When Buddha gave his first discourse at Sarnath to his five disciples, he addressed them thus, "Do not address me as friend, O monks. I am the Saint, the Perfect One, the supreme Buddha. Open your ears, O monks; the path is discovered that leads to deliverance. I will show you the path; I will teach you the law. Listen well, and you will learn the sacred truth.:
- The Life of Buddha, by A. Ferdinand Herold, tr. by Paul C Blum 
The Perfect One means the Tathagata (Devanagari: तथागत) literally “the awakened one" or "the enlightened one."
Gautama Buddha is said to have referred himself as the Tathagata instead of using pronouns. Tathagata means one beyond the otherwise endless cycle of rebirth, beyond all death and dying, beyond suffering. Gautama Buddha also used it to refer to other Buddhas who preceded him and who would follow. In later Mahayana Buddhism, Tathagata came to mean the essential Buddha nature found in everyone.