January 19th, 2011

Stok glacier

Tathāgata (Devanagari: तथागत) in Pali and Sanskrit)

Tathāgata (Devanagari: तथागत) in Pali and Sanskrit) is the name the Buddha of the scriptures uses when referring to himself. The term means, paradoxically, both one who has thus gone (tathā-gata) and one who has thus come (tathā-āgata). Hence, the Tathagata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. He is one who has found the truth. [1]

The historical Buddha is reported as referring to himself as the Tathagata instead of using the pronouns me, I or myself. This serves to emphasize by implication that the teaching is uttered by one who has transcended the human condition, one beyond the otherwise endless cycle of rebirth, beyond all death and dying, beyond suffering.

The term also occurs as a synonym for arahant, identifying one who has attained the ultimate in the holy life.[2]:227 There is even a sense in which such a one is no longer human[3] . . . "a tathāgata, a superman (uttama-puriso)".[2]:228