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In Buddhism, a sot?panna (Pali), ?rot?panna (Sanskrit; Chinese: ; pinyin: , Chinese: ; pinyin: , Burmese?, Tibetan?, Wylie: rgyun zhugs), "stream-winner", or "stream-entrant" is a person who has seen the Dharma and consequently, has dropped the first three fetters (sa?yojana) that bind a being to rebirth, namely self-view (sakk?ya-ditthi), clinging to rites and rituals (s?labbata-par?m?sa), and skeptical indecision (Vicikitsa).
The word sot?panna literally means "one who entered (?panna) the stream (sota)", after a metaphor which calls the noble eightfold path a stream which leads to nibb?na. Entering the stream (sot?patti) is the first of the four stages of enlightenment.
The first moment of the attainment is termed the path of stream-entry (sot?patti-magga), which cuts through the first three fetters. The person who experiences it is called a stream-winner (sot?panna).
The sot?panna is said to attain an intuitive grasp of the dharma, this wisdom being called right view (samm? dihi) and has unshakable confidence in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, sometimes taken to be the triple refuge, are at other times listed as being objects of recollection. In general though, confirmed confidence in the Buddha', Dharma and Sangha, respectively, is considered to be one of the four limbs of stream-winning (sot?pannassa ang?ni). The sotapanna is said to have "opened the eye of the Dhamma" (dhammacakka), because they have realized that whatever arises will cease (impermanence). Their conviction in the true dharma would be unshakable.
They have had their first glimpse of the unconditioned element, the asankhata, in which they see the goal, in the moment of the fruition of their path (magga-phala). Whereas the stream-entrant has seen nibb?na and, thus has verified confidence in it, the arahant can drink fully of its waters, so to speak, to use a simile from the Kosambi Sutta (SN 12.68) -- of a "well", encountered along a desert road.  The sotapanna "may state this about himself: 'Hell is ended; animal wombs are ended; the state of the hungry shades is ended; states of deprivation, destitution, the bad bourns are ended! I am a stream-winner, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening!'".
However, the remaining three paths, namely: once-return (sakad?g?min), non-return (an?g?min), and sainthood (arahatta) become 'destined' (sammatta niy?ma) for the stream-entrant. Their enlightenment as a disciple (ariya-s?vaka) becomes inevitable within seven lives transmigrating among gods and humans; if they are diligent (appamatta, appam?da) in the practice of the Teacher's (satth?ra) message, they may fully awaken within their present life. They have very little future suffering to undergo.
The early Buddhist texts (e.g. the Ratana Sutta) say that a stream-entrant will no longer be born in the animal womb, or hell realms; nor as a hungry ghost. The pathways to unfortunate rebirth destinations (duggati) have been closed to them.
...those monks who have abandoned the three fetters, are all stream-winners, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening. This is how the Dharma well-proclaimed by me is clear, open, evident, stripped of rags.-- Alagaddupama Sutta
According to the Pali Commentary, six types of defilement would be eventually abandoned by a sot?panna, and no major transgressions:
A sot?panna will be safe from falling into the states of misery (they will not be born as an animal, ghost, or hell being). Their lust, hatred and delusion will not be strong enough to cause rebirth in the lower realms. A sot?panna will have to be reborn at most only seven more times in the human or heavenly worlds before attaining nibb?na. It is not necessary for a sot?panna to be reborn seven more times before attaining nibb?na, as an ardent practitioner may progress to the higher stages in the same life in which he/she reaches the Sot?panna level by making an aspiration and persistent effort to reach the final goal of nibb?na.
According to Buddha, there are three types of sotapannas classifiable according to their possible rebirths:
A sot?panna will not commit six wrong actions:
The Buddha spoke favorably about the sotapanna on many occasions, and even though it is (only) the first of ariya sangha members, he or she is welcomed by all other sangha-members for he or she practices for the benefit and welfare of many. In the literature, the arya sangha is described as "the four" when taken as pairs, and as "the eight" when taken as individual types. This refers to the four supra-mundane fruits (attainments: "phala") and the corresponding four supra-mundane paths (of those practicing to attain those fruits: "magga").
The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... who have practiced straight-forwardly... who have practiced methodically... who have practiced masterfully -- in other words, the four types [of noble disciples] when taken as pairs, the eight when taken as individual types -- they are the Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples: worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, the incomparable field of merit for the world.-- Anguttara Nikaya, 11.12
This is called "the recollection of the Sangha" (sanghanussati). It can also be interpreted as, "They are the Blessed One's disciples, who have practiced well, who have practiced directly, who have practiced insight-fully, those who practice with integrity (to share what they have learned with others). They give occasion for incomparable goodness to arise in the world because gifts to them bear great fruit and benefit to the giver. The fifty-fifth Samyutta of the Samyutta Nikaya is called the Sot?patti-sa?yutta, and concerns sotapannas and their attainment. In the discourse-numbers (of that chapter) 1-4, 6-9, 11-14, 16-20, 22-36, 39-49, 51, 53, 54, sotapannas are praised as Sangha members by and to: the sick, lay followers, people on their deathbed, bhikkhunis, bhikkhus, and devas, and end up becoming the well-being and benefit of many.
From Dhammapada verse 178:
A Shrotaapanna is a first stage Arhat. Certification to the first fruit of Arhatship, which is within the Small Vehicle, comes when the eighty-eight categories of view delusions are smashed." p. 77 
Venerable Hsuan Hua continues,
The first fruit is that of ?rot?panna, a Sanskrit word which means "One Who Has Entered the Flow." He opposes the flow of common people's six dusts and enters the flow of the sage's dharma-nature. Entering the flow means entering the state of the accomplished sage of the Small Vehicle.
Very good, Sariputta! Very good! This noble eightfold path -- right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration -- is the stream.
Even these great sal trees,43 Mahanama, if they could understand what is well spoken and what is ill spoken, I would declare them to be streamwinners, no longer bound to the lower world, of fixed destiny, sure of awakening!
"And what is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path? The discernment, the faculty of discernment, the strength of discernment, analysis of qualities as a factor for awakening, the path factor of right view in one developing the noble path whose mind is noble, whose mind is without effluents, who is fully possessed of the noble path. This is the right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent, a factor of the path.
There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones is endowed with verified confidence in the Awakened One...Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with verified confidence in the Dhamma...Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with verified confidence in the Sangha...
Then to Sariputta the wanderer, as he heard this Dhamma exposition, there arose the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye: "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation."
11 The 4 qualities of a streamwinner: (1) unshakable faith in the Buddha, (2) in the Dharma, and (3) in the Sangha; and (4) moral virtue dear to the saints.
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Furthermore, Sariputta, here a certain person fulfills moral virtue, but gains only limited concentration, gains only limited wisdom.20 With the total destruction of the three fetters, he is a seven-at-most,21 having re-arisen and wandered amongst gods and humans for seven lives at the most, makes an end of suffering.22
He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.
(4) He understands that it is impossible, there is no chance, that an individual attained to right view, would deprive his mother of life--this is not possible.41 And he understands that it is possible, there is the chance, that an ordinary worldling, would deprive his mother of life--this is possible. (5) He understands that it is impossible, there is no chance, that  an individual attained to right view, would deprive his father of life--this is not possible. And he understands that it is possible, there is the chance, that an ordinary worldling, would deprive his father of life--this is possible. (6) He understands that it is impossible, there is no chance, that an individual attained to right view, would deprive an arhat of life--this is not possible. And he understands that it is possible, there is the chance, that an ordinary worldling, would deprive an arhat of life--this is possible. (7) He understands that it is impossible, there is no chance, that an individual attained to right view, would draw the Tathagata's blood--this is not possible. And he understands that it is possible, there is the chance, that an ordinary worldling, would draw the Tathagata's blood--this is possible. (8) He understands that it is impossible, there is no chance, that an individual attained to right view, would divide the monastic order [the Sangha]--this is not possible. And he understands that it is possible, there is the chance, that an ordinary worldling, would divide the monastic order--this is possible. (9) He understands that it is impossible, there is no chance, that an individual attained to right view, would proclaim another Teacher--this is not possible.42 And he understands that it is possible, there is the chance, that an ordinary worldling, would declare another Teacher--this is possible.