We pay homage to the Buddha by saying ”Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa” three times. The widely practiced translations of it take the following forms:
“Homage to the Blessed One, the Worthy (Exalted) One, the supremely (fully) Enlightened One!”
“Homage to the fully Enlightened One who found the truth about the existence and became free of all defilements!”
“Veneration to Him, the Most Exalted, the Purified, the Supremely Enlightened Buddha (the Rightly Self-awakened One.)”
Here the term Sammâ-sambuddho means that Buddha understood the Four Noble Truths without anyone’s help. Buddha is really the one and only Teacher who first taught the Four Noble Truths. These Truths explain the realities of life. Buddha understood the realities of life, without anyone’s help. By knowing this, we can establish an unshakeable confidence based on this quality.
There can be only one Samma Sambuddha, in the entire universe, at any given period. During most aeons (Kalpa), there are no Samma Sambuddhas. Hence they are very rare. A Samma Sambuddha is called ‘Asama Sama’, i.e. incomparable with any other being but can be compared only to other Samma Sambuddhas who had lived in the distant past. Hence it is not feasible for all to aspire to be a Buddha.
The Buddha himself said that the best way to pay homage to him is to learn Dhamma and to follow the Path. This is the more deeper meaning of the Namaskaraya, “Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa”.
Once Buddha said, “Attä hi attano nätho, kö hi näthö paro siyä”, meaning, ”One indeed is one’s own refuge; how can others be a refuge to one?”. Each one has one’s own mind. And that is what is needed to be purified in order to attain a peaceful life now, a better life in the next, or even Nibbana. But it all starts with going for refuge in the Buddha Dhamma & the Sangha. When we say the Namaskaraya with understanding and resolve, we develop citta pasada or calmness and joy of mind.