Who is Shakyamuni?
Shakyamuni was almost certainly the first enlightened figure to be visualized. He says that at any time he wishes he can see and hear his teacher, even though he lives hundreds of miles from where the Buddha dwells. Shakyamuni’s mantra is a play on his name. Muni means sage. Maha means great.
Shakayamuni: The Awakened One
Shakyamuni is an honorific of the historical Buddha, meaning “Sage of the Shakyans,” the Shakyans being the tribal republic where the Buddha-to-be was born.The term “Buddha” is itself an honorific, meaning Awakened One, and Shakyamuni’s actual name was Siddhattha Gotama, Gotama being the family name.
In considering the Buddha’s life story it’s often hard to separate fact from later elaboration, and even some basic facts, such as the date of his birth, are questionable. The fact that stories about the Buddha are exaggerated or even mythological doesn’t of course negate their value. Often mythology is an attempt to communicate psychological truths in a very accessible and even visceral way.