In this “Story of Gun Yam”, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, we are told of the fate of Princess Miu Sin who, in order to cure her father of some terrible disease, offered up her own eyes and hands as necessary ingredients of the only medicine that would make him better. It is an extraordinary story, but one constantly being re-enacted daily in our own times by ordinary men and women, many of them persecuted and unheralded.
This is a scripted video, so the Cantonese is fairly formal and, of course, much of the vocabulary is of a religious nature, but at the same time very usual in terms of heightened cultural understanding. As for the grammar, there is one use of 使到 sí2 dou3 to express causation [使到眾生得到解脫], perhaps in place of the usual colloquial 令到 lihng6 dou3, as well as the refreshingly idiomatic 無論邊個化身, meaning “regardless of which incarnation it happens to be”!
You can view the video here. Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.
經典中曾經提到 | 人受到種種苦難 | 只要心中默唸 | 觀世音菩薩嘅尊名 | 觀世音菩薩就能夠 | 觀其音聲 | 使到眾生得到解脫
● 經典 gīng1 dín2 = 1. classics 2. scriptures | ● 苦難 fú2 naahn6 = suffering; misery; distress | ● 默唸 mahk6 nihm6 = to read (or say) silently | ● 尊名 jyūn1 mìhng4 = (?) venerable name | ● 菩薩 pòuh4 saat3 = Bodhisattva | ● 眾生 jung3 sāng1 = all living creatures | ● 解脫 gáai2 tyut3 = to free/extricate oneself
Note: The character 其 kèih4 is frequently used in formal written Chinese as a possessive pronoun meaning “her, his, its”, etc. Observe too that 觀 gūn1 means “to hear” in this context rather than “to see”, although sight is strongly suggested by the presence of 見 gin3 in the written form.
In the scriptures, it is mentioned that if any person finds themselves in distress, all they have to do is to say silently to themselves the venerable name of the Gun Sai Yam Bodhisattva [觀世音菩薩] and Gun Yam will hear that person’s [其] voice and enable any living creature [眾生] to gain liberation.
● 信仰 seun3 yéuhng5 = faith; belief; conviction | ● 植根於 jihk6 gān1 yū1 = (?) to establish its roots in| ● 尊稱 jyūn1 chīng1 = a respectful form of address; an honorific title | ● 慈航大士 chìh4 hòhng4 daaih6 sí6*2 = (?) Master of the Barge of Mercy| ● 修行 sāu1 hàhng4 = to practise Buddhism or Taoism | ● 證道成仙 jing3 douh6 sìhng4 sīn1 = (?) to witness the Tao and become an enlightened being | ● 仙真 sīn1 jān1 = an immortal; a Taoist god
Over hundreds and thousands of years [千百年嚟], faith in Gun Yam has sent its roots deep into [the lives of] ordinary Chinese people. Taoism uses the respectful term of address “Master of the Barge of Mercy” to refer to Gun Yam, an immortal [仙真] who, through religious practice [修行], witnessed the Tao and became an enlightened being able to save people from distress.
● 北闕國 Bāk1 Kyut3 Gwok3 = the name of some ancient country | ● 修道 sāu1 douh6 = to cultivate oneself according to a religious doctrine | ● 入藥 yahp6 yeuhk6 = to be used as medicine | ● 醫病 yī1 behng6 = to give medical treatment | 傷痛 sēung1 tung3 = to mourn; grief; pain | ● 衷心發願 chūng1 sam1 = heartfelt; wholehearted; cordial + 發願 faat3 yuhn6 = to vow to achieve an objective | ● 聖靈 sing3 lìhng4 = usually “the Holy Spirit”; the saintly spirits (of the dead) (Soothill) | ● 重生 chùhng4 sāang1 = a rebirth; to be reborn | ● 顯現 hín2 yihn6 = to manifest/reveal oneself; to appear; to show | ● 大悲daih6 bēi1 = (Buddhism) the great deliverance of Buddha from sufferings & afflictions; the great mercy | ● 法相 faat3 sēung1 = usually “(Buddhism) the aspects or characteristics of things”; in this context, perhaps “dharma appearance”
In the minds of ordinary people [民間人士] living in the Song dynasty, Gun Yam was the third daughter of King Miu Jong of the ancient kingdom [called] Bak Kyut, Princess Miu Sin. She had once spent time at Incense Mountain (or Gandhamādana), cultivating herself spiritually. She later achieved realization [證道成仙] and became Gun Yam. She gave her own two eyes and her hands to be used as medicine for the cure of the illness of her father, the king. When her father found out, he was deeply grieved and made a heartfelt wish, hoping that the saintly spirits could enable his daughter’s eyes and hands to be restored [重生]. Suddenly, Miu Sin vanished and there in the sky appeared the dharma appearance [法相] of the Bodhisattva of Great Mercy with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes.
● 記載 gei3 joi3 = 1. to put down in writing 2. a record; an account | ● 化身 faa3 sān1 = an incarnation; an embodiment | ● 聞聲 màhn4 sīng1 = (?) to hear [the call of] a voice | ● 形象 yìhng4 jeuhng6 = an image; a form; a figure | ● 善信 sihn6 seun3 = (?) the faithful; true believers| ● 禮拜 láih5 baai3 = to attend a religious service; perhaps also “to worship” | ● 祈求 kèih4 kàuh4 = to earnestly hope; to pray for | ● 心願 sām1 yuhn6 = a cherished desire; an aspiration; a wish | ● 慈悲心 chìh4 bēi1 sām1 = compassion | ● 行善業 hàhng4 sihn6 yihp6 = to perform good deeds | ● 庇佑 bei3 yauh6 = to bless; to prosper
According to written accounts, Gun Yam has various different incarnations, but whichever the incarnation, the image of her responding to calls for help has penetrated deeply into the life of the people, and not a few of the faithful turn to Gun Yam, both to worship her and to beseech her to grant them their wishes. However, while worshipping Gun Yam, we must try to learn the compassion she has for all living creatures, and to perform good deeds in our daily lives. Only then can we be blessed by Gun Yam.