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Arhat


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(Skt., worthy one; Pāli, arahant).

One who has attained the goal of enlightenment or awakening (bodhi). Essentially, Arhatship consists in the eradication of the outflows (āśrava) and the destruction of the defilements (kleśa). The Arhat is also free of the ten fetters (saṃyojana), and on death is not reborn. The difference between an Arhat and a Buddha is that the Buddha attains enlightenment by himself, whereas the Arhat does it by following the teachings of another. It should be noted, however, that the Buddha is also an Arhat and is frequently addressed as such in invocations such as the Pāli formula ‘Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa’ (Homage to the Lord, the Worthy One, the Perfectly Awakened One). As taught in early Buddhism.the Arhat attains exactly the same goal as the Buddha. Mahāyāna Buddhism, however, comes to regard Arhatship as an inferior ideal to that of Buddhahood, and portrays the Arhat (somewhat unfairly) as selfishly concerned with the goal of a ‘private nirvāṇa’. In contrast, emphasis is placed on the great compassion (mahākaruṇā) of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who dedicate themselves to leading all beings to salvation.

Subjects: Religion.


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