Savaka Bodhisattas

There are three types of Bodhisatta, 1.the one who will become a Sammasambuddha, Omniscient
Buddha, 2. someone who will become a Pacceka Buddha, Silent Buddha,
and the 3. one who is a Savaka Bodhisatta, who is a Learner"
(see Cariyapitaka atthakatha, nidanakatha).

From Nina Van Gorkom p.142 -143 of Understanding Realities Now:
Nina’s travelogues Understanding-Realities-Now.pdf (

In the beginning, I did not quite understand the meaning of Savaka Bodhisatta, but by repeatedly discussing this term I better understood what
a Savaka Bodhisatta is and how we can become a Savaka Bodhisatta by
developing understanding of realities, even for countless lives.
The Sammasambuddha has attained perfect understanding of the
truth of realities, all by himself, without the help of a teacher. Through
his enlightenment, he reached omniscience. The Buddha could attain
enlightenment because he developed for innumerable lives direct understanding of seeing which appears at the present moment, of visible object which appears at the present moment, of all realities which appear at the present moment. Direct understanding of realities can only be developed now.

The Silent Buddha, Pacceka Buddha, has also attained enlightenment all by himself, but he has not accumulated wisdom to the same
extent as the Samma-sambuddha. He cannot proclaim to the world the
truth he has realized.
The Savaka Bodhisatta develops understanding during innumerable
lives until the moment of enlightenment. He knows the value of understanding of realities appearing at the present moment.
A moment of understanding is not lost, it is accumulated from moment to moment. Conditions for attaining the first stage of enlightenment, the stage of the “stream-enterer” (sotapanna) are : association with good people (sappurisa-sam.
hearing the true Dhamma
), thorough attention (yoniso manasik¯aro),
practice of the Dhamma in accordance with the Dhamma (dhamm¯a-nudhammappat.

As to “wise attention”, the commentary explains that this is attention to impermanence, dukkha and anatta.
As to the practice of the dhamma in conformity with the dhamma,
the commentary states that practice in conformity with the dhamma
relates to lokuttara dhamma, and that previous practice is necessary,
which is, according to the subcommentary, vipassan¯a, the development
of insight.
The word “practice” is a translation of the term patipatti, meaning
the development of direct understanding.
This phrase is also explained in the commentary to the Mahaparinibbanasutta: “Those who practise a dhamma consistent with the dhamma
ipanna). Those who practise the teaching of
insight (vipassana) which is consistent with the teachings of the noble
The teaching of the noble is of the path (magga), or else also the
ninefold supramundane dhamma
These are the essential conditions leading to the penetration of the
four noble Truths. Gradually the true nature of the realities that appear
can be penetrated. As we read, there has to be wise attention to the
characteristics of impermanence, dukkha and anatta. However, first of
all there have to be right awareness and direct understanding of the
realities appearing through the six doors. Nama has to be known as
nama and rupa as rupa. We read, consider and discuss Dhamma just
in order to understand the reality of this moment. When a moment of
understanding arises, understanding is accumulated little by little. This
is the way that pan˜na can grow to the degree of lokuttara pa˜n˜na. We
need confidence and courage so that we do not become disheartened
about the long way we have to travel.

We learn from the statements about the three kinds of Bodhisattas
that whatever occurs in life has been conditioned. We can become
“learners”, savaka Bodhisattas, by continuing to develop understanding
of what appears now with confidence and without expecting anything.
We are beginners and what can be understood depends on conditions.
Some people seek peacefulness but everything that arises now, also when
it is not peaceful, should be known as not self.

We heard a great deal about citta, cetasika and r¯upa, which are
conditioned realities arising for a short moment and then falling away.
They can be considered in our daily life. However, we are inclined to
cling to situations, to cling to thinking of other people and “self”. That
This refers to the eight lokuttara cittas and nibb¯ana. For each of the four
stages of enlightenment there is the magga-citta and the phala-citta, the result of
the magga-citta is not the world of realities. We forget that all that is real now in our
life are citta, cetasika and rupa. Intellectual understanding of what is
real can eventually lead to direct understanding, to satipatthana.

Satipatthana is developed in being mindful of whatever appears so
that direct understanding can grow. Mindfulness, sati, is a cetasika that
arises only with certain types of citta and lasts for an extremely short
moment. Remembering this helps us not to try to control or manipulate
this type of cetasika. All that can be done is listening and considering
the truth of this moment and understanding it a little more, so that we
can become a “savaka”, a learner, who will once attain enlightenment
and full understanding. This is possible, the Buddha taught the way.
But when we are hoping or expecting results, there is clinging and this
hinders the development of understanding. We shall listen again and
again to the truth of seeing, visible object, hearing, sound, and all that
is reality. This is the way to have more confidence in the Buddha’s
teaching of anatta.