- In the Jain tradition (see JAINISM), an arhat (one worthy of worship) is an omniscient being who teaches in the world. As Jains do not believe in living liberated beings (jivanmukta), the arhat while living is not released from the cycle of birth and rebirth, but will be upon his/her death. A person becomes an arhat when he or she has destroyed nearly all KARMAs except those that hold him or her in bodily existence. Technically, one becomes an arhat at the 12th gunasthana (progression level) out of the 14 that take one to posthumous NIRVANA. All the TIRTHANKARAs in the Jain pantheon are referred to in their texts as arhats.The term arhat is also used in the Buddhist context, where it refers to someone who has attained nirvana—who has attained enlighten-ment and will be released from the cycle of birth and rebirth upon death. In the Buddhist tradition also one can be referred to as an arhat before one is dead.Further reading: M. A. Dhaky, ed., Arhat Parsva and Dharanendra Nexus (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1997); P. S. Jaini, Jaina Path of Purification (Berkeley: Univer-sity of California Press, 1979); K. C. Lalwani, Kalpa Sutra (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1979); Kristi Wiley, Historical Dictionary of Jainism (Lanham, Md.: Scare-crow Press, 2004).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.