Disciples of the noble ones are supposed to take the Buddha as the role of the Father, and Dhamma as Mother.

When a disciple attains full liberation, completes the path to self-enlightenment, becomes a Buddha/Tathagata, does he become his own Father and his own word becomes his own Mother?

Specially: did Gotama Sakyamuni take himself as Father and his own speech as Mother? and would all of his arahants be expected to do the same, or keep the Boddhisatta and his Word as Father-Mother?

Also maybe, how about the disciples committed to the (Mahayana) bodhisattva vows?

  • 1
    Where did you find the statement that the Buddha is the father and the Dhamma is the mother of the disciples?
    – ruben2020
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 9:29
  • this is a metaphorical question?
    – user23322
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 9:44
  • I’ve found it on many occasions and this is also how I’ve lived intuitively since childhood (not knowing the Pāli terms though). For example “The Buddha is like our father, while the Dhamma is like our mother /.../“ from accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/lee/visakha.html. or here buddhistteachings.org/the-dhamma-is-our-true-mother-–%C2%A0part-3/, and also in other places. It also coincides with God-the-mother/son and God-the-father from the Gospel (when Trinity is taken to be analogous to the Triple Gem, and God is viewed not as a creator but a quality of mind) Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 10:07
  • 1
    The sutta in this answer might be relevant, to the question about the Buddha's own relationship with the Dhamma.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 17:27

3 Answers 3


In the Pali suttas, the words 'mother & father' are used in different ways, such as in terms of biological and social parents (for example, in Iti 105), or in terms of what the Commentaries said were references to craving and conceit:

Having slain mother (craving), father (self-conceit), two warrior-kings (eternalism and nihilism), and destroyed a country (sense organs and sense objects) together with its treasurer (attachment and lust), ungrieving goes the holy man.

Dhammapada 294

SN 6.2 is about a Buddha's reverence towards the Dhamma. SN 6.2 does not use the terms 'mother' or 'father'.


We respect and recollect our father and mother. And in that sense, the Buddha asks us to recollect the Teacher:

AN3.70:6.2: It’s when a noble disciple recollects the Realized One:
AN3.70:6.3: ‘That Blessed One is perfected, a fully awakened Buddha, accomplished in knowledge and conduct, holy, knower of the world, supreme guide for those who wish to train, teacher of gods and humans, awakened, blessed.’
AN3.70:6.4: As they recollect the Realized One, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up.

And the Buddha also asks us to recollect the Dhamma:

AN3.70:7.3: It’s when a noble disciple recollects the teaching:
AN3.70:7.4: ‘The teaching is well explained by the Buddha—visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, relevant, so that sensible people can know it for themselves.’
AN3.70:7.5: As they recollect the teaching, their mind becomes clear, joy arises, and mental corruptions are given up. It’s just like cleaning a dirty body by applying effort.

And beyond those two, the Buddha also instructs us to recall the Saṅgha, ethical conduct, and so on.

Regarding mother and father, the Buddha instructs that those who go forth first ask permission:

MN82:6.8: “Raṭṭhapāla, Buddhas don’t give the going forth to the child of parents who haven’t given their permission.”

That permission is important because those who go forth relinquish family ties. So although we respect the Buddha and the Dhamma as we should a mother and a father, we also have to be careful to pay proper attention to what the Buddha and Dhamma actually teach us.

For example, we might go to a mother or father asking for a sweet or a toy. We do not go to the Buddha and the Dhamma for sweets or toys. We go to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha for help in ending suffering. Sweets and toys do not end suffering.


Yes, as found in iti.100. Yet good not to forget the children, as they carry the heritage: the Community of Monks, good householder (especially the Ariya Sangha). The current Bodhisatta actually isn't a relative, but a future father.

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