Cula-sotapanna in other traditions?

Hello, my question is if the cula-sotapanna is mentioned in other traditions besides the Theravada tradition? Maybe in the commentaries of the Agamas, or in other schools? In Theravada this is the stage of the “lesser-sotapanna” or one who has attained the “2’nd stage of insight” (perhaps something similar is mentioned in other texts?).

Also, I was wondering if anyone knows how the commentary describes the realization of the faith and dhamma followers in this sutta:

At Sāvatthī.

“Mendicants, the eye is impermanent, decaying, and perishing. The ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind are impermanent, decaying, and perishing.

Someone who has faith and confidence in these principles is called a follower by faith. They’ve arrived at surety in the right way, they’ve arrived at the level of the good person, and they’ve transcended the level of the bad person. They can’t do any deed which would make them be reborn in hell, the animal realm, or the ghost realm. They can’t die without realizing the fruit of stream-entry.

Someone who accepts these principles after considering them with a degree of wisdom is called a follower of the teachings. They’ve arrived at surety in the right way, they’ve arrived at the level of the good person, and they’ve transcended the level of the bad person. They can’t do any deed which would make them be reborn in hell, the animal realm, or the ghost realm. They can’t die without realizing the fruit of stream-entry.

Someone who understands and sees these principles is called a stream-enterer, not liable to be reborn in the underworld, bound for awakening.”

Are they described as cula-sotapanna’s in the commentary?

Thank you.

Bikkhu Bodhi discusses difference between the faith and dhamma followers from 8 min. The key point is the “fixed course of rightness”:

There is a practical example in Anguttara Nikaya 11.13 where the layperson is directed to possess the five spiritual faculties, adopt a recollection subject, then consequently the mind will “head straight,” ie enter the fixed course of rightness.


i hadn’t heard the term cula-sotapanna before. from my reading i understood that the faith follower and dhamma follower specifically are not sotapannas. they have not yet broken the fetters.

rather, my understanding is that they are just what the buddha calls them - individuals who follow him out of either faith of comprehension of the basics of the dhamma.

i don’t think other traditions have this understanding, and in fact i think it’s mistake to try and reconcile the two - other traditions conceptualise stream entry and arahantship very differently. it’s meaningless to try and reconcile other belief systems with the pali suttas - it would only end in confusion.

case in point - faith and dhamma followers follow the buddhas teachings out of faith or understanding - is that the pali teachings or the mahayana ones? mahayana hold that arahants do not actually attain the complete end of becoming - in direct contrast to the buddha’s teaching in the suttas. which conceptualisation does the stream enterer have complete faith in?

this kind of reductionism of the buddha’s teachings in the pali suttas is akin to equating ‘enlightenment’ in the suttas with 18th century western conceptualisations of that term. it doesn’t work - they’re different belief systems.

so too the sutta teachings and other traditions. there are commonalities, but the belief system is ultimately quite different.


Where is cula-sotapanna in the suttas?

What’s your reference for the following?

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Thanks Paul. The talk was good. Unfortunately, I do not think he mentions the cula-sotapanna or if the commentary states those dhammna and faith followres are cula-sotapannas. Other than that, it was informative.

My goal is to compare the different traditions vis a vis the cula-sotapanna, and also to see if the faith and dhamma followers are said to be cula-sotapannas in the commentarial tradition of Theravada.

I don’t think the concept of ‘mini stream enterer’ is found at all in the Pali suttas, it’s a later commentarial idea.
Ven. Payutto mentions it briefly in his book Buddhadhamma, p. 755.
There are references there to the Majjhima and Vibhanga commentaries, as well as the Visuddhimagga and Visuddhimagga Tika.


Majjhima Nikaya 70 defines the two.

In Majjhima 70 the following 7 terms are found:

Ubhatobhāgavimutto, paññāvimutto, kāyasakkhi, diṭṭhippatto, saddhāvimutto, dhammānusārī, saddhānusārī

But not ‘cula-sotappana’.

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Arguably, the idea of cula-sp is present in the suttas as “magga” The Abhidhamma redefined magga to be a single mind-moment before pala… so this required the commentaries to come up with a new term for the point of entering the supermundane path.

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Yes and there can be a long expanse between path and fruit. As Bikkhu Bodhi says, the faith and dhamma fws after entering the fixed course of rightness, will attain stream entry later in this life.

This is an example of the internal unity of the suttas, which appeals to dhamma followers.

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It’s possible, but why wouldn’t the later commentarial tradition use the terms found in the suttas, cited above, instead of inventing this new term?

Because they couldn’t go against the authority of the Abhidhamma.

Perhaps so, but it seems to me that this reverse-engineering goes against the authority of the suttas. Maybe the ancient commentators found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place with this.


There is mention of a culasotapanna in The Manual of Insight by Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw. Attained to in one of the preliminary stages of insight, the culasotapanna is described as capable of falling away from the path of sotapanna due to decrease or stop in bhavana (practice). Not described the same as the Dhamma follower and Faith follower are described as guaranteed (I can’t remember the word used) sotapatti at the latest, the moment of death in the present life.

Additionally, my understanding is the “Path moment” described in the Abhidhamma is not the same as the path of development which is the practice of the 4th NT (the way to the cessation of suffering is to be developed). The one on the path of Sakadagami, for instance, the third individual in the Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples is neither classed as Sotapanna, nor Sakadagami. They are on the path of development and will experience the “Path” moment which is unique and never repeats immediately preceding the fruit of Sakadagami.