A Pratyekabuddha (Sanskrit) or Paccekabuddha (Pāli), literally "a lone buddha" , "a buddha on their own" or "a private buddha", is one of three types of enlightened beings according to some schools of Buddhism. The other two types are the Śrāvakabuddhas and Samyaksambuddhas. They are said to achieve enlightenment on their own, without the use of teachers or guides, according to some traditions by contemplating the principle of dependent arising. They are said to arise only in ages where there is no Buddha and the Buddhist teachings (Sanskrit: dharma; Pāli: dhamma) are lost. Many may arise at a single time. Unlike Supreme Buddhas (see bodhi), their enlightenment is not foretold.
Some schools assert that pratyekabuddhas are not omniscient, while others say that they are the same (in realisation) as Bodhisattva Buddhas, but do not have the will to teach the entire Dharma. They do give moral teachings, but do not bring others to enlightenement. A pratyekabuddha leaves no saṅgha as a legacy to carry on the Dharma.
Pratyekabuddhas (e.g. Darīmukha J.378, Sonaka J.529,) appear as teachers of Buddhist doctrine in pre-Buddhist times in several of the Jātakas. The experiences and enlightenment-verses uttered by Pratyekabuddhas are narrated in the Khaggavisāna-sutta of the Sutta Nipāta.
The yāna or vehicle by which pratyekabuddhas achieve enlightenment is called the pratyekayāna, the "on-one's-own vehicle", in Mahayana tradition.
- The Paccekabuddha: A Buddhist Ascetic. Ria Kloppenborg. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands: 1974.
- Pacceka Buddha in Dictionary of Pali Proper Names
- MN 116: Isigili Sutta "The Discourse at Isigili", as published on Access to Insight
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