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08 05 2012MONDAY LESSON 603 FREE
ONLINE eNālāndā Research And Practice
UNIVERSITY And THE BUDDHISTONLINE GOOD NEWS LETTER by ABHIDHAMMA RAKKHITA through http://sarvajan.ambedkar.org
Verses and Stories
Verse 160 One Is One’s Best Saviour
One Is One’s Best Saviour
is refuge of oneself,
who else indeed could refuge be?
By good training of oneself
one gains a refuge hard to gain.
Explanation: The saviour of oneself is one’s own self. What
other person could be your saviour? This is a difficult kind of help - being
your own saviour. It can be achieved only through self discipline.
Level I: Introduction to Buddhism
Level II: Buddhist Studies
Level III: Stream-Enterer
Level IV: Once - Returner
Level V: Non-Returner
Level VI: Arhat
i.e, PraBuddha Bharath scientific thought in
Philosophy and Comparative
International Relations and Peace
Business Management in relation to
Public Policy and Development Studies;
Languages and Literature;
Level VI: Arhat
Arhat Ananda reciting Suttapitaka at the First Buddhist
Arhat (Sanskrit: अर्हत arhat;
Pali: arahant), in Buddhism, signifies a spiritual practitioner who
has realized certain high stages of attainment. The implications of the term
vary based on the respective schools and traditions.
exact interpretation and etymology of words such as arahant and arhat
remains disputed. In the Theravada tradition, and in early PTS publications, the word arahant or arhat
is interpreted to mean the “worthy one” This 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. The latter challenges the assumption that
the root of the word is Pali araha (cf. Sk. arha); 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).
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). However, 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.
occurs as arhattā in the Rigveda and as the first offer of salutation in
the main Jain prayer, the Namokar Mantra.
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.” A similar transcendental spiritual
state of being is referred to in the highly regarded Mahamrityunjaya Mantra,
which also occurs in Rigveda and often called by sages as the heart of
the Vedas. The latter word 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.
In the early
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.
to A.K. Warder,
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
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 reached
the total Awakening and attained Nirvana, including the Buddha. An arahant is a person who has destroyed
greed, hatred, and delusion - the unwholesome roots which underlie all
fetters - who upon decease will not be reborn in any world, having wholly cut
off all fetters that bind a person to the samsara. In the Pali Canon, the word is sometimes used as a synonym
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
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.
the Pali canon, Ānanda states that he knows monastics to achieve nibbana in one of four ways:[original research?]
develops insight preceded by serenity (Pali: samatha-pubbaṇgamaṃ vipassanaṃ),
develops serenity preceded by insight (vipassanā-pubbaṇgamaṃ samathaṃ),
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).
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.
the Pali Canon,
the word “tathagata” is sometimes used as a synonym
for arahant, though the former usually refers to the Buddha alone.
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
- 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.
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.
In Mahāyāna Buddhism
Chinese stoneware sculpture of an arhat, dated to
907-1125. Constructed in Hubei, and now held in the British Museum, London
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
or tathāgatas, such as Gautama Buddha.
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
Mahāyāna teachings often consider the śrāvaka path to be motivated by fear of
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
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.
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.
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,
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.”
The Eighteen Arhats (Chinese:
十八羅漢/十八阿羅漢; pinyin: Shíbā
Luóhàn/Shíbā āLuóhàn; Wade-Giles:Lóhàn)
are individuals depicted in Mahayana
Buddhism who have followed the Eightfold Path and attained
the Four Stages of Enlightenment,
and are also the original followers of the Buddha.
They have reached the state of Nirvana and are free of
worldly cravings. They are charged to protect the Buddhist faith and to await
on earth for the coming of Maitreya, a prophesied
enlightened Buddha to arrive on earth many millennia after Gautama Buddha’s
death and nirvana. In China, the eighteen arhats are also a popular subject of
Ink rubbing of the stele
commissioned by Qianlong depicting Asita. The upper right shows the
inscriptions of the eulogy given by Qianlong.
Originally, the arhats composed of only 10 disciples of Gautama Buddha,
although the earliest Indian
indicate that only 4 of them, Pindola, Kundadhana, Panthaka and Nakula, were
instructed to await the coming of Maitreya.
Earliest Chinese representations of the arhats can be traced back to as early
as the fourth century ,
and mainly focused on Pindola who was popularized in
art by the book Method for Inviting Pindola (Chinese:
Later this number increased to 16 to include patriarchs and other spiritual
adepts. Teachings about the Arhats eventually made their way to China where
they were called Luohan (羅漢, shortened from a-luo-han a
Chinese transcription for Arhat), but it wasn’t until 654 AD when the Nandimitrāvadāna
(Chinese: 法住記; pinyin: Fǎzhùjì),
Record on the Duration of the Law, spoken by the Great arhat Nadimitra,
was translated by Xuanzang into Chinese that the
names of these arhats were known. For some reason Kundadhana was dropped from
Somewhere between the late Tang
Dynasty and early Five Dynasties and Ten
Kingdoms period of China two other Luohans were added to the roster
increasing the number to 18.
But this depiction of having 18 Luohans only gained a foothold in China whereas
other areas like Japan
continue to revere only sixteen and whose roster
differs somewhat. This depiction of having 18 instead of 16 Luohans continues
into modern Chinese Buddhist traditions. A cult built around the Luohans as
guardians of Buddhist faith gained momentum amongst Chinese Buddhists at the
end of the ninth century for they had just been through a period a great
persecution under the reign of Emperor Tang Wuzong. In fact
the last two additions to this roster, Taming Dragon and Taming Tiger, are
thinly veiled swipes against Taoism.
In Chinese art
Because no historical records detailing how the Luohans looked like existed
there were no distinguishing features to tell the Luohans apart in early
The first portraits of the 18 Luohans was painted by the monk Guan
Xiu (Chinese: 貫休; pinyin: Guànxiū)
in 891 AD who at the time was residing in Chengdu.
Legend has it that the 18 Luohans knew of Guan Xiu’s expert calligraphy and
painting skills they appeared to the monk in a dream to make a request that he
paint their portraits.
The paintings depicted them as foreigners having bushy eyebrows, large eyes,
hanging cheeks and high noses. They were seated in landscapes, leaning against
pine trees and stones. An additional theme in these paintings were that they
were portrayed as being unkempt and “eccentric” which emphasize that
they were vagabonds and beggars who have left all worldly desires behind. When
Guan Xiu was asked how he came up with the depictions, he answered: “It
was in a dream that I saw these Gods and Buddhas. After I woke up, I painted
what I saw in the dream. So, I guess I can refer to these Luohans as ‘Luohans
in a dream’.” These portraits painted by Guan Xiu has become the
definitive images for the 18 Luohans in Chinese Buddhist iconography, although
in modern depiction they bear more Sinitic
features and at the same time lost their exaggerated foreign features in
exchange for more exaggerated expressions. The paintings were donated by Guan
Xiu to the Shengyin Temple in Qiantang (present day Hangzhou)
where they are preserved with great care and ceremonious respect.
Many prominent artists such as Wu Bin and Ding
Guanpeng would later try to faithfully imitate the original
The Qianlong Emperor was a great
admirer of the Luohans and during his visit to see the paintings in 1757,
Qianlong not only examined them closely but he also wrote a eulogy to each
Luohan image. Copies of these eulogies were presented to the monastery and
preserved. In 1764, Qianlong ordered that the paintings held at the Shengyin
Monastery be reproduced and engraved onto stone tablets for preservation. These
were mounted like facets into a marble stupa for public display. The temple was
destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion but copies
of ink rubbing of the steles were preserved in and outside of China.
In the Chinese Tradition, the 18 Luohans are generally presented in the
order they are said to have appeared to Guan Xiu, not according to their power:
Deer Sitting, Happy, Raised Bowl, Raised Pagoda, Meditating, Oversea, Elephant
Riding, Laughing Lion, Open Heart, Raised Hand, Thinking, Scratched Ear, Calico
Bag, Plantain, Long Eyebrow, Doorman, Taming Dragon and Taming Tiger.
01. Pindola the Bharadvaja*
Bīndùluó Báluóduòshé Zūnzhě)
Sitting dignified on a deer,
As if in deep thought.
With perfect composure,
Contented with being above worldly pursuits.
Guan Xiu’s Dream: Deer Sitting Luohan (Chinese:
02. Kanaka the Vatsa
Jiānuòjiā Fácuō Zūnzhě)
Decimating the demons,
The universe now cleared.
Hands raised for jubuilation,
Be wild with joy.
Happy Luohan (Chinese:
03. Kanaka the Bharadvaja
Jiānuòjiā Bálíduòshé Zūnzhě)
In majestic grandeur,
Joy descends from heaven.
Raised the bowl to receive happiness,
Glowing with jubilance and exultation.
Raised Bowl Luohan (Chinese:
A seven-storey pagoda,
Miraculous power of the Buddha.
Forceful without being angry,
With preeminent Buddhist might.
Raised Pagoda Luohan (Chinese:
Quietly cultivating the mind,
A countenance calm and composed.
Serene and dignified,
To enter the Western Paradise.
Meditating Lohan (Chinese:
Bearing the sutras,
Sail east to spread the world.
Climbing mountains and fording streams,
For the deliverance of the humanity.
Overseas Lohan (Chinese:
Riding an elephant with a dignified air,
Chanting aloud the sutras.
With a heart for the humanity,
Eyes scanning the four corners of the universe.
Elephant Riding Lohan (Chinese:
Playful and free of inhibitions,
The lion cub leaps with joy.
Easily alternating tension with relaxation,
Rejoicing with all living things.
Laughing Lion Lohan (Chinese:
Open the heart and there is Buddha,
Each displaying his prowess.
The two should not compete,
For Buddha’s power is boundless.
Open Heart Lohan (Chinese:
10. Pantha the Elder*
Easy and comfortable,
Yawning and stretching.
In a state of omniscience,
Contented with his own lot.
Raised Hand Lohan (Chinese:
Pondering and meditating,
Understanding it all.
Above this world and free from conventions,
Compassion conveyed up to the Ninth Heaven
Thinking Lohan (Chinese:
Leisurely and contented,
Happy and knowledgeable.
Full of wit and humour,
Exuberant with interest.
Scratch Ear Lohan (Chinese:
(Chinese: 因揭陀尊者; pinyin: Yīnjiētuó Zūnzhě)
Buddha of infinite life,
Valuable bag containing secrets of heaven and earth.
Happy and contented,
Cheerful and joyful is he.
Calico Bag Lohan (Chinese:
Buddha of infinite life,
Valuable bag containing secrets of heaven and earth.
Happy and contented,
Cheerful and joyful is he.
Plantain Lohan (Chinese:
A monk who has attained enlightenment.
Perceptive of the infinite universe,
With tacit understanding.
Long Eyebrow Lohan (Chinese:
长眉羅漢; pinyin: Chángméi Luóhàn)
16. Pantha the Younger
Zhùchá Bàntuōjiā Zūnzhě)
Powerful, husky and tough,
Watching with careful alertness.
With the Buddhist staff in hand.
Valiantly annihilates the evil.
Doorman Lohan (Chinese:
In the hands are the spiritual pearl and the holy bowl,
Endowed with power that knows no bounds.
Full of valour, vigour and awe-inspiring dignity,
To succeed in vanquishing the ferocious dragon.
Taming Dragon Lohan (Chinese:
Precious ring with magical powers,
Vigorous and powerful,
Subduing a ferocious tiger.