Four Classes of Individuals
It is stated in the Puggala Pannatti (the book of Classification of Individuals) and the Anguttara-Nikaya that, of the beings who encounter the Sasanas (teachings) of the Buddhas, four classes can be distinguished:
- Neyya and
Of these four classes of beings, an ugghatitannu is an individual who encounters a Buddha in person, and who is capable of attaining the holy Path and the holy Fruits through the mere hearing of a short concise discourse.
A vipancitannu is an individual who has not the capability of attaining the Paths and the Fruits through the mere hearing of a short discourse, but who yet is capable of attaining the Paths and the Fruits when the short discoure is expounded to him at some length.
A neyya is an individual who has not the capability of attaining the Paths and the Fruits through the hearing of a short discourse, or when it is expounded to him at some length, but is one for whom it is necessary to study and take careful note of the sermon and the exposition, and then to practise the provisions contained therein for days, months, and years, in order that he may attain the Paths and the Fruits.
This neyya class of individuals can again be sub-divided into many other classes according to the period of practice which each individual finds necessary before he can attain the Paths and the Fruits, and which further is dependent on the parami (perfections) which each of them has previously acquired, and the kilesa (defilements) which each has surmounted. These classes of individuals include, on the one hand, those for whom the necessary period of practice is seven days, and on the other, those for whom the necessary period of practice may extend to thirty or sixty years.
Further classes also arise, as for example, in the case of individuals whose necessary peroid of practice is seven days, the stage of an arahat may be attained if effort is made in the first or second period of life, which no more than the lower stages of the Paths and the Fruits can be attained if effort be made only in the third period of life.
Then, again, putting forth effort for seven days means exerting as much as is in one’s power to do so. If the effort is not of the highest order, the peroid of necessary effort becomes lengthened according to the laxity of the effort, and seven days may become seven years or longer. If the effort during this life is not sufficiently intense as to enable one to attain the Paths and the Fruits, then release from worldly ills cannot be obtained during the present Buddha Sasana, while release during future Buddha Sasanas can be obtained only if the individual encounters them. No release can be obtained if no Buddha Sasana is encountered.
It is only in the case of individuals who have secured niyata vyakarana (sure prediction made by a Buddha), is an encounter with a Buddha Sasana and release from worldly ills certain. An individual who has not attained niyata vyakarana cannot be certain either of encountering a Buddha Sasana or achieving release from worldly ills, even though he has accumulated sufficient parami to make both these achievements possible.
These are considerations in respect of those individuals who possess the capabilities of attaining the Paths and the Fruits by putting forth effort for seven days, but who have not obtained niyata vyakarana.
Similar considerations apply to the cases of those individuals who have the potentiality of attaining the Paths and the Fruits by putting forth effort for fifteen days, or for longer periods.
A padaparama is an individual who, though he encounters a Buddha Sasana, and though he puts forth the utmost possible effort in both the study and practice of the Dhamma, cannot attain the Paths and the Fruits within this lifetime. All that he can do is to accumulate habits and potentials.
Such a person cannot obtain release from worldly ills during this life-time. If he dies while practising samatha (calm) or vipassana (insight) and attains rebirth either as a human being or a deva in his next existence, he can attain release from worldly ills in that existence within the present Buddha Sasana.
Thus did the Buddha say with respect to four classes of individuals.