In Buddhism, a Buddha (बुद्ध - Sanskrit, Pāli) is any being who has become fully awakened (enlightened), has permanently overcome greed, hate, र ignorance, र has achieved complete liberation from suffering. Enlightenment (or Nirvana (Pali: Nibbana) is the highest form of happiness. It only applies to the first one who has achieved this without prior knowledge of Buddhism. When all knowledge of Buddhism is lost र one becomes enlightened then we have a true Buddha. The name Buddha today is commonly used to refer to Siddhartha Gautama (Pali: Siddhattha Gotama), the historical founder of Buddhism. Buddha literally means "awakened" or "that which has become aware". It is the past participle of the Sanskrit root budh, i.e. "to awaken", "to know", or "to become aware". The word Buddha is simply a title that means 'The Awakened One'.

The teachings of the Buddha are called the Dharma (Pali: Dhamma). The Dharma teaches that all suffering arises from attachments, particularly attachments to worldly desires. Nirvana is achieved by learning to achieve peace र ignore these attachments one would have with certain objects.

A typical misconception tends to link Buddha as the Buddhist counterpart of the entity known as God; however, Buddhism is non-theistic, in the sense of not generally teaching the existence of a supreme Creator God (see God in Buddhism) or depending on any supreme being for enlightenment, in Buddhism, Buddha is a guide र teacher who points the way. The commonly accepted definition of the term "God" refers to a being who not only rules but actually created the Universe in the Beginning. Such ideas र concepts are disputed by Buddha र Buddhists in many of उनका discourses. The supreme origin र creator of our world र universe isn't God in Buddhism, but Avidya or ignorance. Buddhists try to dispel this darkness through constant practice, wisdom र compassion known as prajna.

In the Pali Canon Buddha refers to anyone who has become Enlightened (i.e. having awakened to the truth, or Dharma) on their own, without a teacher to point out the Dharma, in a time when the teachings on the Four Noble Truths or the Eightfold Path do not exist in the world.

Generally, Buddhists do not consider Siddhartha Gautama to have been the only Buddha. In the Pali Canon there is a mention of Gautama Buddha as being the 28th Buddha (see List of the 28 Buddhas). A common Buddhist belief is that the next Buddha will be one named Maitreya (Pali: Metteyya).

Buddhism teaches that anyone can become awakened र experience Nirvana. Theravada Buddhism teaches that one doesn't need to become a Buddha to become awakened र experience Nirvana, since an Arahant (Sanskrit: Arhat) also has those qualities. Some Buddhist texts such as the Lotus Sutra imply that all beings will become Buddhas at some point in time.

Types of Buddhas[edit | edit source]

In the Pali Canon, there are considered to be two types of Buddhas: Samyaksambuddha (Sammasambuddha) र Pratyeka Buddha (Paccekabuddha).

1. Samyaksambuddhas (Pali: Sammasambuddha) attains Buddhahood र decides to teach others the truth that he has discovered. They lead others to awakening by teaching the Dharma in a time or world where it has been forgotten or has not been taught before. The Historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, is considered a Samyak-sambuddha. See also the list of 28 sammasambuddhas

2. Pratyekabuddhas (Pali: Paccekabuddha), sometimes called Silent Buddhas) are similar to Samyaksambuddhas in that they attain Nirvana र acquire the same powers as a Sammasambuddha does, but they choose not to teach what they have discovered. They are second to the Buddhas in their spiritual development. They do ordain others; their admonition is only in reference to good र proper conduct (abhisamācārikasikkhā). In some texts, the Paccekabuddha is described as one who understands the Dharma by उनका own efforts, but does not obtain omniscience nor mastery over the Fruits (phalesu vasībhāvam).[1]

Disciples of a Sammasambuddha are called Savakas (hearers or followers) or Arahants (Noble One). These terms have slightly varied meanings but can all be used to describe the enlightened disciple. Anubuddha is a rarely used term, but was used by the Buddha in the Khuddakapatha[1] as to those who become Buddhas after being given instruction. Enlightened disciples attain Nirvana र Parinirvana as the two types of Buddhas do. The most generally used term for them is Arahant.

One 12th century Theravadin commentary uses the term Savakabuddha to describe the enlightened disciple. According to this scripture there are 3 types of Buddhas. In this case, however, the common definition of the meaning of the word Buddha (as one who discovers the Dhamma without a teacher) does not apply any more. Mainstream Theravadin र Mahayana scriptures do not recognize this term र state there are only two kinds of Buddha.

Characteristics of a Buddha[edit | edit source]

Ten characteristics[edit | edit source]

Buddhists meditate on (or contemplate) the Buddha as having nine characteristics:

"The Blessed One is:
  1. a worthy one
  2. perfectly self enlightened
  3. stays in perfect knowledge
  4. well gone
  5. unsurpassed knower of the world
  6. unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed
  7. teacher of the Divine Gods र humans
  8. the Enlightened One
  9. the Blessed One or fortunate one

These 9 characteristics are frequently mentioned in the Pali Canon, र are chanted daily in many Buddhist monasteries.

The Six Names of Buddha[edit | edit source]

  1. Gautama
  2. Tathagata
  3. Siddhartha
  4. Saugata
  5. Amitabh
  6. Bodhisattva

Spiritual realizations[edit | edit source]

All traditions hold that a Buddha has completely purified उनका mind of greed, aversion र ignorance, र that he has put an end to samsara. A Buddha is fully awakened र has realized the ultimate truth, the non-dualistic nature of life, र thus ended (for himself) the suffering which unawakened people experience in life.

The Nature of Buddha[edit | edit source]

The various buddhist schools hold some varying interpretations on the nature of Buddha.

Pali Canon: Buddha was human[edit | edit source]

From the Pali Canon emerges the view that Buddha was human, endowed with the greatest psychic powers (Kevatta Sutta). The body र mind (the five khandhas) of a Buddha are impermanent र changing, just like the body र mind of ordinary people. However, a Buddha recognizes the unchanging nature of the Dharma, which is an eternal principle र an unconditioned र timeless phenomenon. This view is common in the Theravada school, र the other early Buddhist schools.

Eternal Buddha in Mahayana Buddhism[edit | edit source]

Some schools of Mahayana Buddhism believe that the Buddha is no longer essentially a human being but has become a being of a different order altogether र that the Buddha, in उनका ultimate transcendental "body/mind" mode as Dharmakaya, has an eternal र infinite life (see eternal Buddha) र is possessed of great र immeasurable qualities. In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra the Buddha declares: "Nirvana is stated to be eternally abiding. The Tathagata [Buddha] is also thus, eternally abiding, without change." This is a particularly important metaphysical र soteriological doctrine in the Lotus Sutra र the Tathagatagarbha sutras. According to the Tathagatagarbha sutras, failure to recognise the Buddha's eternity र - even worse - outright denial of that eternity is deemed a major obstacle to the attainment of complete Awakening (bodhi).

Depictions of the Buddha in art[edit | edit source]

File:ShwedagonIMG 7662.JPG

Buddha statues at Shwedagon Paya

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Jade Buddha statue at Shwedagon Paya

Buddhas are frequently represented in the form of statues र paintings. Commonly seen designs include:

  • Seated Buddha
  • Reclining Buddha
  • Standing Buddha
  • Hotei, 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, र it is therefore not technically a Buddha image.
  • The 'Emaciated Buddha', which shows Siddartha Gautama during उनका extreme ascetic practice of starvation.

The Buddha statue shown calling for rain is a pose common in Laos.

Markings[edit | edit source]

Most depictions of Buddha contain a certain number of markings, which are considered the signs of उनका enlightenment. These signs vary regionally, but two are common:

  • A protuberance on the top of the head (denoting superb mental accuity)
  • Long earlobes (denoting superb perception)

In the Pali Canon there is frequent mention of a list of 32 physical marks of Buddha.

Hand-gestures[edit | edit source]

The poses र hand-gestures of these statues, known respectively as asanasmudras, 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 JapanKorea but rarely seen in India. Others are more universally common, for example, the Varada (Wish Granting) mudra is common among standing statues of the Buddha, particularly when coupled with the Abhaya (Fearlessness र Protection) mudra.

References[edit | edit source]

Cited references

  1. Ratanasutta:56

General references

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

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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