are some who take delight in making the Buddha a non-human.
They quote a passage from the Anguttara Nikâya (II, 37),
mistranslate it, and misunderstand it. The story goes thus:
the Buddha was seated under a tree in the meditation posture,
his senses calmed, his mind quiet, and attained to supreme control
and serenity. Then a Brahmin, Dona by name, approached the Buddha
will you be a god, a deva?"
"Sir, will you be a heavenly angel, a gandhabba?"
"Sir, will you be a demon, a yakkha?"
"Sir, will you be a human being, a manussa?"
"Then, sir, what indeed will you be?"
understand the Buddha’s reply carefully:
whatever defilements (âsavas) there be owing to
the presence of which a person may be identified as a god or
a heavenly angel or a demon or a human being, all these defilements
in me are abandoned, cut off at the root, made like a palm-tree
stump, done away with, and are no more subject to future arising.
as, brahmin, a blue or red or white lotus born in water, grows
in water and stands up above the water untouched by it, so too
I, who was born in the world and grew up in the world, have
transcended the world, and I live untouched by the world. Remember
me as one who is enlightened (Buddhoti mam dhârehi
the Buddha said was that he was not a god or a heavenly angel
or a demon or a human being full of defilements. From the above
it is clear that the Buddha wanted the brahmin to know that
he was not a human being with defilements. He did not want the
brahmin to put him into any of those categories. The Buddha
was in the world but not of the world. This is clear from the
simile of the lotus. Hasty critics, however, rush to a wrong
conclusion and want others to believe that the Buddha was not
a human being.
the Anguttara Nikâya (I, 22), there is a clear instance
in which the Buddha categorically declared that he was a human
there is one person (puggala) whose birth into this world
is for the welfare and happiness of many, out of compassion
for the world, for the gain and welfare and happiness of gods
(devas) and humanity. Who is this one person (eka
puggala)? It is the Tathâgata, who is a Consummate
One (arahat), a Supremely Enlightened One (sammâ-sambuddho)....Monks,
one person born into the world is an extraordinary man, a marvellous
man (acchariya manussa)."
the Påli word manussa, a human being. Yes, the
Buddha was a human being but not just another man. He was a
Buddhist texts say that the Bodhisatta (as he is known before
he became the Buddha) was in the Tusita heaven (devaloka)
but came down to the human world to be born as a human being
(manussatta). His parents, King Suddhodana and Queen
Mahâmâyâ, were human beings.
Bodhisatta was born as a man, attained enlightenment (Buddhahood)
as a man, and finally passed away into parinibbâna
as a man. Even after his Supreme Enlightenment he did not call
himself a God or Brahmâ or any "supernatural
being," but an extraordinary man.
S. Radhakrishnan, a Hindu steeped in the tenets of the Vedas
and Vedanta, says that Buddhism is an offshoot of Hinduism,
and even goes to the extent of calling the Buddha a Hindu. He
Buddha did not feel that he was announcing a new religion. He
was born, grew up, and died a Hindu. He was restating with a
new emphasis the ancient ideals of the Indo-Aryan civilization."n14
the Buddha himself declares that his teaching was a revelation
of truths discovered by himself, not known to his contemporaries,
not inherited from past tradition. Thus, in his very first sermon,
referring to the Four Noble Truths, he says: "Monks, with
the thought ‘This is the noble truth of suffering, this is its
cause, this is its cessation, this is the way leading to its
cessation,’ there arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, insight,
and light concerning things unheard of before (pubbesu ananussutesu
while making clear to his disciples the difference between a
Fully Enlightened One and the arahats, the consummate ones,
the Buddha says: "The Tathâgata, O disciples, while
being an arahat is fully enlightened. It is he who proclaims
a way not proclaimed before, he is the knower of a way, who
understands a way, who is skilled in a way (maggaññu,
maggavidu, maggakovido). And now his disciples are wayfarers
who follow in his footsteps."n16
ancient way the Buddha refers to is the Noble Eightfold Path
and not any ideals of the Indo-Aryan civilization as Dr. Radhakrishnan
referring to the Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, the architect of Indian
independence, says: "By his immense sacrifice, by his great
renunciation and by the immaculate purity of his life, he left
an indelible impress upon Hinduism, and Hinduism owes an eternal
debt of gratitude to that great teacher." (Mahâdev
Desai, With Gandhiji in Ceylon, Madras, 1928, p.26.)