List of Buddha claimants
The people described below have claimed to have attained enlightenment and become buddhas, claimed to be manifestations of bodhisattvas, identified themselves as Gautama Buddha or Maitreya Buddha, or been honored as buddhas or bodhisattvas.
- Guan Yu - a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms period in ancient China. Guan was deified as early as the Sui Dynasty and is still worshipped by many Chinese people today, especially in southern China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and among many overseas Chinese communities. He is a figure in Chinese folk religion, popular Confucianism, Taoism, and Chinese Buddhism, and small shrines to Guan are almost ubiquitous in traditional Chinese shops and restaurants. Many Buddhists accept him as a bodhisattva that guards the Buddhist faith and temples.
- Wu Zetian - the only ruling female emperor in the history of China, and founder of her own dynasty, the Second Zhou dynasty. Ruled under the name Emperor Shengshen. Gained popular support by advocating Buddhism but ruthlessly persecuted her opponents within the royal family (by cutting off their arms and legs and inserting them in jars) and the nobility. She proclaimed herself an incarnation of Maitreya and made Luoyang the "holy capital".
- Gung Ye - Korean warlord and king of the short-lived state of Taebong during the 10th century. Claimed to be the living incarnation of Maitreya and ordered his subjects to worship him. His claim was rejected by most Buddhist monks and later he was dethroned and killed by his own servants.
- Nurhaci (Emperor Tai Zu) - founder and leader of the Qing Dynasty. Believed he was a manifestation of Manjushri Bodhisattva.
- Lu Zhongyi - the 17th patriarch of the I-Kuan Tao. I-Kuan Tao followers believe that he is the first leader of the "White Sun" Era, the era of the apocalypse, thus he is the incarnation of Maitreya.
- Baha'u'llah - prophet of Persian origin, founder of the Baha'i Faith stated publicly in 1863 CE that he is the promised Manifestation of God for this age predicted in all prophetic religions of the past. Shoghi Effendi, eldest grandson and authorized interpreter of the sacred writings of Bahá'u'lláh and guardian of Baha'i Faith from 1921 to 1957, identifies Bahá'u'lláh as "the fifth buddha" and "a Buddha named Maitreye, the Buddha of universal fellowship".
- Mirza Ghulam Ahmad - Ghulam Ahmad has claimed many titles he says were given to him by God including being a universal prophet for all religions (including Buddhism). In 1889 he found the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, preaching Islam as a universal faith which came to support the true teachings of all other religions lost over the centuries.
- Peter Deunov (Master Beinsa Douno) - spiritual teacher, founder of a teaching and school of Esoteric Christianity. Some students of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, have identified Master Beinsa Douno as a manifestation of Maitreya in the late 20th century.
- Ruth Norman (Uriel) - founder of the Unarius Academy of Science. Claims to have had fifty-five past lives, some included were reincarnations of the Buddha, Socrates, King Arthur, Confucius and a king of Atlantis.
- Samael Aun Weor - stated in The Aquarian Message that "the Maitreya Buddha Samael is the Kalki Avatar of the New Age." The Kalkian Avatar and Maitreya Buddha, he claimed, are the same "White Rider" of the book of Revelation.
- Jim Jones - leader of the Peoples Temple cult. Jones claimed to be a living incarnation of the Buddha as well as Jesus Christ, Pharaoh Akhenaten, Father Divine and Vladimir Lenin.
- Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - also known as Acharya Rajneesh from the 1960s onwards, as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (during the 1970s and 1980s and as Osho from 1989) was an Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher who garnered an international following. Osho later said he became spiritually enlightened on 21 March 1953, when he was 21 years old, in a mystical experience while sitting under a tree in the Bhanvartal Garden in Jabalpur.
- Ariffin Mohammed - founder of the Sky Kingdom. His movement had a commune based in Besut, Terengganu, that was demolished by the Malaysian government in 2005. He also claimed to be an incarnation of the Mahdi, Muhammad, Jesus and Shiva.
- Claude Vorilhon (Raël) - Vorilhon claims to be Maitreya.
- Lu Sheng-yen - founder and spiritual teacher of the newly created Buddhist lineage called the True Buddha School. Lu claims that in the late 1980s, he had reached enlightenment while training under a formless teacher and that he is an incarnation of Padmakumara, a deity in the Western Pure Land kingdom. He has since then called himself "Living Buddha Lian Sheng".
- Ram Bahadur Bomjon (other names Buddha Boy, Maha Sambodhi, Dharma Sangha, Maitriya Guru, Palden Dorje, Tapasvi) - a 29 year old Nepalese ascetic whom many have hailed as a new Buddha. According to his brother Gangajit, a "very clear and white" light "different from sunlight" emanated from his head. On November 8, 2005 Palden Dorje arose and said to the public, "Tell the people not to call me a Buddha. I don't have the Buddha's energy. I am at the level of rinpoche." However, to his nearest followers Bomjon seems to share different identities. "His followers consider him to be Parmatma (supreme soul) and above Lord Buddha.", "His followers claim his level of knowledge is above that of Lord Buddha. They claim Siddhartha Gautam reached a Sambuddha (self-enlightened) state but Bomjon has attained Mahasambodhi (greater form of self-enlightenment) state", "Some even claim he has left Sukhapati Bhawan (heavenly abode where Amitabh Buddha is said to reside) replete with amenities and bliss, and come to the earth for the good of the world." Naming himself publicly from 2012 as Maitriya Guru, he and his followers also openly claim that he is the awaited Maitreya Buddha.
- Babasaheb Ambedkar is regarded as a Bodhisattva, the Maitreya, among the Navayana followers. In practice, the Navayana followers revere Ambedkar, states Jim Deitrick, as virtually on par with the Buddha. He is considered as the one prophesied to appear and teach the dhamma after it was forgotten, his iconography is a part of Navayana shrines and he is shown with a halo. Though Ambedkar states Navayana to be atheist, Navayana viharas and shrines features images of the Buddha and Ambedkar, and the followers bow and offer prayers before them in practice. According to Junghare, for the followers of Navayana, Ambedkar has become a deity and is devotionally worshipped.
- Momen, Moojan (1995). Buddhism And The Baha'i Faith: An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith for Theravada Buddhists. Oxford: George Ronald. pp. 50–52. ISBN 0-85398-384-4.
- Buck, Christopher (2004). "The eschatology of Globalization: The multiple-messiahship of Bahā'u'llāh revisited". In Sharon, Moshe (ed.). Studies in Modern Religions, Religious Movements and the Bābī-Bahā'ī Faiths. Boston: Brill. pp. 143–178. ISBN 90-04-13904-4.
- Smith, Peter (2000). "Bahá'u'lláh". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 73–79. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- McCormack, W. (2010). The Rajneesh Chronicles: The True Story of the Cult that Unleashed the First Act of Bioterrorism on U.S. Soil . Tin House Books. ISBN 098256919X. p. 34.
- York, M. (2009). The A to Z of New Age Movements. 33. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810863324. pp. 139-140.
- "State must watch Bomjon closely". setopati.net. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
- Fitzgerald, Timothy (2003). The Ideology of Religious Studies. Oxford University Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-19-534715-9.
- M.B. Bose (2017). Tereza Kuldova and Mathew A. Varghese (ed.). Urban Utopias: Excess and Expulsion in Neoliberal South Asia. Springer. pp. 144–146. ISBN 978-3-319-47623-0.
- Jim Deitrick (2013). Damien Keown and Charles S. Prebish (ed.). Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Routledge. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-136-98588-1.
- Rowena Robinson (2003). Religious Conversion in India: Modes, Motivations, and Meanings. Oxford University Press. p. 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-566329-7.
- I.Y. Junghare (1988), Dr. Ambedkar: The Hero of the Mahars, Ex-Untouchables of India, Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 47, No. 1, (1988), pp. 93–121, "(...) the new literature of the Mahars and their making of the Ambedkar deity for their new religion, Neo-Buddhism. (...) Song five is clearly representative of the Mahar community's respect and devotion for Ambedkar. He has become their God and they worship him as the singer sings: "We worship Bhima, too." (...) In the last song, Dr. Ambedkar is raised from a deity to a supreme deity. He is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient."