bo·dhi·satt·va | \ˌbō-di-ˈsət-və, -ˈsät- \
variants: or boddhisattva

Definition of bodhisattva 

: a being that compassionately refrains from entering nirvana in order to save others and is worshipped as a deity in Mahayana Buddhism

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While other bodhisattvas have either lived in the past or are expected in the future, Guanyin exists in the here and now. Lee Lawrence, WSJ, "An Exalted Personage Made Wholly Accessible," 8 Sep. 2017 Reinstalled in 2016 after undergoing conservation, the sculpture portrays the bodhisattva of compassion, an enlightened being known as Avalokitesvara in India, where Buddhism originated, and in China as Guanyin. Lee Lawrence, WSJ, "An Exalted Personage Made Wholly Accessible," 8 Sep. 2017 Lokeshvara, the 10-armed bodhisattva of compassion, was the answer, Mace said. Steven Litt,, "Cambodia lends spectacular sculpted wall from Banteay Chhmar to Cleveland Museum of Art (photos)," 15 Oct. 2017 Recall that Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break, for example, is named Bodhi, short for bodhisattva, a being who embodies the Buddhist ideal of compassion for all sentient beings. Jaimal Yogis, The Atlantic, "Is Surfing More Sport or Religion?," 23 July 2017 The bearded bikers in black leather knelt gently in the shrines and gazed up at images of Avalokiteshvara, a bodhisattva personifying infinite compassion and mercy. Lawrence Osborne, Town & Country, "Why Everyone Is Traveling to Bhutan," 30 Mar. 2015 In this roughly five-foot-tall statue from Northern India, the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara sits in graceful repose on a seat bedecked with flower buds, one leg dangling beneath him. The New Yorker, "Christie’s: Asia Week," 31 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bodhisattva.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bodhisattva

1809, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bodhisattva

Sanskrit bodhisattva one whose essence is enlightenment, from bodhi enlightenment + sattva being — more at bid

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Bodh Gaya



bodhi tree



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The first known use of bodhisattva was in 1809

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