Arhat

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An Arhat (Sanskrit: अर्हत्) in Buddhism, is a "perfected one" who has attained Nirvāṇa.

In the early Theosophical view, the word "Arhat" was used for those high initiates who are beyond the need of compulsory rebirth. In the writings of Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater it is used to denominate the Adept who has attained the fourth Initiation, and is able to consciously enter the Nirvanic plane.

Early Theosophical view

In the early Theosophical view, the word "Arhat" was used as a synonym for Mahatma. As Mr. Sinnett wrote:

Arhat is a Buddhist designation. That which is more familiar in India, where the attributes of Arhatship are not necessarily associated with professions of Buddhism, is Mahatma. . . . In reality, the Arhats and the Mahatmas are the same men. At that level of spiritual exaltation, supreme knowledge of the esoteric doctrine blends all original sectarian distinctions. By whatever name such illuminati may be called, they are the adepts of occult knowledge, sometimes spoken of in India now as the Brothers, and the custodians of the spiritual science which has been handed down to them by their predecessors.[1]

Mme. Blavatsky defined it as follows:

Arahat (Sk.). Also pronounced and written Arhat, Arhan, Rahat, &c., “the worthy one”, lit., “deserving divine honours”. This was the name first given to the Jain and subsequently to the Buddhist holy men initiated into the esoteric mysteries. The Arhat is one who has entered the best and highest path, and is thus emancipated from re-birth.[2]

She added that "An Arhat is one who has reached the highest Path; he may merge into Nirvâna at will, while here on earth."[3]

According to Leadbeater

C. W. Leadbeater stated that the Arhat compares with he who has attained the Fourth initiation in his Theosophical description:

The candidate who has passed the fourth Initiation is spoken of in Buddhist terminology as the Arhat, which means the worthy, the capable, the venerable or perfect, and in the Eastern books very many beautiful things are said about him, for they know at what a high level of evolution he stands. The Hindus call him the Paramahamsa, the one above or beyond the Hamsa.[4]

According to him, after the fourth Initiation "there is no compulsory physical rebirth."[5] However, voluntary reincarnation is necessary to attain the next initiation. At the fourth Initiation "he enters the nirvanic plane, and from then onward he is engaged in climbing steadily through that. . ."[6]

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Alfred Percy Sinnett, Esoteric Buddhism (London: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), ??.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 28.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 434, fn.
  4. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Masters and the Path, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1992), 193.
  5. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Masters and the Path, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1992), 189.
  6. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Masters and the Path, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1992), 193.