For the historical founder of Buddhism, see Gautama Buddha.
Part of a series on

History of Buddhism
Dharmic religions
Timeline of Buddhism
Buddhist councils

Four Noble Truths
Noble Eightfold Path
The Five Precepts
Nirvāna · Three Jewels

Key Concepts
Three marks of existence
Skandha · Cosmology · Dharma
Samsara · Rebirth · Shunyata
Pratitya-samutpada · Karma

Major Figures
Gautama Buddha
Buddha's Disciples · Family

Practices and Attainment
Buddhahood · Bodhisattva
Four Stages of Enlightenment
Paramis · Meditation · Laity

Buddhism by Region
Southeast Asia · East Asia
Tibet · India · Western

Schools of Buddhism
Theravāda · Mahāyāna
Vajrayāna · Early schools

Pali Canon
Pali Suttas · Mahayana Sutras
Vinaya · Abhidhamma

Comparative Studies
Culture · List of Topics
Portal: Buddhism

In Buddhism, a buddha (Sanskrit बुद्ध) is any being who has become fully awakened (enlightened), has permanently overcome desire or craving (lobha), aversion (dosa), and delusion (moha), or ignorance, and has achieved complete liberation from suffering. However, such a negative definition should be augmented with its positive aspect, for a Buddha is also "one who has achieved a state of perfect enlightenment,"[1] which is a state of perfect mental tranquillity and non-fading bliss: "is the highest bliss" and "the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment."[2]

In the Pali Canon, the term 'buddha' refers to anyone who has become enlightened (i.e., 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. The Pali Canon refers to Gautama Buddha at least once as 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 everyone has the innate potential to become awakened and experience nirvana. Theravada Buddhism teaches that one doesn't need to become a Buddha to become awakened and experience nirvana, since an Arahant (Sanskrit: Arhat) also has those qualities, while some Mahayana Buddhist texts (e.g., the Lotus Sutra) imply that all beings will become a Buddha at some future point in time.



Types of Buddha

In the Pali Canon, there are considered to be two types of buddha: samyaksambuddhas (Pali: sammasambuddhas) and pratyekabuddhas (Pali: paccekabuddhas).

  1. Samyaksambuddhas attain buddhahood, then decide to teach others the truth they have 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. Siddhartha Gautama is considered a samyaksambuddha. (See also the List of the 28 Buddhas (all of whom are samyaksambuddhas).) In order for one to become a Samyaksabuddha one must practice the 10 parami which are perfections that are attributed to all Samyaksambuddhas. If one has the 10 parami and attains Buddhahood then he can be considered "perfectly enlightened" and fit to preach the Dharma.
  2. Pratyekabuddhas, sometimes called 'silent Buddhas') are similar to samyaksambuddhas in that they attain nirvana and acquire the same powers as a samyaksambuddha, but choose not to teach what they have discovered. They are considered second to the samyaksambuddhas in spiritual development. They do ordain others; their admonition is only in reference to good and proper conduct (abhisamācārikasikkhā). In some texts, the pratyekabuddhas are described as those who understand the Dharma through their own efforts, but obtain neither omniscience nor mastery over the 'fruits' (phalesu vasībhāvam).[1]

The disciple of a samyaksambuddha is called a savaka ("hearer" or "follower") or, once enlightened, an arahant. 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[3] to refer to those who become Buddhas after being given instruction. Enlightened disciples attain nirvana and parinirvana as the two types of Buddha do. Arahant is the term most generally used for them.

One 12th century Theravadin commentary uses the term 'savakabuddha' to describe the enlightened disciple. According to this scripture there are three types of buddhas. In this case, however, the common definition of the meaning of the word buddha (as one who discovers the Dharma without a teacher) no longer applies. Mainstream Theravadin and Mahayana scriptures do not recognize this term and state that there are only two kinds of Buddhas.

A statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Tawang Gompa.
A statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha in Tawang Gompa.

Characteristics of a Buddha


Nine characteristics

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 gods and humans
  8. the Enlightened One
  9. the Blessed One or fortunate one.

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


Spiritual realizations

All Buddhist traditions hold that a Buddha has completely purified his mind of desire, aversion and ignorance, and that he is no longer bound by Samsara. A Buddha is fully awakened and has realized the ultimate truth, the non-dualistic nature of life, and thus ended (for himself) the suffering which unawakened people experience in life.


The Nature of Buddha

Further information: Buddhology

The various Buddhist schools hold some varying interpretations on the nature of Buddha (see below).


Pali Canon: Buddha was human

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


Eternal Buddha in Mahayana Buddhism

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 and that, in his ultimate transcendental "body/mind" mode as Dharmakaya, he has eternal and infinite life and is possessed of great and 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 and soteriological doctrine in the Lotus Sutra and the Tathagatagarbha sutras. According to the Tathagatagarbha sutras, failure to recognize the Buddha's eternity and - even worse - outright denial of that eternity, is deemed a major obstacle to the attainment of complete awakening (bodhi).


Buddha as compared to God

A common misconception among Westerners views Buddha as the Buddhist counterpart to “God”; Buddhism, however, is non-theistic (i.e., in general it does not teach the existence of a supreme creator god (see God in Buddhism) or depend on any supreme being for enlightenment; Buddha is a guide and teacher who points the way to nirvana). The commonly accepted definition of the term "God" describes a being that not only rules but actually created the universe (see origin belief). Such ideas and concepts are disputed by Buddha and Buddhists in many Buddhist discourses. In Buddhism, the supreme origin and creator of the universe is not a god, but Avidya (ignorance). Buddhists try to dispel this darkness through constant practice, compassion and wisdom (known as prajna).


Depictions of the Buddha in art

Buddha statues at Shwedagon Paya
Buddha statues at Shwedagon Paya
Jade Buddha statue at Shwedagon Paya
Jade Buddha statue at Shwedagon Paya

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

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:

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


Buddha in popular culture



Cited references

  1. http://dict.die.net/buddha/
  2. http://www.urbandharma.org/udnl/nl010703.html
  3. Ratanasutta:56

General references


See also


External links

Retrieved from "http://localhost../../art/m/7.html"

This text comes from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for a given article, visit the corresponding entry on the English Wikipedia and click on "History" . For more details about the license of an image, visit the corresponding entry on the English Wikipedia and click on the picture.