Every book says that Siddhartha Gautama achieved Nirvana and then became Gautama Buddha. But now that I have realized that all phenomenon are nonself , it becomes imperative for me to ask : did Siddhartha Gautama achieve Nirvana?

NOTE: It is not a duplicate of question "who or what achieves enlightenment?" because I am asking the question in relation to only and only Siddhartha Gautama. In the question "who or what achieves enlightenment?" Siddhartha Gautama is not mentioned and nobody answers for it.

  • "(answering "who attained Nirvana" amounts to acknowledging the existence of Self" i don't think it does, why do you suppose that? i don't think i "acknowledged the existence" of anything, except a presupposition in your question!
    – user2512
    Sep 13, 2017 at 7:45
  • btw i think you've edited this into a duplciate, again! why not answer the question in the "duplicate" thread if you want to restate it?
    – user2512
    Sep 13, 2017 at 7:47

3 Answers 3


The Buddha achieved nirvana, yes. I think all Buddhists would agree.

Supposing that you definitely mean "Guatama" to refer not to a person but a sequence of conditioned phenomema, I suppose you can say that, though it might imply something like buddha nature, that his enlightened nature existed before it was attained. Just a note to add:

I have realized that all phenomenon are nonself

I believe that the Buddha does say, in some suttas, "I have", so this makes sense to assert, whether or not it's true! If your question is best answered via saying what that "I" means, when Buddhas say it, I personally feel it refers to Buddha nature, and not the bodhisattva that has fulfilled its vows and been used up.


  • Siddhartha Gautam was a phenomenon. All phenomenon are nonself. Therefore Siddhratha Gautam was nonself. If Gautama was nonself then who attained the Nirvana? Sep 13, 2017 at 7:20
  • hey @DheerajVerma not sure what you are disagreeing with in my answer? if you are asking another question at all, then i think it depends on what you mean by "who".
    – user2512
    Sep 13, 2017 at 7:22
  • e.g. @DheerajVerma if you mean by "who" only "what thing that is not noself" then it seems like your question has no answer
    – user2512
    Sep 13, 2017 at 7:25
  • No I am not asking another question.. I will just edit and elaborate the question.Thanks. Sep 13, 2017 at 7:25
  • 1
    You have answered the question. I did not say anything about you ... I am beginner.. who is fascinated by Buddha's theory. I like your answer that no-one attained Nirvana. Regards Sep 13, 2017 at 7:54

The enlightened Buddha told people to address him as "the Tathagata":

One, standing up to greet me, received my robe & bowl. Another spread out a seat. Another set out water for washing my feet. However, they addressed me by name and as 'friend.'

"So I said to them, 'Don't address the Tathagata by name and as "friend." The Tathagata, friends, is a worthy one, rightly self-awakened. Lend ear, friends: the Deathless has been attained. I will instruct you. I will teach you the Dhamma.

See also this topic: Why does the Buddha call himself the Tathāgata?

Some Buddhist talk about "being" using the parable of the chariot:

Just as, with an assemblage of parts,
The word 'chariot' is used,
So, when the aggregates are present,
There's the convention 'a being.'

In context though that seems to be a description of how (or whether) she sees herself. A "name" may be part of that (i.e. your name may be part of how you see yourself), but a name is mostly used (and needed) by other people: to address you, to refer to you in stories, to attribute words to you and so on.


If you have realized that all phenomena are nonself, why are you asking this question?

"Did Siddhartha Gautama achieve Nirvana?"

No, he didn't.

Now you're thinking "If he didn't achieve Nirvana, why every book says that he achieved Nirvana?"

If you have realized that all phenomena are nonself, Why are you asking this question?

"If he didn't achieve Nirvana, why every book says that he achieved Nirvana?"

Most people cling to the idea "self exists". Most people are not yet ready to realize that all phenomena are nonself. Most people in their current lives will not realize that all phenomena are nonself. If you were to speak to them from the perspective of anatta, they would be confused and bewildered. Most people think that all phenomena are self. That's why the books are written in such way, so that most people would understand them. If such a book is written from somebody who achieved Nirvana, it is written in such way purely for others to understand it easier and to guide them in the right direction towards realization of anatta.

"So instead of asking who attained Nirvana ? Can I ask the following question : did Siddhartha Gautama achieve Nirvana?"

"Who attained Nirvana?" and "Did he achieve Nirvana?" are both the same questions.

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