(A) The 8 a. are those who have realized one of the 8 stages of
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),
(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
(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 cankers (āsava-kkhaya) he
reaches already in this very life the deliverance of mind, the deliverance
through wisdom, which is free from cankers, and which he himself has
understood and realized."
For the various classes of Stream-winners and Non-Returners, s.
(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 formations as impermanent (anicca), gains the faculty
of faith, he, at the moment of the path to Stream-winning (A.1) is called a
(2) at the seven higher stages (A. 2-8) he is called a faith-liberated one
(3) He who is filled with tranquility and, in considering the formations
as miserable (dukkha), gains the faculty 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 formations as
not-self (anattā), gains the faculty 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.