Sanskrit for one who aspires to enlightenment or one who has attained the essence of wisdom. In Buddhism a Bodhisattva ranks one step below a BUDDHA. In theosophy the term is used to denote an individual who has reached enlightenment and may pass beyond the “wheel of rebirth,” but elects to reincarnate for the good of all.
There are said to be ten stages to Bodhisattva-hood:
- Pramudita, joy in one’s activities.
- Vimala, purity.
- Prabhākarī, illumination.
- Arciṣmatī, radiant insight.
- Sudurjayā, supreme invincibility in meditation.
- Abhimukti, turned towards liberation.
- Dūrangamā, the far-going.
- Acalā, immovable.
- Sādhumatī, good wisdom.
- Dharma-megha, cloud of the law, “he who rains down the law on earth.”
Helena P. BLAVATSKY has written of the Bodhisattva: “The Dhyāni-Buddha, when the world needs a human Buddha, ‘creates’ through the power of Dhyāna (meditation, omnipotent devotion), a mind-born son — a Bodhisattva — whose mission it is after the physical death of his human, or Mānushya-Buddha, to continue his work on earth till the appearance of the subsequent Buddha. The Esoteric meaning of this teaching is clear. In the case of a simple mortal, the principles in him are only the more or less bright reflections of the seven cosmic, and the seven celestial Principles, the Hierarchy of supersensual Beings. In the case of a Buddha, they are almost the principles in esse themselves. The Bodhisattva replaces in him the Kāraṇa Śarīra, the Ego principle, and the rest correspondingly; and it is in this way that Esoteric Philosophy explains the meaning of the sentence that ‘by virtue of Dhyāna [or abstract meditation] the Dhyāni-Buddha [the Buddha’s Spirit or Monad] creates a Bodhisattva,’ or the astrally clothed Ego within the Mānushya-Buddha. Thus, while the Buddha merges back into Nirvāṇa, whence it proceeded, the Bodhisattva remains behind to continue the Buddha’s work upon earth” (CW XIV:391).
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