Tathāgata is the epithet used by the Buddha in referring to himself. In Sanskrit and Pali, it can mean either "Thus-Gone-One" (tathā-gata) or "Thus-Come-One" (tathā-āgata). In translating the term, Tibetans generally opted for the former meaning, and East Asians for the latter. In either case, the implication is that the Buddha has come (or gone) in the same manner as his predecessors, the buddhas of the past.
See also:Buddhahood and Buddha Bodies
John S. Strong