(Sanskrit = perfected one)
(1) A Theravada Buddhist term for a living person who has attained enlightenment and achieved nirvana.
(2) The term has also been used in other Buddhist traditions for people who are deemed to be very near Enlightenment, but have not quite achieved full Buddhahood.
1. As opposed to a bodhisattva, which in Mahayana Buddhism is one who has attained enlightenment but has remained on earth to help others achieve it.
2. Arhat-hood and a focus on personal salvation was the defining goal of the first historical stage of Buddhism (Theravada Buddhism). Bodhisattvas and universal salvation became the focus of the second stage (Mahayana Buddhism).
3. The equivalent designation in Jainism is tirthankara, and a somewhat similar Christian term is saint.
4. According to Bhikku Bhodi, an arhat is one who has "mastered the 8-fold path … [thus is] … the liberated one, who has broken all bonds binding to the round of becoming and lives in the experienced freedom of nirvana."