In Buddhist thought, a bodhisattva is one dedicated to achieving complete Buddhahood. The bodhisattvas possess a high degree of enlightenment and power. Bodhisattva literally means a "wise being " in Sanskrit
. The greatest characteristic of a bodhisattva is compassion, an empathetic sharing of the sufferings of others. A real bodhisattva strives constantly to discover the source of the Ultimate Truth better known as nirvana
, but postpones his own enlightenment until he has guided all his fellow beings to this same source of fulfillment. The ideal bodhisattva should always think of doing good to all creatures on the earth and pray for their well-being.
The most prominent bodhisattva is said to be Avalokiteshvara. Manjushri and Maitreya are two other important bodhisattvas.