Anagami, aka: Anāgāmī; 7 Definition(s)


Anagami means something in Buddhism, Pali. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Non returner. A person who has abandoned the five lower fetters that bind the mind to the cycle of rebirth (see samyojana), and who after death will appear in one of the Brahma worlds called the Pure Abodes, there to attain nibbana, never again to return to this world.

Source: Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

(The one who never returns). It does involve the third stage of realisation among the four that the ariyas do reach.

As its definition stresses it out, the one who does experience this stage will be reborn into a specific sphere where do dwell only anagamis or arahantas (unless the stage of arahanta is reached at dying time), but never more in any any other sphere of existence whatsoever. In this sphere of anagamis, devoid of any material senses, having nothing else to do save observing phenomena, all the anagamis become arahantas, and thus enter into parinibbana at the completion of this existence.

Source: Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary

the ‘Non-Returner’, is a noble disciple (ariya-puggala) on the 3rd stage of holiness.

There are 5 classes of Non-Returners, as it is said (e.g. Pug. 42-46):

“A being, through the disappearing of the 5 lower fetters (samyojana), reappears in a higher world (amongst the devas of the Pure Abodes, suddhāvāsa), and without returning from that world (into the sensuous sphere) he there reaches Nibbāna.

(1) “He may, immediately after appearing there (in the Pure Abodes) or without having gone beyond half of the life-time, attain the holy path for the overcoming of the higher fetters. Such a being is called ‘one who reaches Nibbāna within the first half of the life’ (antarā-parinibbāyī).

(2) “Or, whilst living beyond half of the lifetime, or at the moment of death, he attains the holy path for the overcoming of the higher fetters. Such a being is called ‘one who reaches Nibbāna after crossing half the life-time’ (upahacca-parinibbāyī).

(3) “Or, with exertion he attains the holy path for the overcoming of the higher fetters. Such a being is called ‘one who reaches Nibbāna with exertion’ (sasankhāra-parinibbāyī).

(4) “Or, without exertion he attains the holy path for the overcoming of the higher fetters. Such a being is called ‘one who reaches Nibbāna without exertion’ (asankhāra-parinibbāyī).

(5) “Or, after vanishing from the heaven of the Aviha-gods (s. suddhāvāsa), he appears in the heaven of the unworried (atappa) gods. After vanishing from there he appears in the heaven of the clearly-visible (sudassa) gods, from there in the heaven of the clear-visioned (sudassī) gods, from there in the heaven of the highest (akanittha) gods. There he attains the holy path for the overcoming of the higher fetters. Such a being is called ‘one who passes up-stream to the highest gods’ (uddhamsota-akanittha-gāmī).”

Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines


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Nirodha-samāpatti’: ‘attainment of extinction’ (S.XIV, 11), also called saññāvedayitanirodha”, extinction of feeling and perception’, is the temporary suspension of all consciousness and mental activity, following immediately upon the semi-conscious state called ‘sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception’. The absolutely necessary pre-conditions to its attainment are said to be perfect mastery of all the 8 absorptions (jhāna), as well as the previous attainment of Anāgāmi or Arahatship.

According to Vis.M. XXIII, the entering into this state takes place in the following way: by means of mental tranquillity (samatha) and insight (vipassanā) one has to pass through all the eight absorptions one after the other up to the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception and then one has to bring this state to an end. If, namely, according to the Vis.M., the disciple (Anāgāmi or Arahat) passes through the absorption merely by means of tranquility, i.e. concentration, he will only attain the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, and then come to a standstill; if, on the other hand, he proceeds only with insight, he will reach the fruition (phala) of Anāgāmī or Arahatship. He, however, who by means of both faculties has risen from absorption to absorption and, having made the necessary preparations, brings the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception to an end, such a one reaches the state of extinction. Whilst the disciple is passing through the 8 absorptions, he each time emerges from the absorption attained, and regards with his insight all the mental phenomena constituting that special absorption, as impermanent, miserable and impersonal. Then he again enters the next higher absorption, and thus, after each absorption practising insight, he at last reaches the state of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, and thereafter the full extinction. This state, according to the Com., may last for 7 days or even longer. Immediately at the rising from this state, however, there arises in the Anāgāmi the fruition of Anāgāmiship (Anāgāmi-phala), in the Arahat the fruition of Arahatship (Arahatta-phala).

With regard to the difference existing between the monk abiding in this state of extinction on the one hand, and a dead person on the other hand, M 43 says: “In him who is dead, and whose life has come to an end, the bodily (in-and-outbreathing), verbal (thought-conception and discursive thinking), and mental functions (s. saṅ””’khāra”, 2) have become suspended and come to a standstill, life is exhausted, the vital heat extinguished, the faculties are destroyed. Also in the monk who has reached ‘extinction of perception and feeling’ (saññāvedayitanirodha), the bodily, verbal and mental functions have been suspended and come to a standstill, but life is not exhausted, the vital heat not extinguished, and the faculties are not destroyed.”

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