Buddha, the Bhagava

What comes into your mind when you think Buddha? An image or statue of Buddha sitting in meditation? There is actually more to it than the artistry representation that comes into our mind. Here’s some additional information to help us understand the greatness of Buddha and why it is inappropriate to say Buddha is just a man.

Buddha is also known as Bhagava (世尊). The word Bhagava appears in the pali-chant Buddha Vandana

Iti pi so Bhagavâ-Araham Sammâ-sambuddho.
Vijjâ-carana sampanno Sugato Lokavidû Anuttarro
Purisa-damma-sârathi Satthâ deva-manussânam
Buddho Bhagavâti

The Chinese character 世尊 appears in many Mahayana sutra.

So what does this word mean? It means the epitome of the world and here’s why.

Buddha is called Bhagava because he possesses the following 6 qualities

1. Issariya (Supremacy)

This means the Buddha has the innate power to bend things to His will at the supramundane (able to remain in constant supramundane consciousness) and mundane level. The mundane accomplishment is further elaborated as follows

  • Anima: Ability to reduce his physical size to that of atomic level. That was how he defeated Brahma Baka by winning the challenge of invisibility.
  • Mahima: Ability to increase his size without distortion. It is the opposite of Anima. That was how he overcame the lord of Asura.
  • Laghima: Ability to levitate and fly through the air
  • Patti: Ability to travel by manifestation. Disappearing physically from one place to reappear physically at another. That’s how he visit the Gods to teach them.
  • Pakamma: The ability to assume the forms of the eight assemblies of beings. for example, Buddha can assume the form of a deva to preach to them.
  • Isita: Ability to dominate the will of all beings so that they do as he wish
  • Vasita: Ability over all forms of psychic abilities. For example, Pyrokinesis (ability to produce fire at will)
  • Yatthamavasayita: Complete mastery over jhanic absorption and in display of miracle.

2. Dhamma

That means the absolute mastery of all knowledge and wisdom. Remember, the Buddha disclosed that the knowledge he revealed to mankind is equal to a handful of leaves while the knowledge he possesses is like an entire forest. Buddha taught us what is good for our enlightenment only.

3. Yassa

This mean the fame and reputation of Buddha is indisputable and had reached the realm of Brahma. (the divine formless realm) It is indisputable because it is not exaggerated and truly deserving. The significance of this to a Buddhist means, we do not need other form of refuge. The highest divine realm is also aware of Buddha and his enlightenment. (Note: According to scriptures, 1 day of some divine realms is equal to 100 Earth years. That means, for some of the divine beings, news of Buddha passing into Parinirvana is only 25 days old!) Therefore their commitment and promise to protect Buddhist is still very fresh….

4. Siri

This refers to the splendor of Buddha’s unique physiques. According to ancient scriptures, the body of Buddha is unique. For example, instead of bone joints, his bones has a interlocking system. That is why Buddha is physically strong and will not suffer a dislocated joint. However, that means Buddha was very “stiff”. That is why ancient statue or images of Buddha is always straight and stiff. The ancient depiction of Buddha celebrate his unique physiques. Another example is every finger is of equal length, including his thumb. If you collect antique Buddha statue, that weird hand of Buddha with equal finger length is not a defect. Alas, modern portrayal of Buddha is losing that “hidden” information.


The power of accomplishment. The Buddha accomplishes all his goals. I think modern corporate folks should like this?

6. Payatta

This means diligence in activities. In short, the Buddha never slacks off. When he was physically present, his day is very disciplined and routine. Preach, meditate and survey the world to see who is qualified to receive teachings. and of course the various activities to stay alive, like getting food, bathing etc.

The above knowledge is not limited to a FYI only. A practice that we can adopt is recollection of Buddha’s quality. That means we memorize the qualities and then meditate on them by recollection and reflecting.

The advantage of this practice is to build faith in Buddha and his teachings and at the same recollecting his qualities also motivate our practice because we are aspire to be enlightened too.