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Mahayana, 22 Definition(s)

Mahayana means something in Buddhism Check out some of the following descriptions and leave a comment if you want to add your own contribution to this article:

20 Definition(s) from various sources:

Mahāyāna (Sanskrit: महायान, mahāyāna, literally the “Great Vehicle”) is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. Mahāyāna Buddhism originated in India.

The Mahāyāna tradition is the larger of the two major traditions of Buddhism existing today, the other being that of the Theravāda school. According to the teachings of Mahāyāna traditions, “Mahāyāna” also refers to the path of seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called “Bodhisattvayāna”, or the “Bodhisattva Vehicle.”

etymology: According to Jan Nattier, the term Mahāyāna (“Great Vehicle”) was originally an honorary synonym for Bodhisattvayāna (“Bodhisattva Vehicle”) — the vehicle of a bodhisattva seeking buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. The term Mahāyāna was therefore formed independently at an early date as a synonym for the path and the teachings of the bodhisattvas. Since it was simply an honorary term for Bodhisattvayāna, the creation of the term Mahāyāna and its application to Bodhisattvayāna did not represent a significant turning point in the development of a Mahāyāna tradition.

Added: 17.Sep.2014 | Buddha World: Mahāyāna
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Mahāyāna Skt., lit., “Great Vehicle”; one of the two great schools of Buddhism, the other being the Hīnayāna, “Small Vehicle.” The Mahāyāna, which arose in the first century CE, is called Great Vehicle because, thanks to its many-sided approach, it opens the way of lib­eration to a great number of people and expresses the intention to liberate all beings.

Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna are both rooted in the basic teachings of the historical Buddha Shākyamuni, but stress different aspects of those teachings. While Hīnayāna seeks the liber­ation of the individual, the follower of the Mahāyāna seeks to attain enlightenment for the sake of the welfare of all beings. This attitude is embodied in the Mahāyāna ideal of the bo­dhisattva, whose outstanding quality is compas­sion (karunā).

The Mahāyāna developed from the Hīnayāna schools of the Mahāsānghikas and Sarvāstivādins (Sarvāstivāda), which formu­lated important aspects of its teaching. From the Mahāsānghikas came the teaching, characteris­tic of the Mahāyāna, of the transcendent nature of a buddha, as well as the bodhisattva ideal and the notion of emptiness (shūnyatā ). Seeds of the trikāya teaching can be recognized in the doctrine of the Sarvāstivādins.

The Mahāyāna divided into a series of further schools, which spread from India to Tibet, Chi­na, Korea, and Japan. In India arose the Mādhyamika school, founded by Nāgārju­na, and the Yogāchāra school, founded by Asanga. Parallel to the development of Tan­tra in Hinduism, in Buddhism also a magic-oriented school appeared, the Vajrayāna, which today flourishes primarily in Tibetan Buddhism.

The most important Mahāyāna schools in China were Ch’an, Hua-yen, T’ien-t’ai, and the Pure Land school. These schools were fur­ther developed in Japan as Zen, Kegon, Tendai, and Amidism, respectively.

The teachings of the Mahāyāna are contained in the Mahāyāna sūtras and shāstras, among which are some of the most pro­found writings of Buddhism.

Added: 23.Jul.2011 | Shambala Publications: General
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'a large vessel of salvation'; A name for Buddhism after popularization of Buddhists.

Added: 14.Apr.2011 | Sacred Texts: Gospel of Buddha
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'large vehicle' paths/schools which aim for the enlightenment of all beings.

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Sanskrit; literally, "the Great Vehicle"; one of the three major schools of Buddhism which developed in India during the first century C.E.; it is called the "Great Vehicle" because of its all inclusive approach to liberation as embodied in the bodhisattva ideal and the desire to liberate all beings; the Mahayana school is also known for placing less emphasis on monasticism than the Theravada school and for introducing the notion of sunyata.

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Mahayana Buddhism is strongest in Tibet, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia. Mahayana Buddhism is not a single group but a collection of Buddhist traditions: Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism are all forms of Mahayana Buddhism.

Theravada and Mahayana are both rooted in the basic teachings of the historical Buddha, and both emphasise the individual search for liberation from the cycle of samsara (birth, death, rebirth...). The methods or practices for doing that, however, can be very different.

Added: 10.Apr.2009 | BBC: Buddhism
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Sanskrit word for "Great Vehicle", the spiritual path to great enlightenment. The Mahayana goal is to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings by completely abandoning delusions and their imprints.

Added: 06.Apr.2009 | Mahakaruna: Buddhism Glossary
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Mahayana is one of the two main existing schools of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. It was founded in India.

(mahayana literally Great Vehicle)

The name Mahayana is used in three main senses:

  1. As a living tradition, Mahayana is the larger of the two major traditions of Buddhism existing today, the other being Theravada. This classification is largely undisputed by all Buddhist schools.
  2. According to the Mahayana scheme of classification of Buddhist philosophies, Mahayana refers to a level of spiritual motivation[1] (also known as Bodhisattvayana[2]). According to this classification, the alternative approach is called Hinayana, or Shravakayana. It is also recognized by Theravada Buddhism, but is not considered very relevant for practice.[3]
  3. According to the Vajrayana scheme of classification of practice paths, Mahayana refers to one of the three routes to enlightenment, the other two being Hinayana and Vajrayana. This classification is part of the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, and is not recognized by Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.
Added: 29.Mar.2009 | WikiPedia: Buddhism
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"Great Vehicle," The Northern Buddhism of China, Korea and Japan (Sanskrit)
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The main distinction of Mahayana Buddhism is the doctrine of shunyata, or "emptiness."
Added: 23.Nov.2008 | About: Glossary of Buddhist Terms
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The Mahayana ("Great vehicle") or Northern branch is one of the two major divisions of Buddhism, the other being Theravada. (This latter kind of Buddhism is also referred to derogatively as "Hinayana" - "small vehicle"). Mahayana Buddhism is based on sophisticated metaphysical speculations regarding the nature of Reality (shunyata), or Enlightenment (sambodhi, prajna) and of the Buddha (Trikaya). Soteriologically of the idea not of escape into a quiescent nirvana, but rather, having achieved Enlightenment, one returns as a Bodhisattva to the world for the sake of other beings. Mayahana therefore emphasises that the duty of enlightenment to work compassionately to relieve the suffering of others (upaya - "skillfull means"), and argues that all sentient creatures will ultimately achieve Buddhahood. Mahayana Buddhism spread northeast from India into China (1st century A.D.), and from there into Tibet and Korea, and from Korea into Japan. By convention, Mahayana is divided into two philosophical schools, both of which had a strong influence on the various Mahayana Buddhist sects, but also the Advaita Vedanta of Gaudapada and Shankara as well. The first is the anti metaphysical Madhyamika or dialectic school, which emphasises the negation of all possible phenomenal reality through a kind of logical reducto ad absurdum, in order to arrive at the ineffable absolute or Void (shunyata) that is the only Reality. The second Mahayanist school is the Vijnanavada or "Consciousness doctrine" which uses the experience of meditation in order to prove that all reality is ultimately Consciousness (hence their alternative names of Yogachara - "Yoga doctrine" - and Chittamatra - "mind only"). Unlike the Madhyamikas, they developed a number of metaphysical and occult conceptions, including an emanationist ontology quite similiar to that of Samkhya, but psychologically rather than cosmologically orientated.

Added: 16.Nov.2008 | Kheper: General
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(Pronunciation: "MAH hah yah nah") "The Greater Vehicle," a form of Buddhism that developed in India around the time of Christ and spread to China, Korea, Tibet, and Japan by the 7th century.
Added: 04.Oct.2008 | The Art of Asia: Buddhism Glossary
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MAHAYANA "Great Vehicle". Tendency or approach that developed within Buddhists from the 1st cent BCE onwards. Associated with the revelation of many new texts (see MAHAYANA SUTRAS) held to have been taught by the historical Buddha Shakyamuni in his lifetime but to have been hidden because the time was not yet ready for their being taught publicly. Key Mahayana emphases are on the partial and selfish nature of the ARHAT s enlightenment as compared with that of a fully enlightened BUDDHA, and the need to arouse the motivation of BODHICITTA in order to attain full enlightenment. It was also associated with new philosophical perspectives (see CITTAMATRA, MADHYAMAKA) and deities (see BODHISATTVA, BUDDHA, TRIKAYA DOCTRINE).
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Lit., great vehicle; the dominant Buddhist tradition of China. Special characteristics of Mahayana are 1. Emphasis on bodhisattva ideal, 2. The accession of the Buddha to a superhuman status, 3. The development of extensive philosophical inquiry to counter Brahmanical and other scholarly argument, 4. The development of elaborate devotional practice.
Added: 27.Sep.2008 | Oblivion's Blog: Heart Sutra
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Great Way or Vehicle. Teachings that spread from India into Tibet, parts of Asia and the far East, characterised by the Bodhisattva ideal and the prominence given to the development of both compassion and wisdom.
Added: 27.Sep.2008 | GCSE: A Glossary of Buddhist Terms
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Mahayana means "The Great Raft" or "The Great Vehicle." It is the largest and most influential of the three main forms of Buddhism (the other two being Theravada and Vajrayana ). It is practiced in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Vajrayana derived from it and shares many similarities with it. Mahayana emphasizes the idea of the bodhisattva over that of the arhat. The goal of an individual is therefore not to pass out of this world into nirvana, but to attain enlightenment with the wisdom, understanding and power that goes with it and then to show compassion by returning to this world to help those in need. Amitabha Buddha did this to establish Pure Land Buddhism. In comparison to Theravada, Mahayana Buddhism emphasizes the help that gods and bodhisattvas can give to people to help them escape samsara. It has elaborate descriptions of how this works and emphasizes prayers and rituals that enable people to seek this help. Zen is another branch of Mahayana Buddhism.

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Also called Great Vehicle or Bodhisattva Vehicle. It is a school of Buddhism prevalent in China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Tibet and other places in the Far East. It is also called Northern Buddhism. Mahayana is described as seeking Buddhahood and transforming beings, thus self benefiting for the benefits of the others. See also Hinayana. For further details, please refer to Section 3 A Glimpse in the Scope of Buddhism in Vol. 1 No. 4 of Budddhist Door.
Added: 27.Sep.2008 | Buddhist Door: Glossary
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Greater Vehicle. The northern branch of Buddhism. More doctrinally liberal than Theravada (recognizes several non historical sutras as canonical -- it should be noted, however, that even Theravada gives canonical authority to some non historical works, such as the Jatakas or the Abhidhamma for that matter). Strong focus on alleviation of suffering of all sentient beings.
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(Sanskrit, "greater vehicle"). School of Buddhism emphasizing a path to enlightenment that does not require monasticism and so is open to all. The Mahayana ideal is the bodhisattva, who helps others out of compassion, instead of the arhat of Theravada Buddhism. The Mahayana school incorporates a variety of traditions, lifestyles, and rituals, including the meditation focused Zen and the devotional Pure Land Buddhism.
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Lit., great vehicle; the dominant Buddhist tradition of East Asia. Special characteristics of Mahayana are 1. Emphasis on bodhisattva ideal, 2. The accession of the Buddha to a superhuman status, 3. The development of extensive philosophical inquiry to counter Brahmanical and other scholarly argument, 4. The development of elaborate devotional practice.
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