Do you know the Eighteen Arhats?

By Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

In Buddhism, the word arhat refers to a person who has no afflictions. Among the millions of people who lived at the time of the Buddha, only a few are called arhats in the sutras, having attained such a title. The most well-known of these are a group called the "eighteen arhats," recorded in the Record on Dharma Abiding, translated by Xuanzang (600-664 CE) in the Tang dynasty.

These are the arhats who protect the Dharma in the Buddha's name, and each one had his representative attributes and stories.The set of arhats used since ages past contains only men, yet the set of eighteen arhats at the Bodhi Wisdom Concourse contains statues of three women who were arhats: Mahaprajapati Bhiksuni, Utpalavarna Bhiksuni, and Bhadra Kapilani Bhiksuni. This revolutionary stroke of creativity not only highlights the Buddhist teaching of equality among all living beings, it also demonstrates the contemporary status of equal rights between the sexes.

Here are some of the Eighteen Arhats.

First, we have Dragon Subduing Arhat, a Chinese addition to the original grouping of Sixteen Arhats.

Dragon Subduing Arhat by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

This is Aniruddha, a disciple foremost in telepathic vision.

Aniruddha by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Meet handsome Ananda, the Buddha's attendant.

Sariputra by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

And Subhuti, of course, the key figure in understanding emptiness.

Subhuti by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Meet Mahakasyapa, the Buddha's great disciple foremost in ascetic practices.

Mahakasyapa by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Did you know Rahula was the Buddha's son?

Rahula by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

You might be wondering: are all arhats male? Here's a female Arhat, and she's Utpalavarna.

Utpalavarna by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Here's another female arhat, and she's the Buddha's foster mother, and the first nun to enter the Order.

Mahaprajapati by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

And Bhadra Kapilani, who was known for her beauty and who was the wife of Mahakasyapa, but observed celibacy with her husband. Both Bhadra Kapilani and Mahakasyapa eventually became monastics.

Bhadra Kapilani Bhiksuni by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Let's not forget Sariputra who appeared in the popular Heart Sutra.

Sariputra by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Meet Purna, the Buddha's disciple who ignored the dangers of his life and insisted on teaching the Dharma in a barbarous kingdom.

Purna by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

And Cundapanthaka of course, who reminds us that practice is in our everyday living.

Cundapanthaka by Fo Guang Shan Buddha MuseumFo Guang Shan Buddha Museum

Credits: Story

Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
Wu Jung Tzu

Credits: All media
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