Skip to main content


Arhat (arhati, ‘be worthy of’; Pāli arahat). In Buddhism, one who is worthy of reverence because he has attained the penultimate state of perfection (Chin., alohan, lohan; Jap., arakan; Korean, arahan, nahan). The term was originally applied to all ascetics, but it came to be applied to those who are no longer bound to punabbhava (‘again-becoming’) and have become completely detached from the Triple World of sense, form, and formlessness. Since, in Theravāda, there can be only one Buddha in each world cycle, the condition of arhat is the highest to which one can aspire in this cycle (since the Buddha has already appeared).

They possess four faculties of discernment and exegesis not possessed by ordinary mortals, and five kinds of transcendent knowledge, so that they are characterized by supreme wisdom, and are known as prajñāvimukta. They can hear and understand all sounds in the universe, know the thoughts of others, and remember previous existences. At death, they attain nirvāna completely.

Mahāyāna Buddhism, in contrast, regards the notion, especially the limited goal, of arhat as selfish. The development of the bodhisattva, who might attain the goal but returns to help others, is held to be the logical application of the example of the Buddha and of his teaching.

Among Jains, the arhat is one who is worthy of absolute reverence. In effect, these are the tīrthaṅkaras.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Arhat." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . 23 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Arhat." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . (July 23, 2018).

"Arhat." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved July 23, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.