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.

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


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