The Sanskrit word shravaka means 'one who hears and proclaims'. There are two explanations for this:
- The first is that the shravakas first hear the instructions from the Buddha, and then attain their fruition of arhathood. Once they attain this fruition, they proclaim this to others by saying, "What was to be done has been done! I will know no further existences!" and so on.
- The second is that the sharavakas receive or hear teachings on the mahayana from the Buddha, and although they do not practise them themselves, they retain them with their infallible memories. Then, when they meet those they consider to be suitable vessels for the mahayana, they proclaim the teachings which they have memorized.
- Auditor (D. Seyfort Ruegg)
- Disciple (Geshe Thupten Jinpa)
- Pious Attendant