Mahayana, 7 Definition(s)
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.
'a large vessel of salvation'; A name for Buddhism after popularization of Buddhists.
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.
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:
- 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.
- According to the Mahayana scheme of classification of Buddhist philosophies, Mahayana refers to a level of spiritual motivation (also known as Bodhisattvayana). 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.
- 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.
|Earliest Mahāyāna sūtras|
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- · Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra > ... > Text Section 244
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