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Some people said to me that , Gautama Buddha never made claims about himself that he had gained enlightenment and on the other hand, some people say that's not true.

Some people have also said to me that this news of enlightenment was probably initiated by one of his disciples after his death.

Here is my question:

Who claimed that Lord Buddha said that that "he obtained enlightenment"?

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4 Answers 4

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One reference is Ariyapariyesana Sutta: The Noble Search (MN 26).

The Translator's Introduction says,

Some scholars have suggested that, of the many autobiographical accounts of the Buddha's Awakening presented in the Pali canon, this is the earliest.

It is "autobiography" i.e. a quote of the Buddha's own words.

It doesn't say "enlightened" but then again "enlightened" is an English-language word.

Wikipedia: Enlightenment (spiritual)

Used in a religious sense, enlightenment translates several Buddhist terms and concepts, most notably bodhi,kensho, and satori. Related terms from Asian religions are kaivalya and moksha (liberation) in Hinduism, Kevala Jnana in Jainism, and ushta in Zoroastrianism.

("Bodhi" is also translated "awake" as mentioned in OyaMist's answer).

What MN 26 does say is (translated):

Then, monks, being subject myself to birth, seeing the drawbacks of birth, seeking the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke, Unbinding, I reached the unborn, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding. Being subject myself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, seeing the drawbacks of aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, seeking the aging-less, illness-less, deathless, sorrow-less, unexcelled rest from the yoke, Unbinding, I reached the aging-less, illness-less, deathless, sorrow-less, unexcelled rest from the yoke: Unbinding. Knowledge & vision arose in me: 'Unprovoked is my release. This is the last birth. There is now no further becoming.'

That i.e. "reaching the unborn", "unbinding", "release", and "no further becoming" are descriptions or paraphrases of an Arahant -- i.e. the final stage of awakening.

In summary it is the Buddha's own assertion -- which the people who met him sooner or later agreed with.

There's a more explicit version in MN 85

The Realized One is Perfected, a fully awakened Buddha. Listen up, mendicants: I have achieved the Deathless! I shall instruct you, I will teach you the Dhamma. By practicing as instructed you will soon realize the supreme end of the spiritual path in this very life. You will live having achieved with your own insight the goal for which gentlemen rightly go forth from the lay life to homelessness.’

I was able to persuade the group of five mendicants. Then sometimes I advised two mendicants, while the other three went for alms. Then those three would feed all six of us with what they brought back. Sometimes I advised three mendicants, while the other two went for alms. Then those two would feed all six of us with what they brought back.

As the group of five mendicants were being advised and instructed by me like this, they soon realized the supreme end of the spiritual path in this very life.

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The Buddha once said:

MN85:49.2: While I was traveling along the road between Gayā and Bodhgaya, the Ājīvaka ascetic Upaka saw me
MN85:49.3: and said,
MN85:49.4: ‘Reverend, your faculties are so very clear, and your complexion is pure and bright.
MN85:49.5: In whose name have you gone forth, reverend? Who is your Teacher? Whose teaching do you believe in?’
MN85:49.6: I replied to Upaka in verse:
MN85:49.7: ‘I am the champion, the knower of all,
MN85:49.8: unsullied in the midst of all things.
MN85:49.9: I’ve given up all, freed in the ending of craving.
MN85:49.10: Since I know for myself, whose follower should I be?
MN85:49.11: I have no teacher.
MN85:49.12: There is no-one like me.
MN85:49.13: In the world with its gods,
MN85:49.14: I have no counterpart.
MN85:49.15: For in this world, I am the perfected one;
MN85:49.16: I am the supreme Teacher.
MN85:49.17: I alone am fully awakened,
MN85:49.18: cooled, extinguished.
MN85:49.19: I am going to the city of Kāsi
MN85:49.20: to roll forth the Wheel of Dhamma.
MN85:49.21: In this world that is so blind,
MN85:49.22: I’ll beat the deathless drum!’
MN85:49.23: ‘According to what you claim, reverend, you ought to be the Infinite Victor.’
MN85:49.24: ‘The victors are those who, like me,
MN85:49.25: have reached the ending of defilements.
MN85:49.26: I have conquered bad qualities, Upaka—
MN85:49.27: that’s why I’m a victor.’
MN85:49.28: When I had spoken, Upaka said: ‘If you say so, reverend.’ Shaking his head, he took a wrong turn and left.

An opportunity for spiritual practice was lost here...

DN34:2.1.138: Furthermore, a Realized One has arisen in the world.
DN34:2.1.139: And a person is reborn in a central country. But they have wrong view and distorted perspective:
DN34:2.1.140: ‘There’s no meaning in giving, sacrifice, or offerings. There’s no fruit or result of good and bad deeds. There’s no afterlife. There are no duties to mother and father. No beings are reborn spontaneously. And there’s no ascetic or brahmin who is well attained and practiced, and who describes the afterlife after realizing it with their own insight.’
DN34:2.1.141: This is the sixth lost opportunity for spiritual practice.

Focusing on attainments is often an obstacle to practice. Indeed, Buddhists frown on claiming attainments and the Buddha himself is only recorded as saying "Ekomhi sammāsambuddho" (i.e., "I alone am fully awakened") once, to Upaka.

The past is gone. Yet right now, right here, we can all practice together the Noble Eightfold Path.

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  • Is this line I alone am fully awakened....means that Buddha claiming that he is enlightened?
    – user23574
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 16:18
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    I think awakened and Enlightenment are different things
    – user23574
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 16:26
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I propose to take MN 12 as his selfdeclaration. It contains his "Lion's roar", in which he gives characterization of the focus and of the depth of his understanding and knowledge won in the phase after his life-threatening ascese. This example (long!, explicite!) is in the Pali-canon, in the "middle-length discourses" ("Majjhima Nikaya"), Sutta No. 12.


A good resource for the pali-canon in english (and many parallel translations) is at suttacentral.net.

The Majjhima Nikaya index is at MN and the episode/sutta has the name "Mahāsīhanāda Sutta" /"The Longer Discourse on the Lion’s Roar" (direct link to translation by Bhikkhu Sujato, see as well many parallels in various translations there).


But note: what is described there is more the/a complex concept of "awakening"; I wouldn't give it a term like "seeking for enlightenment" - this latter term seems to me to be an absurdely narrow-fenced effect-/event-thinking compared with the long and detailed report of the whole process of "awakening".

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In the following sutta the Buddha clearly says he is not a human, deva etc. Rather, he is awakened.

Although we have the term "enlightenment" in English, the more precise term based on the Pali original is "awakened" (Buddha).

The phrase "and so, brahman, I'm awake" (Ven. Thanissaro) also translated as "and so, brahmin, I am a Buddha" (Ven Sujato) comes from the Pali "tasmā buddhosmi brāhmaṇā”ti".

The suttas are discourses, spoken either by the Buddha himself or by his most senior disciples and, was kept alive and recited in full by his senior disciple Ven. Ananda, after the Buddha's passing, in the First Buddhist Council. Then later, it was passed down through generations of monks through memorization and chanting.

Also: deva is god or angel, gandhabba is fairy, yakkha is native spirit.

Then the Blessed One, leaving the road, went to sit at the root of a certain tree — his legs crossed, his body erect, with mindfulness established to the fore. Then Dona, following the Blessed One's footprints, saw him sitting at the root of the tree: confident, inspiring confidence, his senses calmed, his mind calmed, having attained the utmost control & tranquility, tamed, guarded, his senses restrained, a naga. On seeing him, he went to him and said, "Master, are you a deva?"

"No, brahman, I am not a deva."

"Are you a gandhabba?"

"No..."

"... a yakkha?"

"No..."

"... a human being?"

"No, brahman, I am not a human being."

"When asked, 'Are you a deva?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a deva.' When asked, 'Are you a gandhabba?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a gandhabba.' When asked, 'Are you a yakkha?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a yakkha.' When asked, 'Are you a human being?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a human being.' Then what sort of being are you?"

"Brahman, the fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a deva: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. The fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a gandhabba... a yakkha... a human being: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.

"Just like a red, blue, or white lotus — born in the water, grown in the water, rising up above the water — stands unsmeared by the water, in the same way I — born in the world, grown in the world, having overcome the world — live unsmeared by the world. Remember me, brahman, as 'awakened.' (Buddha)

"The fermentations by which I would go
to a deva-state,
or become a gandhabba in the sky,
or go to a yakkha-state & human-state:
Those have been destroyed by me,
ruined, their stems removed.
Like a blue lotus, rising up,
unsmeared by water,
unsmeared am I by the world,
and so, brahman,
I'm awake."

Dona Sutta (AN 4.36)


The Buddha also described himself as a "fully awakened Buddha" (sammāsambuddha).

If you’ve gone to a wilderness, or to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut and you get scared or terrified, just recollect me:

‘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.’

“itipi so bhagavā arahaṁ sammāsambuddho vijjācaraṇasampanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro purisadammasārathi satthā devamanussānaṁ buddho bhagavā”ti.

Then your fear and terror will go away.

SN 11.3

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