Re: Names

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Posted by Darryl ( on October 22, 2000 at 09:08:40:

In Reply to: Names posted by Jon on October 14, 2000 at 04:14:21:

: I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the differences are between Buddhas, Boddhisatvas, Tathagatas and Arahats? (Sorry for the spelling mistakes). Are they all just different names for the same thing?

: Thanks.

The following is taken from an essay called,'Bodhisattva Ideal in Buddhism'

by Ven. Dr. W. Rahula

(The essay can be found at:

The Three Individuals

Now, who are these three individuals: Sravaka, Pratyekabuddha and Bodhisattva? Very briefly:

- A Sravaka is a disciple of a Buddha. A disciple may be a monk or a nun, a layman or a laywoman. Bent on his or her liberation, a Sravaka follows and practises the reaching of the Buddha and finally attains Nirvana. He also serves others, but his capacity to do so is limited.

- A Pratyekabuddha (Individual Buddha) is a person who realizes Nirvana alone by himself at a time when there is no Samyaksambuddha in the world. He also renders service to others, but in a limited way. He is not capable of revealing the Truth to others as a Samyaksambuddha, a fully Enlightened Buddha does.

- A Bodhisattva is a person (monk or layman) who is in a position to attain Nirvana as a Sravaka or as a Pratyekabuddha, but out of great compassion (maha karuna) for the world, he renounces it and goes on suffering in samsara for the sake of others, perfects himself during an incalculable period of time and finally realizes Nirvana and becomes a Samyaksambuddha, a fully Enlightened Buddha. He discovers The Truth and declares it to the world. His capacity for service to others is unlimited.


Further, Asanga says that when a Bodhisattva finally attains Enlightenment (Bodhi) he becomes an Arahant, a Tathagata (i.e. Buddha). Here it must be clearly understood that not only a Sravaka (disciple) but also a Bodhisattva becomes an Arahant when finally he attains Buddhahood. The Theravada position is exactly the same: the Buddha is an Arahant -Araham Samma-SamBuddha - "Arahant, Fully and Perfectly Enlightened Buddha."

Hope this helps

With Metta,


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