The Enlightened Buddha seated in meditation
Nirvana is the highest state one can attained and one who attained Nirvana is known as Arahant. There are four stages of Nirvana and they are Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami, and Arahant.
Nirvana is one of the most popular words in Buddhism. It is also known as Enlightenment. According to the legend, Lord Buddha attained the level of Nirvana in Bodh Gaya while meditating under the Bodhi Tree. It took 6 years for Lord Buddha to achieve Nirvana. In Buddhism, Nirvana is the highest state one can achieve and it is also considered by Buddhist monks in Buddhism. According to Buddhist tradition, one who attained Nirvana will be free from worldly desires and suffering of life and will also be free from the Wheel of Life, Bhavachakra.
It is said that there four stages to attain full Enlightenment. The four stages of Enlightenment in Buddhism are the four progressive stages that help to reach the highest state or state of Full Enlightenment. One who attained full Enlightenment is also known as Arahant. The teachings of four progressive stages of Enlightenment are the central element of most Buddhist schools which includes Theravada Buddhism, and so on. The four stages of Enlightenment are Sotapanna, Sakadagami, Anagami, and Arahant. The people who are at one of these four stages are included in the Buddhist Community or Sangha.
The standard four stages that are described in the Sutta Pitaka of Pali Canon are Stream Enterer, Once-Returner, No-Returner , and The Arahant. But according to the Sangha of Tathagata’s Disciples, there are around eight kinds of paths to Nirvana if paths and fruit of an individual are taken separately. They are:
1. Path to Stream Entry
2. Fruition of Stream Entry
3. Path to Once-Returner
4. Fruition of Once-Returner
5. Path to No Returner
6. Fruition of No Returner
7. Path to Arahantship
8. Fruition of Arahantship
But the standard four stages of Enlightenment . They are:
• Stream Enterer
The first stage is Stream Enterer or Sotappana . Sotappana means “ one who enters the streams ”. One who entered this stage are said to open the eye of the Dharma . It is said who have opened the eye of the Dharma attained the level of Arahantship in the seven rebirths. When you become a stream enterer , you became free from the desire and rituals, and don’t have identity issues and can become one with the mind and the eye. It is believed that one, who entered at this stage, will never be born in the lower realms of Bhavachakra . Stream Enterer will have the utmost confidence in the three Jewels of Buddhism i.e. Buddha , Dharma , and Sangha .
The second stage of Enlightenment is Once-Returner or Sakadagami . Sakadagami literally means one who once comes . Once-Returner and Stream Enterer are said to be free from the 3 fetters of Enlightenment . The three fetters are self-illusion, doubt, and attachment to rituals and rule . Once-Returner have weakened the other three fetters of Enlightenment i.e. lust, ill will , and desire of fine material . The Once-Returners are believed to attain Enlightenment in one rebirth than that of Stream Enterer which excludes rebirth in lower realms like animal, hell, or hungry ghost.
The third stage of Nirvana is Non-Returner or also known as Anagami . Anagami literally means “ one who doesn’t come ”. Non-Returner are said to be free from the five fetters and doesn’t return to the human world or any lower realms after being reborn. Non-Returners are believed to attain Nirvana after one rebirth. They are born in one of the five special worlds.
The last stage of Nirvana is Arahant. One who enters this stage is free from all ten fetters and become free from the cycle of rebirth and death as well. An arahant attained the level of Nirvana by following the path shown by Lord Buddha.