In Buddhism we classically have four stages of enlightenment:

  1. Stream-enterer (Sotapanna);
  2. Once-returner (Sakadagami);
  3. Non-returner (Anāgāmi);
  4. Arahant.

My question, as stated in the title, is: can a person attain to any one of the four stages mentioned above without clearly recognizing it?

4 Answers 4


Samyutta Nikaya - Maha Vaggo (2) Sotapatti Samyuttaya

Here you can find sutta where Buddha explains who a Sotapatti stream winner is.

  1. Unwavering impression of Buddha
  2. Unwavering impression of Dhamma
  3. Unwavering impression of Sangha
  4. Maintains Aryakäntha sîla

There are other places in Tipitaka where Buddha mentions the first three and the fourth one as

  1. No doubt of The Four Noble Truths (Sammä Ditti) -

A definitive answer may be found here:

Samyutta Nikaya - Maha Vaggo (2) Sotapatti Samyuttaya - 11.1.5

As you might notice, as long as there is doubt (Vicikiccä) you are not sothäpanna. By observing your own mind, you can confirm if you are sothäpanna or not.

To go a step further, it is wise to practice Buddhism with the thoughts

  1. As long as I make assumptions using "me", "mine", "my soul" I need to practice detachment.
  2. As long as I have craving, anger or delusion, I will practice detachment, metta and vipassana (Sammä Ditti)

This way, one won't waste time thinking am I this, am I that. Where there is craving, anger, delusion, there is harm for oneself and others. Therefore, you can practice this just by deciding to be harmless.

Sinhala Version

English Version

  • 1
    Is there is a link available to a translation in English of the included text?
    – user2341
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 20:19
  • Thank you. Would you agree that one could be a stream-winner without realizing it? Perhaps someone following what they are taught with no doubts and little self-reflection? The nondual literature talks about "gradual awakening" and "sudden awakening". I read a book by a woman who realized she was nondual months after it (slowly) had unfolded. I also read a book by an angry atheist who had strong, disruptive awakening experiences (like satori) when she was young, had no guidance, and she could never put it all in any context. She was bitter and denied that there was any significance to it.
    – user2341
    Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 12:32
  • I believe upon self investigation one would know it. Commented Apr 30, 2017 at 14:52

Especially the stream-enterer in some cases if not fully guided by the meditation master will not be identify clearly which stage he/she achieve. Only with the help of the meditation master who can teach how magga and phala was achieved during practice will know exactly what is what. Once in Buddha time, one upathaka didn't know his afterlife whether might be in lower realm although he already entered sotapanna stage which I heard from one of my venerable sayadaw highlighting the importance of meditation master.



Yes, in regard of the question, it's possible that one is not aware of certain paths and fruits. As for the Arahat, my person is not sure about it, but one could investigate some situations in the Suttas.

Many do not know their current wealth, but that is mostly good, since it caused suffering thinking "I am this or that", not to speak of questioning "Am I this or that. So when asking your self or other, simple ask if this or that work has been already done. So if not "the task is done, there is no more further for this world (or a next)" arsises, is know simple: Work, and take on all possible given possibilities for it.

One having done

Not easy to do

Should not be scared

To delight in it

Nor should one

Reject done merits.

For it is hard

To gain such a life

And its even harder

To gain such again:

Meeting either

The good Dhamma

Or upright leading man.

What ever good

Has been done

Achived, sacrified,

Only those delighting,

In deeds hard to do,

Having gratitude,

Form themselves and

In regard of others

Their sacrifies, their deeds,

Are able to carry themseves



(Note: this answer is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for any commercial purpose or other worldily gains.)


It's impossible to not realize nibbana when it occurs on each levels. When everything ceased and attained nibbana you will definitely understand that you really get there.

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