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.

    • ‘Each word of the dharma is a bodhisattva who is communicating to you.’
    • ‘Within some Mahayana Buddhist texts, for example, bodhisattvas are described as having halos studded with 500 Buddhas, each attended by numberless gods.’
    • ‘According to the bodhisattva, the mahayana teachings are the real words of the Buddha.’
    • ‘In the Buddhist tradition, bodhisattvas aspire to enlightenment, dedicating their transformed minds and actions to the liberation of all beings.’
    • ‘It is limited and discriminatory, and it is not the compassion of the bodhisattvas.’
    • ‘Realizing the intensity of suffering of all living beings in samsara, bodhisattvas have developed limitless compassion and love.’
    • ‘In this case, the Buddha and the bodhisattvas very skillfully condensed the teachings into a very concise form.’
    • ‘They include prostrations, making offerings to statues of Buddhas or bodhisattvas, attending public teachings and ceremonies.’
    • ‘He went into a state of deep meditation and let the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, do the talking.’
    • ‘But some enlightened beings, called bodhisattvas, defer their nirvana, returning to human form to help others free themselves from the cycle.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You are fulfilling the wishes of all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas and of your own teachers.’
    • ‘All the Buddhas and bodhisattvas attained realization through first developing bodhicitta within themselves.’
    • ‘It is in this type of Buddhism that the bodhisattva emerges.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘To begin with, the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the embodiments of awakened compassion, were ordinary beings exactly like ourselves.’
    • ‘The more we train in devotion to all enlightened masters, Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the more our progress in recognizing mind essence will be enhanced.’


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