This is how I heard. Those days, the Buddha was living at the Nādika village in the brick house. Then Venerable Ānanda went to the Buddha, bowed respectfully, sat down to one side, and asked, “Bhante, the monk named Sāḷha has passed away. Where has he been reborn? The nun named Nandā, the layman named Sudatta, and the laywoman named Sujātā have passed away. Where have they been reborn?”
“Ānanda, the monk, Sāḷha, had already attained enlightenment before passing away. Therefore, he didn’t take rebirth in any world.
“The nun, Nandā, had attained the third stage of enlightenment having abandoned the five lower fetters before passing away. She’s been reborn spontaneously into the Suddhāvāsa brahma world, and will attain final Nibbāna there, not liable to return from that world.
“The male lay-follower, Sudatta, had attained the second stage of enlightenment having abandoned three fetters and having weakened greed, hate, and delusion before passing away. He will come back to the sensory world only once and then make an end of suffering by attaining final Nibbāna.
“The female lay-follower, Sujātā, had attained the first stage of enlightenment having abandoned the three fetters before passing away. She is not liable to be reborn in miserable worlds. She is heading towards Nibbāna and will attain final Nibbāna within a maximum of seven lives.
“Ānanda, it’s not surprising that a human being should pass away. But, if you should come and ask me about it each and every time someone dies, that would be a bother for me. So Ānanda, I will teach you a Dhamma lesson called the mirror of the Dhamma. A noble disciple who has the qualities explained in the mirror of the Dhamma may declare of himself, ‘I will never be reborn in hell, animal world, and ghost world. I’ve finished with all miserable worlds. I am a stream-enterer! I’m not liable to be reborn in lower worlds, and I am heading towards Nibbāna.’
“And what is that mirror of the Dhamma?
“Ānanda, it’s when a noble disciple has unshakable confidence in the Buddha, ‘That Blessed One is liberated, self enlightened, has true knowledge and pure conduct, attained Nibbāna, knower of worlds, supreme trainer of beings, teacher of gods and humans, the most generous and the most fortunate.’
“Also, he has unshakable confidence in the Dhamma, ‘The Dhamma is well explained by the Buddha—visible in this very life, immediately effective, inviting inspection, applied to oneself, wise people can realize it for themselves.’
“Also, he has unshakable confidence in the Saṅgha, ‘The order of the Buddha’s disciples is practicing the pure way, upright way, wise way, and generous way. It consists of the four pairs, the eight individuals. The order of the Buddha’s disciples is worthy of offerings, worthy of hospitality, worthy of gifts, worthy of greeting with joined palms, and is the supreme field of merit for the world.’
“Also, he has virtue loved by the noble ones, unbroken, flawless, unblemished, not caught up in craving, freed from wrong views, praised by wise people and leading to concentration.
“Ānanda, this is that mirror of the Dhamma. A noble disciple who has these qualities may declare of himself: ‘I will never be reborn in hell, the animal world, and the ghost world. I’ve finished with all miserable worlds. I am a stream-enterer! I’m not liable to be reborn in lower worlds, and I am heading towards Nibbāna.’”