The word Bodhisattva is derived from Bodhi and Sattva, the former term meaning enlightened, and the latter term meaning sentimental. Strictly speaking, a Bodhisattva should be an enlightened being, such as Arhat or even Buddha, who regards the deliverance of sentient beings as the highest aspiration.
By definition, a true arhat eradicates the Three Poisons (greed, hatred and illusion) in the Three Realms (Desire, Form, Formlessness), then enters Nirvana.

Sanskrit = enlightenment-being

Term often used to refer to the Buddha before he attained supreme enlightenment...more generally used to describe any being destined for enlightenment (prajna) or on a path to enlightenment.

Mahayana Buddhism's central teaching is the spiritual path of the bodhisattva via arousing the "mind of enlightenment". The monk takes a vow to attain supreme enlightenment for the "sake of all beings", postponing his shot at Nirvana in an act of supreme benevolence.

Very cool...

To elaborate just a little...Bodhisattvas have often postponed their ascendance/disappearance into Nirvana in order to stay on Earth and use their talents, whether for teaching others the path or for healing, etc., to help others. Many Mahayanans believe there are countless bodhisattvas on Earth at any moment. There is a corollary Chinese concept involving minor teacher deities who walk among humans teaching academic, artistic, or moral lessons, according to their own natures.

The Four Bodhisattva Vows

  • I resolve to become enlightened for the sake of all living beings.

  • I will cut the roots of all delusive passions.

  • I will penetrate the farthest gate of Dharma.

  • I will realize the supreme way of Buddha.

Dharma is Universal Law. The Way.

Bo"dhi*sat (?), Bo`dhi*satt"va, Bo`dhi*satt"wa (?), n. [Skr. bodhisattva (perh. through Pali bodhisatto); fr. bodhi knowledge, enlightenment + sattva being, essence.] (Buddhism)

One who has reached the highest degree of saintship, so that in his next incarnation he will be a Buddha, or savior of the world. -- Bo"dhi*sat`ship, n.


© Webster 1913.

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