Arhats are saints or sages who have fully realized for themselves the Buddhist Doctrine. The difference between an Arhat and a Bodhisattva is the Arhat attains enlightenment by himself, for himself, whereas a Bodhisattva vows to lead all beings to ultimate liberation. The Buddha was also considered an Arhat, who was named the Great Arhat in Buddhist scripture, because he attained supreme and complete enlightenment, which is superior to that of the Arhat. In some texts the Buddha is described as being accompanied by 50 Arhats, sometimes by 500 or other multiples of this number (the figure is taken by some simply to mean a large crowd). Here at Buddha Gate we have 18 statues to represent all Arhats.
In keeping with this month’s theme, ‘Harmony’, we have selected Arhat Vajraputra. The literal meaning of Vajraputra is Diamond Seed. Vajraputra symbolizes the invincible power of compassion and wisdom. One of the stories of Vajraputra is that he instructed Ananda (famous for his extraordinary memory by which he was able to retain all of the Buddha’s teachings), to harmonize the understanding of the Dharma with the practice toward Arhatship.