By the time Serbia regained control of Kosovo from Turkey in 1913, there were few Serbs left in a region that had come to be dominated by ethnic Albanians. In 1918, Kosovo formally became a province of Serbia, and it continued as such after communist leader Josip Broz Tito established the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945, comprising the Balkan states of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia, and Macedonia. However, Tito eventually gave in to Kosovar demands for greater autonomy, and after 1974 Kosovo existed as independent state in all but name.
Serbs came to resent Kosovo's autonomy, which allowed it to act against Serbian interests, and in 1987 Slobodan Milosevic was elected leader of Serbia's Communist Party with a promise of restoring Serbian rule to Kosovo. In 1989, Milosevic became president of Serbia and moved quickly to suppress Kosovo, stripping its autonomy and in 1990 sending troops to disband its government. Meanwhile, Serbian nationalism led to the dissolution of the Yugoslav federation in 1991, and in 1992 the Balkan crisis deteriorated into civil war. A new Yugoslav state, consisting only of Serbia and the small state of Montenegro, was created, and Kosovo began four years of nonviolent resistance to Serbian rule.
The militant Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) emerged in 1996 and began attacking Serbian police in Kosovo. With arms obtained in Albania, the KLA stepped up its attacks in 1997, prompting a major offensive by Serbian troops against the rebel-held Drenica region in February-March 1998. Dozens of civilians were killed, and enlistment in the KLA increased dramatically. In July, the KLA launched an offensive across Kosovo, seizing control of nearly half the province before being routed in a Serbian counteroffensive later that summer. The Serbian troops drove thousands of ethnic Albanians from their homes and were accused of massacring Kosovo civilians.
In October, NATO threatened Serbia with air strikes, and Milosevic agreed to allow the return of tens of thousands of refugees. Fighting soon resumed, however, and talks between Kosovar Albanians and Serbs in Rambouillet, France, in February 1999 ended in failure. On 18 March, further peace talks in Paris collapsed after the Serbian delegation refused to sign a deal calling for Kosovo autonomy and the deployment of NATO troops to enforce the agreement. Two days later, the Serbian army launched a new offensive in Kosovo. On 24 March, NATO air strikes began.
In addition to Serbian military positions, the NATO air campaign targeted Serbian government buildings and the country's infrastructure in an effort to destabilize the Milosevic regime. The bombing and continued Serbian offensives drove hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians into neighboring Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Many of these refugees were airlifted to safety in the United States and other NATO nations. On 10 June, the NATO bombardment ended when Serbia agreed to a peace agreement calling for the withdrawal of Serb forces from Kosovo and their replacement by NATO peacekeeping troops.
With the exception of two US pilots killed in a training mission in Albania, no NATO personnel lost their lives in the 78-day operation. There were some mishaps, however, such as miscalculated bombings that led to the deaths of Kosovar Albanian refugees, KLA members, and Serbian civilians. The most controversial incident was the May 7 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, which killed three Chinese journalists and caused a diplomatic crisis in US-Chinese relations.
On 12 June, NATO forces moved into Kosovo from Macedonia. The same day, Russian troops arrived in the Kosovo capital of Pristina and forced NATO into agreeing to a joint occupation. Despite the presence of peacekeeping troops, the returning Kosovar Albanians retaliated against Kosovo's Serbian minority, forcing them to flee into Serbia. Under the NATO occupation, Kosovar autonomy was restored, but the province remained officially part of Serbia. Slobodan Milosevic was ousted from power by a popular revolution in Belgrade in October 2000. He was replaced by the popularly elected Vojislav Kostunica, a moderate Serbian nationalist who promised to reintegrate Serbia into Europe and the world after a decade of isolation.
1996 Hyakutake is the brightest comet to pass by the Earth in two decades.
1996 After two-years and $20 million, Intel abandons its plans to manufacture cable modems.
1996 Shannon Lucid enters Mir ^top^
US astronaut Shannon Lucid safely transfers to the Russian space station Mir from the US space shuttle Atlantis for a planned five-month stay. Lucid, a biochemist who shares Mir with Russian cosmonauts Yuri Onufriyenko and Yuri Usachev, conducts scientific experiments during her stay. She is the first female US astronaut to live in a space station. Beginning in August, her scheduled return to earth is delayed more than six weeks because of last-minute repairs to the booster rockets of the Atlantis and then by a hurricane. Finally, on September 26, 1996, she returns to earth aboard the Atlantis, touching down at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Her 188-day sojourn aboard Mir sets a new space endurance record for an American, and a world endurance record for a woman.
1995 The US House of Representatives passed a welfare reform package calling for the most profound changes in social programs since F. D. Roosevelt's New Deal. President Clinton criticized the bill, saying it was ''weak on work and tough on children.''
1988 Elecciones legislativas en Gibraltar, con gran afluencia de votantes, que dan el triunfo al dirigente laborista John Joseph “Joe” Bossano.
1988 Greenpeace pone de manifiesto el peligro de degradación de la Antártida, ante las deficiencias de las 60 bases científicas allí instaladas.
1986 US and Libya clash in Gulf of Sidra
1982 Five congregations in the eastern San Francisco Bay area became the first to declare themselves publicly as sanctuary churches, in an effort to help refugees from Central America establish themselves in the US during political and military unrest in their native countries.
1965 The first "teach-in" is conducted at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; two hundred faculty members participate by holding special anti-Vietnam-War seminars. Regular classes are canceled, and rallies and speeches dominate for 12 hours. On March 26, there would be a similar teach-in at Columbia University in New York City. Teach-ins would spread to many colleges and universities.
1964 Kennedy half-dollar issued
1959 Iraq withdraws from the Baghdad Pact
1949 El mariscal Vasilevski sucede a Nikolay Aleksandrovich Bulganin como ministro del ejército soviético.
1945 El Ejército Rojo inicia la ofensiva en dirección a Viena.
1945 Termina la primera fase del plan de operaciones dirigido por el general Dwight David Eisenhower.
1934 US President Franklin Roosevelt signs a bill granting future independence to the Philippines.
1933 Peter I Island incorporated as a Norwegian dependency
1903 EE.UU. y el Reino Unido deciden formar una comisión mixta para fijar las fronteras de Alaska.
1903 Firma de un tratado entre Bolivia y Brasil que establece un modus vivendi respecto al litigio de Acre.
1882 German scientist Robert Koch announces in Berlin that he has discovered the bacillus responsible for tuberculosis.
1875 En el transcurso de las Guerras carlistas, Alfonso XII se pone al frente del Ejército del Norte.
1863 Union Steele's Bayou, Mississippi amphibious expedition skirmishes with Confederates at Deer Creek
1862 Riot at abolition meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio
1832 Mormon Joseph Smith beaten, tarred and feathered in Ohio.
1814 Fernando VII entra en España para hacerse cargo del Gobierno tras la Guerra de la Independencia española.
1813 Le pape Pie VII se rétracte du semblant de concordat en onze articles, que Napoléon lui a fait signer le 25 janvier 1813 à Fontainebleau. Dès le lendemain, en manière de riposte, Napoléon nomme douze évêques.
1808 Fernando VII es acogido con entusiasmo como nuevo monarca por el pueblo de Madrid, puesto que con él acababa el gobierno de Manuel de Godoy y Alvarez de Faria (una sola persona con demasiados apellidos).
1794 LASCOMBES Françoise, domiciliée à Toulouse, département de la Haute Garonne, condamnée à mort le 4 germinal an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département comme émigrée.
1794 LATREILLE Marie Anne Catherine, femme Guetineau, âgée de 34 ans, née à Montreuil-Bellay, près de Saumur, domiciliée à Paris, département de la Seine, condamnée à mort le 4 germinal an 2, par le tribunal révolutionnaire de Paris, comme complice de la conspiration d'Hébert, Vincent, Ronsin et Autres, tendante à dissoudre la convention nationale, à assassiner ses membres et les patriotes et détruire le gouvernement Républicain.
1794 LAUMIER Michel, général de brigade, ci-devant, lieutenant colonel de la marine, âgé de 63 ans, né et domicilié à Paris, département de la Seine, condamné à mort, le 4 germinal an 2, par le tribunal révolutionnaire de Paris, comme complice d'une conspiration contre la liberté et la sûreté du Peuple français, tendante à Troubler l'état par une guerre civile, en armant les citoyens les uns contre les autres et contre l'exercice de l'autorité légitime, par suite de laquelle des conjurés devaient dissoudre la Représentation nationale, assassiner ses membres et les patriotes, détruire le gouvernement républicain, s'emparer de la souveraineté du peuple, et donner un tyran à l'état.
1765 Britain enacts the Quartering Act, requiring American colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers.
which occurred on a March 24:
2003 US Marine Cpl. Evan James, 20, drowns in a canal in Iraq, during the US-led attack.
2003 Lance Cpl. Thomas A. Blair, 24, US Marine, in combat in Iraq.
2003 Britons Sgt. Steven Mark Roberts and Lance Cpl. Barry Stephen, in combat in Iraq.
2003 Ahmed Abahreh, 15, Palestinian, by an Israeli bullet to the head, in Jenin, West Bank. Another Palestinian youngster is wounded in the leg.
2003:: 24 upper-caste Hindus, including 2 children and 11 women, shot by more than 15 gunmen in Nadimarg, Indian-occupied Kashmir.
2002 Esther Kleiman, 23, Israeli of Neve Tzuf, in a shooting attack northwest of Ramallah, West Bank, while traveling to work in a armored Egged bus.
2002 Avi Sabag, 24, Israeli of Otniel was killed in a shooting attack south of Hebron, West Bank.
2001 Dos personas por un seísmo de 6,4 grados en la escala Richter, con un epicentro localizado en las costas del sur de Hiroshima, que afecta seriamente a varias ciudades japonesas. Más de un centenar de personas sufren heridas de diversa consideración.
1999: 39 people, by fire in the Mont Blanc tunnel in France. It burns for two days. Cuarenta personas mueren carbonizadas como consecuencia de la explosión en cadena de los depósitos de 20 camiones y 11 turismos que se hallaban en el Túnel del Mont Blanc, que une Francia e Italia a través de los Alpes.
1976 Bernard L. Montgomery, 88, British general, who defeated Rommel.
1962 Auguste Piccard, born on 28 January 1884, Swiss-born Belgian physicist, mechanic and engineer, famous for exploring the upper stratosphere in his balloon (to 16'916 m in 1932) and the ocean depths in his bathyscaphe suspended from a gasoline-filled “balloon” (down to 3150 m in August 1953).
1956 Hamill, mathematician.
1956 Whittaker, mathematician.
1916 Fifty persons aboard the French cross-channel ferry Sussex of 1350 tons, on its way to Dieppe, torpedoed by the German submarine UB-29, mistaking it for a minelayer. The Sussex does not sink and manages to limp into the port of Boulogne. No US person is killed, but 25 are among the 30 persons injured. US President Wilson addresses the Congress on 19 April 1916, declaring “that unless the Imperial German Government should now immediately declare and effect an abandonment of its present method of warfare against passenger and freight carrying vessels this Government can have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations with the Government of the German Empire altogether”. Germany responds on 04 May 1916 with the "Sussex Pledge" to end the sinking of passenger ships, to search merchant ships for contraband and to make provision for passengers and crews before sinking merchant ships. The Germans generally keep their pledge until they announce on 31 January 1917 that unrestricted submarine warfare will resume the next day. On 03 February the US would sever diplomatic relations with Germany and a German U-boat would sink the US liner Housatonic. The US would declare war on Germany on 06 April 1917.
One of the dead is Enrique Granados, Spanish pianist and composer, born on 27 July 1867, who was returning from the New York City premiere of an opera based on his Goyescas. He was a leader of the movement toward nationalism in late 19th-century Spanish music. Granados made his debut as a pianist at 16. He studied composition in Barcelona under Felipe Pedrell, the father of Spanish nationalism in music. He studied piano in Paris in 1887. Returning to Barcelona in 1889, he established himself as a pianist of the front rank, and his 12 Danzas españolas achieved great popularity. The first of his seven operas, María del Carmen, was produced in 1898. In 1900 Granados founded a short-lived classical-concerts society and his own piano school, which produced a number of distinguished players. His interest in the 18th century is reflected in his tonadillas, songs written “in the ancient style.” He wrote extensively and fluently for the piano, in a somewhat diffuse, Romantic style. His masterpieces, the Goyescas (1911–13), are reflections on the paintings and tapestries of Francisco de Goya [30 Mar 1746 – 16 Apr 1828].
1912 Felipe Angulo político colombiano.
1888 Charles-Théodore Frère frère Bey, French painter specializes in Orientalism, born on 21 June 1814.. MORE ON FRÈRE AT ART 4 MARCH with links to images.
1859 James Stark, English painter born on 19 November 1794. — more with links to two images.
1825 Jean Frédéric Schall, French artist born on 14 March 1752. — more
1476 (or 24 April 1484, or in 1496) Antonio Vivarini da Murena, Italian painter born in 1415. MORE ON VIVARINI AT ART 4 MARCH with links to images.
1471 Sir Thomas Malory, 55, author (Le Morte d'Arthur)
0809 Harun al-Rashid caliph (786-809) of the Arabian Nights
which occurred on a March 24:
1999 Triplet lambs, two male, one female, born to Dolly Finn Dorset [05 Jul 1996 – 14 Feb 2003], the first cloned ewe, and David Welsh Mountain ram. [photo: the triplets and Bonnie >]
[< the same, some time later]
1955 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, play by Tennessee Williams, opens on Broadway
Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opens in New York, two days before his 44th birthday. The play would win Williams his second Pulitzer Prize. Williams had been an award-winning playwright since 1945, when his first hit play, The Glass Menagerie, opened, winning the Drama Critics Circle Award. Two years later, he won his first Pulitzer Prize, for A Streetcar Named Desire.
Williams led a colorful and tragic life. Born in 1911 in Columbia, Mississippi, he was a sickly child terrorized by his violent traveling-salesman father. When he was seven, the family moved to St. Louis, where his father became manager of a shoe company. Persecuted and taunted by his father, he took refuge in reading and writing and in a close relationship with his beloved sister Rose. At 14, he won a prize in a national writing competition and three years later sold a short story to Weird Tales magazine.
Williams studied at the University of Missouri at Columbia but left to work in his father's shoe warehouse for three years. He later attended Washington University in St. Louis and finally graduated from the University of Iowa at age 27. Sadly, his sister Rose, who suffered severe mental disturbances that Williams blamed on his father's violence, was lobotomized during this time.
Williams started writing plays during college and continued when he moved to New Orleans in the 1930s, where he changed his name from Thomas to Tennessee. In 1939, he won an award for a small production of his one-act collection American Blues. He worked briefly in Hollywood as a screenwriter and later turned a failed screenplay into The Glass Menagerie. The play launched Williams to critical success, which he maintained until the 1960s, when the critics turned on him. However, he continued writing until his death in 1983, when he choked on a medicine-bottle cap.
1948 Chang, mathematician.
1937 Lloyd Erskine Sandiford, político de Barbados.
1934 José Antonio Ferrer Benimeli, historiador español.
1926 Dario Fo, dramaturgo italiano, Premio Nobel de Literatura en 1997.
1902 Thomas E. Dewey, Ohio, Governor of New York (1943-1955); first Catholic US Presidential candidate 1944, 1948 (R). He died on 16 March 1971.
1897 Wilhelm Reich, Austrian psychologist who died on 03 November 1957.
1892 Morse, mathematician.
1886 Edward Weston, US photographer who died on 01 January 1958. LINKS
1874 Erich Weisz Harry Houdini, in Budapest, magician and escape artist. Author of Miracle Mongers and their Methods: A Complete Exposé, Miracle Mongers and their Methods: A Complete Exposé (1920), A Magician Among the Spirits (1924), The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin (1908). He died on 31 October 1926, from peritonitis following an appendectomy, after he had been unexpectedly struck in the abdomen when boasting of his ability to sustain blows...
1871 Sir Ernest Rutherford nuclear scientist.
1869 Émile Fabre, French playwright and administrator of the Comédie-Française. He died on 25 September 1955.
1862 Frank Weston Benson, US Impressionist painter, who died in 1951. MORE ON BENSON AT ART 4 MARCH with links to images.
1855 Andrew Mellon, US financier, philanthropist and secretary of the treasury who died on 26 August 1937.
1848 Jules Tannery, mathematician.
1835 Josef Stefan, mathematician.
1809 Joseph Liouville , mathematician. In 1836 Liouville founded Journal de Mathématiques Pures et Appliquées. Liouville's mathematical work was extremely wide ranging, from mathematical physics to astronomy to pure mathematics. He created the fractional calculus, defined differential operators of arbitrary order, that did not have to be an integer, but could be even a complex number. Liouville investigated the general problem of integration of algebraic functions in finite terms. Liouville worked on transcendental numbers, giving as an example the Liouvillian number 0.1100010000000000000000010000... where there is a 1 in place n! and 0 elsewhere. With Sturm, he developed the Sturm-Liouville theory which is used in solving integral differential equations. Liouville contributed to differential geometry studying conformal transformations. He proved a major theorem concerning the measure preserving property of Hamiltonian dynamics. The result is of fundamental importance in statistical mechanics and measure theory. Liouville died on 08 September 1882.
1809 Mariano José de Larra y Sánchez de Castro, escritor español.
1767 Jacques-Laurent Agasse, Swiss painter specialized in animals who died on 27 December 1849. . MORE ON AGASSE AT ART 4 MARCH with links to images.
1622 Osias Beert II (or Beet II), Flemish artist who died in 1678.
1607 Michiel Adriaanzoon de Ruyter [click image for photo of 1677 bust by Verhulst >], great Dutch admiral, whose brilliant naval victories in the Second and Third Anglo-Dutch Wars enabled the United Provinces to maintain a balance of power with England. De Ruyter died on 29 April 1676, from mortal wounds received while fighting the French off Sicily.
1494 Georgius Agricola, German scholar and scientist known as the "father of mineralogy". He died on 21 November 1555. De Re Metallica (posthumous, 1556) is Agricola's best known work. It is a systematic examination of mining and metallurgy as practiced in the sixteenth-century mining center of Joachimsthal in Czechoslovakia. Agricola was a medical doctor there and observed at first hand the mining operations commonly used as well as the ill effects on miners. Agricola described all mining operations in great detail including prospecting, administration, the use of water power and the transport of ores. He described for the first time the preparation of nitric acid and saltpeter. Illustrated with 292 large woodcut illustrations, De Re Metallica exerted great influence on geology, chemistry, mining technology and metallurgy. It was frequently reprinted and remained a standard work for more than 100 years. Agricola also wrote De natural fossilium (1546) and De peste (1554). [One would have imagined him better as making advances in agriculture...] [A nadie le hubiera parecido deseable una bebida sin dulce llamada Agri-Cola.]
Yin Day ^top^
Kuan Yin is the compassionate Saviouress of the East. Throughout the Orient altars dedicated to this Mother of Mercy can be found in temples, homes and wayside grottoes and prayers to her Presence and her Flame are incessantly on the lips of devotees as they seek her guidance and succor in every area of life. She is one of Taiwan’s patron protective deities. Her birthday is celebrated in major temples throughout Taiwan.
Still very much a part of Eastern culture, Kuan Yin has awakened interest in her path and teaching among a growing number of Western devotees who recognize the powerful presence of "the Goddess of Mercy," along with that of the Virgin Mary, as an illuminator and intercessor of the Seventh Age of Aquarius.
The long history of devotion to Kuan Yin provides insight into the character and example of this Lightbearer who has not only laid down her life for her friends but taken it again and again as intercessor and burdenbearer. For centuries, Kuan Yin has epitomized the great ideal of Mahayana Buddhism in her role as " bodhisattva (Chinese "p'u-sa)--literally "a being of bodhi, or enlightenment," who is destined to become a Buddha but has foregone the bliss of Nirvana with a vow to save all children of God.
The name Kuan Shih Yin, as she is often called, means literally "the one who regards, looks on, or hears the sounds of the world." According to legend, Kuan Yin was about to enter heaven but paused on the threshold as the cries of the world reached her ears.
There is still much scholarly debate regarding the origin of devotion to the female bodhisattva Kuan Yin. Kuan Yin is considered to be the feminine form of Avalokitesvara (Sanskrit), the bodhisattva of compassion of Indian Buddhism whose worship was introduced into China in the third century.
Scholars believe that the Buddhist monk and translator Kumarajiva was the first to refer to the female form of Kuan Yin in his Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra in 406 A.D. Of the thirty-three appearances of the bodhisattva referred to in his translation, seven are female. (Devoted Chinese and Japanese Buddhists have since come to associate the number thirty-three with Kuan Yin.)
Although Kuan Yin was still being portrayed as a male as late as the tenth century, with the introduction of Tantric Buddhism into China in the eighth century during the T'ang dynasty, the image of the celestial bodhisattva as a beautiful white-robed goddess was predominant and the devotional cult surrounding her became increasingly popular. By the ninth century there was a statue of Kuan Yin in every Buddhist monastery in China.
Despite the controversy over the origins of Kuan Yin as a feminine being, the depiction of a bodhisattva as both 'god' and 'goddess' is not inconsistent with Buddhist doctrine. The scriptures explain that a bodhisattva has the power to embody in any form--male, female, child, even animal—depending on the type of being he is seeking to save. As the Lotus Sutra relates, the bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin, "by resort to a variety of shapes, travels in the world, conveying the beings to salvation."
The twelfth-century legend of the Buddhist saint Miao Shan, the Chinese princess who lived in about 700 B.C. and is widely believed to have been Kuan Yin, reinforced the image of the bodhisattva as a female. During the twelfth century Buddhist monks settled on P'u-t'o Shan--the sacred island-mountain in the Chusan Archipelago off the coast of Chekiang where Miao Shan is said to have lived for nine years, healing and saving sailors from shipwreck--and devotion to Kuan Yin spread throughout northern China.
This picturesque island became the chief center of worship of the compassionate Saviouress; crowds of pilgrims would journey from the remotest places in China and even from Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet to attend stately services there. At one time there were more than a hundred temples on the island and over one thousand monks. The lore surrounding P'u-t'o island recounts numerous appearances and miracles performed by Kuan Yin, who, it is believed, reveals herself to the faithful in a certain cave on the island.
In the Pure Land sect of Buddhism, Kuan Yin forms part of a ruling triad that is often depicted in temples and is a popular theme in Buddhist art. In the center is the Buddha of Boundless Light, Amitabha (Chinese, A-mi-t'o Fo; Japanese, Amida). To his right is the bodhisattva of strength or power, Mahasthamaprapta, and to his left is Kuan Yin, personifying his endless mercy.
In Buddhist theology Kuan Yin is sometimes depicted as the captain of the "Bark of Salvation," guiding souls to Amitabha's Western Paradise, or Pure Land--the land of bliss where souls may be reborn to receive continued instruction toward the goal of enlightenment and perfection. The journey to Pure Land is frequently represented in woodcuts showing boats full of Amitabha's followers under Kuan Yin's captainship.
Amitabha, a beloved figure in the eyes of Buddhists desiring to be reborn in his Western Paradise and to obtain freedom from the wheel of rebirth, is said to be, in a mystical or spiritual sense, the father of Kuan Yin. Legends of the Mahayana School recount that Avalokitesvara was 'born' from a ray of white light which Amitabha emitted from his right eye as he was lost in ecstasy.
Thus Avalokitesvara, or Kuan Yin, is regarded as the "reflex" of Amitabha—a further emanation or embodiment of "maha karuna (great compassion), the quality which Amitabha himself embodies in the highest sense. Many figures of Kuan Yin can be identified by the presence of a small image of Amitabha in her crown. It is believed that as the merciful redemptress Kuan Yin expresses Amitabha's compassion in a more direct and personal way and prayers to her are answered more quickly.
The iconography of Kuan Yin depicts her in many forms, each one revealing a unique aspect of her merciful presence. As the sublime Goddess of Mercy whose beauty, grace and compassion have come to represent the ideal of womanhood in the East, she is frequently portrayed as a slender woman in flowing white robes who carries in her left hand a white lotus, symbol of purity. Ornaments may adorn her form, symbolizing her attainment as a bodhisattva, or she may be pictured without them as a sign of her great virtue.
Kuan Yin's presence is widespread through her images as the "bestower of children" which are found in homes and temples. A great white veil covers her entire form and she may be seated on a lotus. She is often portrayed with a child in her arms, near her feet, or on her knees, or with several children about her. In this role, she is also referred to as the "white-robed honored one." Sometimes to her right and left are her two attendants, Shan-ts’ai Tung-tsi, the "young man of excellent capacities," and Lung-wang Nu, the "daughter of the Dragon-king."
Kuan Yin is also known as patron bodhisattva of P'u-t'o Shan, mistress of the Southern Sea and patroness of fishermen. As such she is shown crossing the sea seated or standing on a lotus or with her feet on the head of a dragon.
Like Avalokitesvara she is also depicted with a thousand arms and varying numbers of eyes, hands and heads, sometimes with an eye in the palm of each hand, and is commonly called "the thousand-arms, thousand-eyes" bodhisattva. In this form she represents the omnipresent mother, looking in all directions simultaneously, sensing the afflictions of humanity and extending her many arms to alleviate them with infinite expressions of her mercy.
Symbols characteristically associated with Kuan Yin are a willow branch, with which she sprinkles the divine nectar of life; a precious vase symbolizing the nectar of compassion and wisdom, the hallmarks of a bodhisattva; a dove, representing fecundity; a book or scroll of prayers which she holds in her hand, representing the dharma (teaching) of the Buddha or the sutra (Buddhist text) which Miao Shan is said to have constantly recited; and a rosary adorning her neck with which she calls upon the Buddhas for succor.
Images of Avalokitesvara often show him holding a rosary; descriptions of his birth say he was born with a white crystal rosary in his right hand and a white lotus in his left. It is taught that the beads represent all living beings and the turning of the beads symbolizes that Avalokitesvara is leading them out of their state of misery and repeated rounds of rebirth into nirvana.
Today Kuan Yin is worshipped by Taoists as well as Mahayana Buddhists--especially in Taiwan, Japan, Korea and once again in her homeland of China, where the practice of Buddhism had been suppressed by the Communists during the Cultural Revolution (1966-69). She is the protectress of women, sailors, merchants, craftsmen, and those under criminal prosecution, and is invoked particularly by those desiring progeny. Beloved as a mother figure and divine mediatrix who is very close to the daily affairs of her devotees, Kuan Yin's role as Buddhist Madonna has been compared to that of Mary the mother of Jesus in the West.
There is an implicit trust in Kuan Yin's saving grace and healing powers. Many believe that even the simple recitation of her name will bring her instantly to the scene. One of the most famous texts associated with the bodhisattva, the ancient Lotus Sutra whose twenty-fifth chapter, dedicated to Kuan Yin, is known as the "Kuan Yin sutra," describes thirteen cases of impending disaster--from shipwreck to fire, imprisonment, robbers, demons, fatal poisons and karmic woes--in which the devotee will be rescued if his thoughts dwell on the power of Kuan Yin. The text is recited many times daily by those who wish to receive the benefits it promises.
Devotees also invoke the bodhisattva's power and merciful intercession with the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM-- "Hail to the jewel in the lotus!" or, as it has also been interpreted, "Hail to Avalokitesvara, who is the jewel in the heart of the lotus of the devotee's heart!" Throughout Tibet and Ladakh, Buddhists have inscribed OM MANI PADME HUM on flat prayer stones called "mani-stones" as votive offerings in praise of Avalokitesvara. Thousands of these stones have been used to build mani-walls that line the roads entering villages and monasteries.
It is believed that Kuan Yin frequently appears in the sky or on the waves to save those who call upon her when in danger. Personal stories can be heard in Taiwan, for instance, from those who report that during World War II when the United States bombed the Japanese-occupied Taiwan, she appeared in the sky as a young maiden, catching the bombs and covering them with her white garments so they would not explode.
Thus altars dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy are found everywhere--shops, restaurants, even taxicab dashboards. In the home she is worshipped with the traditional "pai pai," a prayer ritual using incense, as well as the use of prayer charts--sheets of paper designed with pictures of Kuan Yin, lotus flowers, or pagodas and outlined with hundreds of little circles. With each set of prayers recited or sutras read in a novena for a relative, friend, or oneself, another circle is filled in. This chart has been described as a "Ship of Salvation" whereby departed souls are saved from the dangers of hell and the faithful safely conveyed to Amitabha's heaven. In addition to elaborate services with litanies and prayers, devotion to Kuan Yin is expressed in the popular literature of the people in poems and hymns of praise.
Devout followers of Kuan Yin may frequent local temples and make pilgrimages to larger temples on important occasions or when they are burdened with a special problem. The three yearly festivals held in her honor are on the nineteenth day of the second month (celebrated as her birthday), of the sixth month, and of the ninth month based on the Chinese lunar calendar.
In the tradition of the Great White Brotherhood Kuan Yin is known as the Ascended Lady Master who bears the office and title of "Goddess of Mercy" because she ensouls the God qualities of the law of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. She had numerous embodiments prior to her ascension thousands of years ago and has taken the vow of the bodhisattva to teach the unascended children of God how to balance their karma and fulfill their divine plan by loving service to life and the application of the violet flame through the science of the spoken Word.
Kuan Yin preceded the Ascended Master Saint Germain as Chohan (Lord) of the Seventh Ray of Freedom, Transmutation, Mercy and Justice and she is one of seven Ascended Masters who serve on the Karmic Board, a council of justice that mediates the karma of earth's evolutions--dispensing opportunity, mercy and the true and righteous judgments of the Lord to each lifestream on earth. She is hierarch of the etheric Temple of Mercy over Peking, China, where she focuses the light of the Divine Mother on behalf of the children of the ancient land of China, the souls of humanity, and the sons and daughters of God.