'Ariya' and its application in the suttas

Introduction

This essay is an extension of an older discussion on ariya and ‘noble’. The conclusion of that discussion was that ariya is usually to be taken as an adjective meaning ‘noble’. Another conclusion was that a ‘noble disciple’ is one with high aspirations, but not necessarily already a sotāpanna.

I did a complete search for ‘noble’ in the four nikayas, although not in the pali but the Bodhi translations of MN, AN, and SN and Walshe’s translation of the DN and got a fuller picture of how ‘noble’ is used in the suttas. Here I assume that Bhikkhu Bodhi more or less consistently translates ariya as ‘noble’, but am not so sure about Walshe - corrections and additions are welcome!

Result Summary

The results show that ‘noble’ is used in different meanings. By far the most frequent use is ‘noble disciple’ and ‘a noble one’, which are basically ‘Buddhist practitioners’ and ones with fetters destroyed - i.e. at least sotāpannas. Beyond that the adjective ‘noble’ is applied to some other expressions, but actually rather rarely to ‘Four Noble Truths’. Never it is used in the meaning of social class or race.

Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path

While we usually associate ‘noble’ with ‘Four Noble Truths’ and ‘Noble Eightfold Path’, the nikayas use these expressions very differently. In summary, it is surprising that the expression ‘Four Noble Truths’ became so central for Buddhism as the occurrences in the nikayas doesn’t justify it.

Anguttara

  • Famously the whole Anguttara has ‘Four Noble Truths’ only twice, in AN 3.61 and AN 5.15. It lead some scholars to believe that this fixed expression was a late addition.
  • The ‘Noble Eightfold Path’ appears at least a bit more often, i.e. 14 times. More often, 18 times we have ‘Noble wisdom’
  • Additionally we have ‘Noble Path’ twice (AN 10.145, AN 10.189), 3 times ‘noble method’ (AN 4.35, AN 10.92), 7 times ‘Noble Dhamma’
  • Path factors are labeled as ‘noble’ individually: ‘Noble view’ twice, 4 times the tetrad of ‘Noble sila, noble samadhi, noble panna, noble vimutti’, twice the triple of ‘Noble sila, noble sense restraint, noble sati-sampajanna’ (AN 4.198, AN 10.99), 3 times ‘Noble concentration’, twice ‘Noble sila, noble nana, noble vimutti’

Samyutta

  • Here we find ‘Four Noble Truths’ a lot - but only in 56. Saccasamyutta (38 times)! Apart from that we find it only twice, in SN 10.7 and SN 48.8! - Another indication for a late fixation of the expression?
  • ‘Noble Eightfold Path’ appears often though throughout the Samyutta (at least 72 times), additionally 8 times ‘Noble Path’, once ‘Noble Dhamma’ (SN 1.39), once ‘Noble method’ (SN 12.41)
  • More rarely individual path factors or other dhammas: 5 times ‘Noble panna’, 1 ‘Noble vimutti’, 1 ‘Noble nana’, 1 ‘Noble concentration’, 1 'Noble four satipatthanas, 1 ‘Noble seven bojjhangas’, 1 ‘Noble sila’, 1 ‘Noble four bases for spiritual power’

Majjhima

  • Even the MN doesn’t have a lot of ‘Four Noble Truths’, 5 times (MN 9, MN 10, MN 28, MN 77, MN 141). Additionally we have the ‘Noble supreme truth of nibbana’ in MN 140.
  • NEP appears more often, though not in abundance, 14 times out of the 152 suttas, additionally 1 ‘Noble true way’ in MN 75, 1 ‘Noble Dhamma’ MN 130, MN 117 has 6/8 path factors as ‘noble’, 1 ‘Noble supreme Dhamma’ in MN 96
  • Further path factors and dhammas: 2 times as in the AN the triplet of ‘Noble sila, noble sense restraint, noble sati-sampajanna’ in MN 27 and MN 51, ‘Noble virtue’ in MN 95, 8 times ‘Noble wisdom’, 3 times ‘Noble view’, ‘Noble vimutti’ in MN 106, ‘Noble thoughts’ in MN 122, the quartet of ‘Noble sila, noble samadhi, noble nana, noble vimutti’ in MN 111, 1 ‘Noble vision’ in MN 75, and ‘Noble relinquishment’ and ‘noble peace’ in MN 140.

Digha

  • 6/34 ‘Four Noble Truths’
  • 8/34 ‘NEP’
  • Additionally twice ‘Noble view’ and once ‘Noble vision’

Various different uses of ‘noble’

  • Anguttara: The noble eye of wisdom, Noble happiness, Noble high and luxurious bed, Noble lineages, Noble declarations (3x), Noble quests, Noble growth (3x), Noble washing, Noble purgative, Noble emetic, Noble paccorohaṇī festival (2x), Noble Silence (2x)
  • Samyutta: Noble silence, Noble growth, Noble dwelling (2x), Noble eye of wisdom
  • Majjhima: Noble search and Noble silence (both in MN 26)
  • Digha: Noble wheel treasure (? DN 17)
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I haven’t checked all these, but in most of these cases the Pali is in fact khattiya. I avoid this problem by translating khattiya as “aristocrat”. I’m not aware of any place in the EBTs that *ariya is used in a caste sense. The Critcial Pali Dictionary gives the following three senses:

  1. ariya the Aryan race or speaking Aryan language
  2. of noble birth (and education), high-caste, eminent;
  3. said of the Buddha’s law, his disciples, their discipline and practice

Of these, the first meaning is attested mainly in a passage found in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (DN 16#69), where it seems to mean “civilized lands, lands of Indo-European culture”.

The second sense is related; it is attested in two passages (in the entire Pali literature, not just the canon). It appears in the Bhuridatta Jataka (Ja 543), where it says “ariyas are for recitation”. Here apparently ariya stands for “brahmin”, i.e. it is similar to sense number 1 = “civilized, bearer of Indo-European culture”. However, this is spoken by a brahmin, so it is not a Buddhist usage.

So basically ariya is used very rarely in the sense of “civilized”, but never as a substitute for khattiya. Leaving such rare cases aside, it is always used in a spiritual sense in the EBTs.

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I haven’t checked all these, but in most of these cases the Pali is in fact khattiya. I avoid this problem by translating khattiya as “aristocrat”. I’m not aware of any place in the EBTs that *ariya is used in a caste sense. The Critcial Pali Dictionary gives the following three senses:

  1. ariya the Aryan race or speaking Aryan language
  2. of noble birth (and education), high-caste, eminent;
  3. said of the Buddha’s law, his disciples, their discipline and practice

Of these, the first meaning is attested mainly in a passage found in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta (DN 16#69), where it seems to mean “civilized lands, lands of Indo-European culture”.

The second sense is related; it is attested in two passages (in the entire Pali literature, not just the canon). It appears in the Bhuridatta Jataka (Ja 543), where it says “ariyas are for recitation”. Here apparently ariya stands for “brahmin”, i.e. it is similar to sense number 1 = “civilized, bearer of Indo-European culture”. However, this is spoken by a brahmin, so it is not a Buddhist usage.

So basically ariya is used very rarely in the sense of “civilized”, but never as a substitute for khattiya. Leaving such rare cases aside, it is always used in a spiritual sense in the EBTs.

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Hm, strange translation choice to have it as ‘noble’ where the original khattiya would make more sense. Just to make sure I’ll check the pali at some point…

Thanks Bhante, I looked them up all the references that I mentioned in the ‘social class’ section and they all have khattiya in the original.
I understand that you translate it as ‘aristocrat’ - but isn’t it a shame that it covers up the connotation that they were warriors originally? MN 96 has “the wealth of a noble—the bow and quiver”. Also a connection comes to my mind how in the Bhagavadgita Krishna chooses Arjuna the warrior as his disciple and not a devout brahmin. Were brahmins less inclined to ‘fight’ for their liberation and rather with mantras and rituals?

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I have recently done the same work, going through Pali also, here it is (I’ll copy-paste the article here below). The general conclusion was that:

  1. Ariya when applied to phenomena or states means what leads to the end of dukkha
  2. When applied to persons, it may mean just only arahants, or sotapannas, or generally people who are securing themselves on the way to the end of dukkha (ariyasavaka).

ariya: (adj:) noble - (n:) a noble one.

The earliest evidence for the use of the word ‘arya’ (e.g. The Behistun Inscription, 6th century BCE) indicate that it was widely used to designate the Indo-Iranian people as well as their language. The word is also recognized as the origin of the country name ‘Iran’. With the migration of Indo-Iranian people to India, the term was later used by the Indic people of the Vedic period to designate themselves, and as a religious distinction between those who worshiped the Vedic deities and performed sacrifices according to the established rules, and those who did not follow the Vedic religion. The word has been understood with a racial connotation by 19th century scholars among whom Rhys Davids (and subsequently in Nazi Germany), but modern scholars reject this interpretation.

:diamonds: Ariya as an adjective is juxtaposed 15 times in the four Nikāyas with niyyānika (leading out [to salvation], emancipatory). It can actually be understood as meaning ‘leading to the end of dukkha’, as explained at MN 12:

“tāyapi kho ahaṃ, sāriputta, iriyāya tāya paṭipadāya tāya dukkarakārikāya nājjhagamaṃ uttariṃ manussadhammā alamariyañāṇadassanavisesaṃ. taṃ kissa hetu? imissāyeva ariyāya paññāya anadhigamā, yāyaṃ ariyā paññā adhigatā ariyā niyyānikā, niyyāti takkarassa sammā dukkhakkhayāya.

"Yet, Sariputta, by such conduct, by such practice, by such performance of austerities, I did not attain any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. Why was that? Because I did not attain that noble wisdom which when attained is noble and emancipating and leads the one who practices in accordance with it to the complete destruction of suffering.

then:

AN 10.107

“ahañca kho, bhikkhave, ariyaṃ dhovanaṃ desessāmi, yaṃ dhovanaṃ ekantanibbidāya virāgāya nirodhāya upasamāya abhiññāya sambodhāya nibbānāya saṃvattati, yaṃ dhovanaṃ āgamma jātidhammā sattā jātiyā parimuccanti, jarādhammā sattā jarāya parimuccanti, maraṇadhammā sattā maraṇena parimuccanti, soka-parideva-dukkha-domanass-upāyāsa-dhammā sattā soka-parideva-dukkha-domanass-upāyāsehi parimuccanti.

Bhikkhus, I will teach [you] a noble washing that leads exclusively to disenchantment, to detachment, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to awakening, to Extinction, a washing owing to which beings by nature subject to birth are liberated from birth, beings by nature subject to old age are liberated from old age; beings by nature subject to death are liberated from death; beings by nature subject to sorrow, lamentation, pain, affliction and despair are liberated from sorrow, lamentation, pain, affliction and despair.

also:

MN 26

“dvemā, bhikkhave, pariyesanā: ariyā ca pariyesanā, anariyā ca pariyesanā. katamā ca, bhikkhave, anariyā pariyesanā? idha, bhikkhave, ekacco attanā jātidhammo samāno jātidhammaṃyeva pariyesati, attanā jarādhammo samāno jarādhammaṃyeva pariyesati, attanā byādhidhammo samāno byādhidhammaṃyeva pariyesati, attanā maraṇadhammo samāno maraṇadhammaṃyeva pariyesati, attanā sokadhammo samāno sokadhammaṃyeva pariyesati, attanā saṃkilesadhammo samāno saṃkilesadhammaṃyeva pariyesati.

Bhikkhus, there are these two quests: ignoble quest & noble quest. And what is ignoble quest? Here someone, being himself subject to birth, goes after what is also subject to birth. Being himself subject to aging, he goes after what is also subject to aging. Being himself subject to illness, he goes after what is also subject to illness. Being himself subject to death, he goes after what is also subject to death. Being himself subject to sorrow, he goes after what is also subject to sorrow. Being himself subject to defilement, he goes after what is also subject to defilement.

“katamā ca, bhikkhave, ariyā pariyesanā? idha, bhikkhave, ekacco attanā jātidhammo samāno jātidhamme ādīnavaṃ viditvā ajātaṃ anuttaraṃ yogakkhemaṃ nibbānaṃ pariyesati, attanā jarādhammo samāno jarādhamme ādīnavaṃ viditvā ajaraṃ anuttaraṃ yogakkhemaṃ nibbānaṃ pariyesati, attanā byādhidhammo samāno byādhidhamme ādīnavaṃ viditvā abyādhiṃ anuttaraṃ yogakkhemaṃ nibbānaṃ pariyesati, attanā maraṇadhammo samāno maraṇadhamme ādīnavaṃ viditvā amataṃ anuttaraṃ yogakkhemaṃ nibbānaṃ pariyesati, attanā sokadhammo samāno sokadhamme ādīnavaṃ viditvā asokaṃ anuttaraṃ yogakkhemaṃ nibbānaṃ pariyesati, attanā saṃkilesadhammo samāno saṃkilesadhamme ādīnavaṃ viditvā asaṃkiliṭṭhaṃ anuttaraṃ yogakkhemaṃ nibbānaṃ pariyesati. ayaṃ, bhikkhave, ariyā pariyesanā.

And what, bhikkhus, is the noble quest? Here someone, being himself subject to birth, seeing the drawbacks of birth, goes after the unborn, supreme relief from the yoke: Extinction. Being himself subject to aging, seeing the drawbacks of aging, he goes after the aging-less, supreme relief from the yoke: Extinction. Being himself subject to illness, seeing the drawbacks of illness, he goes after the illness-less, supreme relief from the yoke: Extinction. Being himself subject to death, seeing the drawbacks of death, he goes after the deathless, supreme relief from the yoke: Extinction. Being himself subject to sorrow, seeing the drawbacks of sorrow, he goes after the sorrow-less, supreme relief from the yoke: Extinction. Being himself subject to defilement, seeing the drawbacks of defilement, he goes after the undefiled, supreme relief from the yoke: Extinction. This is the noble quest.

:diamonds: Ariya as a noun has been traditionally understood as designating an individual who is at least a sotāpanna. However, as is often the case, it appears that the term is used with a rather loose meaning in the suttas. Sometimes, the Buddha himself is referred to as the Noble One (MN 137, SN 56.28). Some suttas imply that the word designates arahants. At MN 60, the arahants are referred to as ariyas:

santaṃyeva kho pana paraṃ lokaṃ ‘natthi paro loko’ti āha; ye te arahanto paralokaviduno tesamayaṃ paccanīkaṃ karoti…

Because there actually is the next world, when he says that ‘There is no next world,’ he makes himself an opponent to those arahants who know the next world…

ayañca… ariyānaṃ paccanīkatā

this… opposition to the noble ones

At AN 7.91 and 92, a noble one is described as one who is either ‘far remote from’ (in the Burmese edition) or ‘having detroyed the enemy’ (in the PTS edition), i.e. the three lower saṃyojanas which are abandoned by a sotāpanna, but also further the three akusala·mūlas that are abandoned only by an arahant (cf. SN 22.106, SN 38.2 etc.) and māna, which is one of the five saṃyojanas that are only abandoned by an arahant:

AN 7.91

“sattannaṃ, bhikkhave, dhammānaṃ ārakattā-(Burmese Edition)/arīhatattā-(PTS Edition) ariyo hoti. katamesaṃ sattannaṃ? sakkāyadiṭṭhi ārakā hoti, vicikicchā ārakā hoti, sīlabbataparāmāso ārako hoti, rāgo ārako hoti, doso ārako hoti, moho ārako hoti, māno ārako hoti.

Bhikkhus, it is by keeping far away from/the enemy-destruction of seven things that one is a noble one. Which seven? The view of self-existence is far away/destroyed; uncertainty is far away/destroyed; attachment to religious observances is far away/destroyed; avidity is far away/destroyed; aversion is far away/destroyed; delusion is far away/destroyed; self-esteem is far away/destroyed.

The exact same description is given in the next sutta with reference to arahantship:

AN 7.92

“sattannaṃ, bhikkhave, dhammānaṃ ārakattā arahā hoti. katamesaṃ sattannaṃ? sakkāyadiṭṭhi ārakā hoti, vicikicchā ārakā hoti, sīlabbataparāmāso ārako hoti, rāgo ārako hoti, doso ārako hoti, moho ārako hoti, māno ārako hoti. imesaṃ kho, bhikkhave, sattannaṃ dhammānaṃ ārakattā arahā hotī”ti.

Bhikkhus, it is by keeping far away from seven things that one is a noble one. Which seven? The view of self-existence is far away; uncertainty is far away; attachment to religious observances is far away; avidity is far away; aversion is far away; delusion is far away; self-esteem is far away.

Similarly, at MN 39 a noble one and an arahant are described in exactly the same terms:

“kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ariyo hoti? ārakāssa honti pāpakā akusalā dhammā, saṃkilesikā, ponobbhavikā, sadarā, dukkhavipākā, āyatiṃ, jātijarāmaraṇiyā. evaṃ kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ariyo hoti.

"And how is a monk noble? His evil, unskillful qualities that are defiled, that lead to further becoming, create trouble, ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death have gone far away. This is how a monk is noble.

“kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu arahaṃ hoti? ārakāssa honti pāpakā akusalā dhammā, saṃkilesikā, ponobbhavikā, sadarā, dukkhavipākā, āyatiṃ, jātijarāmaraṇiyā. evaṃ kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu arahaṃ hotī”ti.

“And how is a monk an arahant? His evil, unskillful qualities that are defiled, that lead to further becoming, create trouble, ripen in stress, and lead to future birth, aging, & death have gone far away. This is how a monk is an arahant.”

But on the other hand, some suttas make it clear that a noble one is not always an arahant:

AN 4.190

“kathañca, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ariyappatto hoti? idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ‘Idaṃ dukkha’nti yathā·bhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkha·samudayo’ti yathā·bhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkha·nirodho’ti yathā·bhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkha·nirodha·gāminī paṭipadā’ti yathā·bhūtaṃ pajānāti. evaṃ kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhu ariyappatto hotī”ti.

And how has a bhikkhu attained [the state of] a noble one? Here, a bhikkhu understands as it occurs: ‘This is suffering.’ He understands as it occurs: ‘This is the origin of suffering.’ He understands as it occurs: ‘This is the cessation of suffering.’ He understands as it occurs: ‘This is the path leading to the cessation of suffering.’ It is in this way that a bhikkhu has attained [the state of] a noble one.

SN 48.53

“katamo ca, bhikkhave, pariyāyo yaṃ pariyāyaṃ āgamma sekho bhikkhu sekhabhūmiyaṃ ṭhito ‘sekhosmī’ti pajānāti? idha, bhikkhave, sekho bhikkhu ‘idaṃ dukkhan’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhasamudayo’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhanirodho’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti, ‘ayaṃ dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā’ti yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti — ayampi kho, bhikkhave, pariyāyo yaṃ pariyāyaṃ āgamma sekho bhikkhu sekhabhūmiyaṃ ṭhito ‘sekhosmī’ti pajānāti”.

And what, bhikkhus, is the method coming to which a bhikkhu who is a learner, standing at the level of a learner, understands: ‘I am a trainee’? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is a learner understands as it occurs: ‘This is suffering’; he understands as it occurs: ‘This is the origin of suffering’; he understands as it occurs: ‘This is the cessation of suffering’; he understands as it occurs: ‘This is the path leading to the cessation of suffering.’ This is a method coming to which a bhikkhu who is a learner, standing at the level of a learner, understands: ‘I am a learner.’

As made clear later on in that same sutta (not provided here), a learner (sekha) is one who is not an arahant yet. Thus, AN 4.190 and SN 48.53 taken together show that a noble one is not necessarily an arahant. Some suttas also indicate that a sotāpanna would be referred to as ‘a noble one’:

SN 12.27

ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako diṭṭhisampanno itipi, dassanasampanno itipi, āgato imaṃ saddhammaṃ itipi, passati imaṃ saddhammaṃ itipi, sekkhena ñāṇena samannāgato itipi, sekkhāya vijjāya samannāgato itipi, dhammasotaṃ samāpanno itipi, ariyo nibbedhikapañño itipi, amatadvāraṃ āhacca tiṭṭhati itipī”ti.

This, bhikkhus, is called a noble disciple who is accomplished in view, accomplished in vision, who has arrived at this authentic Dhamma, who sees this authentic Dhamma, who is endowed with a learner’s knowledge, a learner’s correct knowledge, who has entered the stream of the Dhamma, a noble one with discriminating discernment, one who stands knocking at the door of the Deathless.

Here the expression ‘dhamma·sotaṃ samāpanno’ quite obviously describes a sot·āpanna. Moreover, SN 56.36 states that one accomplished in view (diṭṭhi·sampanno) understands the four noble truths as they occur, and AN 10.63 explains that one accomplished in view has reached certainty about the Buddha and is at least sotāpannas. Therefore, it can be concluded that the following expressions may be considered equivalent: being an ariya, being a sotāpanna, being accomplished in view (diṭṭhi·sampanno) and understanding the four noble truths as they occur.

:diamonds: The suttas occasionally mention some characteristics of ariyas:

SN 11.25

akkodho avihiṃsā ca, ariyesu ca vasatī sadā

Non-anger and harmlessness always dwell in the noble ones

SN 35.119

sukhaṃ diṭṭhamariyebhi, sakkāyassa nirodhanaṃ

The noble ones have seen as pleasantness the ceasing of personality

:diamonds: Occasionally, the epithet ariya changes the meaning of the related word in a way that goes beyond merely adding to it the notion of ‘leading to the end of dukkha’. Thus, noble silence (ariya tuṇhī·bhāva) means the second jhāna:

SN 21.1

‘ariyo tuṇhībhāvo, ariyo tuṇhībhāvoti vuccati. katamo nu kho ariyo tuṇhībhāvo’ti? tassa mayhaṃ āvuso, etadahosi — ‘idha bhikkhu vitakkavicārānaṃ vūpasamā ajjhattaṃ sampasādanaṃ cetaso ekodibhāvaṃ avitakkaṃ avicāraṃ samādhijaṃ pītisukhaṃ dutiyaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati. ayaṃ vuccati ariyo tuṇhībhāvo’ti.

‘“Noble silence, noble silence,” it is said. But what is noble silence?’ Then the thought occurred to me, ‘There is the case where a monk, with the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, enters & remains in the second jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. This is called noble silence.’

AN 4.251 & 253, AN 8.67 & 68 state that factual ‘declarations’ (vohāra) are noble.

:diamonds: The Buddha often redefines certain concepts ‘in the discipline of the noble ones’ (ariyassa vinaye).

Death (maraṇa) means disrobing, and deadly suffering (maraṇa·matta dukkha) means a certain defiled offence (aññataraṃ saṃkiliṭṭhaṃ āpattiṃ), i.e. a pārājika or a saṅghādisesa āpatti (MN 105, SN 20.10).

The four jhānas are called ‘pleasant abidings in the visible world’ (diṭṭha·dhamma·sukha·vihāra), e.g. at MN 8.

Singing is wailing, dancing is madness and laughing a long time showing the teeth is childish (AN 3.108).

A poor person ‘in the discipline of the noble ones’ is one who doesn’t have saddhā, hiri, ottappa, vīriya and paññā (AN 6.45).

‘The world’ (loka) means the five kāma·guṇas (AN 9.38) or whatever is subject to disintegration (paloka·dhamma), at SN 35.67.

‘Purity’ (or ‘purification’, soceyya) means the ten kusala kamma·pathas (AN 10.176).

‘A thorn’ (kaṇṭaka) is whatever in the world has a pleasing and agreeable nature (yaṃ loke piya·rūpaṃ sāta·rūpaṃ), at SN 35.197.

:diamonds: What is ignoble (an·ariya) can be defined as what does not lead to nibbāna:

AN 10.107

etaṃ, bhikkhave, dhovanaṃ hīnaṃ gammaṃ pothujjanikaṃ anariyaṃ anatthasaṃhitaṃ na nibbidāya na virāgāya na nirodhāya na upasamāya na abhiññāya na sambodhāya na nibbānāya saṃvattati.

This ‘washing’ is inferior, vulgar, belonging to ordinary people, ignoble, not beneficial, and it does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to awakening, to Extinction.

Sense pleasures are typically ignoble:

MN 66

yaṃ kho, udāyi, ime pañca kāmaguṇe paṭicca uppajjati sukhaṃ somanassaṃ idaṃ vuccati kāmasukhaṃ miḷhasukhaṃ puthujjanasukhaṃ anariyasukhaṃ.

Now, Udāyin, the pleasure and mental pleasantness that arise dependent on these five strings of sensuality are called sensual pleasure, a filthy pleasure, a worldly pleasure, an ignoble pleasure.

SN 56.11 most notably explains that both the pursuit of happiness in sensuality and that of mortification are ignoble:

Yo c·āyaṃ kāmesu kāma·sukh·allik·ānuyogo hīno gammo pothujjaniko an·ariyo an·attha·saṃhito, yo c·āyaṃ attakilamath·ānuyogo dukkho an·ariyo an·attha·saṃhito.

On one hand, the pursuit of hedonism in sensuality, which is inferior, vulgar, common, ignoble, deprived of benefit, and on the other hand the devotion to self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, deprived of benefit.

At MN 122, the tiracchāna·kathā are said to be ignoble. At AN 6.30, all the following are considered ignoble: the sight of an elephant, a horse, a jewel, or else of a samaṇa or a brahmin of wrong view; the hearing of the sound of a drum, of lutes, of singing, or else of the Dhamma of a samaṇa or a brahmin of wrong view; the gain of a son, a wife, wealth or goods, or else the gain of faith in a samaṇa or a brahmin of wrong view; the training in elephantry, in horsemanship, in chariotry, in archery, in swordsmanship, or else training under a samaṇa or a brahmin of wrong view; the service to an aristocrat, a brahmin, a householder, or else to a samaṇa or a brahmin of wrong view; the recollection of the gain of a son, a wife, or wealth, or else of a samaṇa or a brahmin of wrong view.

:diamonds: The suttas often warn against misconduct towards ariyas.

SN 11.24

yam·ariya·garahī nirayaṃ upeti,
vācaṃ manañca paṇidhāya pāpakan”ti.

He who blames the noble ones,
Having set evil speech and mind, goes to hell.

The following sentence frequently appears in the suttas, as part of the sattānaṃ cut·ūpapāta·ñāṇa formula (available here):

“ime vata bhonto sattā… ariyānaṃ upavādakā… te kāyassa bhedā paraṃ maraṇā apāyaṃ duggatiṃ vinipātaṃ nirayaṃ upapannā

Those esteemed beings [who were]… revilers of noble ones… at the breakup of the body, after death, have reappeared in a state of loss, in a bad destination, in perdition, or in hell

AN 11.6 explains what would happen to such a person:

AN 11.6

“yo so, bhikkhave, bhikkhu akkosako paribhāsako ariyūpavādo sabrahmacārīnaṃ, aṭṭhānametaṃ anavakāso yaṃ so ekādasannaṃ byasanānaṃ aññataraṃ byasanaṃ na nigaccheyya. katamesaṃ ekādasannaṃ?

“Bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu is one who insults, disparages his fellows in the brahmic life, reviling the noble ones, it cannot be, it is impossible that he will not undergo one or the other of these eleven misfortunes. What eleven?

anadhigataṃ nādhigacchati,
adhigatā parihāyati,
saddhammassa na vodāyanti,
saddhammesu vā adhimāniko hoti,
anabhirato vā brahmacariyaṃ carati,
aññataraṃ vā saṃkiliṭṭhaṃ āpattiṃ āpajjati,
sikkhaṃ vā paccakkhāya hīnāyāvattati,
gāḷhaṃ vā rogātaṅkaṃ phusati,
ummādaṃ vā pāpuṇāti cittakkhepaṃ vā,
sammūḷho kālaṃ karoti,
kāyassa bhedā paraṃ maraṇā apāyaṃ duggatiṃ vinipātaṃ nirayaṃ upapajjati.

He does not achieve what he has not yet achieved,
he falls away from what he has achieved,
his good qualities are not purified,
he overestimates his good qualities,
he lives the brahmic life dissatisfied,
he commits a certain impure offense,
he gives up the training and returns to the inferior life,
he catches a severe illness,
he goes mad and loses his mind,
he dies confused,
or at the breakup of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of loss, in a bad destination, in perdition, or in hell.

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Do you have the sources for this and other early Iranian mentions?

As well as Iran, I always suspected that “ireland” was from ariya as well.

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I don’t think they were. So far as i know, the root is connected with khetta, i.e. field, i.e. they were landowners. But in the EBTs generally, I don’t find a particularly strong connection between khattiyas and warriors. Which is not to say that they could never be warriors, of course, just that it is not primary.

In any case, aristocrats, just as much as “nobles” became knights, and are just as associated with fighting as khattiyas are. Even today, it’s common for aristocratic families to send their sons to military schools. Toughen 'em up!

In military contexts, the word yudha is used for warriors, which is not caste-based.

Yes Bhante

(70) King Darius says: By the grace of Ahuramazda this is the inscription which I have made. Besides, it was in Aryan script, and it was composed on clay tablets and on parchment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_translation_of_the_Behistun_Inscription

The term “Airya/Airyan” appears in the royal Old Persian inscriptions in three different contexts:

  1. As the name of the language of the Old Persian version of the inscription of Darius I in Behistun
  1. As the ethnic background of Darius I in inscriptions at Naqsh-e-Rostam and Susa (Dna, Dse) and Xerxes I in the inscription from Persepolis (Xph)
  2. As the definition of the God of the Aryans, Ahura Mazdā, in the Elamite language version of the Behistun inscription.[22][37][38]

For example in the Dna and Dse Darius and Xerxes describe themselves
as “An Achaemenian, A Persian son of a Persian and an Aryan, of Aryan
stock”.[44] Although Darius the Great called his language the Aryan language,[44] modern scholars refer to it as Old Persian[44] because it is the ancestor of modern Persian language.[45]
The Old Persian and Avestan evidence is confirmed by the Greek sources".[37]
Herodotus in his Histories remarks about the Iranian Medes that: "These
Medes were called anciently by all people Arians; " (7.62).[22][37][38] In Armenian sources, the Parthians, Medes and Persians are collectively referred to as Aryans.[46]
Eudemus of Rhodes apud Damascius (Dubitationes et solutiones in
Platonis Parmenidem 125 bis) refers to “the Magi and all those of
Iranian (áreion) lineage”; Diodorus Siculus (1.94.2) considers Zoroaster (Zathraustēs) as one of the Arianoi.[37]
Strabo, in his Geography, mentions the unity of Medes, Persians, Bactrians and Sogdians:[40]

The name of Ariana is further extended to a part of Persia and of Media, as also to the Bactrians and Sogdians on the north; for these speak approximately the same language, with but slight variations.
— Geography, 15.8

The trilingual inscription erected by Shapur’s command gives us a more clear description. The languages used are Parthian, Middle Persian
and Greek. In Greek the inscription says: “ego … tou Arianon ethnous
despotes eimi” which translates to “I am the king of the Aryans”. In the
Middle Persian Shapour says: “I am the Lord of the EranShahr” and in
Parthian he says: “I am the Lord of AryanShahr”.[41][47]
The Bactrian language (a Middle Iranian language) inscription of Kanishka the Great, the founder of the Kushan Empire at Rabatak, which was discovered in 1993 in an unexcavated site in the Afghanistan province of Baghlan, clearly refers to this Eastern Iranian language as Arya[48][49] In the post-Islamic era one can still see a clear usage of the term Aryan (Iran) in the work of the 10th-century historian Hamzah al-Isfahani. In his famous book “The History of Prophets and Kings”, al-Isfahani writes, “Aryan which is also called Pars
is in the middle of these countries and these six countries surround it
because the South East is in the hands China, the North of the Turks,
the middle South is India, the middle North is Rome, and the South West
and the North West is the Sudan and Berber lands”.[50]
All this evidence shows that the name arya “Iranian” was a collective
definition, denoting peoples (Geiger, pp. 167 f.; Schmitt, 1978, p. 31)
who were aware of belonging to the one ethnic stock, speaking a common
language, and having a religious tradition that centered on the cult of
Ahura Mazdā.[37]
In Iranian languages, the original self-identifier lives on in ethnic names like “Alans”, “Iron”.[38] Similarly, The word Iran is the Persian word for land/place of the Aryan

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It is important to note that the term “Sangha” in the suttas refers exclusively to the noble disciples of the Buddha, regardless of their status as bhikkhu or secular.
Taking refuge in the Sangha means taking refuge in people who are liberated to a greater or lesser extent.
It is utterly absurd to take refuge in a group of ordinary men by considering the kind of clothing they wear.
In a world like the present one where the Buddha does not exist anymore, his Dhamma is lost or corrupt and his Sangha dissolved soon after the second council, I consider that it is the moment to begin to take another yana different from the Tathagathayana.
It is time to rediscover the Dhamma.

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well there is argument against that. In the suttas, people take refuge to the “bhikkhu sangha”.

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Yep, the usual formula is:

Ete mayaṃ bhavantaṃ gotamaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāma dhammañca ­bhik­khu­saṅghañca. Upāsake no bhavaṃ gotamo dhāretu ajjatagge pāṇupetaṃ saraṇaṃ gate”ti.

We go to Master Gotama for refuge and to the Dhamma and to the Sangha of bhikkhus. From today let Master Gotama accept us as lay followers who have gone to him for refuge for life.”

This is found in at least the MN60, MN41, Snp3.4, MN107, MN7, MN73, AN3.65, SN51.15, MN27, SnP3.6, MN75, MN94. DN9, SN35.132, MN99, MN91, MN98, DN8, MN57, DN13, MN4, DN2, DN14, DN5, DN12, DN16 and DN4.

When taking refuge in the Bhikkhu Sangha one is acknowledge the reference point found in those brave enough to truly and completely endeavor in the highest and best of the livelihoods, investing their lives in fulfilling the noble task of verifying the end of suffering. They keep the Dhamma-Vinaya alive.

AN 2,38

I go to Master Gotama for refuge, to the Dhamma, & to the community of monks.

This man don’t takes refuge to the Sangha.

SN 42,6 it’s the same case. An 10,77 also.

Only once.

And we must consider a key point: that community of monks comprised almost all the noble disciples of the Buddha. It is not any community of monks today.

I don’t get your point. The original reads, as pointed before:

Esāhaṃ, bho kaccāna, taṃ bhavantaṃ gotamaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi dhammañca ­bhik­khu­saṅghañca

AN2.38

I looked through the Rig-veda where kshatriya appears 9 times as far as I can see, and it’s consistently translated as ‘ruler’ by the contemporary translators Jamison/Brereton (english) and Stiehl (german) - the context being the rules of gods of course - so there in the Rig-veda it’s even stronger than ‘artistocrats’ and not in the sense of varna at all.

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I think there’s a distinction between the bhikku-sangha and ariya-sangha:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/sangha.html

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Aqui está perfectamente definida “comunidad de monjes” y qué contiene y quienes pertenecen a esa comunidad de monjes:

“Cuatro tipos de discípulos nobles …”
"En esta comunidad de monjes hay monjes que son arahants, cuyos efluentes mentales son terminado, que han alcanzado la plenitud, hecho la tarea, establecidas la carga, alcanzado el verdadero objetivo , totalmente destruida la atadura del devenir, y que se liberan a través gnosis derecha: tales son los monjes de esta comunidad de monjes.

"En esta comunidad de monjes hay monjes que, con la terminación total de la primera serie de cinco ataduras, se deben volver a nacer [en las Moradas Puras], hay que estar totalmente sin unir, nunca más volver de ese mundo: tales son los monjes de esta comunidad de monjes.

"En esta comunidad de monjes hay monjes que, con la terminación total de [los primeros] tres cadenas, y con la atenuación de la pasión, la aversión y el engaño, son una vez retornan, que - al regresar solamente una vez más a esta mundo - hará un final para el estrés : tales son los monjes de esta comunidad de monjes.

Sólo ariyas. Solo.

"En esta comunidad de monjes hay monjes que, con la terminación total de [los primeros] tres trabas, son Stream-ganadores , firme, no destinados de nuevo por los estados de sufrimiento, encabezados por la auto-despertar: tales son los monjes en este comunidad de monjes ".

Summary

if only there were a viable alive alternative to the Buddhadhamma

what exactly is ariya savako?

b.bodhi seems to always translate that as “noble disciple”.

thanissaro sometimes translates that as “disciple of the noble one” in contexts where it doesn’t seem to require a stream enterer.

does pali grammar support both translations?