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'Alternative meanings:'' Buddha (record label) and Buddha (album)

Buddha (Sanskrit: बुद्ध lit. Awakened One, Enlightened One, from the Sanskrit: "Budh", to awaken) can refer to the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, or to anyone who has attained the same depth and quality of enlightenment.

From the standpoint of classical Buddhist doctrine, the word "Buddha" denotes, not just a single religious teacher who lived in a particular epoch, but a type of person of which there have been many instances in the course of cosmic time. (Similarly, "American President" refers not just to one man, but to everyone who has ever held the office of the American presidency). The Buddha Gautama, then, is simply one member of the spiritual lineage of Buddhas, which stretches back into the dim recesses of the past and forward into the distant horizons of the future.

According to most Buddhist tradition, Buddha did not claim any divine status for himself, nor did he assert that he was inspired by any god. He claimed to be, not a personal saviour, but a teacher to guide those who chose to listen.

Generally Buddhists do not consider Siddhartha Gautama to have been the first or last Buddha. Technically, a Buddha, one who rediscovers the Dharma (i.e., truth; the nature of reality, of the mind, of the affliction of the human condition and the correct "path" to liberation) by Enlightenment, comes to be after skillful or good karma (action) is perfectly maintained and all negative unskillful actions are abandoned. The attainment of Nirvana between the three types of Buddhas is exactly the same, but the Samma-Sambuddha expresses more qualities and capacities than the other two. These three types of Buddhahood are:

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Gautama Buddha stated that there is no intermediary between mankind and the divine; distant gods are subject to karma themselves in decaying heavens. The Buddha is solely an exemplar, guide and teacher for those sentient beings who must tread the path themselves, attain spiritual Awakening, and see truth and reality as they are.

Amongst the world religions, most of which proclaim the existence of a Creator god, Buddhism is regarded as unusual for being a non-theistic religion. For the Buddha, the key to liberation is mental purity and correct understanding, and for this reason he rejected the notion that we can gain salvation by begging to a distant deity.

According to Gautama Buddha, the Awakening bliss of Nirvana he attained is available to all beings; orthodoxy holds this includes only human beings. Emphasizing this concept, the Mahayana school of Buddhism in particular refers to many Buddhas and also bodhisattvas (beings committed to Enlightenment but who vow to postpone their own Nirvana in order to assist others on the path). In the holy Tripitaka - the core sacred text of Buddhism - the numerous past Buddhas and their lives are spoken of, including the next Buddha-to-be, the Maitreya Buddha.

The Buddha and Hindu Scripture

It is said in Srimad-Bhagavatam, an important Purana, that the Buddha is the ninth Lila avatar of Lord Vishnu, and that he took form as Siddhartha Gautama to guide the people of India away from ritual animal sacrifice, which was prevalent at the time. To this end he advocated Ahimsa, or non-violence, toward sentient beings.

Buddhists in general do not consider the Buddha to be an avatar of any god, and view such a notion as Hinduism's attempt to "absorb" Buddhism. The general decline of Buddhism in India has been attributed to this "absorption".

Buddha Statues

Buddha is a subject frequently represented in statues. Commonly seen designs include:

Most depictions of Buddha contain a certain number of markings, which are considered the signs of his enlightenment. These signs vary regionally, but three are common: