Reply To: "The Thus Gone One ?"


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The following comment is from Vassil, who says his comment was not published. So, he emailed me the following comment.

Hi everyone!

Yeos, you might be new to Buddha Dhamma in this jāti (in this birth/life) and thus many words used directly and without explanations in Buddhistic contexts might be unfamiliar.

When I first encountered Tathāgata I wasn’t sure what it means. Later I’ve learned it’s how the Buddha himself referred to himself on several occasions. It is also how others might refer to Buddha.

Apart from Lal’s explanations, I would like to add a little bit of information about the etymology of the word. In the English-speaking world, one of the first textbooks on Pāli was written by A. K. Warner (A. K. Warder). He wrote a book called “Introduction to Pāli” first published in 1963. Prior to that, the Pāli Text Society has published numerous translations of texts (and dictionaries), but not really a “coursebook” or a “manual” of the language. However, according to Justin Meiland, some of Warder’s translations of Pāli words weren’t satisfactory. In his book “Pali Language Course” Meiland notes:

Tathāgata is another problematic word. A common epithet of the Buddha, it is sometimes translated as ‘thus-gone’ (tathā meaning ‘thus’ and gata ‘gone’). However, at the end of a compound, ‘-gata’ often simply means ‘is’ and so tathā-gata appears to mean ‘is thus’ (i.e. the Buddha has reached a state which can only be described as ‘thus’). It is perhaps best to leave the word untranslated.