The Buddha was a unique human being who was self-Enlightened. He had no one whom He could regard as His teacher. Through His own efforts, He practised to perfection the ten supreme qualities of generosity, discipline, renunciation, wisdom, energy, endurance, truthfulness, determination, goodwill and equanimity. Through His mental purification, He opened the doors to all knowledge. He knew all things to be known, cultivated all things to be cultivated, and destroyed all things to be destroyed. Indeed, no other religious teacher was comparable to Him in terms of cultivation and attainment.
So special was He and so electrifying His message, that many people asked Him ‘What(not so much as Who) He was’.
Questions on ‘Who He was’ would be with respect to His name, origin, ancestry, etc., while ‘What He was’ referred to the order of beings to which He belonged. So ‘godly and inspiring was He that even during His time, there were numerous attempts of others to turn Him into a god or a reincarnation of god. Never did He agree to be regarded as such. In the Anguttara Nikaya, He said: ‘I am not indeed a deva, nor a gandharva, nor a yaksa, nor a manusya. Know ye that I am the Buddha.’ After Enlightenment, the Buddha could no longer be classified even as a ‘manusya’ or an ordinary human being. He belonged to the Buddha Wangsa, special race or species of enlightened beings, all of whom are Buddhas.