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sixteen Arhats

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A tradition exists that when the Buddha was about to enter final nirvāṇa he entrusted the care of his teachings to a group of sixteen great Arhats and their disciples. The Buddha asked these forest-dwelling saints (see also āraṇya-vāsī) to make themselves available to the laity as recipients of offerings so that the donors might gain religious merit (puṇya). The tradition maintains that in order to comply with the Buddha's request, the sixteen Arhats have extended their lives indefinitely through magical powers and are still accessible to those in need. This tradition is preserved in a number of Indian texts translated into Chinese, notably the Nandimitrāvadāna, which was translated by Hsüan-tsang in the 7th century. The sixteen arhats are Piṇḍolabhāradvāja, Kanakavatsa, Kanakaparidhvaja, Subinda, Nakula, Bhadra, Kālika, Vajraputra, Śvapāka, Panthaka, Rāhula, Nāgasena, Iṇgada, Vanavāsi, Ajita, and Cūlapanthaka.

Subjects: Religion

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