Arakan, arhat (阿羅漢)

Arakan (arhat in Sanskrit) is a saint in Buddhism who is eligible to receive respect and charity. It is a transcript of "arhan," the nominative of "arhat" in Sanskrit. It is also abbreviated as Rakan. It is translated into 応供 (Ougu) in Chinese. It was one of the honorific titles of Shaka.

For details on the temples that enshrine Arakan, see Rakan-ji Temple.

Origin of the word

It is also called 殺賊 (Setsuzoku), transferred from killing (殺す (han)) rebel (賊 (ari)) of earthly desires and '不生,' transferred from a(不)+ruh(生ずる), which means not to relive in a wandering world (past, present and future existences, or three realms) after nirvana, but these are vulgar views of the origin of word.

It is originally a derivative word of the root, arh-, which means 'valuable', 'respectable' and so on.


Originally, in the general sense it meant 'respectable disciplinant' in the Indian religion.

In early Buddhism it meant the top level that a disciplinant could attain.
Arakan-ka, the state of full attainment of arhatship in which it isn't necessary to learn any more, is called 'Mugakui (無学位).'
As for the grades below that, Fugen-ka (the consummation of the stage of the non-returner), Ichirai-ka (one who has fully consummated the stage of the once-returner) and Yoru-ka (one who has fully attained the stage of the stream-enterer) are called 'Ugakui (有学(うがく)位).'
(Shiko Shika, four accesses and four accomplishments)

Especially in Mahayana Buddhism, Shomon was called Arakan and was distinguished from Buddha critically.
However, in Mahayana Buddhism it is referred to as two vehicles, and Arakan and Dokkaku are said to be unable to become 'Buddha.'
Additionally, there is a theory that they cannot even go to 'Hell' but must repeat reincarnation at the same level.

In China and Japan, 16 disciples who swore to keep Buddhism were respected as the 16 Rakans. Moreover, 500 disciples who gathered in the first editorial meeting of Buddhist sutra (結集(けつじゅう)were called the 500 Rakans and were eagerly respected. Particularly, the Zen sect emphasized that Shaka's true dharma (正法) was transmitted directly to Arakan, Daikasho (Mahakasyapa) and produced pictures of the 500 Rakans, and statues of Rakan idealized the figures of Shaka's disciples training, which were later worshipped to pray for keeping true dharma.

The 16 Rakans

According to "Daiarakan Nandai Shosetsu (Hojuki)," it means sixteen Arakans who live in this world forever by Buddha's order and serve as redeemers of living things.

Bindorabaradaja, Pindolabharadraja
The first of 16 Rakans
It is known as Binzuru-sonja or, in other words, Obinzuru-sama. There is a view that includes Binzuru as another Rakan among "the 18 Rakans" with Keiyu, who is regarded as having originated the idea of the 18 Rakans. It has 1,000 followers and lives in the Godhanga region of the west.

Kanakabassa, Kanakavatsa
It has 500 followers and lives in Kashmir.

Kanakabaridaja, Kanakabharadraja
It has 600 followers and lives in the Purva-Videha region.

Subinda, Subinda
Nakora, Nakula
It has 800 followers and lives in Kulu country.

Badara, Bhadra
It has 900 followers and lives in T'an-mo-lo-Chow. At the bathrooms of various temples, the statue of this saint is often placed in accordance with a description of the Shuryogon-gyo sutra.

Karika, Kalika
It has 1,000 followers and lives in Seng-ka-t'a.

Bajaraputara, Vajraputra
It has 1,100 followers and lives in Po-la-na, Parnadvipa.

Jubaka, Jivaka
Hantaka, Panthaka
It has 1,300 followers and lives in the Touriten. It means Mahapanthaka, an elder brother of Shuri Handoku (Cuuda-pantaka).

Ragora, Rahula
The son of Shakuson
Nagasena, Nagasena
It has 1,200 followers and lives in Mt. Pandava. He seems to be Nagasena, who is seen in the scene depicting Milind's question.

Ingada, Angaja
Banabasu, Vanavasin
It has 1,400 followers and lives in Habitable Mountain.

Ajita, Ajita
It is seen as the same as Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva).

Chudahantaka, Chudapanthaka
It is Shuri Handoku (Cuuda-pantaka).

Famous pictures and statues of Rakans

Statues of the 16 Rakans
Kennin-ji Temple (Kyoro City Kyoto Prefecture)
Kuon-ji Temple (Minobu-cho, Minamikoma-gun, Yamanashi Prefecture)
Statues of the 18 Rakans
Mampuku-ji Temple (Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture)
Statues of the 500 Rakans
Gohyaku Rakan, wubai luohan. Five hundred arhats (Morioka City) (Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture)
Gohyaku Rakan, wubai luohan. Five hundred arhats (Tono City) (Tono City, Iwate Prefecture)
Kita-in Temple (Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture)
Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple Shaka-do (Narita City, Chiba Prefecture)
Gohyaku Rakan-ji Temple (Meguro Ward, Tokyo)
Gohyaku Rakan, wubai luohan. Five hundred arhats (Omori-cho Oda City, Shimane Prefecture)
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple (Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City)(sen-nihyaku Rakan)
Rakan-ji Temple (Kasai City) (Kasai City, Hyogo Prefecture)(Hojo Gohyoku Rakan)
Rakan-ji Temple (Nakatsu City) (Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture)
Toko-ji Temple (Usa City) (Usa City, Oita Prefecture)
Chokei-ji Temple (Toyama City) (Toyama City, Toyama Prefecture)
Biyun Temple (Beijing, People's Republic of China)
Xiyuansi Temple (Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province China)
Jiuhuashan Hu Guo Wan Nien Temple (Chizhoushi, Anhui Province, China)
GuiYuanSi Temple (WuHan City, HuBei Province, China)
Baoguangsi Temple (ChengDu City, SiChuan Province, China)
QiongZhuSi Temple (KunMing City, YunNan Province, China)
Man Fat Tsz Temple, Monastery of 10,000 Buddhas (Hong Kong, China)

[Original Japanese]