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  • ariya-puggala

  •  or simply ariya

'Noble Ones', 'noble persons'.

(A) The 8 a. are those who have realized one of the 8 stages of holiness,

 i.e. the 4 supermundane paths (magga) and the 4 supermundane fruitions (phala) of these paths.

There are 4 pairs:

  • 1. The one realizing the path of Stream-winning (sotāpattimagga).
  • 2. The one realizing the fruition of Stream-winning (sotāpattiphala).
  • 3. The one realizing the path of Once-return (sakadāgāmimagga).
  • 4. The one realizing the fruition of Once-return (sakadāgāmiphala).
  • 5. The one realizing the path of Non-return (anāgāmimagga).
  • 6. The one realizing the fruition of Non-return (anāgāmiphala).
  • 7. The one realizing the path of Holiness (arahatta-magga).
  • 8. The one realizing the fruition of Holiness (arahatta-phala).

Summed up, there are 4 noble individuals (ariya-puggala):

  • the Stream-winner (Sotāpanna),
  • the Once-Returner (Sakadāgāmi),
  • the Non-Returner (Anāgāmī),
  • the Holy One (Arahat).

In A.VIII.10 and A.IX.16 the gotrabhū is listed as the 9th noble individual.

According to the Abhidhamma, 'supermundane path', or simply 'path' (magga), is a designation of the moment of entering into one of the 4 stages of holiness - Nibbāna being the object - produced by intuitional insight (vipassanā) into the impermanence, misery and impersonality of existence, flashing forth and forever transforming one's life and nature. By 'fruition' (phala) is meant those moments of consciousness which follow immediately thereafter as the result of the path, and which in certain circumstances may repeat for innumerable times during the life-time.

  • (I) Through the path of Stream-winning (sotāpatti-magga) one 'becomes' free (whereas in realizing the fruition, one 'is' free) from the first 3 fetters (samyojana) which bind beings to existence in the sensuous sphere, to wit:
    • (1) personality-belief (sakkāya-ditthi; s. ditthi),
    • (2) skeptical doubt (vicikicchā),
    • (3) attachment to mere rules and rituals (sīlabbata-parāmāsa; s. upādāna).
  • (II) Through the path of Once-return (sakadāgāmi-magga) one becomes nearly free from the 4th and 5th fetters, to wit:

    • (4) sensuous craving (kāma-cchanda = kāma-rāga; s. rāga),
    • (5) ill-will (vyāpāda = dosa, s. mūla).
  • (III) Through the path of Non-return (anāgāmi-magga) one becomes fully free from the above-mentioned 5 lower fetters.

  • (IV) Through the path of Holiness (arahatta-magga) one further becomes free from the 5 higher fetters, to wit:

    • (6) craving for fine material existence (rūpa-rāga),
    • (7) craving for immaterial existence. (arūpa-rāga),
    • (8) conceit (māna),
    • (9) restlessness (uddhacca),
    • (10) ignorance (avijjā).

The stereotype Sutta text runs as follows:

  • (I) "After the disappearance of the three fetters, the monk has won the stream (to Nibbāna) and is no more subject to rebirth in lower worlds, is firmly established, destined for full enlightenment.
  • (II) "After the disappearance of the three fetters and reduction of greed, hatred and delusion, he will return only once more; and having once more returned to this world, he will put an end to suffering.
  • (III) "After the disappearance of the five fetters he appears in a higher world, and there he reaches Nibbāna without ever returning from that world (to the sensuous sphere).
  • (IV) "Through the extinction of all fermentations (āsava-kkhaya) he reaches already in this very life the deliverance of mind, the deliverance through wisdom, which is free from fermentations, and which he himself has understood and realized."

For the various classes of Stream-winners and Non-Returners, s. Sotāpanna, Anāgāmī.

(B) The sevenfold grouping of the noble disciples is as follows:

  • (1) the faith-devotee (saddhānusārī),
  • (2) the faith-liberated one (saddhāvimutta),
  • (3) the body-witness (kāya-sakkhī),
  • (4) the both-ways-liberated one (ubhato-bhāga-vimutta),
  • (5) the Dhamma-devotee (dhammānusārī),
  • (6) the vision-attainer (ditthippatta),
  • (7) the wisdom-liberated one (paññā-vimutta).

This group of seven noble disciples is thus explained in Vis.M. XXI, 73:

  • (1) "He who is filled with resolution (adhimokkha) and, in considering the constructions as impermanent (anicca), gains the ability of faith, he, at the moment of the path to Stream-winning (A.1) is called a faith-devotee (saddhānusārī);
  • (2) at the seven higher stages (A. 2-8) he is called a faith-liberated one (saddhā-vimutta).
  • (3) He who is filled with tranquility and, in considering the constructions as miserable (dukkha), gains the ability of concentration, he in every respect is considered as a body-witness (kāya-sakkhī).
  • (4) He, however, who after reaching the absorptions of the immaterial sphere has attained the highest fruition (of Holiness), he is a both-ways-liberated one (ubhato-bhāga-vimutta).
  • (5) He who is filled with wisdom and, in considering the constructions as no-self (anattā), gains the ability of wisdom, he is at the moment of Stream-winning a Dhamma-devotee (dhammānusārī),
  • (6) at the later stages (A. 2-7) a vision-attainer (ditthippatta),
  • (7) at the highest stage (A. 8) a wisdom-liberated one (paññāvimutta)."

Further details about the body-witness, the both-ways-liberated one and the wisdom-liberated one, s. under the three Pāli terms. Cf. also M. 70; A. IX, 44; S. XII, 70; Pts.M. II, p. 33, PTS.


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