S. bodhisattva, literally "awakening" (bodhi) "being" (sattva). 1. An epithet for the Buddha Shakamuni in his former lives, before becoming a buddha. 2. Any sentient being on the path to buddhahood, which is described in Mahayana sutras as beginning with a vow to attain awakening for the sake of all living beings and not to pass into nirvana while any beings remain suffering in the round of birth and death. 3. Exalted beings who have advanced so far on the path to awakening as to be virtually equal to buddhas in their wisdom, compassion, and ability to help ordinary beings. High level bodhisattvas such as Kannon, Fugen, Miroku, and Jizō are worshipped and prayed to as savior deities.