In early Indian Buddhism, the term bodhisattva
was primarily used to refer specifically to
Gautama Buddha in his former life. The Jataka
tales, which are the stories of the Buddha's lives,
depict the various attempts of the bodhisattva to
embrace qualities like self-sacrifice and morality.
In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhisattva is the
Sanskrit term for anyone who, motivated by great
compassion, has generated bodhicitta, which is a
spontaneous wish to attain buddhahood for the
benefit of all sentient beings.
Bodhisattvas are a popular subject in Buddhist