As far as I know, many practitioners in the mahayana tradition have claimed to reach buddhahood and nirvana, since Sakyamuni. Is this non-abiding in nirvana? It would explain how prominent Buddhists have in the past been identified with celestial bodhisattvas.

If so, would they nevertheless have reached final nirvana, on death?

2 Answers 2


If so, would they nevertheless have reached final nirvana, on death?

It's a personal cause. You have to look at individual cases. One can't say they all have reached Nirvana or they all haven't.

Part 1) Lord Buddha & Pachcheka Buddha & Arahant

As in Theravada tradition,

There are only 5 Lord Buddhas in this eon. Gauthama is the 4th, Maithree is the 5th. It will happen(coming of Maithree Buddha) like thousands of more years after Gauthama Buddha's Damma dissappear from earth.

But there are 3 levels of reaching full Nirvana.

  1. Lord Buddha / Sammasambudu
  2. Pachcheka Buddha
  3. Arahant / Rahath

There can only be max 5 Lord Buddhas in one eon.

There can be many Pachcheka Buddhas in one eon. But ones reach Nirvana while Damma from a Lord Buddha still exist, can't consider as Pachcheka Buddha. (because they didn't find Nirvana by themselves / other than if they didn't hear / learn Damma from that Lord Buddha)

There can be lot of Arahant in an one eon. But Arahant can only exist around Lord Buddha's Damma or Pachcheka Buddha's Damma. That's because they / Arahant learn Damma from others. (from Lord Buddha or Pachcheka Buddha)

So, Obviously if someone learn Damma from Lord Buddha and reach Nirvana, they belong to Arahant category.

However, everyone reaches Nirvana reach the same Nirvana. There's no difference in Nirvana.

Part 2) All Buddha

But because they all reach same Nirvana, sometimes it's considered as they all are Buddha.

So, why this confusion?

It's like saying all the people are same. One side it's true that all the people are same. But at the same time society contain hierarchies like power, money, influence ect. So society contain kings, wealthy, poor ect. So these hierarchies are true also. Both are true at the same time.


In the Pali Canon the Buddha says that the next person to attain Buddhahood will be metteyya - DN26. That hasn't happened yet so from his perspective no one has attained Buddhahood since himself.

The only people who are said to attain final nibbāna right at the breakup of the aggregates are arahants - those totally free from passion, aversion and delusion. This can be seen in countless suttas in the Canon.

  • I marked this answer down because there are no suttas i have read that use the term "final nibbana" ("parinibbana") in relation to the breakup of the aggregates of arahants. DN 16 is about the Buddha and not about the arahant disciples. Also, the term "parinibbana" is often used for here & now nibbana. Nibbana without fuel is not necessarily parinibbana in the suttas. Commented May 30 at 11:07
  • SN 47:13 describes V. Sāriputta's passing as him having totally unbound. "ekamantaṃ nisinno kho cundo samaṇuddeso āyasmantaṃ ānandaṃ etadavoca – "āyasmā, bhante, sāriputto parinibbuto. idamassa pattacīvara"nti. Further the Buddha clarifies beyond doubt that nibbāna without fuel is the property by means of which he - and by extension all arahants - totally unbinds. “Then, Ānanda, when the Tathāgata, by means of the unbinding property with no fuel remaining, totally unbinds, the earth shakes..."DN 16 Commented May 31 at 13:59

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