Avalokitesvara, merciful lord, is one of the most important deities in the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. He is thought to have originated in India, and worshipped from around 500 BC to the present. In Lamaism he is the tutelary god of Tibet. He is equated with Vishnu in Hinduism, and is somewhat connected with Padmapani. In cosmic mythology he is considered a creator god. His Shakti is Pandara, and his attendant animal is a lion. There exist many forms of Avalokitesvara including varieties with up to eleven heads, occasionally arranged in a pyramid. His colors are white and red; and his attributes are the blue lotus, image of Amitabha (top-most pyramidal head), lotus, rosary, sword, and water jar. A.G.H.
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 34