Arhat is a title given to a highly revered person in Buddhism and Jainism. Etymologically, the word ‘Arhat’ means ‘possessing bodily merit’ or ‘worshipful’.
Arhat meaning in Buddhism and Jainism
Arhat has the Pali form ‘Araha’ and the Ardhamagdhi form ‘Arihant’. In the ancient Pali and Ardhamagadhi texts, the words ‘Buddha’, ‘Sambuddha’ meaning ‘awakened’, ‘enlightened’ are used at the same level. There are four stages on the Buddhist path, of which this is considered to be the highest stage.
The aim is to derive ‘qualification’ from ‘Sthaviraist’ texts. Arhattva has been given different meanings in different places. However, the destruction of anger, hatred, attachment, complete destruction of all the ten fetters that bind man, seems to be accepted as meaning.
As there is no attachment left at the place of the arhat, his actions cannot be termed ‘skillful’ or ‘unskillful’. They are only actions, states the static philosophy. His theory also states that Arhat does not depart from the position he has attained. But this theory is not acceptable to the sectarians like ‘Sarvastivadis’.
As in Jainism, the term ‘Arhat’ is applied to pilgrims. Compared to ‘Kewli’, its qualities have reached the final peak. Omniscience, bravery, truth, modesty, austerity, self-sacrifice, service, charity are the qualities that reach perfection in an Arhat.