|Tibetan:||dgra bcom pa|
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The exact interpretation and etymology of arahant and arhat remains disputed. The term was in use before the appearance of Buddhism:
The word "arahant" was not coined by the Buddha but was current even before he appeared on the Indian religious scene.
Arhat occurs as arhattā in the Rigveda, and as the first offer of salutation in the main Jain prayer, the Namokar Mantra. The word arhattā occurs mostly in Buddhist and Jain texts, but also in some Vaishnava works such as the Bhagavata Purana. Arhattā also occurs in the Vaishnava Srī Narada Pañcaratnam.
Based on a possible Sanskrit etymology, arhant can be translated as "deathless", since "hant" in Sanskrit means death or killing, and "ar" is often used for negation, implying "cannot be killed" or "beyond death" or "deathless". This fits well with the central philosophical thought in Buddhism, namely,
By realizing the true nature of phenomenological existence we transcend the cycle of life and death and become deathless in spiritual sense."
In the Theravada tradition, and in early PTS publications, the word arahant or arhat is interpreted to mean the "worthy one" This interpretation is based on the assumption that the root of the word is Pali araha (cf. Sk. arha).
According to Bikkhu Bodhi
The word is derived from a verb arahati, meaning "to be worthy," and thus means a person who is truly worthy of veneration and offerings. Among Indian spiritual seekers in the Buddha's time, the word was used to denote a person who had attained the ultimate goal, for this is what made one worthy of veneration and offerings.
The interpretation "worthy one" has been challenged by more recent research, resulting from the etymological comparison of Pali and early Jain Prakrit forms (arihanta and arahanta). The alternative etymology is "foe-destroyer" or "vanquisher of enemies," which corresponds to the Jain definition. Richard Gombrich has proposed an etymology of ari + hanta, bringing the root meaning closer to Jina (an epithet commonly used of both the leaders of the Jain religion and Buddha).
Chinese Mahayana 
The term arhat was translated into East Asian languages phonetically as a transliterated term, exemplified in the Chinese āluóhàn (Ch. 阿羅漢), often shortened to simply luóhàn (Ch. 羅漢).
Tibetan Mahayana 
The Tibetan term for arhat was translated by meaning from Sanskrit. This translation, dgra bcom pa, means "one who has destroyed the foes of afflictions." This Tibetan translation of the meaning conforms with the Jain definition as well.
A range of views on the attainment of arhats existed in the early Buddhist schools.
According to Bikkhu bodhi, the Pali Tipitaka, the earliest of the remaining complete Buddhist canons of scripture, portrays the Buddha declaring himself to be an arahant.[note 1] According to Bikkhu Bodhi, nirvāṇa is "the ultimate goal", and one who has attained nirvana has attained arahantship:[note 2]
The defining mark of an arahant is the attainment of nirvāṇa in this present life.
The Sarvāstivāda, Kāśyapīya, Mahāsāṃghika, Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, Bahuśrutīyas, Prajñaptivāda, and Caitika schools all regarded arhats as being imperfect in their attainments compared to buddhas.
The Mahīśāsaka and the Theravāda regarded arhats and buddhas as being more similar to one another. The 5th century Theravadin commentator Buddhaghosa regarded arhats as having completed the path to enlightenment.[note 3]
The Mahayana discerned a hierarchy of attainments, with Samyaksambuddhas at the top, advanced Bodhisattvas below that, Pratyekabuddhas below that, and Arhats further below. According to Prebish and Keown, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas were distinguished from Sravakas and Arhats by "the altruistic orientation of the bodhisattva".[note 4]
Meaning of Arhat 
In the early Buddhist schools 
In pre-Buddhist India the term arhat, denoting a saintly person in general, was closely associated with miraculous power and asceticism. The Buddhists drew a sharp distinction between their Arhat and Indian holy men in general, in Buddhism these miraculous powers were no longer central to arhat identity or to his mission.
A range of views on the relative perfection of arhats existed amongst the early Buddhist schools. In general, the Mahāsāṃghika branch, such as the Ekavyāvahārikas, Lokottaravādins, Bahuśrutīyas, Prajñaptivādins, and Caitika schools, advocated the transcendental and supermundane nature of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and the fallibility of arhats. The Caitikas, for example, advocated the ideal of the bodhisattva (bodhisattvayāna) over that of the arhat (śrāvakayāna), and they viewed arhats as being fallible and still subject to ignorance.
According to A.K. Warder, the Sarvāstivādins held the same position as the Mahāsāṃghika branch regarding arhats, considering them to be imperfect and fallible. The Kāśyapīya school also held the doctrine that arhats were fallible and imperfect, similar to the view of the Sarvāstivādins and the various Mahāsāṃghika sects. The Kāśyapīyas believed that arhats have not fully eliminated desires, that their "perfection" is incomplete, and that it is possible for them to relapse.
In Theravāda Buddhism 
In Theravada Buddhism, it means anyone who has attained Nirvana, including the Buddha himself. In the liturgy of Theravada Buddhism used in monasteries throughout the world the following words are recited daily:
- Namo tassa bhagavato, arahato, samma-sambuddhassa
- (Homage to him, the Blessed One, the liberated, the fully enlightened).
The arahant is a person who has eliminated all the unwholesome roots which underlie the fetters – who upon decease will not be reborn in any world, since the bonds (fetters) that bind a person to the samsara have been finally dissolved. In the Pali Canon, the word is sometimes used as a synonym for tathagata.
After attainment of Nibbana, the five aggregates (physical forms, feelings/sensations, perception, mental formations and consciousness) will continue to function, sustained by physical bodily vitality. This attainment is termed the nibbana element with a residue remaining. But once the Arahant pass-away and with the disintegration of the physical body, the five aggregates will cease to function, hence ending all traces of existence in the phenomenal world and thus total release from the misery of samsara. It would then be termed the nibbana element without residue remaining. Parinibbana occurs at the death of an Arahant.
In Theravada Buddhism the Buddha himself is first identified as an arahant, as are his enlightened followers, because they are free from all defilements, without greed, hatred, delusion, ignorance and craving, lacking "assets" which will lead to future birth, the arahant knows and sees the real here and now. This virtue shows stainless purity, true worth, and the accomplishment of the end, nibbana.
- one develops insight preceded by serenity (Pali: samatha-pubbaṇgamaṃ vipassanaṃ),
- one develops serenity preceded by insight (vipassanā-pubbaṇgamaṃ samathaṃ),
- one develops serenity and insight in a stepwise fashion (samatha-vipassanaṃ yuganaddhaṃ),
- one's mind becomes seized by excitation about the dhamma and, as a consequence, develops serenity and abandons the fetters (dhamma-uddhacca-viggahitaṃ mānasaṃ hoti).[note 5]
In Theravada, although the Arahants have achieved the same goals as the Buddha, there are some differences among Arahants due to the way of their practice.
These three awakened beings are classified as Arahant:
- Sammasambuddha, usually just called Buddha, who discovers the truth by himself and teaches the path to awakening to others.
- Paccekabuddha, who discovers the truth by himself but lacks the skill to teach others.
- Savakabuddha, who receive the truth directly or indirectly from a Sammasambuddha.
For those that have destroyed greed and hatred (in the sensory context) with some residue of delusion, are called anagami (non-returner). Anagamis will not be reborn into the human world after death, but into the heaven of the Pure Abodes, where only anagamis live. There, they will attain full enlightenment.
Buddhaghosa placed the arahant at the completion of the path to liberation.[note 7]
In Mahāyāna Buddhism 
Mahāyāna Buddhists see the Buddha himself as the ideal towards which one should aim in one's spiritual aspirations. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, a hierarchy of general attainments is envisioned, with the attainments of arhats and pratyekabuddha being clearly separate, and below that of fully enlightened buddhas (Skt. samyaksaṃbuddha), or tathāgatas, such as Gautama Buddha.
In contrast to the goal of becoming a fully enlightened buddha, the path of a śrāvaka in being motivated by seeking personal liberation from saṃsāra, is often portrayed as selfish and undesirable. There are even some Mahāyāna texts that regard the aspiration to arhatship and personal liberation as an outside path. Instead of aspiring for arhatship, Mahāyāna Buddhists are urged to instead take up the path of a bodhisattva, and to not fall back to the level of arhats and śrāvakas. Therefore, it is taught that an arhat must go on to become a bodhisattva eventually. If they fail to do so in the lifetime in which they reach the attainment, they will fall into a deep samādhi of emptiness, thence to be roused and taught the bodhisattva path, presumably when ready. According to the Lotus Sūtra (Skt. Saddharmapuṇḍarīka Sūtra), any true arhat will eventually accept the Mahāyāna path.
The Mahāyāna teachings often consider the śrāvaka path to be motivated by fear of saṃsāra, which renders them incapable of aspiring to buddhahood, and that they therefore lack the courage and wisdom of a bodhisattva. Novice bodhisattvas are compared to śrāvakas and arhats at times. In the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, there is an account of 60 novice bodhisattvas who attain arhatship despite themselves and their efforts at the bodhisattva path, because they lacked ability in prajñā-pāramitā and skillful means to progress as bodhisattvas toward complete enlightenment (Skt. Anuttarā Samyaksaṃbodhi). This is because they are still viewed as having innate attachment and fear of saṃsāra. The Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra compares these people to a giant bird without wings that cannot help but plummet to the earth from the top of Mount Sumeru.
Mahāyāna Buddhism has viewed the śrāvaka path culminating in arhatship as a lesser accomplishment than complete enlightenment, but still accords due respect to arhats for their respective achievements. Therefore, buddha-realms are depicted as populated by both śrāvakas and bodhisattvas. Far from being completely disregarded, the accomplishments of arhats are viewed as impressive, essentially because they have transcended the mundane world. Chinese Buddhism and other East Asian traditions have historically accepted this perspective, and specific groups of arhats are venerated as well, such as the Sixteen Arhats, the Eighteen Arhats, and the Five Hundred Arhats. The first famous portraits of these arhats were painted by the Chinese monk Guan Xiu (Chinese: 貫休; pinyin: Guànxiū) in 891 CE. He donated these portraits to Shengyin Temple in Qiantang (present day Hangzhou) where they are preserved with great care and ceremonious respect.
In some respects, the path to arhatship and the path to complete enlightenment are seen as having common grounds. However, a distinctive difference is seen in the Mahāyāna doctrine pushing emotional and cognitive non-attachment to their logical consequences. Of this, Paul Williams writes that in Mahāyāna Buddhism, "Nirvāṇa must be sought without being sought (for oneself), and practice must be done without being practiced. The discursive mode of thinking cannot serve the basic purpose of attainment without attainment."
See also 
- Bikkhu Bodhi: "The Buddha is the first of the arahants, while those who reach the goal by following his path also become arahants. In the verse of homage to the Buddha, it is said: "Iti pi so Bhagavā Arahaṃ... — The Blessed One is an arahant..." Shortly after his enlightenment, while walking to Benares to meet the five monks, a wanderer stopped the Buddha and asked who he was. The Buddha replied: "I am the arahant in the world, I am the supreme teacher" (MN 26/I 171). So the Buddha first of all declares himself to be an arahant."
- "From the perspective of the Nikāyas, the ultimate goal — the goal in strict doctrinal terms — is nirvāṇa, and the goal in human terms is arahantship, the state of a person who has attained nirvāṇa in this present life." 
- Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism: "When the great Theravada commentator, Buddhaghosa, wrote the Visuddhimagga delineating the nature of the gradual path to enlightenment, he placed the arahant at the completion of that path. The arahant stands as a transcendent figure in Theravada, one who has followed to its end the way of Dharma set out by the Buddha."
- Routledge Encyclopedia of Budddhism: "But what was it that distinguished the bodhisattva from the sravaka, and ultimately the buddha from the arhat? The difference lay, more than anywhere else, in the altruistic orientation of the bodhisattva."
- Bodhi (2005), p. 268, translates this fourth way as: "a monk's mind is seized by agitation about the teaching." Thanissaro (1998) gives a seemingly contrary interpretation of: "a monk's mind has its restlessness concerning the Dhamma [Comm: the corruptions of insight] well under control." Thus, it appears possible to interpret the excitation (Pali: uddhacca, see Rhys Davids & Stede, 1921–25) as either something that the future arahant uses to impel their pursuit of the path or something that the future arahant controls in order to pursue the path.
- Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind. Curzon Press 1995, p. 227:
Before focusing on key passages on the tathagata, it is first necessary to clarify which persons the word refers to. The Buddha often used it when talking of himself as an enlightened being, rather than as the individual Gotama. In general, "tathagata" is used specifically of the Buddha, the one who discovers and proclaims the path to nibbana (A.II.8–9, S.III.65-6), with the "tathagata, Arahat, perfectly and completely enlighteneed one" being contrasted with a "disciple of the tathagata" (D.II.142). Nevertheless, "tathagata" is sometimes used of any Arahat. S.V.327, for example, discusses the "dwelling of a learner" and that of a tathagata, and explains the second by describing the qualities of an Arahat. At M.I.139–140 and 486-7, moreover, there is a switching between talk of a "tathagata" and of "a monk whose mind is freed thus", as if they were simple equivalents. Tathagata literally means "thus-gone" or "thus-come", probably meaning one who is "attained-to-truth" or "whose-nature-is-from-truth".
- Keown and Prebish (2007), Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, p. 36: "When the great Theravada commentator, Buddhaghosa, wrote the Visuddhimagga delineating the nature of the gradual path to enlightenment, he placed the arahant at the completion of that path. The arahant stands as a transcendent figure in Theravada, one who has followed to its end the way of Dharma set out by the Buddha."
- warder 2000, p. 67.
- Bhikkhu Bodhi, Arahants, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas
- (Hopkins, P. 202The Great Epic of India)
- (Vijnanananda, P. 203 Srî Narada Pancharatnam)
- An authoritative Pali-to-English translation of "arahant" can be found in Rhys Davids & Stede (1921–25), p. 77. http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.0:1:2081.pali
- Richard Gombrich, 2009, What the Buddha Taught, Equinox: London, p. 57-8.
- See Mitra, Rajendralala (ed) 1877 Lalitavistara or Memoirs of the Early Life of Sakya Sinha, Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal, English appendix page 10(658). http://books.google.com/books
- Richard Gombrich, 2009, What the Buddha Taught, Equinox: London, p. 57.
- Cozort, Daniel. Unique Tenets of the Middle Way Consequence School. Snow Lion Publications. 1998. p. 259.
- Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 446
- Sree Padma. Barber, Anthony W. Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra. 2008. p. 44
- Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 277
- Charles Prebish and Damien Keown (2007), Routledge Encyclopedia of Budddhism, pp 36
- Williams, Paul. Buddhism. Vol. 3. The origins and nature of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Routledge. 2004. pp. 119-120
- Charles Prebish and Damien Keown (2007), Routledge Encyclopedia of Budddhism, pp. 88
- Richard Kieckhefer, George D. Bond. “Sainthood: Its Manifestations in World Religions” 1988. pp. 159-160
- Walser, Joseph. Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna Buddhism and Early Indian Culture. 2005. p. 218
- Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 48
- Peter Harvey, The Selfless Mind. Curzon Press 1995, p. 227.
- Bhikkhu Bodhi. "Transcendental Dependent Arising". Access to Insight. Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- Khantipalo (1989), "Introduction". http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Buddhawaslike
- Ānanda's teaching on achieving arhantship can be found in AN 4.170. Translations for this sutta can be found in Bodhi (2005) pp. 268–9, 439, and Thanissaro (1998).
- Williams, Paul. Buddhism. Vol. 3. The origins and nature of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Routledge. 2004. p. 119
- Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. Sarup & Son. 2008. p. 192
- Sheng Yen. Orthodox Chinese Buddhism. North Atlantic Books. 2007. p. 149.
- Sheng Yen. Orthodox Chinese Buddhism. North Atlantic Books. 2007. p. 163.
- Williams, Paul. Buddhism. Vol. 3. The origins and nature of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Routledge. 2004. p. 120
- Powers, John. A Concise Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. Snow Lion Publications. 2008. p. 36.
- Leidy, Denise. The Art of Buddhism: An Introduction to Its History and Meaning. Shambhala. 2009. p. 196
- Susan Bush and Ilsio-yen Shih (1985). Early Chinese Texts on Painting. Cambridge, MA, and London. p. 314.
- Williams, Paul. Buddhism. Vol. 3. The origins and nature of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Routledge. 2004. p. 50
- Warder, A.K. (2000), Indian Buddhism, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers
Further reading 
- Addiss, Stephen. The Art of Zen: Paintings and Calligraphy by Japanese Monks, 1600–1925. New York: H.N. Abrams. 1989.
- Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2005). In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pāli Canon. Boston: Wisdom Pubs. ISBN 0-86171-491-1.
- Bush, Susan, and Hsio-yen Shih. Early Chinese Texts on Painting. Cambridge, Mass: Published for the Harvard-Yenching Institute by Harvard University Press. 1985.
- Joo, Bong Seok, “The Arhat Cult in China from the Seventh through Thirteenth Centuries:Narrative, Art, Space and Ritual” (PhD diss., Princeton University, 2007).
- Kai-man. 1986. The Illustrated 500 Lo Han. Hong Kong: Precious Art Publications.
- Katz, Nathan. Buddhist Images of Human Perfection: The Arahant of the Sutta Piṭaka Compared with the Bodhisattva and the Mahāsiddha. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 1982.
- Kent, Richard K. "Depictions of the Guardians of the Law: Lohan Painting in China". In Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism, Marsha Weidner, 183–213. N.p.:University of Hawaii Press, 1994.
- Khantipalo, Bhikkhu (1989). Buddha, My Refuge: Contemplation of the Buddha based on the Pali Suttas. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN 955-24-0037-6. An excerpt from the "Introduction" is available on-line at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Buddhawaslike/message/17.
- Laufer, Berthold. "Inspirational Dreams in Eastern Asia". The Journal of American Folklore 44,no. 172 (1931): 208–216.
- Levine, Gregory P. A., and Yukio Lippit. Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan.New York: Japan Society. 2007.
- Little, Stephen. "The Arhats in China and Tibet". Artibus Asiae 52 (1992): 255–281.
- Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921–5). The Pali Text Society's Pali–English dictionary. Chipstead: Pali Text Society. A general on-line search engine for the PED is available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/.
- Seckel, Dietrich. "The Rise of Portraiture in Chinese Art". Artibus Asiae 53, no. 1/2 (1993): 7–26.
- Tanaka, Ichimatsu. Japanese Ink Painting: Shubun to Sesshu. New York: Weatherhill. 1972.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998). Yuganaddha Sutta: In Tandem. Available on-line at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.170.than.html.
- Tredwell, Winifred Reed. Chinese Art Motives Interpreted. New York [etc.]: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 1915.
- Visser, Marinus Willem de. The Arhats in China and Japan. Berlin: Oesterheld & Co. 1923.
- Watanabe, Masako. "Guanxiu and Exotic Imagery in Raken Paintings". Orientations 31, no. 4(2000): 34–42.
- Watters, Thomas. The Eighteen Lohan of Chinese Buddhist Temples. Shanghai: Kelly and Walsh. 1925.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Arahant|
- Arahants, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas, an article by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi