The question is likely inappropriate here, but I'll try anyway. Hopefully nobody will take offense.

Are anagamis/arahants common (1000+) nowadays?

"Uncommon" would be, for example, that all the anagamis/arahants you know are renowned teachers. Likely less than 100 worldwide.

On the other hand, "common" would be if you know of 3 or 4 anagamis/arahants around in the same temple. Hinting at a much bigger number worldwide, on the thousands.

I'm sure someone that goes frequently to temples can give a clear answer. Or maybe someone can do some back of the envelope math.


5 Answers 5


In Udana 7.2, Ven. Sariputta (the Arahant) tried to teach Ven. Bhaddiya without realizing that he too was an Arahant.

The Buddha saw this and exclaimed the verse, describing Ven. Bhaddiya:

He has cut the cycle, has gone away to freedom from longing. The dried-up stream no longer flows. The cycle, cut, no longer turns. This, just this, is the end of stress.

This shows that the Buddha could recognize who is an Arahant, but not another Arahant (who does not possess psychic powers).

In addition, in the Bhikkhu Patimokkha, there is a rule forbidding monks from confessing their factual attainments to lay people:

Should any bhikkhu report (his own) superior human state to an unordained person, when it is factual, it is to be confessed. - Pācittiya 8

Hence, it is impossible to identify arahants or draw up statistics.


Silly question. If you spent any time with Buddhists you'd realize they have zero agreement on interpretation of most doctrinal points, including the definitions of the stream-entry, non-return, and arhantship. How can anyone quantify a number of people in category A, when there's no agreed upon definition of that category?!

Since you tagged your question as "teacher", consider this: if enlightenment constitutes direct insight into the mechanism behind the mind constructing its perception of reality, if having this insight liberates from dukkha and death, and if the insight itself involves realizing the limits of conceptualization as such, would a realized individual be inclined to see the world and him- or herself in terms of such concepts as "an arahant" or "a buddha" or would they rather be inclined to see such conceptualization as a source of trouble?

  • Hi! I see how it could be difficult to define Sakadagami and Anagami, and although it seems to me that Sotapanna is somehow clearer in it's caracterization than those two higher stages, I thought the definition of an Arahant was objectively defined: an individual that experience no more dissatisfaction. Is there any disagreement with that last definition? Oct 8, 2020 at 1:22
  • If such a person were to talk to a regular dissatisfied person, and this second person were to explain to them the nature of their dissatisfaction, would the first person be able to put themselves in the second person's shoes and imagine their dissatisfaction vividly enough to experience its somatic component, would that count as feeling dissatisfied or not? In simple words, can they feel dissatisfaction on behalf of other people?
    – Andriy Volkov
    Oct 8, 2020 at 3:03
  • @AndreiVolkov I can start to see what you're aiming for. That's an interesting question. Without thinking to much about it (which could lead me to wrong conclusions), I'd would say that in the subjectivity of the arahant, he does not experience the affective and emotional urgency to change the way things are. If he changes things, he does it to keep the body healthy, by reasoning, by prudence, by compassion, and so on. The phenomenological experience of dissatisfaction (which I'm not able to define properly, but to merely indicate or point to its arising) does not present itself anymore. Oct 8, 2020 at 15:32
  • "he does not experience the affective and emotional urgency to change the way things are" - so back to my question above, does he experience someone else's affective urgency affectively or does he/she remain cold to the others' pain? In simple words, is arahant capable of true empathy (experiencing the feelings of others)?
    – Andriy Volkov
    Oct 8, 2020 at 15:38
  • 1
    I happen to think you are wrong, and I even think "how dare this guy who only studies Buddhism for a few years, limiting himself to Pali Canon, dare to argue with someone who studied it for two and a half decades, both Pali Canon and the many centuries worth of subsequent analysis." ;) But then again, I may be wrong too, so thank you for this healthy debate.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Oct 9, 2020 at 17:55

I know this is probably not the answer you were looking for, but I think you will need to discover the true number of arahants that exist for yourself.

Unfortunately it’s difficult for a non-arahant to assess if someone else is an arahant due to the nature of Nirvana. Nirvana is completely impossible to describe, and the descriptions arahants come up with could never be used as a metric of attainment. Not only is any description of Nirvana a half-truth, but an arahant would be describing a state another has never experienced. How could it possibly be assessed?

When you have completed the path though, you can deduce fairly accurately if another has experienced Nirvana based on how they talk about its many facets. By comparing what they say to your own experience and asking probing questions, it tends to become fairly obvious if they have become free. Arahants tend to not regurgitate the same old teachings, but bring about a new perspective based on their own experience. When they say something truly insightful that aligns with your shared experience, it is about as close as someone is going to get to verifying someone else’s attainments.

If you really want to know, you are going to have to become an arahant yourself. If it’s not even 100% verifiable to an arahant of another is also an arahant. Much less so if you have never experienced Nirvana. I suggest you complete the path and then go out and talk to people! If someone else told you a number, you’d just be taking it on blind faith otherwise.


According to the commentaries of the elders, good householder, the times of Arahats and the next two Noble pairs are already gone and there would be maximum Stream-enter for another while.

Since the Sangha at large moves toward carry signs of householders, such looks reasonable, not able to overcome sense pleasure.

On the other hand one should be aware that one sees only what one knows. And it's impossible for a worldling to recognize a Noble, a Innoble rightly for sure.

There are, how ever, Noble Ones, and those with Upanissaya or up to build Upanissaya toward the Sangha are sure to meet. So like always never seek for failures and reasons outwardly but focus on own development, on base (Nissaya) and fruits are sure to appear when conditions are arise, yet when or where... nobody knows before.

At least, the very matter of decay should be an urge for wise, as only fools will be left and it's by the Dhammas very nature that those wise, having taken on, disappear in the sphere of Samsara.

Maha-mangala Sutta: Protection

[Note that this isn't given for stacks exchange, other world-binding trades but for an escape from this wheel.]


Are anagamis/arahants common (1000+) nowadays?

Obviously only one who's developed the supernormal powers/Iddhis would be able to know for certain. For the rest of us, it'd be all just speculation. But just for some context and perspective: there're currently ~ 2,800 billionaires in the world at the end of 2019, out of the world's total population of 7.8 billion ( or ~ 0.000035897% ). Now if the kamma for some mundane worldly achievement is that rare, how much rarer would that be of the kind required for supramundane attainments like the Four Fruits!!

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