Reply To: Four Types of Learners


Let us not forget that Venerable Maha Mogallana became an arahant in one week and Venerable Sariputta took two weeks.

  • However, Venerable Sariputta is the first in wisdom among all the disciples of Lord Gautama. Can we say that Venerable Maha Mogallana has higher spiritual faculties than Venerable Sariputta?? Arahant Santati was sad after the death of his dancer, and was returning from war when he saw Lord Buddha, and a few moments later he realized Nibbāna by listening to a simple verse. Can we say that his spiritual faculties were higher than Venerable Sariputta and Venerable Maha Mogallana?? I believe it is more prudent to stick to Venerable Revatta’s explanation about the 4 types of people rather than speaking in terms of faculties (indriya). I don’t think someone who has a high level of Panna, sati, and samadhi would indulge in alcohol and sensual pleasures easily. Not that your description is completely wrong, friend Sammasambodhi, but that of Venerable Revatta is better suited. 
  • Venerable Maha Mogallana is the highest in terms of Samadhi among these three arahants. His faculty of Samadhi was superior. He became an arahant by developing all the jhanas. Venerable Sariputta became an arahant by listening to a discourse. His wisdom surpassed all others after Lord Buddha. The layman Arahant Santati became an arahant by listening to a discourse and he developed all the abhinnas. In terms of Silā, they are all equal and an arahant will never break any of the precepts. However, before they reached magga phala they had different degrees. Minister Santati was returning from a war. He probably killed and then indulged in alcohol. He did not have high faculties. Sariputta and Maha Mogallana before meeting Lord Buddha were yogis who had renounced their wealth for the search for Nibbāna. It is safe to say that they did not have the same faculties at all, yet they are the first type of people. Santati had a very low sila compared to Maha Mogallana and Sariputta.
  • What is certain is that all three of these arahants are of the first type of person. Venerable Maha Mogallana and Sariputta became sotāpanna by listening to a verse and the layman Santati became arahant with all the abhinnas by listening to a few lines of Lord Buddha. Each of us has different levels of faculties but the 1st and 2nd types of people appear only when a Lord Buddha is in the world, according to the commentaries. Today we are either in the 3 or 4 types with different levels of Silā, Samadhi, and Pānna. This is why it is a little incorrect to speak in terms of faculties.