Mahasattva, aka: Mahāsattva, Maha-sattva; 3 Definition(s)


Mahasattva means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Mahāsattva (महासत्त्व).—According to Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter IX), what is a Mahāsattva?

1) Mahā means great, and sattva means being or bravery. The person who is able to accomplish a great work without regressing or turning back in his bravery is called Mahāsattva.

2) Moreover, he is called Mahāsattva because he is the chief of many beings.

3) Furthermore, he is called Mahāsattva because he feels great loving kindness (mahāmaitrī) amd great compassion (mahākaruṇā) for many beings; he establishes them in the Greater Vehicle, he travels the great Path (mahāmārga) and attains a very high place.

4) Furthermore, he is called Mahāsattva because he is endowed with the marks of the Great Man (mahāpuruṣa-lakṣaṇa).

5. Furthermore, he is called Mahāsattva because he must preach the Dharma and destroy the great wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi) and the afflictions (kleśa), such as great craving (mahātṛṣṇā), pride (abhimāna), great attachment to the self (ātmasneha), etc., in all others as well as in himself.

6. Finally, like the great ocean (mahāsamudra), beings (sattva) are without beginning and without end. A skillful teacher of arithmetic (gaṇanācārya) who would keep track for numberless years would not reach the end of them. The Bodhisattva wishes to save them all, free them all from suffering and establish them all in the happiness of unconditioned safety. He is called Mahasattva because he has made this great resolution to save these numerous beings.

The Bodhisattvas are called Mahāsattva because they make the great vow (mahāpraṇidhāna), because they want to do the great work and because they want to arrive at the great place.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
context information

Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

General definition (in Buddhism)

There are seven meanings of Mahasattva: 1. He has perfected great roots. 2. He has great wisdom. 3. He believes the great Dharma. 4. He understands the great principle. 5. He cultivates the great conduct. 6. He passes through great kalpas. 7. He seeks the great fruit. (Source): Buddhist Door: Glossary

Mahāsattva, (lit: "great being"), is a great Bodhisattva practicing the Buddhism for a long time and reaching a very high level on the path to awakening (bodhi), generally refers to the Bodhisattvas who have reached at least the seventh ground of the ten Bodhisattvas' grounds (bodhisattvānām daśabhūmīḥ).

The eight most famous Mahāsattvas are

  1. Mañjuśrī,
  2. Samantabhadra,
  3. Avalokiteśvara,
  4. Mahāsthāmaprāpta,
  5. Âkāśagarbha (Akasagarbha),
  6. Kṣitigarbha,
  7. Maitreya
  8. and Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin (Sarvanivarana-Vishkambhin).

etymology: The translation of the word Mahāsattva in Chinese is móhé sāduò (摩诃萨埵) (simplified: móhésà 摩诃萨) and dàshì (大士), in Japanese, makasatsu or daishi.

(Source): WikiPedia: Buddhism

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