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Definition of ARHAT
: a Buddhist who has reached the stage of enlightenment
Origin of ARHAT
Sanskrit, from present participle of arhati he deserves; akin to Greek alphein to gain
First Known Use: 1870
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.