From the Fo Guang Shan Pilgrims' Path, through the Main Gate following the stone outcrop, one makes one's way to the Great Vow Shrine. Within the center of the shrine is an image of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva of Great Vows. In addition are 750 medium sized bodhisattva statues and 1500 smaller figures. Outside the shrine one can see standing statues of the kind and gentle Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, giving forth rays of the light of love and compassion. These graceful and dignified images attract countless devotees.
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, holding a monk's staff in his right hand and a wish fulfilling pearl in his left, rides upon a unicorn named shanting. His name means 'earth treasury', as he is “stable and unmoving like the great earth, meditating with depth and seclusion like a secret treasury”. He made great vows that “as long as the hells are not empty, I will not become a Buddha; only when all living beings are saved, will I myself attain enlightenment”. He was instructed by the Buddha that during the interim period between Sakyamuni and Maitreya Buddha, he should protect and liberate all beings from the ocean of suffering, and vow to become a buddha.
A good luck bell has been positioned within the shrine, where devotees can strike the bell and pray for good fortune. According to the sutras, when those in the hells hear the bell, they are freed from pain and find happiness. When other living beings hear the bell, their worries decrease and their wisdom grows. When the shrine was completed on November 27th 1983, Venerable Master Hsing Yun stated: “With the first strike of the bell, the devotees are given good fortune. With the next strike, living beings in the hells feel respite from pain. With the next strike, living beings in the hells feel respite from pain. With the third strike of the bell, everyone in the world attain peace.” This is the great compassion and great vows of Bodhisattvas for the sake of all living beings.