Lay arahants - reopening this topic (Kv4.1)

I just read the Kv 4.1 As to whether a Layman may be Arahant.
The Theravadin points to the layman-fetters such as: “Again, in affirming your proposition, you imply that an Arahant may carry on sexual relations, may suffer such matters to come into his life, may indulge in a home encumbered with children, may seek to enjoy sandalwood preparations of Kāsī, may wear wreaths, use perfumes and ointments, may accept gold and silver, may acquire goats and sheep, poultry and pigs, elephants, cattle, horses and mares, partridges, quails, peacocks and pheasants, may wear an attractively swathed head-dress, may wear white garments with long skirts, may be a house-dweller all his life—which of course you deny.” I have difficulty agreeing with these items being relevent to our modern life particularly for someone like me who is retired and is totally dedicated to live an ethical life and free myself from the three poisons.
Anyway the other party in the discussion says: “Uttarapāthakas: Then, if my proposition be wrong, how is it that Yasa of the clans, Uttiya the householder, Setu the Brahmin youth, attained Arahantship in all the circumstances of life in the laity?”

Could anyone points in the direction of the suttas that mention Yasa, Uttiya and Setu having attained Arahanship.

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Here is the link to the quoted text (kv4.1)


I’m asking about the sutta reference(s) for the three lay-arahats.

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Yasa’s attainment of arahatta while still a householder is reported in the Mahāvagga of the Vinaya Piṭaka. Yasa

Setu māṇava isn’t mentioned in any canonical text, nor even in the commentaries. Unless he is referred to under some other name he seems to have entirely vanished from the record except for the appearance in the Kathāvatthu.

The Kathāvatthu’s Uttiya also seems to have vanished, for though there are several persons of this name in the texts, the arahants among them all arrived at their attainment after becoming bhikkhus.


Perhaps if we have Uttarapathakas texts, we will know who are the missing names, which is not possible because we don’t have it…

It looks like Yasa went forth after becoming an Arahat.

I’m having a hard time understanding the difference between the Theravadin and Uttarapāthaka position in Kv 4.1. Is the Uttarapāthaka simply arguing that a layperson can becoming enlightened (which the example of Yasa shows) or that a layperson can remain a layperson after becoming enlightened (which Yasa does not show)?

The debate has arisen on account of the two parties entertaining different understandings of the term “fetter of householdership” (gihisaṃyojana). This term occurs only once in the suttas, in the MN’s Tevijjavacchagotta:

When this was said, the wanderer Vacchagotta asked the Blessed One: “Master Gotama, is there any householder who, without abandoning the fetter of householdership, on the dissolution of the body has made an end of suffering?”

“Vaccha, there is no householder who, without abandoning the fetter of householdership, on the dissolution of the body has made an end of suffering.”

“Master Gotama, is there any householder who, without abandoning the fetter of householdership, on the dissolution of the body has gone to heaven?”
“Vaccha, there are not only one hundred or two or three or four or five hundred, but far more householders who, without abandoning the fetter of householdership, on the dissolution of the body have gone to heaven.”

As we see, the sutta gives no definition of gihisaṃyojana, and so it’s not surprising that two schools might come to conceive it in different ways.

For the Uttarāpathakas the “fetter of householdership” means simply being a householder. For the Theravādins the term refers to the mental fetters that bind one to non-renunciate values, irrespective of whether these are found in a householder or in a homeless renunciate.

So what’s happening in this debate is a kind of double straw man: the two debaters are talking at cross purposes, with the argument of each presupposing the correctness of his own understanding of gihisaṃyojana, coupled with a failure to grasp what his opponent means by it.

And so the debate, being essentially over a matter of phrasing rather than meaning, contributes nothing of substance to resolving the controversy over whether a householder may both attain arahatta and continue thereafter to live as a householder.


And this seem to be the case of most of what I read from the Kv. Very dislexic conversations are found in there! :sweat_smile:

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Just finished reading Meg Doshin Gawler’s thesis - Voices of early buddhist nuns - A Dharmalogical Approach of the Therīgāthā where in particular she points to the fact that “Of the seventy-three nuns featured in the Therīgāthā, three – Ubbirī (51-53),178 Sujātā (145-150),179 and Kisāgotamī (213-223)180 – realize arahantship as laywomen and then ordain afterwards.” The important point is that one can become an arahat while practicing as a lay person. What he/she does after is not what interests me at this stage.