In its strictest sense, Buddha (in Sanskrit:literally"Awakened One")...Click for more.
Inits strictest sense, Buddha (in Sanskrit: literally"Awakened One") is a title used in Buddhism for anyone who has foundenlightenment (bodhi). In English, theword Buddha is also commonly used for Siddhartha Gautama(the historical founder of Buddhism) or Hotei (the rotund laughingBuddha often seen as a statuette). Gautama Buddha was a prince that wasintensely curious about the nature of life, death, andsuffering. He sat under a large Bodhi tree, and vowed hewould never leave the seat until he found "truth" - enlightenment.
Generally,Buddhists do not consider Siddhartha Gautama - who lived in India fromabout 623 BCE to 543 BCE, and attained bodhi around588 BCE - to have been the first or last Buddha. From thestandpoint of classical Buddhist doctrine, a Buddhais anyone who rediscovers the Dharma and achieves enlightenment, havingamassed sufficient positive karma to do so. There haveexisted manysuch beings throughout time. Hence, Gautama Buddha (known bythereligious name Shakyamuni) is one member of a spiritual lineage of SupremeBuddhas going back to the distant past and forward into the far-flungfuture. His immediate predecessor was Kassapa Buddha, and hissuccessor will be named Maitreya.
Thehistorical Buddha presented himself not as a god or savior, but as ateacher capable of guiding sentient beings out of samsara - the cycleof rebirth. Nevertheless, many forms of Buddhism do recognizesavior-type figures. The technical differences betweenBuddhas, bodhisattvas, dharmapalas - protector deities, yidams -enlightened beings with whom one identifies during meditation, and"gods" (Sanskrit deva, Tibetan lha)often blur in practical devotion.
Theawakened bliss of Nirvana, according to Buddhism, is available to allbeings - although orthodoxy holds that one must first be born as ahuman being. Emphasizing this universal availability,Buddhism refers to many Buddhas and also to many bodhisattvas- beings committed to Enlightenment, whoo vow to
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