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While the term Arahant is sometimes used by Mahayana Buddhists, it is much more common in Theravada. This is mostly because Mahayana Buddhists generally aspire to be bodhisattvas, while Theravadins generally aspire to be Arahants.

The Sanskrit word is Arahant, the Pali word is Arhat. It is often seen misspelled as Arhant and Arahat. All four describe the same idea.

Theravada Buddhism distinguishes between three types of awakened (or enlightened) beings, all three having the same bliss of Nirvana (or Nibbana as Theravadins prefer to call it). Here are the distinctions as I have seen them in various Theravada sources:

Please understand that I am a Mahayana Buddhist and make all these write-ups about Theravada only because this is supposed to be Everything, and so far no Theravadin has posted here. To the best of my knowledge, however, this should be an acurate representation of Theravada teachings.

Also, my teacher gives a completely different definition of a Pratyeka (Pacceka) Buddha. According to him, a Pratyeka Buddha is one who selfishly desires Nirvana and comes to some level of enlightenment but is really not fully emancipated. I have not discussed this with other Mahayana teachers, so I do not know whether this is the generally accepted view of Mahayana. However, all Theravada literature that I have read describes the term Pacceka Buddha as I wrote about it above.

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