An ancient Japanese shrine is debuting the world's first Buddhist robot to the public this week. The android deity sits tall in the 400-year old Kodaiji Temple in Kyoto, ready to share the profound teachings of the Buddha, The Diplomat noted.
The sutra-chanting robot has been modelled after Kannon the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy and is the end product of a collaboration between the Kodaiji Temple Administrator Tensho Goto and Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, who heads up intelligent robotics at Osaka University.
Their collaboration, which cost 100 million yen ($909,090), resulted in the creation of Mindar, a gender-neutral robotic deity made with silicon and aluminum that can move its eyes, hands and torso. The idea behind the creation was to spread the word of Buddhism to a younger generation.
"Buddhism saw a phenomenal spread in the world with the emergence of Buddhist images," said Goto, according to Asahi Shimbun. "We are hoping that the Android Kannon will help Buddhist teachings reach the hearts of people today."
Mindar delivers a 25 minute pre-programmed sermon that is based on the Heart Sutra and delivered in an easily understood manner. Kohei Ogawa, associate professor of intelligent robotics at the University of Osaka who worked on the project said that the deeply profound sutra should encourage people to "solve problems on their own and give people the opportunity to think about what the problem is," according to The Diplomat. "We can give visitors the chance to start reflecting on themselves," he added.
According to traditional teachings, the Kannon deity transforms into various forms over the ages to help people understand Buddha's teachings and "this time, Kannon changed into an android," the Kodaiji Temple said, according to Asahi Shimbun.
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