By Swami Harshananda
- venerable; deserving; worthy; respectable; honourable
- a wise or liberated being of the Jainas (J.S. Koşa); a follower of Buddhism aspiring for Nirvāņa (B. Sāhitya).
Derived from the verbal root ‘arh’ (‘to deserve’) the word ‘Arhat’ is common to both Buddhism and Jainism. However it is in Jainism that it is more current.
The Arhats (also spelt as Arahats or Arahantas) are beings who have become perfect and can teach the way to perfection to others. They are endowed with unlimited knowledge, vision, power and bliss. They are free from the limitations of flesh like hunger or thirst, since their bodies are not material.
‘Jina’ is another name commonly applied to them. In the Pañcaparamesthi mantra the Arhats are the first to whom obeisance is offered (ṇamo arihantāṇam).
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore