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{{for|the historical founder of Buddhism|Gautama Buddha}}{{redirects here|Buddhas|other uses|Buddha (disambiguation)}}File:Korea-Gyeongju-Silla Art and Science Museum-Seokguram model-01.jpg|thumb|280px|Seated Buddha, from the Seokguram, SillaSilla{{Contains Indic text}}In Buddhism, buddhahood (; or ; Chinese: 佛果) is the condition or rank of a buddha "awakened one".buddhatva, बुद्धत्व. Spoken Sanskrit Dictionary. (accessed: January 10, 2016)The goal of Mahayana's bodhisattva path is Samyaksambuddhahood, so that one may benefit all sentient beings by teaching them the path of cessation of dukkha.BOOK, Gethin, Rupert, The foundations of Buddhism, 1998, Oxford University Press, Oxford [England], 0-19-289223-1, 224–234, 1. publ. paperback, Mahayana theory contrasts this with the goal of the Theravada path, where the goal is individual arhatship.

Explanation of the term Buddha

{{Buddhism}}In Theravada Buddhism, Buddha refers to one who has become awake through their own efforts and insight, without a teacher to point out the dharma (Sanskrit; Pali dhamma; "right way of living"). A samyaksambuddha re-discovered the truths and the path to awakening and teaches these to others after his awakening. A pratyekabuddha also reaches Nirvana through his own efforts, but does not teach the dharma to others. An arhat needs to follow the teaching of a Buddha to attain Nirvana, but can also preach the dharma after attaining Nirvana.Snelling, John (1987), The Buddhist handbook. A Complete Guide to Buddhist Teaching and Practice. London: Century Paperbacks. Page 81 In one instance the term buddha is also used in Theravada to refer to all who attain Nirvana, using the term Sāvakabuddha to designate an arhat, someone who depends on the teachings of a Buddha to attain Nirvana.Udana Commentary. Translation Peter Masefield, volume I, 1994. Pali Text Society. page 94. In this broader sense it is equivalent to the arhat.Buddhahood is the state of an awakened being, who having found the path of cessation of dukkhaBOOK, Gethin, Rupert, The foundations of Buddhism, 1998, Oxford University Press, Oxford [England], 0-19-289223-1, 32, 1. publ. paperback, ("suffering", as created by attachment to desires and distorted perception and thinking) is in the state of "No-more-Learning".BOOK, Damien Keown, Charles S. Prebish, Encyclopedia of Buddhism,weblink 2013, Routledge, 978-1-136-98588-1, 90, BOOK, Rinpoche Karma-raṅ-byuṅ-kun-khyab-phrin-las, The Dharma: That Illuminates All Beings Impartially Like the Light of the Sun and Moon,weblink 1986, State University of New York Press, 978-0-88706-156-1, 32–33, ; Quote: "There are various ways of examining the Complete Path. For example, we can speak of Five Paths constituting its different levels: the Path of Accumulation, the Path of Application, the Path of Seeing, the Path of Meditation and the Path of No More Learning, or Buddhahood."BOOK, Robert E. Buswell, Robert M. Gimello, Paths to liberation: the Mārga and its transformations in Buddhist thought,weblink 1990, University of Hawaii Press, 978-0-8248-1253-9, 204, There is a broad spectrum of opinion on the universality and method of attainment of Buddhahood, depending on Gautama Buddha's teachings that a school of Buddhism emphasizes. The level to which this manifestation requires ascetic practices varies from none at all to an absolute requirement, dependent on doctrine. Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the bodhisattva ideal instead of the Arhat.The Tathagatagarba and Buddha-nature doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism consider Buddhahood to be a universal and innate property of absolute wisdom. This wisdom is revealed in a person's current lifetime through Buddhist practice, without any specific relinquishment of pleasures or "earthly desires".Buddhists do not consider Gautama to have been the only Buddha. The Pāli Canon refers to many previous ones (see list of the named Buddhas), while the Mahayana tradition additionally has many Buddhas of celestial origin (see Amitābha or Vairocana as examples, for lists of many thousands of Buddha names (see Taishō Tripiṭaka numbers 439–448).

Nature of the Buddha

{{further|Buddhology}}The various Buddhist schools hold some varying interpretations on the nature of Buddha (see below).


File:Gandhara Buddha (tnm).jpeg|thumb|The Buddha, in Greco-Buddhist style, first-second century, Gandhara (now Pakistan). (Standing BuddhaStanding BuddhaAll Buddhist traditions hold that a Buddha is fully awakened and has completely purified his mind of the three poisons of craving, aversion and ignorance. A Buddha is no longer bound by saṃsāra, and has ended the suffering which unawakened people experience in life.Most schools of Buddhism have also held that the Buddha was omniscient. However, the early texts contain explicit repudiations of making this claim of the Buddha.A. K. Warder, Indian Buddhism. Third edition published by Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 2000, pages 132–133.BOOK, Kalupahana, David, David Kalupahana, A History of Buddhist Philosophy: Continuities and Discontinuities,weblink 1992, University of Hawaii Press, 978-0-8248-1402-1, 43,

Ten characteristics of a Buddha

Some Buddhists meditate on (or contemplate) the Buddha as having ten characteristics (Ch./Jp. 十號). These characteristics are frequently mentioned in the Pāli Canon as well as Mahayana teachings, and are chanted daily in many Buddhist monasteries:
  1. Thus gone, thus come (Skt: {{IAST|tathāgata}})
  2. Worthy one (Skt: arhat)
  3. Perfectly self-enlightened (Skt: {{IAST|samyak-saṃbuddha}})
  4. Perfected in knowledge and conduct (Skt: {{IAST|vidyā-caraṇa-saṃpanna}} )
  5. Well gone (Skt: sugata)
  6. Knower of the world (Skt: lokavida)
  7. Unsurpassed (Skt: anuttara)
  8. Leader of persons to be tamed (Skt: {{IAST|puruṣa-damya-sārathi}})
  9. Teacher of the gods and humans (Skt: {{IAST|śāsta deva-manuṣyāṇaṃ}})
  10. The Blessed One or fortunate one (Skt: bhagavat)Japanese-English Buddhist Dictionary (Daitō shuppansha) 147a/163
The tenth epithet is sometimes listed as "The World Honored Enlightened One" (Skt. Buddha-Lokanatha) or "The Blessed Enlightened One" (Skt. Buddha-Bhagavan).weblink, also see Thomas Cleary and J. C. Cleary The Blue Cliff Record, page 553.

Ten Indispensable Duties of a Buddha

According to Buddhist texts, upon reaching Buddhahood each Buddha must perform ten acts during his life to complete his duty as a Buddha.BOOK,weblink The Buddha : a beginner's guide, Strong, John, 1948-, 2009, Oneworld Publications, 9781441634320, Oxford, 15–16, 527853452,
  1. A Buddha must predict that another person will attain Buddhahood in the future.
  2. A Buddha must inspire somebody else to strive for Buddhahood.
  3. A Buddha must convert all whom he must convert (i.e. his chief disciples, etc.).
  4. A Buddha must live at least three-quarters of his potential lifespan.
  5. A Buddha must have clearly defined what are good deeds and what are evil deeds.
  6. A Buddha must appoint two of his disciples as his chief disciples.
  7. A Buddha must descend from Tavatimsa Heaven after teaching his mother.
  8. A Buddha must hold an assembly at Lake Anavatapta.
  9. A Buddha must bring his parents to the Dhamma.
  10. A Buddha must have performed the great Miracle at Savatthi.

Buddha as a supreme human

{{Over-quotation|section|date=May 2019}}In the Pāli Canon, Gautama Buddha is known as being a "teacher of the gods and humans", superior to both the gods and humans in the sense of having nirvana or the greatest bliss, whereas the devas, or gods, are still subject to anger, fear and sorrow.{{citation needed|date=September 2017}}In the Madhupindika Sutta (MN 18),Majhima Nikaya 18 Madhupindika Sutta: The Ball of Honey Buddha is described in powerful terms as the Lord of the Dhamma (Pali: Dhammasami, skt.: Dharma Swami) and the bestower of immortality (Pali: Amatassadata).Similarly, in the Anuradha Sutta (SN 44.2)Sutta Nikaya 44.2 Anuradha Sutta: To Anuradha Buddha is described as In the Vakkali Sutta (SN 22.87) Buddha identifies himself with the Dhamma:Sutta Nikaya 22.87 Vakkali Sutta: VakkaliAnother reference from the Aggañña Sutta of the Digha Nikaya, says to his disciple Vasettha:Shravasti Dhammika, a Theravada monk, writes:}}Sangharakshita also states that "The first thing we have to understand - and this is very important - is that the Buddha is a human being. But a special kind of human being, in fact the highest kind, so far as we know."BOOK, Sangharakshita, Sangharakshita, A Guide to the Buddhist Path, Windhorse Publications, 1996, 45, 9781899579044,

Buddha as a human

When asked whether he was a deva or a human, he replied that he had eliminated the deep-rooted unconscious traits that would make him either one, and should instead be called a Buddha; one who had grown up in the world but had now gone beyond it, as a lotus grows from the water but blossoms above it, unsoiled.Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History, and Practices. Cambridge University Press, 1990, page 28Andrew Skilton writes that the Buddha was never historically regarded by Buddhist traditions as being merely human:Skilton, Andrew. A Concise History of Buddhism. 2004. pp. 64-65However, Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk in the Zen tradition, states that "Buddha was not a god. He was a human being like you and me, and he suffered just as we do."BOOK, Nhất Hạnh, Thích, Thích Nhất Hạnh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Broadway Books, 1999, 3, 0-7679-0369-2, Jack Maguire writes that Buddha is inspirational based on his humanness.}}Basing his teachings on the Lotus Sutra, the Chinese monk Chi-hi (the founder of the Tendai Sect) developed an explanation of life "three thousand realms in a single moment", which posits a Buddha nature that can be awakened in any life,BOOK, Seager, Richard Hughes, Encountering the Dharma, 2006, University of California Press, 978-0-520-24577-8, 81, and that it is possible for a person to become "enlightened to the Law".BOOK, Mette Fisker-Nielsen, Anne, Gallagher, Eugene V., Visioning New and Minority Religions: Projecting the Future, 2016, Taylor & Francis, 9781315317892, 114,weblink From Japanese Buddhist sect to global citizenship: Soka Gakkai past and future, In this view, the state of Buddhahood and the states of ordinary people are exist with and within each other.BOOK, Shimazono, Susumu, Takeuchi, Yoshinori, Buddhist spirituality: later China, Korea, Japan, and the modern world, 2003, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 9788120819443, 445, 29: Soka Gakkai and the Modern Reformation of Buddhism,weblink Nichiren, the founder of Nichiren Buddhism states that the real meaning of the Lord Shakyamuni Buddha’s appearance in this world lay in his behavior as a human being.BOOK,weblink Selected writings of Nichiren, 1990, Introduction, Columbia University Press, Yampolsky, Philip B. (Philip Boas), 1920–1996. Rogers D. Spotswood Collection., 0231072600, New York, 21035153, {{rp|336¬-37}}{{better source|date=March 2019}} He also stated that "Shakyamuni Buddha . . . the Lotus Sutra . . . and we ordinary human beings are in no way different or separate from each other".BOOK, Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Vol. 1, Soka Gakkai, 216, {{better source|date=March 2019}}

Mahāsāṃghika supramundane Buddha

In the early Buddhist schools, the Mahāsāṃghika branch regarded the buddhas as being characterized primarily by their supramundane nature. The Mahāsāṃghikas advocated the transcendental and supramundane nature of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and the fallibility of arhats.Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 48. Of the 48 special theses attributed by the Samayabhedoparacanacakra to the Mahāsāṃghika Ekavyāvahārika, Lokottaravāda, and the Kukkuṭika, 20 points concern the supramundane nature of buddhas and bodhisattvas.Sree Padma. Barber, Anthony W. Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra. 2008. p. 56. According to the Samayabhedoparacanacakra, these four groups held that the Buddha is able to know all dharmas in a single moment of the mind.Yao, Zhihua. The Buddhist Theory of Self-Cognition. 2005. p. 11 Yao Zhihua writes:A doctrine ascribed to the Mahāsāṃghikas is, "The power of the tathāgatas is unlimited, and the life of the buddhas is unlimited."Tanaka, Kenneth. The Dawn of Chinese Pure Land Buddhist Doctrine. 1990. p. 8 According to Guang Xing, two main aspects of the Buddha can be seen in Mahāsāṃghika teachings: the true Buddha who is omniscient and omnipotent, and the manifested forms through which he liberates sentient beings through skillful means.Guang Xing. The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya Theory. 2004. p. 53 For the Mahāsaṃghikas, the historical Gautama Buddha was one of these transformation bodies (Skt. nirmāṇakāya), while the essential real Buddha is equated with the Dharmakāya.Sree Padma. Barber, Anthony W. Buddhism in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra. 2008. pp. 59-60As in Mahāyāna traditions, the Mahāsāṃghikas held the doctrine of the existence of many contemporaneous buddhas throughout the ten directions.Guang Xing. The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya Theory. 2004. p. 65 In the Mahāsāṃghika Lokānuvartana Sūtra, it is stated, "The Buddha knows all the dharmas of the countless buddhas of the ten directions." It is also stated, "All buddhas have one body, the body of the Dharma." The concept of many bodhisattvas simultaneously working toward buddhahood is also found among the Mahāsāṃghika tradition, and further evidence of this is given in the Samayabhedoparacanacakra, which describes the doctrines of the Mahāsāṃghikas.Guang Xing. The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya Theory. 2004. p. 66File:BuddhaTwang.jpg|thumb|300px|A statue of Gautama Buddha at Tawang Monastery, IndiaIndia

Depictions of the Buddha in art

File:ShwedagonIMG 7662.JPG|thumb|Buddha statues at Shwedagon PagodaShwedagon PagodaBuddhas are frequently represented in the form of statues and paintings. Commonly seen designs include:
  • The Seated Buddha
  • The Reclining Buddha
  • The Standing Buddha
  • Hotei or Budai, the obese Laughing Buddha, usually seen in China (This figure is believed to be a representation of a medieval Chinese monk who is associated with Maitreya, the future Buddha, and is therefore technically not a Buddha image.)
  • the Emaciated Buddha, which shows Siddhartha Gautama during his extreme ascetic practice of starvation.
The Buddha statue shown calling for rain is a pose common in Laos.


Most depictions of Buddha contain a certain number of markings, which are considered the signs of his enlightenment. These signs vary regionally, but two are common:
  • a protuberance on the top of the head (denoting superb mental acuity)
  • long earlobes (denoting superb perception)
In the Pāli Canon, there is frequent mention of a list of thirty-two physical characteristics of the Buddha.


The poses and hand-gestures of these statues, known respectively as asanas and mudras, are significant to their overall meaning. The popularity of any particular mudra or asana tends to be region-specific, such as the Vajra (or Chi Ken-in) mudra, which is popular in Japan and Korea but rarely seen in India. Others are more common; for example, the Varada (Wish Granting) mudra is common among standing statues of the Buddha, particularly when coupled with the Abhaya (Fearlessness and Protection) mudra.

See also





Further reading

  • What the Buddha Taught (Grove Press, Revised edition July 1974), by Walpola Rahula
  • Buddha: The Compassionate Teacher (2002), by K. M. M. Swe

External links

{{Sister project links|Buddha|n=no}} {{Buddhism topics}}{{Authority control}}

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