What Does Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa Mean?

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Today we will have a short and brief introduction into the meaning of “Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa”. We could easily say it is the most frequently chanted stanza of all Buddhist Pāḷi because this is said before any other type of chant. It is also chanted before every proper Theravāda dhamma talk. We will discuss the word by word meaning and the basic grammar. In short, the phrase means “Reverence to the Buddha.” Namo means reverence while the other words represent The Buddha. A video of this lesson can be found here.

Namo Tassa

Namo means Reverence. It is not a verb. It is an indeclinable noun. Nevertheless it is taken to mean “my respect” in some regards.
Tassa is built from the pronoun base “ta” and means “him”. The dative suffix “ssa” is added to “ta” to make “tassa” and should be known as “To Him”. Tassa is a reference to The Buddha in the normal pronoun sense. The special descriptor words will follow.


Bhagavato has the base word of “Bhagavant” which means “The Blessed one”. It is declined in the dative case as Bhagavato and means, “To The Blessed One.” This is another word for The Buddha.


Arahato is a similar grammatical dative form as above and has the base word of “Arahant.” It means “To The Arahant”. If the word Arahant is not familiar to you. It is often translated as “The Worthy One.” He is worthy because he has permanently removed greed hatred and delusion which are the causes for rebirth. When the arahant dies, he does not get reborn in any other plane or “nonplane” of existence. He is finished and the goal is achieved. The Buddha is also an arahant. However, non Buddha’s can eradicate these defilements as well. After death, both the Buddha and the Arahant are the same. There is no difference. Arahato, in this case, refers specifically to The Buddha.


Sammāsambuddho is the word for the Buddha that you are familiar with. He has also eradicated greed, hatred and delusion, but he has done so on his own without a teacher. He is the one who discovers the teachings. Like tassa, sammāsambuddho has a similar dative ending. Sammāsambuddha + ssa means “To The Buddha, the perfectly self enlightened one.” While some other traditions outside of Classical Theravāda say one can become a Buddha in this lifetime, they cannot and this is a wrong teaching. It takes a “modern” time equivalent of 4 big bangs in order to become a Buddha and even this might not be a long enough estimate of how long it takes. Only after one receives a prophecy from a living Buddha does one actually start the clock. It takes that long because it is not easy to become self enlightened and one needs to develop many skills over many lives to accomplish this. It should be known that the Buddha is not alive, in some other plane of existence. He is only “alive” through his teachings, like Einstein is alive through his discoveries.


You can take the whole phrase to mean 4 separate sentences which refer to The Buddha and giving respect (namo) to him.

  • Respect to Him
  • Respect to the Blessed One
  • Respect to the Arahant
  • Respect to the Buddha

By knowing each word in its proper form while you say this, you can properly know what you are exactly saying. It is important and it is my hope that this can help you learn from the teachings better and a cause for you to reach Nibbāna.
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu! Below is a summary poem and below that is a link to a new YouTube channel on this very topic. If you subscribe you to the YouTube channel with the bell activated, you will be informed of the new videos as soon as they are published. This channel is new and meant to cover basic terms and themes of Theravāda Buddhism. I hope you can learn from this channel in the future.

Summary Poem:

“Namo Tassa …” a stanza we expound.
“Namo” – means reverence which is also a noun,
“Tassa” means “To him,” in the dative case,
Him represents the Buddha for his reverence.

“Bhagavato” – The Blessed One, in dative in form,
“To The Blessed One”, who’s fortune is never worn.
“Arahato” to The Worthy One, as we bend further near,
“To The Arahant,” known without defilements and fear.

“Sammāsambuddho” – the perfectly self-enlightened guide,
“To The Buddha, who in wisdom he did abide.”
Four sentences, four meanings, to him we convey,
Giving respect to Him, we do in a humble way.

In understanding each word and its sacred essence,
We can seek enlightenment with a new found presence.
May this knowledge be your guide and shine well and bright,
On your path to Nibbāna may this show you the light.

YouTube Video:

8 thoughts on “What Does Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa Mean?”

  1. 1. Is Siddhartha Gautama a Sammasambuddha since he had no teacher? (Actually all Buddhas are Sammasambuddha since there are never two Buddhas in existence at the same time.)
    2. Can practitioners of other religions, say Hinduism and Jainism, become enlightened and attain nirvana?

    1. It seems as though you answered the first question correctly The second question…they would have to be practicing the teachings found in Buddhism to attain. It cannot be done any other way. A sotapanna cannot be a believer or follower of another religion because his faith is too strong. It would be impossible.

    2. SammaSamBuddha = (samma + sam + buddha)
      Samma = rightly (ex; sammaSamadhi = rightly concentrated)
      Sam = is a prefix (ex; samBodha = perceive, bojjanga / samBojjanga)
      SamBuddha means enlightened or understood and not meant of teacher or teachings.

      @…rupassa nibbida viraga nirodha anupada vimutto “SammaSamBuddho” ti vuccati -khandhavagga, sammasambuddhasutta-
      (…the freedom[knowledge] of breaking, dispassion, cessation and clinging of physical-material-forms CALLED AS “SammaSamBuddho”)

  2. This’s my interpretation;

    Namo (based on nati) = bow down.
    Tassa = him.
    Bhagavato (based on bho) = to honorable.
    Arahato (based on araka) = ridded of sins which, leading to suffering existence again.
    [Samma + sam + buddhassa] (based on buddha)
    = rightly self-enlightened.

    “Bow to him, the honorable, ridded of sins which, leading to suffering existence again and rightly self-enlightened”

    1. There are many interpretations. I used the standard definitions…and Pali grammar. I also consulted the vsm. Tassa is for sure “to him” sadhu for reading the article and seeing the video Be well!

  3. Yes, Bhante, but the pali grammar now we’ve is slightly different from the original preachings. Its very clearly seen in all suttas. That’s why the buddha advised us to search in sutta and see in vinaya both when having doubts. (Sutte otaretabba, vinaye sandassetabba). The pali between sutts and most of commentaries also has many and clear differences. Because those pali commentaries written 100s of yers later after the Buddha. So, the pali grammar we’ve today doesn’t 100% correctly applies in searching of dhamma.

    1. The commentaries were translated from pāḷi to sinhala back to pāḷi language. The language is different in many ways. It is more complex too. I don’t really like to discuss about things being “later and not later”. Theravada is about the commentaries and abhidhamma. I don’t like to discuss ebt or other criticism based sects that have formed on the fringes. It does not matter what scholars or linguists say. I think it does not matter. I’m reporting according to the commentaries and that is enough. That is my job.
      Opinions made today of modern monks are thousands of years newer instead of the complaints of the retranslation of the commentaries back to pāḷi.

  4. Bhante, you’re contributing to very good and rarely found noble work in the world. TPR (TipitakaPaliReader) android project application is unique and invaluable now days to study dhamma. And your enthusiasm in writing of interesting articles is also great whlie most people are going away from dhamma. Understanding the importance of these works also depends on the knowledge of dhamma. We express our gratitude which you, Venerable Pandazza and other companions deserve for those excellent works. All of you may long live with comfort and have blessing of dhamma.
    @ Btw, The self-enlightened feature, without teachers/ assistants of the Buddha is given in words of pali as “sayambhū, anācariyako, asahāyo, etc”. The Buddha himself described it in saṅgāravasutta as, “…pubbe ananussutesu dhammesu sāmaṃyeva dhammaṃ abhiññāya” (Self-enlightened of things which haven’t heard before) [sāmaṃyeva = only by self]

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