New Frontiers in Buddhist Studies Lecture Series – Origins of the Theory of Four Stages to Arahantship in the Theravāda Soteriology

The Development of a Theoretical Orientation for Counselling based on Early Buddhist Teaching

by Ven. Dr. Amrita Nanda, Ph.D. (HK)


Lecture 3 of New Frontiers in Buddhist Studies Online Series

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Date: Nov 30, 2020

Time: 6:30-8:00 pm (HKT)



The theory of the four stages to liberation refers to an exhaustive list of stages that a Buddhist practitioner may pass through in his or her progress towards liberation through this or various lifetimes in various cosmological realms depending on the individual’s circumstances and commitment to spiritual practice. Buddhist theory of four stages functions as reference which orients and provides a criterion for, the general religious outlook and practice of Buddhist practitioners. The theory of four stages is an all-inclusive soteriological structure into which this array of practices and attainments are incorporated. Therefore, the theory is important for Buddhist practitioners as well as scholars in the field of Buddhist soteriology. This paper investigates a historical development of the theory of the four stages to arahantship and argues that the theory of the four stages to arahantship is not part of the earliest Buddhist soteriology, instead it argues that the theory was gradually developed in a later period and in its formation the socio-religious factors made a significant contribution.


About the speaker

Ven. Dr. Amrita Nanda is an honorary lecturer at the Centre of Buddhist Studies, the University of Hong Kong from where he received Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies in the year 2017, and Master of Buddhist Studies (MBS) with distinction in 2011. In the year 2009, he received Bachelor of Arts (First class) in Buddhist studies from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. His research interests lie in the area of Buddhist soteriology and Buddhist philosophy. He has published several articles in academic journals on Buddhist Philosophy and Soteriology and a few book chapters. He has also presented several academic papers in international conferences.