There are many people, especially from other religions, who say, ‘The Buddha is just a human being; he is not a god,’ but I know the Buddha is greater than the gods because he attained Nirvana by himself. However, I need every sutta where the Buddha claimed he is greater than the gods. I heard the Buddha claimed it, but I don’t remember the names of the suttas. If someone knows those sutta names, it will help all of us.

  • +1 for avoiding a trap most western Buddhists fall into. Help on its way. Commented Jun 11 at 5:16

1 Answer 1


“Among whatever beings there may be–footless, two-footed, four-footed, many footed; with form or formless; percipient, non-percipient, neither percipient nor non-percipient–the Tathāgata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, is considered supreme. Those who have confidence in the Awakened One have confidence in what is supreme; and for those with confidence in the supreme, supreme is the result." Iti 90

Mahāsamayasutta shows how all/most the devas in the cosmos gather together to come and venerate every Buddha and Sangha that arises in the world.

This stock passage describes how the Buddha was renowned for being the teacher of devas:

And of that Master Gotama this fine reputation has spread: ‘He is indeed a Blessed One, worthy & rightly self-awakened, consummate in clear-knowing & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the cosmos, unexcelled trainer of people fit to be tamed, teacher of devas & human beings, awakened, blessed. MN 95

Sakka's Questions shows how Sakka/Indra, king of the devas, became a disciple of the Buddha, thus becoming saved from the lower realms:

“Having gone to those whom I considered to be contemplatives & brahmans living in isolated dwellings in the wilderness, I asked them these questions. But when asked by me, they were at a loss. Being at a loss, they asked me in return, ‘What is your name?’

“Being asked, I responded, ‘I, dear sir, am Sakka, the deva-king.’

“So they questioned me further, ‘But what kamma did you do to attain to this state?’

“So I taught them the Dhamma as far as I had heard & mastered it. And they were gratified with just this much: ‘We have seen Sakka, the deva-king, and he has answered our questions!’ So, instead of my becoming their disciple, they simply became mine. But I, lord, am the Blessed One’s disciple, a stream-winner, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening.”

Several suttas demonstrate the inferiority even of Brahmas to the Buddha:

“Then the Great Brahmā, taking the monk by the arm and leading him off to one side, said to him, ‘These Devas of the Retinue of Brahmā believe, “There is nothing that the Great Brahmā does not know. There is nothing that the Great Brahmā does not see. There is nothing of which the Great Brahmā is unaware. There is nothing that the Great Brahmā has not realized.” That is why I did not say in their presence that I, too, don’t know where the four great elements… cease without trace. So it’s your own wrongdoing, your own mistake, in that—bypassing the Blessed One—you searched outside for an answer to this question. Go right back to the Blessed One and, on arrival, ask him this question. However he answers you, that’s how you should remember it.’" DN 11

"There is, Brahmā, the body named Ābhassarā [Radiant] from which you fell away & reappeared here.4 From your having lived here so long, your memory of that has become muddled. That is why you don’t know it, don’t see it, but I know it, I see it. Thus I am not your mere equal in terms of direct knowing, so how could I be inferior? I am actually superior to you." MN 49

“Then Brahmā Sahampati, thinking, ‘I’m the one who created the opportunity for the teaching of the Dhamma by the Blessed One!’ bowed down to me and, circling me on the right, disappeared right there." SN 6.1

And of course, even Māra - the most influential being in the cosmos, who is shown to have Baka Brahma and his whole assembly in his thrall - consistently fails to place the Lord under his sway:

“When this was said, I told Māra the Evil One, ‘I know you, Evil One. Don’t assume, “He doesn’t know me.” You are Māra, Evil One. And Brahmā, and Brahmā’s assembly, and the attendants of Brahmā’s assembly have all come into your hands. They have all come under your sway. And you think, “This one, too, has come into my hands, has come under my sway.” But, Evil One, I have neither come into your hands nor have I come under your sway.’ MN 49

Not only that - and here I hope you don't mind my slightly overstepping the bounds of the question - but all arahants are of course beyond his sway:

Here—I disappear.

I slip into your belly

or stand between your eyebrows,

and you

don’t see me.

I have mastery

over the mind,

have well-developed

the bases of power.1 I’m released from all bonds,

and not afraid of you,

my friend.”

Then Māra the Evil One—sad & dejected at realizing, “Uppalavaṇṇā the nun knows me”—vanished right there." SN 5.5

And all are also worshipped by the gods, having attained a dimension that is beyond their reach:

“He is absorbed dependent neither on earth, liquid, heat, wind, the sphere of the infinitude of space, the sphere of the infinitude of consciousness, the sphere of nothingness, the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception, this world, the next world, nor on whatever is seen, heard, sensed, cognized, attained, sought after, or pondered by the intellect—and yet he is absorbed. And to this excellent thoroughbred of a man, absorbed in this way, the gods, together with Indra, the Brahmās, & Pajāpati, pay homage even from afar:

‘Homage to you, O thoroughbred man.

Homage to you, O superlative man—

you of whom we don’t know even what it is

dependent on which

you’re absorbed.’” AN 11.10

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