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Sotapanna:

Sotapanna Stream Enterer

What is a stream enterer?

The Pali word Sotapanna is composed of two words the second half apanna is translated as “one who entered”, and Sota which means, “The stream”. Combined they become, stream enterer.





The great awakened Buddha taught us that there are four stages of enlightenment on the path to nirvana. (I know in Pali, the language of the Buddha, the word is Nibbana, but we are, Embracing Nirvana, so I will use the Sanskrit term Nirvana here)

  • The first stage being Sotapanna – Stream Enterer.
  • The second stage of enlightenment is Sakadagami – Once Returner
  • The third stage of enlightenment is Anagami – Non-Returner.
  • The fourth and final stage of enlightenment brings one to the status of Arahant.
When we have let go of, and we have severed all of the 10 Fetters that bind us we will become an Arahant.



The practitioner of Buddhism who has achieved the enlightenment of a Sotapanna has severed the chains of the first three Fetters which are, self-illusion, doubt in the Buddha’s teachings, and attachment to Rules and rituals.

Self-illusion or wrong view of self is the most restricting of the 10 Fetters. Are you the self who is reading these words? Do you think… Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future?

Am I? Am I not? What am I? Where has this I come from? Where will it go?

It is this self of mine that speaks, feels, and experiences the world around me. This self of mine is permanent, unchanging, and everlasting. These are wrong views, or self-illusion.

Letting go of self-illusion is the most freeing of the 10 fetters, and the prerequisite to entering the stream path to nirvana.

Vicikiccha, or doubt in the Buddha’s teaching is one of the five hindrances. It refers to having doubt about the realities of Buddha’s teaching about The Four Noble Truths, Dependent Origination, Impermanence and Karma.

By severing the chain of Vicikiccha – doubt in Buddha’s teaching, the follower of Buddhism will have developed great wisdom of the Dharma, specifically Right View – from Buddha’s teaching of The Eightfold Path. This wisdom leads to the first stage of enlightenment, entering the stream - Sotapatti.



The sotapanna does not have doubt in the Buddha, doubt in the dharma, or doubt in the sangha. They have let go of greed, anger, and delusions, but have not yet severed the chains of all attachments.

The sotapanna has gotten a glimpse of nirvana, and they have no doubt in the eventual attainment of nirvana. They understand The Law Of Impermanence , and know that everything will arise, come into existence then cease to exist.

Being mindful of the present moment, and focusing our thoughts on the impermanence of everything will allow us to let go of everything. All of our suffering, Dukkha comes from our attachment to things we want to be permanent when in fact they are not.

It is our attachment to our desires that solidify our wrong view of self. When we lose our doubt in the realities of Buddha’s teaching of Impermanence, our self-view will change and allow us to enter the stream.

Sotapannas have escaped suffering through rebirths in the lower levels of Samsara namely the levels of Hells (Naraka), Hungry Ghosts (Pretas), and Animals (Tiryak).

If a man, after the disappearance of the first 3 fetters, has entered the stream to nirvana, he is no more subject to rebirth in lower worlds, is firmly established, and is destined to achieve full enlightenment.

When a person enters the stream as a sotapanna they will be in a state of euphoric bliss. Having had a taste of nirvana their whole character and attitude will change.

Once one has entered the stream they will not have inertia there, they will continue to become enlightened and travel up stream to nirvana.

Let go of your attachments. Accept that all things are impermanent. Believe in the Dharma. Enter the stream Sotapanna, and Embrace Nirvana.







Back to Buddhist Terminology


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