He could have made the stronger claim, and simply said that the living of a perfect life as a householder was impossible, yet he did not.The fact that he did not do so provides some evidence that he may have thought a householder could attain nibbāna.The tradition that the Buddha’s father attained Enlightenment as a layman is post-canonical.
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This comes in the Venerable Nāgasena, your people say: “Whosoever has attained, as a layman, to Arahatship, one of two conditions are possible to him, and no other — either that very day he enters the Order, or he dies away, for beyond that day he cannot last.” 264-265 (IV.7.7-8).
Although this passage does support the notion that laypeople can become arahants, the translator, TW Rhys Davids, notes that King Milinda’s claim does not appear to come from any canonical source.
On the other hand, 55.37 suggests that laypeople may become “accomplished in wisdom” leading to “the complete destruction of suffering”, although admittedly this passage does not establish that any have done so, nor that they could explicitly have done so while remaining laypeople.
The strongest evidence that the Buddha allowed for lay arahants is the list that appears in 6.119-139: these are “householders” and “lay followers” each of whom is said to have “become a seer of the deathless, one who lives having realized the deathless.” These are phrases only used of arahants: those who have achieved nibbāna.
Gombrich minimizes this passage, above, by saying that “it is a mere list and so placed that it could well be a late addition to the Canon”.
It’s true that this is “a mere list”, and it appears quite late in the Book of the Sixes, but it does not appear right at the end of that book, and at any rate without some independent evidence that it is a later addition, that sort of move is not sufficient to convince.On that criterion, very many passages indeed “could well be late additions”.One good place to look for answers to this question would be to look at Sanskrit and Chinese , that would be some evidence that it were a later addition.There is nothing explicitly monastic about the Eightfold Path.Gombrich cites a post-Canonical passage that claims “lay life is not livable for an Enlightened person”.It is more convincing to note that the list of lay arahants is isolated in the Canon.