Author Topic: 16 or 18 Arhat?  (Read 9087 times)

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16 or 18 Arhat?
« on: October 21, 2012, 03:08:53 PM »
"The Sixteen Arhats (Japanese: ????, Juroku Rakan) are a group of legendary Arhats in Buddhism; holy men who were predecessors or disciples of the Buddha. The Sixteen Arhats are particular popular in Zen Buddhism, where they are treated as examples of behaviour. They are sometimes increased to eighteen, with the addition of Nandimitra and a second Pindola, or sometimes the translator Kumarajiva."

"The Eighteen Arhats (Chinese: ????/?????; pinyin: Shíb? Luóhàn/Shíb? ?Luóhàn; Wade-Giles:Lóhàn) are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of the Buddha who have followed the Eightfold Path and attained the Four Stages of Enlightenment. They have reached the state of Nirvana and are free of worldly cravings. They are charged to protect the Buddhist faith and to await on earth for the coming of Maitreya, a prophesied enlightened Buddha to arrive on earth many millennia after Gautama Buddha's death and nirvana. In China, the eighteen arhats are also a popular subject of Buddhist art."

So, actually are there 16 or 18 Arhats still 'living' and upholding Buddha's faith until the next Buddha Maitreya arrived?


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Re: 16 or 18 Arhat?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2012, 05:02:02 PM »
Lama Lumes and Dromchung introduced them to Tibet after they had China.In Tibet,they are considered custodians of the Buddha's spoken word and  function as guardians of his teachings.Jeff Watts notes at Tibet Art tells us that the Sadhana and ritual service and offerings to Buddha Shakyamuni with the 16 Arhats was made popular by Atisha.
Following tradition,at Khenchen Thronga Rinpoche's Vajre Vadyu Institute in Sarnath,in the main shrine room,a set appear along the east wall,and the other 8 are against the west side.So there are 16 Arhats,the other 2 are attendants.


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Re: 16 or 18 Arhat?
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2012, 07:14:14 AM »
Originally, the arhats composed of only 10 disciples of Gautama Buddha, although the earliest Indian sutras indicate that only 4 of them, Pindola, Kundadhana, Panthaka and Nakula, were instructed to await the coming of Maitreya. Earliest Chinese representations of the arhats can be traced back to as early as the fourth century,and mainly focused on Pindola who was popularized in art by the book Method for Inviting Pindola.

Later this number increased to 16 to include patriarchs and other spiritual adepts. Teachings about the Arhats eventually made their way to China where they were called Luohan, but it wasn't until 654 AD when the Nandimitr?vad?na, Record on the Duration of the Law, spoken by the Great arhat Nadimitra, was translated by Xuanzang into Chinese that the names of these arhats were known. For some reason Kundadhana was dropped from this list.

Somewhere between the late Tang Dynasty and early Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period of China two other Luohans were added to the roster increasing the number to 18. But this depiction of having 18 Luohans only gained a foothold in China whereas other areas like Japan continue to revere only sixteen and whose roster differs somewhat. This depiction of having 18 instead of 16 Luohans continues into modern Chinese Buddhist traditions. A cult built around the Luohans as guardians of Buddhist faith gained momentum amongst Chinese Buddhists at the end of the ninth century for they had just been through a period a great persecution under the reign of Emperor Tang Wuzong. In fact the last two additions to this roster, Taming Dragon and Taming Tiger, are thinly veiled swipes against Taoism.