What is a Bodhisattva?

This is a compound word which means it has more than one meaning. It can be separated as ‘Bodhi’ which means spiritual enlightenment or spiritual awakening and the second part is ‘sattva’ which stands for essence or being or spirit.

This then is joined together to give the meaning as ‘a being set upon enlightenment’ and more can translate to ‘one whose essence is Nirvana or enlightenment’. This, however, is just a shade of what the word means. It has several other meanings that are recognized among those who practice the Buddhism faith.

The Bodhisattva is a one who has taken the vow of Bodhisattva which compels him/her to take the course of saving all the sentient beings before the being gets to full enlightenment. The vow of Bodhisattva is one very critical thing in the Buddhism religion.

The path of coming together of the body and spirit is what Bodhisattva is all about. Therefore the ego strength and soul is usually very important as it gives one the capacity to walk beside other beings that inspire them while actively save those sentient beings and bring them on board.

There are three principal meanings of this word;

-In Mahayana Buddhism, it may refer to a person who is dedicated to teaching others of the Bodhisattva way or devoted to entertaining others. This is usually a goal of many who practice

Mahayana Buddhism.

-In ancient Buddhism, it comes with the meaning of the Buddha and it may also mean the previous lives.
-There is also another meaning of Bodhisattva, particularly in Mahayana Buddhism. It is used to describe the mythical beings who are normally seen as objects of devotion such as Manjushri – read article on characteristics of mahayana buddhism.


Bodhisattva is associated with a lot of compassion and wisdom. This ensures those who take up the vow serve selflessly and this path is known to last for many lifetimes.