Who are The noble ones

Who are the Noble ones I’m hearing about in Dhamma talks?

They are the enlightened disciples of the Buddha, be they monastic or lay people.

These should be those practising for the path and fruit of the 4 ariya stages - sotapanna (stream-enterer/winner), sakadagami (once-returner), anagami (non-returner) and arahant (the conquerer). Interestingly, AN 9.10 includes a 9th - the “clan member”, explained by Bhikkhu Bodhi as a sangha member. Link to sutta: SuttaCentral


There’s 8 Ariyan (noble) types, which is the path (magga) and fruit (phala) of each of the 4 Ariyan types, which can be even broken down further into several more sub-types. Like for example there’s 2 types of stream entry path attainers (faith and dhamma followers), different types of stream winners depending on rebirth, numerous types of non-returners, as well as 2 types of Arahants (liberated both ways, liberated by wisdom), etc…

So it’s 4 → 8 → many

It can get rather nuanced and complex, the most basic classification is 4. Not to mention there’s 2 types of Buddhas as well (Samma Sambuddha and Pacceka Buddha).