Definition of bodhisattva in English:



  • (in Mahayana Buddhism) a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so through compassion for suffering beings.

    • ‘In the Buddhist tradition, bodhisattvas aspire to enlightenment, dedicating their transformed minds and actions to the liberation of all beings.’
    • ‘They include prostrations, making offerings to statues of Buddhas or bodhisattvas, attending public teachings and ceremonies.’
    • ‘It is limited and discriminatory, and it is not the compassion of the bodhisattvas.’
    • ‘All the Buddhas and bodhisattvas attained realization through first developing bodhicitta within themselves.’
    • ‘But some enlightened beings, called bodhisattvas, defer their nirvana, returning to human form to help others free themselves from the cycle.’
    • ‘Everyone who subscribes to the Mahayana technically becomes a bodhisattva, but for most this is just the starting point of their long course of spiritual development.’
    • ‘The more we train in devotion to all enlightened masters, Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the more our progress in recognizing mind essence will be enhanced.’
    • ‘Realizing the intensity of suffering of all living beings in samsara, bodhisattvas have developed limitless compassion and love.’
    • ‘He went into a state of deep meditation and let the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, do the talking.’
    • ‘In this case, the Buddha and the bodhisattvas very skillfully condensed the teachings into a very concise form.’
    • ‘To explain some further aspects of visualization meditation, we can go through the basic stages of a short practice of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.’
    • ‘To begin with, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the embodiments of awakened compassion, were ordinary beings exactly like ourselves.’
    • ‘We invite all the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, all the great teachers and the deceased to the dharma room and we chant so that everybody wakes up together.’
    • ‘You are fulfilling the wishes of all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas and of your own teachers.’
    • ‘This, the most important beam of the house, stretches across the upstairs reception hall, where women of the house daily worshipped the Buddhist bodhisattva Guanyin.’
    • ‘Each word of the dharma is a bodhisattva who is communicating to you.’
    • ‘It is in this type of Buddhism that the bodhisattva emerges.’
    • ‘Within some Mahayana Buddhist texts, for example, bodhisattvas are described as having halos studded with 500 Buddhas, each attended by numberless gods.’
    • ‘They are the living presence of all the various aspects of enlightenment - both its qualities and its activities - envisioned as male and female Buddhas, bodhisattvas, protectors of dharma, and so on.’
    • ‘According to the bodhisattva, the mahayana teachings are the real words of the Buddha.’


Sanskrit, ‘a person whose essence is perfect knowledge’, from bodhi ‘perfect knowledge’ (from budh- ‘know perfectly’) + sattva ‘being, essence’.