Satthadeva-Manusanam is a honorific verse to describe Buddha. It is commonly interpreted as “the teacher of gods and men”. Another interpretation is the “leader of Gods/men”. (A play of the word.)
The Dharma of Buddha leads us towards happiness and it brings happiness now and also in the future . All the way to Ultimate happiness.
If we examine Dharma teachings such as Mangala sutta and Sigalovada sutta, it is apparent that Buddha taught his lay followers with compassion and considerations. In such teachings, Buddha showed us the correct way of achieving secular happiness. For example, he exhort his lay disciples to improve their skills and knowledge. To have a proper livelihood and be successful in their income.
The Buddha Dharma is therefore good at the beginning, in the middle and up till the end. Wise people or beings who recognize the preciousness of the Buddha Dharma is also called Heaven man. This is because, they possess the wisdom and good merits to cherish Dharma and practice it. Therefore the future rebirth of such beings are definitely the higher planes of existence. This means, when we embraces Dharma, we are at the very least, going towards the heavens.
To illustrate this point, there was a story of how a frog was entranced by the Dharma voice of Buddha. While sitting on the path, totally absorbed by the Dharma voice, it was oblivious to a cowherd approaching. It was crushed without it even realizing what happened. Since its mind was completely stainless and absorbed in Buddha’s preaching at the moment of its untimely demise., the frog was reborn into one of the heavens. As a deva, he realized what happened and descended to where Buddha was teaching and paid homage to Buddha. This story shows that one will definitely encounter good rebirth, if one is absorbed in Dharma and is practice. If a frog can achieve it, then we shouldn’t have any problem.
(Note: Although animals cannot understand Dharma, they sometimes can identify with the Dharmic vibes and during those moments, their mind become infused with Dharma blessings.)
The Buddha leads all beings to Ultimate happiness. Therefore, he is likened to a leader of a caravan. In ancient times, people pursuing happiness and better future, join a caravan leader to travel together towards a better destination. Some may just have a little idea of what their destination offer. Especially when their present place is overwhelmed by droughts or plague. When they know a wise caravan leader is travelling towards a promised land, they let go of their land and property to follow.
A wise caravan leader will lead his follower away from dangers during the trips. In our spiritual path, the Buddha had shown us the various perils in life; Rebirth, old age, disease and death, grief, pain, sorrow and anguish,lust, craving, hatred, bewilderment, conceit, wrong views and demeritorious actions. These are like perils on our journey, ferocious animals, cliffs, robbers, mirage and oasis.
In a caravan, one is free to join or leave. Some joined at the beginning of their spiritual journey, some joined in the middle. While we are on the journey, we encourage one another and look out for each other. A wise person with faith in the caravan leader will not be frightened by the various perils on the way. Nor will he be distracted by mirages and oasis.
The Buddha is thus, considered a caravan leader of gods/men because once we join his caravan, we are heading towards a better destination. He leads us to the ultimate happiness and not little oasis along the way.
May all be well and happy.