Three types of Buddha
Three types of Buddha
There are traditionally three types of Buddha, the most important of which is the
Samma Sammbuddha (Skt, Samyaksam Buddha) or Universal Buddha.
A Universal Buddha rediscovers the Dharma (the Truth regarding Existence) on his own and teaches others the Dharma.
In our own age this Universal Buddha is represented by Siddhattha Gotama (Skt, Siddhartha Gautama).
He is considered a great Buddha because he was an exceptional teacher of the Dharma, and his sermons are recorded as suttas or sutras, which provide the basis of Buddhism as a religion.
Of the other two types of Buddha, a Savaka Buddha
(Skt, Sravaka Buddha) is a person who has become enlightened through acquaintance with the teaching of a Universal Buddha.
A Pacceka Buddha (Skt, Pratekya Buddha) is someone who has become enlightened purely through his or her own wisdom (without the instruction of a Universal Buddha) but who has no cannot or chooses not to teach the Dharma to others.
In Theravada Buddhism a Buddha is also called an arhat though in Mahayana Buddhism this term may only refer to Savaka Buddhas.
A Tang Dynasty sculpture of Amitabha Buddha, found in the Hidden Stream Temple Cave, Longmen Grottoes, China indicates.
Buddhism (both Nikaya and Mahayana traditions) accepts that there are three type of Buddha, and generally accept their definitions as follows:
(also known in the Mahayana as Bodhisattva-Buddhas) gain Nirvana by their own efforts, without a teacher of the entire path.
They may then lead others to enlightenment by teaching the Dharma in a time or world where it has been forgotten or has not been taught before, because a Samyaksam-Buddha does not depend upon a tradition that stretches back to a previous Samyaksam-Buddha, but instead discovers the path anew.
Pratyeka-Buddhas (Pali:Pacceka-Buddha): are similar to Samma-Sambuddha, in that they attain Nirvana by themselves, but they remain silent and keep the discovered Dharma to themselves.
Sravaka-Buddhas (Pali:Savaka-Buddhas): gain Nirvana, but attain Enlightenment by hearing the Dhamma as initially taught by a Samma-Sambuddha.
After attaining enlightenment, Sravaka-Buddhas might also lead others to enlightenment, but cannot teach the Dharma in a time or world where it has been forgotten or has not been taught before, because they depend upon a tradition that stretches back to a Samyaksam-Buddha.