In Buddhism, one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence, has achieved nirvana, and will not be reborn. Theravada Buddhism regards becoming an arhat as the goal of spiritual progress. It holds that a seeker must pass through three earlier stages before being reborn in a heaven as an arhat. Mahayana Buddhism criticizes the goal of becoming an arhat as selfish and considers the bodhisattva to be a higher goal because the bodhisattva remains in the cycle of rebirths to work for the good of others. This divergence of opinion is one of the fundamental differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.

Variants of ARHAT

arhat or arahant

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on arhat, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up arhat? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.