Arhat

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'Arhat' is the Buddhist Sanskrit term for a Dharma practitioner who has achieved the state of "No More Learning" (meaning Nirvana) in the Theravada or Hinayana or "individual liberation vehicle" Buddhism. Arhat is the fruition of the ultimate fulfillment of the shravaka yana and pratyekabuddha yana.

Arhat is also used as an epithet of the Buddha. One who has completely overcome the enemy of the disturbing emotions and is therefore worthy of praise.

In the Pali texts of the Theravada tradition the standard formula for describing the Arhat is as follows: "Destroyed is rebirth, lived is the celibate life (of a disciple), done is what had to be done, after this present life there is no beyond." (Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary)

An Arhat is one of the four types of truly enlightened beings according to Buddhism. (see enlightenment). Sanskrit word are known for having many meanings compared to Latin or English. There are three most common interpretations of the word Arhat:

  1. "'One Worthy of Offerings'. According to Buddhist Sutra's, Arhats are "Worthy of Offerings" from humans and Gods. On the causal ground a Bhikshu (Buddhist monk) makes the alms round for his food, and thus as a result, being an Arhat he is considered to be 'Worthy of Offerings'." (Shurangama Sutra I: 107). "If you make offerings to an Arhat, an enlightened Sage, who has been certified you thereby attain limitless and boundless blessings. There is no way to calculate how many." (Sutra in Forty-Two Sections 3-4)
  2. 'Slayer of Thieves'. "The thieves referred to are not external thieves, but the thieves within you: the thieves of ignorance, the thieves of afflictions ("klesha" in Sanskrit) and the 'six thieves' - the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Unknown to you, they rob you. These six thieves steal your 'Unsurpassed True Treasures'." (Shurangama Sutra I: 108)
  3. 'Unproduced' / 'Unborn'. "They have attained the 'Patience with the Non-Production of Dharmas'. They do not have to undergo birth and death again. Although they have not attained Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi, the 'Unsurpassed Proper and Equal Right Enlightenment' of a Buddha, they will not fall into the three realms." (Shurangama Sutra I:108)

Alternative Translations of Arhat

  • Foe Destroyer
  • Enemy Slayer - "one who has vanquished the foe"
  • Hinayana Saint

Quotes

  • "Be careful not to believe in your own mind: your mind cannot be believed. Once you have become an Arhat, then you can believe your own mind." (Sutra in Forty-Two Sections Verse 57)

See also