Bhagavā - what and who is bhagavā

bhagavā This word is often translated as

The Blessed One, the Buddha, The Lord, The Supreme Buddha, The God

here according to AN4.36 , the Buddha makes total sense, others meanings make it something untangible, un achievable.

Remember me, brahmin, as a Buddha.
Buddhoti maṁ, brāhmaṇa, dhārehīti.

To elaborate further, how people understood this term and the meaning 2600 years ago is highlighted above

one who has freed their mind, bhaggā (The ending of, breaking, destroying) greed, hate, and delusion within is bhagavā
Tassa yo rāgakkhayo, dosakkhayo, mohakkhayo—

in this article

“भग्ग रागो, भग्ग दोसो, भग्ग मोहो ति भगवा”- अर्थात जिसने अपने “चित” से राग, व्देष और मोह का समूल नष्ट कर दिया इस अर्थ में “भगवान”।
“भगवान” शब्द के मूल में “भगवा” शब्द हैं जिसका अर्थः-
“भग्गरागोति भगवा”-राग को भग्न-नष्ट कर इस अर्थ में “भगवान”।
“भग्गदोसोति भगवा”-द्वेष को भग्न-नष्ट कर इस अर्थ में “भगवान”।
और “भग्गमोहोति भगवा”-मोह को भग्न-नष्ट कर इस अर्थ में

And in this topic

Personally, I’ve found the most relatable way of understanding the term is through a bit of etymology and history.

Bhagavā refers to someone who has fortune, wealth, abundance, luck. It seems to have also had connotations of worship, reverence, or respect.

It seems to go back to the idea of lords who had lots of wealth and resources that they would distribute to their people. The connection between powerful lords/chiefs and head deities is very strong. The chief or king is basically a parallel or mirror-copy on earth of a ruling or war deity up in the sky. Many such war deities became the ruling deities or even the creator gods. Indra, for example, is the King of Gods. Yahweh was a tribal war/storm deity who became the creator of the universe.

The sky (think: deity) provides rain for crops and food which bring prosperity and abundance. It hovers over the people and watches them. So too, the wealthy lord provides people with food, resources, and wealth, bringing abundance. He watches over them and protects them from his stance of power.

So ‘bhagavā’ basically means “lord.” This is also how it’s used in other literature. The person who has all the prosperity and abundance and who people revere and worship as mighty. They bestow blessings and fortune upon people. These are all symbols and imagery; it isn’t necessarily that every being with the title ‘bhagavā’ literally has all of the qualities there per se.

In some Hindu traditions, ‘bhagavā’ is used for the main God. In Jainism, it used for Mahāvīra. In Buddhism, the Bhagavā is the Buddha.

The term “Bhagavā” (often rendered as “Bhagwan” in modern usage) is used in Indian traditions to denote a supreme holy person. For example, Jains refer to Mahavira as Bhagwan Mahavira, Hindus might say Bhagwan Ram or Bhagwan Shiv, and in ancient times, the term was also used to address the Buddha.

The word “Bhagavā” has endured for over 2,500 years with little change in its meaning or usage. It signifies a revered, divine, or enlightened being. In the context of Buddhism, the Buddha was often referred to as “Bhagavā.” This term highlighted his esteemed status and enlightened qualities.

The phrase “Etipiso Bhagavā” is part of a traditional Pali chant that means “Such is the Blessed One” (Bhagavā), used to elaborate on the Buddha’s qualities. This indicates that “Bhagavā” is not a quality in itself but rather a respectful title used to address a supremely holy person.


Yes, I think this is maybe why ‘lord’ doesn’t quite capture the flavor.
‘Blessed One’ seems the most literal,(one possessing good fortune) but perhaps sounds a bit awkward in English.
It’s a hard word to translate.

Exactly, its used to elaborate buddhas qualities, abandoning of ignorance.

Though there is a subtle aspect that these qualities are achievable bu anyone , here and now. Its not a unachievable target, and the prefixes like supremely enlightened, god etc give that kind of connotation which was not meant.

The 9 qualities:
*Iti pi so Bhagavā:

Anuttaro purisa-damma-sārathi
satthā deva-manussānaṃ

Sayalay Susila has a beautiful book explaining the 9 qualities.

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There is a strong belief among those who follow the Vedas that Buddha is a form of Krishna or Vishnu. Krishna and Vishnu are highly referred to as Bhagavan in the Vedas, and in the Buddhist Canon, the Buddha is addressed as Bhagavan.

Well said :clap:, yes these are 9 qualities, dissection of word bhagavā has the Bhagga or sanskrit Bhagna or destory / demolish aspect in there.

with all due respect I don’t want to hurt anyone’s beliefs here, who wants can keep their belief and investigate the basis of their beliefs and see them as they are, Buddha in my opinion seems to have denied all such addressing.


Then Doṇa, following the Buddha’s footprints, saw him sitting at the tree root—impressive and inspiring, with peaceful faculties and mind, attained to the highest self-control and serenity, like an elephant with tamed, guarded, and controlled faculties. He went up to the Buddha and said to him:
“Sir, might you be a god?” “I will not be a god, brahmin.”
“Might you be a centaur?” “I will not be a centaur.”
“Might you be a native spirit?” “I will not be a native spirit.”
“Might you be a human?” “I will not be a human.”
“When asked whether you might be a god, centaur, native spirit, or human, you answer that you will not be any of these. What then might you be?”
“Brahmin, if I had not given up defilements I might have become a god … a centaur … a native spirit … or a human. But I have given up those defilements, cut them off at the root, made them like a palm stump, obliterated them so they are unable to arise in the future.
Suppose there was a blue water lily, or a pink or white lotus. Though it sprouted and grew in the water, it would rise up above the water and stand with no water clinging to it. In the same way, though I was born and grew up in the world, I live having mastered the world, unsullied by the world.

Remember me, brahmin, as a Buddha.

Hi, I think you may be confusing Sanskrit ‘bhaga’ with a few other things.

The word Bhagavan (Sanskrit: भगवान्, romanized: Bhagavān; Pali: Bhagavā ), also spelt as Bhagwan

I am not confusing, though elaborating here this aspect its clear from here

And here

This aspect of the definition of bhagava or bhagvan whic over the time has become very superlative and auspicious, very distant.

Note the term ‘ersatz’ written by the Venerable.

These descriptions may be helpful for the practitioner, but should not be confused with a true etymology. They are a poetic derivation.

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Buddha teaches wise reflection, here we are grounding our beliefs in someone did absolutely correct job in translation here, where as it may not be always the case. Science also uses wise reflection and changes the meaning and definitions over time

√bhaj + a + vant is assumed to be the dissection of word here

Although these scripts and texts say it should be

bhaggā + va - bhaggā kilesā Mil.44; and bhagga -rāga , ˚dosa etc. (in def. of Bhagavā)

This is commentarial obfuscation (a meaning that is already straightforward, is made intentionally vague by suggesting multiple convoluted and grammatically and phonemically incorrect etymologies).

In most contexts it is perfectly clear that bhagavā (a masculine nominative singular form in Pāli) is used identical in sense to the Sanskrit (Vedic & Classical) word Bhagavān (masculine nominative singular of bhagavat i.e. one who posesses bhaga).

Pali regularly drops final consonants in Sanskrit words (and the prior vowel if short, is usually lengthened as well to compensate for the loss of the consonant), so –
bhagavān (Sanskrit) = bhagavā (Pali)

Even the stem form bhagavat (sanskrit) = bhagavā (in Pali), due to the short vowel being lengthened as mentioned above.

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