In Buddhism, a bodhisattva (/ˌboʊdiːˈsʌtvə/ BOH-dee-SUT-və; Sanskrit: 𑀩𑁄𑀥𑀺𑀲𑀢𑁆𑀢𑁆𑀯 (Brahmī), romanized: bodhisattva)or bodhisatva is any person who is on the path towards bodhi (‘awakening’) or Buddhahood.
In the Early Buddhist schools as well as modern Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Pali: bodhisatta) refers to anyone who has made a resolution to become a Buddha and has also received a confirmation or prediction from a living Buddha that this will be so.
In Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva refers to anyone who has generated bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. Mahayana bodhisattvas are spiritually heroic persons that work to attain awakening and are driven by a great compassion (mahakaruṇā). These beings are exemplified by important spiritual qualities such as the “four divine abodes” (brahmaviharas) of loving-kindness (metta), compassion (karuṇā), empathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha) as well as the various bodhisattva “perfections” (pāramitās) which include prajñāpāramitā (“transcendent knowledge” or “perfection of wisdom”) and skillful means (upaya).
In Theravada Buddhism, the bodhisattva is mainly seen as an exceptional and rare individual. Only a few select individuals are ultimately able to become bodhisattvas (such as Maitreya). Mahayana Buddhism generally understands the bodhisattva path as being open to everyone and Mahayanists encourage all individuals to become bodhisattvas. Spiritually advanced bodhisattvas such as Avalokiteshvara, Maitreya and Manjushri are also widely venerated across the Mahayana Buddhist world and are believed to possess great magical power which they employ to help all living beings.
bodhisattva, (Sanskrit), Pali bodhisatta (“one whose goal is awakening”), in Buddhism, one who seeks awakening (bodhi)—hence, an individual on the path to becoming a buddha.
In early Indian Buddhism and in some later traditions—including Theravada, at present the major form of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and other parts of Southeast Asia—the term bodhisattva was used primarily to refer to the Buddha Shakyamuni (as Gautama Siddhartha is known) in his former lives. The stories of his lives, the Jatakas, portray the efforts of the bodhisattva to cultivate the qualities, including morality, self-sacrifice, and wisdom, which will define him as a buddha. Later, and especially in the Mahayana tradition—the major form of Buddhism in Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan—it was thought that anyone who made the aspiration to awakening (bodhicittotpada)—vowing, often in a communal ritual context, to become a buddha—is therefore a bodhisattva. According to Mahayana teachings, throughout the history of the universe, which had no beginning, many have committed themselves to becoming buddhas. As a result, the universe is filled with a broad range of potential buddhas, from those just setting out on the path of buddhahood to those who have spent lifetimes in training and have thereby acquired supernatural powers. These “celestial” bodhisattvas are functionally equivalent to buddhas in their wisdom, compassion, and powers: their compassion motivates them to assist ordinary beings, their wisdom informs them how best to do so, and their accumulated powers enable them to act in miraculous ways.
Pratyekabuddhayāna (Sanskrit: प्रत्येकबुद्धयान; traditional Chinese: 緣覺乘; ; pinyin: Yuánjué Chéng) is a Buddhist term for the mode or vehicle of enlightenment of a pratyekabuddha or paccekabuddha (Sanskrit and Pali respectively), a term which literally means “solitary buddha” or “a buddha on their own” (prati- each, eka-one). The pratyekabuddha is an individual who independently achieves liberation without the aid of teachers or guides and without teaching others to do the same. Pratyekabuddhas may give moral teachings but do not bring others to enlightenment. They leave no sangha as a legacy to carry on the Dhamma.
In Theravāda teaching
Pratyekabuddhas are said to achieve enlightenment on their own, without the use of teachers or guides, according to some traditions by seeing and understanding dependent origination. They are said to arise only in ages where there is no Buddha and the Buddhist teachings (Sanskrit: Dharma; Pāli: Dhamma) are lost. “The idea of a Paccekabuddha … is interesting, as much as it implies that even when the four truths are not preached they still exist and can be discovered by anyone who makes the necessary mental and moral effort”. Many may arise at a single time.
According to the Theravada school, paccekabuddhas (“one who has attained to supreme and perfect insight, but who dies without proclaiming the truth to the world”) are unable to teach the Dhamma, which requires the omniscience and supreme compassion of a sammāsambuddha, who may even hesitate to attempt to teach.
From Rigpa Wiki
Pratyekabuddhas (Skt.; Tib. རང་སངས་རྒྱས་, rang sangyé, Wyl. rang sangs rgyas), or ‘solitary realisers’, are followers of the basic vehicle, and more specifically of the pratyekabuddha yana, who attain the level of a pratyekabuddha arhat by themselves, in solitude.
According to some early schools of Buddhism, and the Mahayana, pratyekabuddhas first hear the teachings of the Buddha, then study and reflect upon the twelve links of interdependent origination, and accumulate merit for a hundred kalpas. They pray to be reborn in a world to which no buddha has come, and they attain realization without relying on a teacher. They usually teach visually rather than verbally; for example, by displaying miracles such as transforming the upper part of their bodies into fire, and the lower part into water.
They are sometimes referred to as ‘intermediate buddhas’ and their enlightenment is considered to be a higher form of realization than that of shravakas for two reasons: their accumulation of merit, and their accumulation of wisdom.
The shravakas accumulate merit for up to sixteen lifetimes, whereas pratyekabuddhas accumulate merit for a hundred kalpas. In their accumulation of wisdom, shravakas only realise one type of selflessness—the selflessness of the individual—whereas pratyekabuddhas also realise half of the selflessness of phenomena. For the same reasons, the pratyekabuddhas’ realization is considered inferior to the full enlightenment of those following the bodhisattva path. A bodhisattva accumulates merit for three countless aeons and fully realises both types of selflessness.