Tathāgata

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Tathāgata

Postby pererin » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:36 am

In his translation and commentary on the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (see http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .harv.html), Dr Peter Harvey discusses Tathāgata as follows:

One Who Moves in Reality: Tathāgata is a term for a Buddha. It literally means "Thus-gone" or "Thus-come." What is "thus" is what is real. Translating the term as "One Who Moves in Reality" brings the term alive as referring to person who has awakened to the real nature of things, and experiences things as they really are, most significantly in terms of dukkha, its origination, its cessation, and the way to this.


Any thoughts on this?

Metta
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:42 am

"One Who Moves in Reality" seems, i dont know, vague?
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby Will » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:27 pm

There are differing ways of looking at the meaning: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Tathagata

The plainest meaning is that Buddhas follow the same path trod by the Buddhas who came before them - thus "one who has come (or gone)" like all the other Buddhas.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby stuka » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:12 pm

Will wrote:The plainest meaning is that Buddhas follow the same path trod by the Buddhas who came before them - thus "one who has come (or gone)" like all the other Buddhas.


That is a Mahayana meaning.
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:43 pm

Hi Stuka,

stuka wrote:That is a Mahayana meaning.


That's not so. Most of the various derivations of 'Tathāgata' were held in common by Indian Buddhist schools, with only a few being unique to a particular school. The one mentioned by Will is supported by the teaching of the Mahāpadāna Sutta.

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    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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Re: Tathāgata

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:55 pm

Greetings venerable Dhammanando,

I tend to think of it as "thus gone one" in a sense analogous to having "crossed the river" to nibbana.

Is that explanation, or something with a similar intent, supported by any of the established derivations?

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:24 am

Hi Retro,

retrofuturist wrote:I tend to think of it as "thus gone one" in a sense analogous to having "crossed the river" to nibbana.

Is that explanation, or something with a similar intent, supported by any of the established derivations?


It doesn't ring a bell it but I would have to go to the library to check. 'Pāragū' is what's usually used for that. You will find all the canonical etymologies of 'Tathāgata' in the Pāsādika Sutta, DN. 29. The commentaries add one or two more; see Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the comm. to the Mūlapariyaya Sutta, MN. 1. If I remember right, the derivation given by Will is the one that the commentators most favoured.

The Mahayanists inherited all or most of these and also came up with one or two of their own, notably: "He is one for whom there is neither coming nor going, thus he is called 'Tathāgata'."

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby stuka » Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:04 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Stuka,

stuka wrote:That is a Mahayana meaning.


That's not so. Most of the various derivations of 'Tathāgata' were held in common by Indian Buddhist schools, with only a few being unique to a particular school. The one mentioned by Will is supported by the teaching of the Mahāpadāna Sutta.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu



It seems there is some controversy as to the authenticity of this sutta, is there not, Bhante...?
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:45 am

That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is asankhata, free from the conditioned." SN IV 359 and SN IV 362

That which is the destruction of greed, hatred and delusion is nibbana. SN IV 251 and IV 321

The destruction of greed, hatred, and delusion is arahantship. SN IV 252.

"Whoever frees himself from the passions of greed, hatred, and ignorance, they call him, one who is self developed, made divine, thus-gone (tathagata), awake (buddha), one who has left fear and hatred, and one who has let go of all." Itivuttaka 57

Since a tathagata, even when actually present, is incomprehensible, it is inept to say of him – of the Uttermost Person, the Supernal Person, the Attainer of the Supernal – that after death the tathagata is, or is not, or both is and is not, or neither is nor is not SN III 118 (For the full text of this passage, see: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/su ... 2-086.html )


(SN III 116: a tathagata is describing a tathagata.}

Of this Bhikkhu Bodhi states: “This should establish that “the Tathagata” here is not just “a being” [as the commentary states], but a Buddha or an arahant…” pg 1080 n163.

There is the case where a monk's conceit 'I am' is abandoned, its root destroyed, like an uprooted palm tree, deprived of the conditions of existence, not destined for future arising. This is how a monk is a noble one with banner lowered, burden placed down, unfettered.

"And when the devas, together with Indra, the Brahmas, & Pajapati, search for the monk whose mind is thus released, they cannot find that 'The consciousness of the one truly gone
(tathagata) [ftns: 11/226] is dependent on this.' Why is that? The one truly gone (tathagata) is untraceable even in the here & now. – MN I 139

Ven Thanissaro’s FN: 11. The term "tathagata" is often, but not always, reserved for the Buddha. Sometimes, as in the case here, it is used to refer to the arahant.

Bhikkhu Bodhi’s fn 226, p 1210: “Thus Gone” is, in Pali, Tathagata, the usual epithet of the Buddha, but here applied more broadly to the arahant [following the commentary].”

Thich Nhat Hanh translates the Chinese version of the above as: “the Buddha says: Indra, Prajapati, Brahma, and the other gods in their entourage, however hard they look, cannot find any trace or basis for the consciousness of a Tathagata.”

As for untraceable see:
Dhp 179-180

Whose conquest can't be undone,
whose conquest no one in the world
can reach;
awakened
[buddha], his pasture endless,
pathless:
by what path will you lead him astray?
In whom there's no craving
— the sticky ensnarer —
to lead him anywherever at all;
awakened
[buddha], his pasture endless,
pathless:
by what path will you lead him astray?


Another text where Tathagata and buddha can be understood to include the arahants:

Dhp 254-5: There's no trail in space,
no outside contemplative.
People are smitten
with complications,
but devoid of complication are
the Tathagatas.
There's no trail in space,
no outside contemplative,
no eternal fabrications,
no wavering in the Awakened
[buddha].


In the Sutta-Nipata take a look at the sutta that starts with v 455. Take note of the use of tathagata starting in v 467.

I.B. Horner states in her introduction to her translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, THE MIDDLE LENGTH SAYINGS, Vol 1 p xvii:
    ‘Five reason why a Tathagata is called are given at D. iii 135 (cf A. ii. 24; It. P. 121) and the Commentaries provide another eight reasons (…). Each is somewhat complex, so it would appear that the word Tathagata had no simple, narrow or rigid meaning but was, on the contrary, one with a wide sweep. In sense probably “Accomplished One” or “Perfect One” comes nearest although having no etymological justification and being, moreover, equally applicable to any arahant, the perfect one who has done all there is to be done.’

It is not only tahagata that gets used for the arahant but, as we can see, also buddha.

Dhammapada 181: They, the enlightened, intent on jhana,
delighting in stilling
& renunciation,
self-awakened
[sambuddha] & mindful:
even the devas
view them with envy.


Dhammapada 398: Having cut the strap & thong,
cord & bridle,
having thrown off the bar,
awakened
[buddha]:
he's what I
[the Buddha] call
a brahman.


Dhammapada 419: "Who knows in every way the passing away and rebirth of beings, unattached, well-gone [sugata], awake [buddha], That one I [the Buddha] call brahmana."


Dhammapada 422: A splendid bull, conqueror,
hero, great seer —
free from want,
awakened
[buddha], washed:
he's what I call
a brahman.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:58 am

Hi Stuka,

stuka wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:It seems there is some controversy as to the authenticity of this sutta, is there not, Bhante...?


As far as I know there's never been any dispute about it within the historical Theravada. The texts whose status as buddhavacana was challenged by some groups of reciters (bhāṇaka) were the Parivāra of the Vinaya Piṭaka, the Kathāvatthu of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka, and a handful of texts in the Khuddaka Nikāya. The contents of the first four Nikāyas seem to have been quite uncontroversial.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby Will » Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:25 pm

Too lazy to copy out the paragraphs on Tathāgata's meaning in Pāsādika Sutta, DN. 29, but Walshe's translation is on page 436, for those who have it.
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby pererin » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:33 pm

Will

Many thanks for the link. In it, the author notes:

For faithful of the Theravada tradition, the notion of the Buddha as Tathagata resonates with many of their metaphysical, cosmological, and soteriological views.


I was surprised to see a reference to 'soteriology', which is a loaded term and one which I have to say I view with some suspicion, particularly given its use in Christological discourses. Evidently, from this article, it has a different significance in a Buddhist context. Could someone elaborate?
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:46 pm

Hi Pererin,

pererin wrote:I was surprised to see a reference to 'soteriology', which is a loaded term and one which I have to say I view with some suspicion, particularly given its use in Christological discourses. Evidently, from this article, it has a different significance in a Buddhist context. Could someone elaborate?


Those who realize nibbāna are saved from mental dukkha for the remainder of their present life and from further birth and death in saṃsāra after the present life.

Is there something about the use of 'soteriology' in Christianity that would make it an unfit term to apply to teachings relating to such an attainment?

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby stuka » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:52 pm

pererin wrote:Will

Many thanks for the link. In it, the author notes:

For faithful of the Theravada tradition, the notion of the Buddha as Tathagata resonates with many of their metaphysical, cosmological, and soteriological views.


I was surprised to see a reference to 'soteriology', which is a loaded term and one which I have to say I view with some suspicion, particularly given its use in Christological discourses. Evidently, from this article, it has a different significance in a Buddhist context. Could someone elaborate?


Wiki wrote:Soteriology is the branch of theology that deals with salvation.[1] It is derived from the Greek sōtērion "salvation" (from sōtēr "savior, preserver") + English -logy.[2] The term itself can be used to refer to any kind of religion, and no savior figure or figures are required.[3] Soteriology is a key factor that distinguishes religion from philosophy.[4]



The Buddha's soteriology ("What is 'salvation' in Buddhism...?') is concerned with the liberation from suffering.
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby pererin » Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:38 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Is there something about the use of 'soteriology' in Christianity that would make it an unfit term to apply to teachings relating to such an attainment?

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


Greetings, Venerable, and thank you for your post. It's a minor (and lexical) point, but I hadn't realised that soteriology was also a term used in discussing the Buddhadhamma. Given the specific Christian associations of σωτηρία / σωτήριον with the idea of a 'personal saviour'; a 'salvation' of divine origin which in their view is uniquely mediated through Christ; and all the baggage of the theological underpinning which goes with that, I wondered whether this was a term which Theravadin scholarship would have wished to avoid. I had assumed that, by definition, Buddhism doesn't have a 'theology'. Do I understand you correctly that the use of this term is not unacceptable in a Buddhist context?

[Edited by OP]
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby Kare » Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:29 pm

pererin wrote:In his translation and commentary on the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (see http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .harv.html), Dr Peter Harvey discusses Tathāgata as follows:

One Who Moves in Reality: Tathāgata is a term for a Buddha. It literally means "Thus-gone" or "Thus-come." What is "thus" is what is real. Translating the term as "One Who Moves in Reality" brings the term alive as referring to person who has awakened to the real nature of things, and experiences things as they really are, most significantly in terms of dukkha, its origination, its cessation, and the way to this.


Any thoughts on this?

Metta


Buddhaghosa discusses the meaning of tathaagata, and shows that this compositum can be resolved in different ways.

Here are some of the options:

1) tathaa (thus) + gata (gone) > thus-gone
2) tathaa (thus) + aagata (come, arrived) > thus-come

These are the usual interpretations. The problem is that they both need some rather fanciful explanations.

3) tatha (reality, truth) + aagata (come, arrived) > the one who has arrived to reality/truth

This alternative, reading tatha (reality, truth), and not tathaa (thus), gives a precise and straightforward description of the Buddha, the Awakened one, the one who has reached or arrived to reality/truth.

Why is this interpretation of Tathaagata never discussed?

Mettaya,
Kåre A. Lie
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby piotr » Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:54 pm

Hi,

Kare wrote:Why is this interpretation of Tathaagata never discussed?


I don't know. :smile: I like the explaination that is connected to this passage. How do you feel about this image? :coffee:
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby green » Sat Feb 28, 2009 5:43 pm

Here is a further exposition of the meaning of the Tathagatha from the Aganna sutta, DN:


Yassa kho panassa, vāseṭṭha, tathāgate saddhā niviṭṭhā mūlajātā patiṭṭhitā daḷhā asaṃhāriyā samaṇena vā brāhmaṇena vā devena vā mārena vā brahmunā vā kenaci vā lokasmiṃ, tassetaṃ kallaṃ vacanāya – ‘bhagavatomhi putto oraso mukhato jāto dhammajo dhammanimmito dhammadāyādo’ti. Taṃ kissa hetu? Tathāgatassa hetaṃ, vāseṭṭha, adhivacanaṃ ‘dhammakāyo’ itipi, ‘brahmakāyo’ itipi, ‘dhammabhūto’ itipi, ‘brahmabhūto’ itipi.

2] He whose faith in the
Tathágata is settled, rooted, established, solid, unshakable by any ascetic or Brahmin, any
deva or mara or Brahma or anyone in the world, can truly say: "I am a true son of the
Blessed Lord, born of his mouth, born of Dhamma, created by Dhamma, an heir of
Dhamma." Why is that? Because, Vasettha, this designates the Tathágata: "The Body of Dhamma," that is "The Body of Brahma," [3] or "Become Dhamma," that is "Become
Brahma." [4]

----

I just have one problem with the translation, what is "bhuto" in Buddhism? Does it mean to become?
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby Kare » Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:23 pm

green wrote:Here is a further exposition of the meaning of the Tathagatha from the Aganna sutta, DN:


Yassa kho panassa, vāseṭṭha, tathāgate saddhā niviṭṭhā mūlajātā patiṭṭhitā daḷhā asaṃhāriyā samaṇena vā brāhmaṇena vā devena vā mārena vā brahmunā vā kenaci vā lokasmiṃ, tassetaṃ kallaṃ vacanāya – ‘bhagavatomhi putto oraso mukhato jāto dhammajo dhammanimmito dhammadāyādo’ti. Taṃ kissa hetu? Tathāgatassa hetaṃ, vāseṭṭha, adhivacanaṃ ‘dhammakāyo’ itipi, ‘brahmakāyo’ itipi, ‘dhammabhūto’ itipi, ‘brahmabhūto’ itipi.

2] He whose faith in the
Tathágata is settled, rooted, established, solid, unshakable by any ascetic or Brahmin, any
deva or mara or Brahma or anyone in the world, can truly say: "I am a true son of the
Blessed Lord, born of his mouth, born of Dhamma, created by Dhamma, an heir of
Dhamma." Why is that? Because, Vasettha, this designates the Tathágata: "The Body of Dhamma," that is "The Body of Brahma," [3] or "Become Dhamma," that is "Become
Brahma." [4]

----

I just have one problem with the translation, what is "bhuto" in Buddhism? Does it mean to become?


Yes. Bhūto is perf.part. of bhavati, "(has) become".

This text is interesting, but it does not say anything about the meaning of tathāgata.
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Re: Tathāgata

Postby green » Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:02 pm

Kare wrote:
green wrote:Here is a further exposition of the meaning of the Tathagatha from the Aganna sutta, DN:


Yassa kho panassa, vāseṭṭha, tathāgate saddhā niviṭṭhā mūlajātā patiṭṭhitā daḷhā asaṃhāriyā samaṇena vā brāhmaṇena vā devena vā mārena vā brahmunā vā kenaci vā lokasmiṃ, tassetaṃ kallaṃ vacanāya – ‘bhagavatomhi putto oraso mukhato jāto dhammajo dhammanimmito dhammadāyādo’ti. Taṃ kissa hetu? Tathāgatassa hetaṃ, vāseṭṭha, adhivacanaṃ ‘dhammakāyo’ itipi, ‘brahmakāyo’ itipi, ‘dhammabhūto’ itipi, ‘brahmabhūto’ itipi.

2] He whose faith in the
Tathágata is settled, rooted, established, solid, unshakable by any ascetic or Brahmin, any
deva or mara or Brahma or anyone in the world, can truly say: "I am a true son of the
Blessed Lord, born of his mouth, born of Dhamma, created by Dhamma, an heir of
Dhamma." Why is that? Because, Vasettha, this designates the Tathágata: "The Body of Dhamma," that is "The Body of Brahma," [3] or "Become Dhamma," that is "Become
Brahma." [4]

----

I just have one problem with the translation, what is "bhuto" in Buddhism? Does it mean to become?


Yes. Bhūto is perf.part. of bhavati, "(has) become".

This text is interesting, but it does not say anything about the meaning of tathāgata.


Thank you for the clarification.

Again, this gives a clearer meaning of the term "Tatagatha" -- that it is designated as "Body of Brahma", "Body of the Law", "become Brahma" and "become the Law".

An alternate translation :
"Tathāgatassa h'etam Vasettha adivacanam Dhammakayo iti pi ...":
O Vasettha! The Word of Dhammakaya is indeed the name of the Tathagata

Tath-agatha = become Brahma
Tath-agatha = become the law

http://www.purifymind.com/GlossaryN.html ( here is a little combination of Theravada and Mahayana) :anjali:
True Suchness ... Bhutatathata in Sanskrit word. Bhuta means substance that exists; tathata means suchness, thusness, i.e. such is its nature. It is regarded as the absolute, ultimate source and character of all phenomena. It is the eternal, imperson, unchangeable reality behind all phenomena. Simply speaking, it is ALL... There are many other terms to describe it, e.g. Buddha-nature, Self-nature Pure Mind, Dharmakaya (Dharma Body), Tathagata-garbha (Buddha-treasury), Reality (real mark), Dharma Realm, Dharma Nature, the Complete and Perfect real nature, etc.
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