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srotāpanna [alt. śrotāpanna] (P. sotāpanna; T. rgyun zhugs རྒྱུན་ཞུགས་; C. yuliu [guo]/xutuohuan 預流[果]/须陀洹) is translated as "stream-enterer," "stream-winner," "stream-attainer," etc. It is the first of the four stages of the supramundane path.

The stream-enterer has gained a first glimpse of nirvana, and thus knows that the eightfold path is a "stream" that leads to nirvana.[1] The stream-enterer is said to have "opened the eye of the Dhamma" (dharmacakṣus), because they have fully realized the truth of impermance (anitya) - that whatever arises will cease.[2]

A person on this stage has overcome the first three of the ten fetters that bind a being to rebirth, namely:

  1. view of a personal identity (satkāyadṛṣṭi)
  2. deluded doubt (vicikitsā)
  3. attachment to rites and rituals (śīlavrataparāmarśa)

Detailed explanation

The Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions states:

Realization of the four truths is the essence of the ariya path. Until people are spiritually mature, the Buddha teaches them other Dhamma topics. Full penetration of the four truths comes about through practicing the thirty-seven aids to awakening and cultivating serenity and insight. The moment one becomes a stream-enterer, one experiences a breakthrough called the arising of the eye of the Dhamma, because for the first time one directly sees the Dhamma, the truth of the Buddha’s teaching, nibbāna. One now changes lineage from being an ordinary person to being an ariya.
Through directly realizing nibbāna, stream-enterers completely abandon three fetters (samyojana, saṃyojana):
(1) They no longer have the view of a personal identity (satkāyadṛṣṭi) that grasps a real self existing in relation to the five aggregates. Such a self could be a self that is identical to one of the aggregates, possesses the aggregates, is possessed by the aggregates, is inside the aggregates (like a jewel in a box), or contains the aggregates (like a box containing five jewels).
(2) Doubt (vicikitsā) in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Saṅgha being reliable sources of refuge vanishes due to having direct experience of the Dhamma taught by the Buddha.
(3) They eliminate the view of rules and practices (śīlavrataparāmarśa). Stream-enterers maintain precepts and perform various ceremonies but do not cling to rules or to the idea that correct performance of ceremonies has special power in and of itself to bring liberation.
Stream-enterers may be monastics or lay practitioners. The former keep their monastic precepts very well, and the latter keep the five precepts. While stream-enterers may still commit minor transgressions such as speaking harshly due to anger, they never conceal offenses and immediately confess them and make a strong determination to restrain themselves thereafter. Due to the power of their realization, it is impossible for stream-enterers to commit six great wrongs: the five heinous actions (killing one’s mother, father, or an arahant, causing schism in the Saṅgha, and maliciously injuring the Buddha) and regarding anyone other than the Buddha as the supreme spiritual master. Attaining the stage of stream-entry is highly praised for these reasons.
Stream-enterers will never again be born as hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, or asuras and will take at most seven more rebirths in saṃsāra before attaining arahantship. Stream-enterers with sharp faculties take only one more rebirth; those with middle faculties take two to six rebirths; and those with dull faculties take seven more rebirths.
While they have profound spiritual insight and are firmly on the path to liberation, stream-enterers have overcome only three of the ten fetters, and their minds are not immune to the eight worldly concerns -- delight with material gain, praise, good reputation, and sensual pleasure and dejection with material loss, blame, notoriety, and unpleasant sensory experiences. They may still create destructive kamma, although it is not strong enough to bring unfortunate rebirths. In some cases, their external behavior may even resemble that of ordinary beings. They may be attached to their family, enjoy being praised, or compete with others. Sometimes they may even be heedless. Nevertheless, their faith in the Three Jewels is unshakable, and they will definitely continue on the path to arahantship.[3]

Three types

A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma states:

There are three types of stream-enterer:
(1) One who will be reborn seven times at most in the human and celestial worlds (sattakkhattuparama).
(2) One who takes birth in good families two or three times before attaining Arahantship (kolankola).
(3) One who will be reborn only once more before attaining the goal (ekabījī).[4]


The word sotāpanna literally means "one who entered (āpanna) the stream (sota)", after a metaphor which calls the noble eightfold path a "stream" which leads to nirvana.[5]

Alternate translations

  • stream-enterer
  • stream-winner
  • stream-attainer (Gethin, Foundations of Buddhism)


  1. Harvey 2013, p. 85.
  2. Bhikkhu, Thanissaro. "Upatissa-pasine: Upatissa's (Sariputta's) Question". Access to Insight. Retrieved 25 June 2015. Then to Sariputta the wanderer, as he heard this Dhamma exposition, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation." 
  3. Dalai Lama & Thubten Chodron 2014, s.v. Chapter 2.
  4. Bhikkhu Bodhi 2000, s.v. The Once-Returner.
  5. Bhikkhu, Thanissaro. "Intro the Stream: A Study Guide on the First Stage of Awakening". Access to Insight. Very good, Sariputta! Very good! This noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — is the stream. 

Sources and further reading

External links