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Mahāyāna (/ˌmɑːhəˈjɑːnə/; Sanskrit
Sanskrit
for "great vehicle") is one of two (or three, under some classifications) main existing branches of Buddhism
Buddhism
and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. This movement added a further set of discourses, and although it was initially small in India, it had long-term historical significance.[1] The Buddhist tradition of Vajrayana
Vajrayana
is sometimes classified as a part of Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism, but some scholars may consider it as a different branch altogether.[2] According to the teachings of Mahāyāna traditions, "Mahāyāna" also refers to the path of the Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called "Bodhisattvayāna", or the " Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Vehicle".[3][note 1] A bodhisattva who has accomplished this goal is called a samyaksaṃbuddha, or "fully enlightened Buddha". A samyaksaṃbuddha can establish the Dharma
Dharma
and lead disciples to enlightenment. Mahayana Buddhists teach that enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime, and this can be accomplished even by a layperson.[4] The Mahāyāna tradition is the largest major tradition of Buddhism existing today, with 53.2% of practitioners, compared to 35.8% for Theravada
Theravada
and 5.7% for Vajrayana
Vajrayana
in 2010.[5] In the course of its history, Mahāyāna Buddhism
Buddhism
spread from India to various other South, East and Southeast Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia
Malaysia
and Singapore. Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
also spread to other South and Southeast Asian countries, such as Afghanistan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, the Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Iran
Iran
and other Central Asian countries before being replaced by Theravada
Theravada
Buddhism
Buddhism
or other religions.[6] Large Mahāyāna scholastic centers thrived during the latter period of Buddhism
Buddhism
in India, between the seventh and twelfth centuries.[1] Major traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism
Buddhism
today include Chan Buddhism, Korean Seon, Japanese Zen, Pure Land Buddhism, and Nichiren
Nichiren
Buddhism. It may also include the Vajrayana
Vajrayana
traditions of Tiantai, Tendai, Shingon Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism, which add esoteric teachings to the Mahāyāna tradition.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 History

2.1 Origins 2.2 Earliest Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras 2.3 Earliest inscriptions 2.4 Early Mahāyāna Buddhism 2.5 Late Mahāyāna Buddhism

3 Doctrine

3.1 Bodhisattva 3.2 Expedient means 3.3 Liberation 3.4 Buddha
Buddha
nature

4 Scriptures

4.1 Āgamas 4.2 Turnings of the Dharma
Dharma
Wheel 4.3 Early canon

5 Theravāda school

5.1 Role of the Bodhisattva 5.2 Theravāda and Hīnayāna

6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 Sources 10 Further reading 11 External links

Etymology[edit] According to Jan Nattier, the term Mahāyāna ("Great Vehicle") was originally an honorary synonym for Bodhisattvayāna ("Bodhisattva Vehicle")[7] — the vehicle of a bodhisattva seeking buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.[3] 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.[7] The earliest Mahāyāna texts often use the term Mahāyāna as a synonym for Bodhisattvayāna, but the term Hīnayāna is comparatively rare in the earliest sources. The presumed dichotomy between Mahāyāna and Hīnayāna can be deceptive, as the two terms were not actually formed in relation to one another in the same era.[8] Among the earliest and most important references to Mahāyāna are those that occur in the Lotus Sūtra (Skt. Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra) dating between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE.[9] Seishi Karashima has suggested that the term first used in an earlier Gandhāri Prakrit
Prakrit
version of the Lotus Sūtra was not the term mahāyāna but the Prakrit
Prakrit
word mahājāna in the sense of mahājñāna (great knowing).[10][11] At a later stage when the early Prakrit
Prakrit
word was converted into Sanskrit, this mahājāna, being phonetically ambivalent, was mistakenly converted into mahāyāna, possibly because of what may have been a double meaning in the famous Parable of the Burning House, which talks of three vehicles or carts (Skt: yāna).[note 2][10][12] History[edit]

Ancient Buddhist stūpas in Borobodur, Indonesia.

Early statue of the Buddha
Buddha
from Gandhāra, 1st–2nd century CE.

Origins[edit] The origins of Mahāyāna are still not completely understood.[13] The earliest Western views of Mahāyāna assumed that it existed as a separate school in competition with the so-called "Hīnayāna" schools. The earliest Mahāyāna texts often depict strict adherence to the path of a bodhisattva, and engagement in the ascetic ideal of a monastic life in the wilderness, akin to the ideas expressed in the Rhinoceros Sūtra.[note 3] The earliest textual evidence of "Mahāyāna" comes from sūtras originating around the beginning of the common era. Jan Nattier has noted that some of the earliest Mahāyāna texts such as the Ugraparipṛccha Sūtra use the term "Mahāyāna", yet there is no doctrinal difference between Mahāyāna in this context and the early schools, and that "Mahāyāna" referred rather to the rigorous emulation of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
in the path of a bodhisattva seeking to become a fully enlightened buddha.[14] There is also no evidence that Mahāyāna ever referred to a separate formal school or sect of Buddhism, but rather that it existed as a certain set of ideals, and later doctrines, for bodhisattvas.[14] Paul Williams has also noted that the Mahāyāna never had nor ever attempted to have a separate Vinaya
Vinaya
or ordination lineage from the early schools of Buddhism, and therefore each bhikṣu or bhikṣuṇī adhering to the Mahāyāna formally belonged to an early school. Membership in these nikāyas, or monastic sects, continues today with the Dharmaguptaka
Dharmaguptaka
nikāya in East Asia, and the Mūlasarvāstivāda nikāya in Tibetan Buddhism. Therefore, Mahāyāna was never a separate rival sect of the early schools.[15] Paul Harrison clarifies that while monastic Mahāyānists belonged to a nikāya, not all members of a nikāya were Mahāyānists.[16] From Chinese monks visiting India, we now know that both Mahāyāna and non-Mahāyāna monks in India often lived in the same monasteries side by side.[17] The Chinese monk Yijing who visited India in the 7th century CE, distinguishes Mahāyāna from Hīnayāna as follows:[18]

Both adopt one and the same Vinaya, and they have in common the prohibitions of the five offences, and also the practice of the Four Noble Truths. Those who venerate the bodhisattvas and read the Mahayana
Mahayana
sūtras are called the Mahāyānists, while those who do not perform these are called the Hīnayānists.

Much of the early extant evidence for the origins of Mahāyāna comes from early Chinese translations of Mahāyāna texts. These Mahāyāna teachings were first propagated into China
China
by Lokakṣema, the first translator of Mahāyāna sūtras into Chinese during the 2nd century CE.[note 4]

A statue of Prajñāpāramitā
Prajñāpāramitā
personified, from Singhasari, East Java, Indonesia.

Earliest Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras[edit] Several scholars have suggested that the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajñāpāramitā
sūtras, which are among the earliest Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras,[19][20] developed among the Mahāsāṃghika
Mahāsāṃghika
along the Kṛṣṇa River in the Āndhra region of southern India.[21] The earliest Mahāyāna sūtras include the very first versions of the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajñāpāramitā
genre, along with texts concerning Akṣobhya Buddha, which were probably written down in the 1st century BCE in the south of India.[22][23] Guang Xing states, "Several scholars have suggested that the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajñāpāramitā
probably developed among the Mahāsāṃghikas in southern India, in the Āndhra country, on the Kṛṣṇa River."[21] A.K. Warder
A.K. Warder
believes that "the Mahāyāna originated in the south of India and almost certainly in the Āndhra country."[24] Anthony Barber and Sree Padma note that "historians of Buddhist thought have been aware for quite some time that such pivotally important Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhist thinkers as Nāgārjuna, Dignaga, Candrakīrti, Āryadeva, and Bhavaviveka, among many others, formulated their theories while living in Buddhist communities in Āndhra."[25] They note that the ancient Buddhist sites in the lower Kṛṣṇa Valley, including Amaravati, Nāgārjunakoṇḍā and Jaggayyapeṭa "can be traced to at least the third century BCE, if not earlier."[26] Akira Hirakawa notes the "evidence suggests that many Early Mahayana
Mahayana
scriptures originated in South India."[27] Some scholars think that the earliest Mahāyāna sūtras were mainly composed in the south of India, and later the activity of writing additional scriptures was continued in the north.[note 5] However, the assumption that the presence of an evolving body of Mahāyāna scriptures implies the contemporaneous existence of distinct religious movement called "Mahāyāna", may be a serious misstep.[note 6] Some scholars further speculate that the Prajñāpāramitā
Prajñāpāramitā
sūtras were written in response to the ultrarealism of abhidharma.[28] Some early Mahāyāna sūtras were translated by the Kuṣāṇa monk Lokakṣema, who came to China
China
from the kingdom of Gandhāra. His first translations to Chinese were made in the Chinese capital of Luoyang
Luoyang
between 178 and 189 CE.[29] Some Mahāyāna sūtras translated during the 2nd century CE include the following:[30]

Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā
Prajñāpāramitā
Sūtra Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra Larger Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra Akṣobhyatathāgatasyavyūha Sūtra Ugraparipṛccha Sūtra Mañjuśrīparipṛcchā Sūtra Drumakinnararājaparipṛcchā Sūtra Śūraṅgama Samādhi Sūtra Bhadrapāla Sūtra Ajātaśatrukaukṛtyavinodana Sūtra Kāśyapaparivarta Sūtra Lokānuvartana Sūtra An early sūtra connected to the Avataṃsaka Sūtra

This corpus of texts often emphasizes ascetic practices and forest dwelling, absorbed in states of meditative concentration.[31]

Harrison points to the enthusiasm in the Lokakṣema sūtra corpus for the extra ascetic practices, for dwelling in the forest, and above all for states of meditative absorption (samādhi). Meditation
Meditation
and meditative states seem to have occupied a central place in early Mahāyāna, certainly because of their spiritual efficacy but also because they may have given access to fresh revelations and inspiration.

Mahāyāna Buddhist triad, including Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Maitreya, the Buddha, and Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Avalokiteśvara. 2nd–3rd century CE, Gandhāra.

Earliest inscriptions[edit] The earliest stone inscription containing a recognizably Mahāyāna formulation and a mention of the Buddha
Buddha
Amitābha
Amitābha
was found in the Indian subcontinent in Mathura, and dated to around 180 CE. Remains of a statue of a Buddha
Buddha
bear the Brāhmī inscription: "Made in the year 28 of the reign of King Huviṣka, ... for the Blessed One, the Buddha Amitābha." There is also some evidence that Emperor Huviṣka himself was a follower of Mahāyāna Buddhism, and a Sanskrit
Sanskrit
manuscript fragment in the Schøyen Collection describes Huviṣka as having "set forth in the Mahāyāna."[32] Evidence of the name "Mahāyāna" in Indian inscriptions in the period before the 5th century is very limited in comparison to the multiplicity of Mahāyāna writings transmitted from Central Asia
Central Asia
to China
China
at that time.[note 7][note 8][note 9] Early Mahāyāna Buddhism[edit] During the period of early Mahāyāna Buddhism, four major types of thought developed: Mādhyamaka, Yogācāra, Buddha-nature (Tathāgatagarbha), and Buddhist logic
Buddhist logic
as the last and most recent.[33] In India, the two main philosophical schools of the Mahāyāna were the Mādhyamaka and the later Yogācāra.[34] During the Kushan
Kushan
Empire, Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
teachings encouraged societies to give generous donations to the Buddhist monasteries, which gave the people "religious merits".[35] Earlier stage forms of Mahāyāna such as the doctrines of Prajñāpāramitā, Yogācāra, Buddha
Buddha
Nature, and the Pure Land teachings are still popular in East Asia. In some cases these have spawned new developments, while in others they are treated in the more traditional syncretic manner. Paul Williams has noted that in this tradition in the Far East, primacy has always been given to study of the sūtras.[36] Late Mahāyāna Buddhism[edit]

Miniature statue of Buddha
Buddha
from the Tang dynasty

Various classes of Vajrayana
Vajrayana
literature developed as a result of royal courts sponsoring both Buddhism
Buddhism
and Saivism.[37] The Mañjusrimulakalpa, which later came to classified under Kriyatantra, states that mantras taught in the Shaiva, Garuda and Vaishnava tantras will be effective if applied by Buddhists since they were all taught originally by Manjushri.[38] The Guhyasiddhi of Padmavajra, a work associated with the Guhyasamaja tradition, prescribes acting as a Shaiva guru and initiating members into Saiva Siddhanta scriptures and mandalas.[39] The Samvara tantra texts adopted the pitha list from the Shaiva text Tantrasadbhava, introducing a copying error where a deity was mistaken for a place.[40] Doctrine[edit]

Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
seated in dhyāna. Afghanistan, 2nd century

Few things can be said with certainty about Mahāyāna Buddhism,[note 10] especially its early Indian form, other than that the Buddhism practiced in China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Korea, Tibet, and Japan
Japan
is Mahāyāna Buddhism.[note 11] Mahāyāna can be described as a loosely bound collection of many teachings with large and expansive doctrines that are able to exist simultaneously.[note 12] Mahāyāna constitutes an inclusive tradition characterized by plurality and the adoption of new Mahayana sutras
Mahayana sutras
in addition to the earlier āgamas. Mahāyāna sees itself as penetrating further and more profoundly into the Buddha's Dharma. An Indian commentary on the Mahāyānasaṃgraha, entitled Vivṛtaguhyārthapiṇḍavyākhyā, gives a classification of teachings according to the capabilities of the audience:[41]

[A]ccording to disciples' grades, the Dharma
Dharma
is [classified as] inferior and superior. For example, the inferior was taught to the merchants Trapuṣa and Ballika because they were ordinary men; the middle was taught to the group of five because they were at the stage of saints; the eightfold Prajñāpāramitās were taught to bodhisattvas, and [the Prajñāpāramitās] are superior in eliminating conceptually imagined forms.

There is also a tendency in Mahāyāna sūtras to regard adherence to these sūtras as generating spiritual benefits greater than those that arise from being a follower of the non-Mahāyāna approaches to Dharma. Thus the Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra
Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra
claims that the Buddha
Buddha
said that devotion to Mahāyāna is inherently superior in its virtues to following the śrāvaka or pratyekabuddha paths.[42] The fundamental principles of Mahāyāna doctrine were based on the possibility of universal liberation from dukkha for all beings (hence the "Great Vehicle") and the existence of buddhas and bodhisattvas embodying Buddha-nature. The Pure Land school of Mahāyāna simplifies the expression of faith by allowing salvation to be alternatively obtained through the grace of the buddha Amitābha
Amitābha
by having faith and devoting oneself to mindfulness of the Buddha. This devotional lifestyle of Buddhism
Buddhism
has greatly contributed to the success of Mahāyāna in East Asia, where spiritual elements traditionally relied upon mindfulness of the Buddha, mantras and dhāraṇīs, and reading sutras. In Chinese Buddhism, most monks, let alone lay people, practice Pure Land, some combining it with Chan Buddhism.[43] Most Mahāyāna schools believe in supernatural bodhisattvas who devote themselves to the pāramitās, ultimate knowledge (Skt. sarvajñāna), and the liberation of all sentient beings.

Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva of compassion. Ajaṇṭā Caves, Maharashtra, India.

Bodhisattva[edit] Main article: Bodhisattva The Mahāyāna tradition holds that pursuing only the release from suffering and attainment of Nirvāṇa is too narrow an aspiration, because it lacks the motivation of actively resolving to liberate all other sentient beings from saṃsāra, "suffering". One who engages in this path is called a bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas could reach nirvana, but they believe it is more important to help others on their path of finding nirvana rather than committing fully to nirvana themselves.[44] The defining characteristic of a bodhisattva is bodhicitta, the intention to achieve omniscient Buddhahood
Buddhahood
(Trikaya) as fast as possible, so that one may benefit infinite sentient beings. Sometimes the term bodhisattva is used more restrictively to refer to those sentient beings on the grounds. As Ananda
Ananda
Coomaraswamy notes, "The most essential part of the Mahayana
Mahayana
is its emphasis on the Bodhisattva ideal, which replaces that of the arhat, or ranks before it."[45] According to Mahāyāna teachings, being a high-level bodhisattva involves possessing a mind of great compassion and prajñā (wisdom) to realize the reality of inherent emptiness and dependent origination. Mahāyāna teaches that the practitioner will finally realize the attainment of Buddhahood.[citation needed] Six pāramitās are traditionally required for bodhisattvas:[citation needed]

dāna-pāramitā: the perfection of giving śīla-pāramitā: the perfection of behavior and discipline kṣānti-pāramitā: the perfection of forbearance vīrya-pāramitā: the perfection of vigor and diligence dhyāna-pāramitā: the perfection of meditation prajñā-pāramitā: the perfection of transcendent wisdom

Expedient means[edit] Main article: Upaya Expedient means[46] (Skt. upāya) is found in the Lotus Sutra, one of the earliest-dated sutras, and is accepted in all Mahāyāna schools of thought. It is any effective method that aids awakening. It does not necessarily mean that some particular method is "untrue" but is simply any means or stratagem that is conducive to spiritual growth and leads beings to awakening and nirvana. Expedient means could thus be certain motivational words for a particular listener or even the Noble Eightfold Path
Noble Eightfold Path
itself. Basic Buddhism
Buddhism
(what Mahāyāna would term śrāvakayāna or pratyekabuddhayāna) is an expedient method for helping people begin the noble Buddhist path and advance quite far. But the path is not wholly traversed, according to some schools, until the practitioner has striven for and attained Buddhahood
Buddhahood
for the liberation of all other sentient beings from suffering.[citation needed] Some scholars have stated that the exercise of expedient means, "the ability to adapt one's message to the audience, is also of enormous importance in the Pāli canon."[note 13] In fact the Pāli term upāya-kosalla does occur in the Pāli Canon, in the Sangiti Sutta of the Digha Nikāya.[47] Liberation[edit] Mahāyāna Buddhism
Buddhism
includes a rich cosmology, with various Buddhas and bodhisattvas residing in different worlds and buddha-realms. The concept of the three bodies (trikāya) supports these constructions, making the Buddha
Buddha
himself a transcendental figure. Dr. Guang Xing describes the Mahāyāna Buddha
Buddha
as "an omnipotent divinity endowed with numerous supernatural attributes and qualities ...[He] is described almost as an omnipotent and almighty godhead."[48] Under various conditions, the realms Buddha
Buddha
presides over could be attained by devotees after their death so, when reborn, they could strive towards buddhahood in the best possible conditions. Depending on the sect, liberation into a buddha-realm can be obtained by faith, visualization, or sometimes even by the repetition of Buddha's name. These practices are common in Pure Land Buddhism. Dr. Guang Xing, The Three Bodies of the Buddha: The Origin and Development of the Trikaya Theory, RoutledgeCurzon, Oxford, 2005, p. 1 Buddha
Buddha
nature[edit]

The Buddha
Buddha
flanked by bodhisattvas. Cave 4, Ajaṇṭā Caves, Mahārāṣtra, India.

Main article: Buddha
Buddha
nature Buddha-nature, Buddha-dhatu or Buddha
Buddha
Principle (Skt: Buddha-dhātu, Tathāgatagarbha; Jap: Bussho), is taught differently in various Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
traditions. Broadly speaking Buddha-nature
Buddha-nature
is concerned with ascertaining what allows sentient beings to become Buddhas.[49] The term, Buddha
Buddha
nature, is a translation of the Sanskrit coinage, 'Buddha-dhātu', which seems first to have appeared in the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra,[50] where it refers to "a sacred nature that is the basis for [beings'] becoming buddhas",[51] and where it is also spoken of as the 'Self' (atman).[52] It is called Tathāgatagarbha Buddha-dhātu at the stage of sentient beings because it is covered with defilements, and it is called Dharmakāya at the stage of Buddhahood, because its pure nature is revealed.[53][note 14] The teaching of a " Buddha
Buddha
nature" (Skt. tathāgatagarbha) may be based on the "luminous mind" concept found in the Āgamas. The essential idea, articulated in the Buddha
Buddha
nature sūtras, but not accepted by all Mahāyānists, is that no being is without a concealed but indestructible interior link to the awakening of bodhi and that this link is an uncreated element (dhātu) or principle deep inside each being, which constitutes the deathless, diamond-like "essence of the self".[55][page needed] The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra states: "The essence of the Self (ātman) is the subtle Buddha nature..." while the later Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra states that the Buddha
Buddha
nature might be taken to be self (ātman), but it is not. In the sagathakam section of that same sutra, however, the Tathagatagarbha
Tathagatagarbha
as the Self is not denied, but affirmed: "The Atma [Self] characterised with purity is the state of self-realization; this is the Tathagata's Womb (garbha), which does not belong to the realm of the theorisers."[56] In the Buddha
Buddha
nature class of sūtras, the word "self" (ātman) is used in a way defined by and specific to these sūtras. (See Atman (Buddhism).) According to some scholars, the Buddha
Buddha
nature discussed in some Mahāyāna sūtras does not represent a substantial self (ātman); rather, it is a positive language and expression of emptiness (śūnyatā) and represents the potentiality to realize Buddhahood through Buddhist practices.[57] It is the "true self" in representing the innate aspect of the individual that makes actualizing the ultimate personality possible.[citation needed] The actual "seeing and knowing" of this Buddha
Buddha
essence is said to usher in nirvanic liberation. This Buddha
Buddha
essence or " Buddha
Buddha
nature" is stated to be found in every single person, ghost, god and sentient being. In the Buddha
Buddha
nature sūtras, the Buddha
Buddha
is portrayed as describing the Buddha
Buddha
essence as uncreated, deathless and ultimately beyond rational grasping or conceptualisation. Yet, it is this already real and present, hidden internal element of awakeness (bodhi) that, according to the Buddha
Buddha
nature sūtras, prompts beings to seek liberation from worldly suffering, and lets them attain the spotless bliss that lies at the heart of their being. Once the veils of negative thoughts, feelings, and unwholesome behaviour (the kleśas) are eliminated from the mind and character, the indwelling Buddha principle (Buddha-dhātu: Buddha
Buddha
nature) can shine forth unimpededly and transform the seer into a Buddha.[citation needed] Prior to the period of these sūtras, Mahāyāna metaphysics was dominated by teachings on emptiness, in the form of Madhyamaka philosophy. The language used by this approach is primarily negative, and the Buddha
Buddha
nature genre of sūtras can be seen as an attempt to state orthodox Buddhist teachings of dependent origination and on the mysterious reality of nirvana using positive language instead, to prevent people from being turned away from Buddhism
Buddhism
by a false impression of nihilism. In these sūtras the perfection of the wisdom of not-self is stated to be the true self; the ultimate goal of the path is then characterized using a range of positive language that had been used in Indian philosophy previously by essentialist philosophers, but was now transmuted into a new Buddhist vocabulary that described a being who has successfully completed the Buddhist path.[58] A different view is propounded by Tathagatagarbha
Tathagatagarbha
specialist, Michael Zimmermann, who sees key Buddha-nature
Buddha-nature
sutras such as the Nirvana Sutra
Sutra
and the Tathagatagarbha
Tathagatagarbha
Sutra, as well as the Lankavatara Sutra, enunciating an affirmative vision of an eternal, indestructible Buddhic Self. Zimmermann observes:[52]

the existence of an eternal, imperishable self, that is, buddhahood, is definitely the basic point of the TGS [ Tathagatagarbha
Tathagatagarbha
Sutra] ... the Mahaparinirvanasutra and the Lankavatarasutra characterize the tathagatagarbha explicitly as atman [Self].

The Uttaratantra
Uttaratantra
(an exegetical treatise on Buddha
Buddha
nature) sees Buddha nature not as caused and conditioned (saṃskṛta), but as eternal, uncaused, unconditioned, and incapable of being destroyed, although temporarily concealed within worldly beings by adventitious defilements.[59] According to C. D. Sebastian, the Uttaratantra's reference to a transcendental self (ātma-pāramitā) should be understood as "the unique essence of the universe",[60] thus the universal and immanent essence of Buddha
Buddha
nature is the same throughout time and space.[61] Scriptures[edit]

Statue of the Buddha
Buddha
with Dharmacakra
Dharmacakra
Mudra, symbolizing his teaching of the Dharma. Sarnath, Vārāṇasī.

Āgamas[edit] Main article: Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras Mahāyāna Buddhism
Buddhism
takes the basic teachings of the Buddha
Buddha
as recorded in early scriptures as the starting point of its teachings, such as those concerning karma and rebirth, anātman, emptiness, dependent origination, and the Four Noble Truths. Mahāyāna Buddhists in East Asia
East Asia
have traditionally studied these teachings in the Āgamas preserved in the Chinese Buddhist canon. "Āgama" is the term used by those traditional Buddhist schools in India who employed Sanskrit
Sanskrit
for their basic canon. These correspond to the Nikāyas used by the Theravāda school. The surviving Āgamas in Chinese translation belong to at least two schools, while most of the Āgamas teachings were never translated into Tibetan.[citation needed] In addition to accepting the essential scriptures of the early Buddhist schools as valid, Mahāyāna Buddhism
Buddhism
maintains large collections of sūtras that are not used or recognized by the Theravāda school. These were not recognized by some individuals in the early Buddhist schools. In other cases, Buddhist communities were divided along these doctrinal lines. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, the Mahāyāna sūtras are often given greater authority than the Āgamas. The first of these Mahāyāna-specific writings were written probably around the 1st century BCE[62] or 1st century CE.[63] In the 4th century Mahāyāna abhidharma work Abhidharmasamuccaya, Asaṅga refers to the collection which contains the āgamas as the Śrāvakapiṭaka and associates it with the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas.[64] Asaṅga classifies the Mahāyāna sūtras as belonging to the Bodhisattvapiṭaka, which is designated as the collection of teachings for bodhisattvas.[64] Turnings of the Dharma
Dharma
Wheel[edit] Dating back at least to the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra is a classification of the corpus of Buddhism
Buddhism
into three categories, based on ways of understanding the nature of reality, known as the "Three Turnings of the Dharma
Dharma
Wheel". According to this view, there were three such "turnings":[65]

In the first turning, the Buddha
Buddha
taught the Four Noble Truths
Four Noble Truths
at Varanasi
Varanasi
for those in the śravaka vehicle. It is described as marvelous and wonderful, but requiring interpretation and occasioning controversy.[66] The doctrines of the first turning are exemplified in the Dharmacakra
Dharmacakra
Pravartana Sūtra. This turning represents the earliest phase of the Buddhist teachings and the earliest period in the history of Buddhism. In the second turning, the Buddha
Buddha
taught the Mahāyāna teachings to the bodhisattvas, teaching that all phenomena have no-essence, no arising, no passing away, are originally quiescent, and essentially in cessation. This turning is also described as marvelous and wonderful, but requiring interpretation and occasioning controversy.[66] Doctrine of the second turning is established in the Prajñāpāramitā teachings, first put into writing around 100 BCE. In Indian philosophical schools, it is exemplified by the Mādhyamaka school of Nāgārjuna. In the third turning, the Buddha
Buddha
taught similar teachings to the second turning, but for everyone in the three vehicles, including all the śravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas. These were meant to be completely explicit teachings in their entire detail, for which interpretations would not be necessary, and controversy would not occur.[66] These teachings were established by the Saṃdhinirmocana Sūtra as early as the 1st or 2nd century CE.[67] In the Indian philosophical schools, the third turning is exemplified by the Yogācāra school of Asaṅga and Vasubandhu.

Some traditions of Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
consider the teachings of Esoteric Buddhism
Buddhism
and Vajrayāna to be the third turning of the Dharma
Dharma
Wheel. Tibetan teachers, particularly of the Gelugpa school, regard the second turning as the highest teaching, because of their particular interpretation of Yogācāra doctrine. The Buddha
Buddha
Nature teachings are normally included in the third turning of the wheel[citation needed]. The Chinese tradition has a different scheme. The Chinese T'ien-T'ai believed the Buddha
Buddha
taught over Five Periods. These are:[68]

The Flower Garland Period. The Agama Period. The Correct and Equal Period (provisional Mahayana
Mahayana
Sutras, including the Amida, Mahavairochana and Vimalakirti Sutras). The Wisdom Period (Perfection of Wisdom Sutras). The Lotus and Nirvana
Nirvana
Period (when Shakyamuni taught from the standpoint of his Enlightenment).

Early canon[edit] Scholars have noted that many key Mahāyāna ideas are closely connected to the earliest texts of Buddhism. The seminal work of Mahāyāna philosophy, Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, mentions the canon's Katyāyana Sūtra (SA 301) by name, and may be an extended commentary on that work.[69] Nāgārjuna
Nāgārjuna
systematized the Mādhyamaka school of Mahāyāna philosophy. He may have arrived at his positions from a desire to achieve a consistent exegesis of the Buddha's doctrine as recorded in the canon. In his eyes the Buddha
Buddha
was not merely a forerunner, but the very founder of the Mādhyamaka system.[70] Nāgārjuna
Nāgārjuna
also referred to a passage in the canon regarding "nirvanic consciousness" in two different works.[71] Yogācāra, the other prominent Mahāyāna school in dialectic with the Mādhyamaka school, gave a special significance to the canon's Lesser Discourse on Emptiness (MA 190).[72] A passage there (which the discourse itself emphasizes) is often quoted in later Yogācāra texts as a true definition of emptiness.[73] According to Walpola Rahula, the thought presented in the Yogācāra school's Abhidharma-samuccaya is undeniably closer to that of the Pali
Pali
Nikayas
Nikayas
than is that of the Theravadin Abhidhamma.[74] Both the Mādhyamikas and the Yogācārins saw themselves as preserving the Buddhist Middle Way
Middle Way
between the extremes of nihilism (everything as unreal) and substantialism (substantial entities existing). The Yogācārins criticized the Mādhyamikas for tending towards nihilism, while the Mādhyamikas criticized the Yogācārins for tending towards substantialism.[75] Key Mahāyāna texts introducing the concepts of bodhicitta and Buddha nature also use language parallel to passages in the canon containing the Buddha's description of "luminous mind" and may have been based on this idea.[76] Theravāda school[edit] Main article: Theravada Role of the Bodhisattva[edit] In the early Buddhist texts, and as taught by the modern Theravada school, the goal of becoming a teaching Buddha
Buddha
in a future life is viewed as the aim of a small group of individuals striving to benefit future generations after the current Buddha's teachings have been lost, but in the current age there is no need for most practitioners to aspire to this goal. Theravada
Theravada
texts do, however, hold that this is a more perfectly virtuous goal.[77] Paul Williams writes that some modern Theravada
Theravada
meditation masters in Thailand
Thailand
are popularly regarded as bodhisattvas.[78]

Cholvijarn observes that prominent figures associated with the Self perspective in Thailand
Thailand
have often been famous outside scholarly circles as well, among the wider populace, as Buddhist meditation masters and sources of miracles and sacred amulets. Like perhaps some of the early Mahāyāna forest hermit monks, or the later Buddhist Tantrics, they have become people of power through their meditative achievements. They are widely revered, worshipped, and held to be arhats or (note!) bodhisattvas.

Theravāda and Hīnayāna[edit] In the 7th century, the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang
Xuanzang
describes the concurrent existence of the Mahāvihara and the Abhayagiri Vihara
Vihara
in Sri Lanka. He refers to the monks of the Mahāvihara as the "Hīnayāna Sthaviras" (Theras), and the monks of the Abhayagiri Vihara
Vihara
as the "Mahāyāna Sthaviras".[79] Xuanzang
Xuanzang
further writes:[80]

The Mahāvihāravāsins reject the Mahāyāna and practice the Hīnayāna, while the Abhayagirivihāravāsins study both Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna teachings and propagate the Tripiṭaka.

The modern Theravāda school is usually described as belonging to Hīnayāna.[81][82][83][84][85] Some authors have argued that it should not be considered such from the Mahāyāna perspective. Their view is based on a different understanding of the concept of Hīnayāna. Rather than regarding the term as referring to any school of Buddhism
Buddhism
that hasn't accepted the Mahāyāna canon and doctrines, such as those pertaining to the role of the bodhisattva,[82][84] these authors argue that the classification of a school as "Hīnayāna" should be crucially dependent on the adherence to a specific phenomenological position. They point out that unlike the now-extinct Sarvāstivāda school, which was the primary object of Mahāyāna criticism, the Theravāda does not claim the existence of independent entities (dharmas); in this it maintains the attitude of early Buddhism.[86][87][88] Adherents of Mahāyāna Buddhism
Buddhism
disagreed with the substantialist thought of the Sarvāstivādins and Sautrāntikas, and in emphasizing the doctrine of emptiness, Kalupahana holds that they endeavored to preserve the early teaching.[89] The Theravādins too refuted the Sarvāstivādins and Sautrāntikas (and other schools) on the grounds that their theories were in conflict with the non-substantialism of the canon. The Theravāda arguments are preserved in the Kathāvatthu.[90] Some contemporary Theravādin figures have indicated a sympathetic stance toward the Mahāyāna philosophy found in texts such as the Heart Sūtra (Skt. Prajñāpāramitā
Prajñāpāramitā
Hṛdaya) and Nāgārjuna's Fundamental Stanzas on the Middle Way
Middle Way
(Skt. Mūlamadhyamakakārikā).[91][92] See also[edit]

Buddha-nature Buddhist holidays Creator in Buddhism Dzogchen Early Buddhist schools Faith
Faith
in Buddhism Golden Light Sutra

History of Buddhism Lotus Sutra Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra Pure land Rebirth Schools of Buddhism

Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
portal

Śūnyatā Silk Road transmission of Buddhism Tathagatagarbha Tendai Zen

Notes[edit]

^ "The Mahayana, 'Great Vehicle' or 'Great Carriage' (for carrying all beings to nirvana), is also, and perhaps more correctly and accurately, known as the Bodhisattvayana, the bodhisattva's vehicle." - Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p. 338 ^ Karashima: "I have assumed that, in the earliest stage of the transmission of the Lotus Sūtra, the Middle Indic forn jāṇa or *jāna (Pkt < Skt jñāna, yāna) had stood in these places ... I have assumed, further, that the Mahāyānist terms buddha-yānā ("the Buddha-vehicle"), mahāyāna ("the great vehicle"), hīnayāna ("the inferior vehicle") meant originally buddha-jñāna ("buddha-knowledge"), mahājñāna ("great knowledge") and hīnajñāna ("inferior knowledge")." Karashima, Seishi (2001). Some Features of the Language of the Saddharma-puṇḍarīka-sūtra, Indo-Iranian Journal 44: 207-230 ^ "As scholars have moved away from this limited corpus, and have begun to explore a wider range of Mahayana
Mahayana
sūtras, they have stumbled on, and have started to open up, a literature that is often stridently ascetic and heavily engaged in reinventing the forest ideal, an individualistic, antisocial, ascetic ideal that is encapsulated in the apparently resurrected image of “wandering alone like a rhinoceros”. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism
Buddhism
(2004): p. 494 ^ "The most important evidence — in fact the only evidence — for situating the emergence of the Mahayana
Mahayana
around the beginning of the common era was not Indian evidence at all, but came from China. Already by the last quarter of the 2nd century CE, there was a small, seemingly idiosyncratic collection of substantial Mahayana sutras
Mahayana sutras
translated into what Erik Zürcher calls 'broken Chinese' by an Indoscythian, whose Indian name has been reconstructed as Lokaksema." Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism
Buddhism
(2004): p. 492 ^ Warder: "The sudden appearance of large numbers of (Mahayana) teachers and texts (in North India in the second century AD) would seem to require some previous preparation and development, and this we can look for in the South." - Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p. 335. ^ "But even apart from the obvious weaknesses inherent in arguments of this kind there is here the tacit equation of a body of literature with a religious movement, an assumption that evidence for the presence of one proves the existence of the other, and this may be a serious misstep." - Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism
Buddhism
(2004): p. 493 ^ "Certainly, we have for this period an extensive body of inscriptions from virtually all parts of India. ... But nowhere in this extensive body of material is there any reference, prior to the fifth century, to a named Mahāyāna.", Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism
Buddhism
(2004): p. 493 ^ "What is particularly disconcerting here is the disconnect between expectation and reality: We know from Chinese translations that large numbers of Mahāyāna sutras were being composed in the period between the beginning of the common era and the fifth century. But outside of texts, at least in India, at exactly the same period, very different — in fact seemingly older — ideas and aspirations appear to be motivating actual behavior, and old and established Hinayana
Hinayana
groups appear to be the only ones that are patronized and supported., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism
Buddhism
(2004): p. 494 ^ "In other words, once nontextual evidence is taken into account the picture changes dramatically. Rather than being datable to the beginning of the common era, this strand of Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism, at least, appeared to have no visible impact on Indian Buddhist cult practice until the 2nd century, and even then what impact it had was extremely isolated and marginal, and had no lasting or long-term consequences — there were no further references to Amitabha in Indian image inscriptions. Almost exactly the same pattern occurs (concerning Mahayana) on an even broader scale when nontextual evidence is considered." - Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism
Buddhism
(2004): p. 493 ^ "There are, it seems, very few things that can be said with certainty about Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism", Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004): p. 492 ^ "But apart from the fact that it can be said with some certainty that the Buddhism
Buddhism
embedded in China, Korea, Tibet, and Japan
Japan
is Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism, it is no longer clear what else can be said with certainty about Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
itself, and especially about its earlier, and presumably formative, period in India.", Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism
Buddhism
(2004): p. 492 ^ "It has become increasingly clear that Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism
Buddhism
was never one thing, but rather, it seems, a loosely bound bundle of many, and — like Walt Whitman — was large and could contain, in both senses of the term, contradictions, or at least antipodal elements." - Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism
Buddhism
(2004): p. 492 ^ Gombrich: "It is true that the term translated 'expounding in means', upaya-kausalya, is post-canonical, but the exercise of expounding to which it refers, the ability to adapt one's message to the audience, is of enormous importance in the Pali
Pali
Canon." Gombrich, Richard F. (1997). How Buddhism
Buddhism
Began. Munshiram Manoharlal: p. 17 ^ The Dharmakaya
Dharmakaya
is in " Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
[...] considered to be equivalent to the mind of the Buddha", since it is synonymous with perfect enlightenment (saṃbodhi).[54]

References[edit]

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Prajñāpāramitā
probably developed among the Mahasamghikas in Southern India, in the Andhra country, on the Krishna River." ^ Akira, Hirakawa (translated and edited by Paul Groner) (1993. A History of Indian Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass: pp. 253, 263, 268 ^ "The south (of India) was then vigorously creative in producing Mahayana
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Buddha
Within: The Tathāgatagarbhasūtra, Biblotheca Philologica et Philosophica Buddhica VI, The International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology, Soka University, pp. 82-83 ^ Xing Guang (2005), The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism
Buddhism
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Sources[edit]

"Mahayana". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2002. 

Further reading[edit]

Beal (1871). Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese, London, Trübner Lowenstein, Tom (1996). The Vision of the Buddha, Boston: Little Brown, ISBN 1-903296-91-9 Schopen, G. "The inscription on the Kusan image of Amitabha and the character of the early Mahayana
Mahayana
in India", Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 10, 1990 Suzuki, D. T. (1914). "The Development of Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism", The Monist Volume 24, Issue 4, 1914-10-01, p565-581 Suzuki, D. T. (1908). Outline of Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism, Open Court, Chicago Walser, Joseph (2007). The origin of the Term Mahayana
Mahayana
and its relationship to the Agamas, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 30 (1-2), 219-252 Williams, Paul (1989). Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism, Routledge. Karel Werner; Jeffrey Samuels; Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Bodhi; Peter Skilling, Bhikkhu Anālayo, David McMahan (2013). The Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Ideal: Essays on the Emergence of Mahayana. Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN 978-955-24-0396-5. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mahayana.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Mahāyāna.

Digital Dictionary of Buddhism Comparison of Buddhist Traditions ( Mahayana
Mahayana
- Therevada - Tibetan) The Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahaparinirvana Sutra: complete text and analysis. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in Mahayana
Mahayana
Buddhism Arahants, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas by Bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
Bodhi The Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
Ideal in Theravāda Theory and Practice by Jeffrey Samuels

v t e

Buddhism
Buddhism
topics

Glossary Index Outline

Foundations

Three Jewels

Buddha Dharma Sangha

Four Noble Truths Noble Eightfold Path Nirvana Middle Way

The Buddha

Tathāgata Birthday Four sights Physical characteristics Footprint Relics Iconography in Laos
Laos
and Thailand Films Miracles Family

Suddhodāna (father) Māyā (mother) Mahapajapati Gotamī (aunt, adoptive mother) Yasodhara (wife) Rāhula
Rāhula
(son) Ānanda (cousin) Devadatta
Devadatta
(cousin)

Places where the Buddha
Buddha
stayed Buddha
Buddha
in world religions

Key concepts

Avidyā (Ignorance) Bardo Bodhicitta Bodhisattva Buddha-nature Dhamma theory Dharma Enlightenment Five hindrances Indriya Karma Kleshas Mind Stream Parinirvana Pratītyasamutpāda Rebirth Saṃsāra Saṅkhāra Skandha Śūnyatā Taṇhā
Taṇhā
(Craving) Tathātā Ten Fetters Three marks of existence

Impermanence Dukkha Anatta

Two truths doctrine

Cosmology

Ten spiritual realms Six realms

Deva (Buddhism) Human realm Asura realm Hungry Ghost realm Animal realm Hell

Three planes of existence

Practices

Bhavana Bodhipakkhiyādhammā Brahmavihara

Mettā Karuṇā Mudita Upekkha

Buddhābhiseka Dāna Devotion Dhyāna Faith Five Strengths Iddhipada Meditation

Mantras Kammaṭṭhāna Recollection Smarana Anapanasati Samatha Vipassanā
Vipassanā
(Vipassana movement) Shikantaza Zazen Kōan Mandala Tonglen Tantra Tertön Terma

Merit Mindfulness

Satipatthana

Nekkhamma Pāramitā Paritta Puja

Offerings Prostration Chanting

Refuge Satya

Sacca

Seven Factors of Enlightenment

Sati Dhamma vicaya Pīti Passaddhi

Śīla

Five Precepts Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
vow Prātimokṣa

Threefold Training

Śīla Samadhi Prajñā

Vīrya

Four Right Exertions

Nirvana

Bodhi Bodhisattva Buddhahood Pratyekabuddha Four stages of enlightenment

Sotāpanna Sakadagami Anāgāmi Arhat

Monasticism

Bhikkhu Bhikkhuni Śrāmaṇera Śrāmaṇerī Anagarika Ajahn Sayadaw Zen
Zen
master Rōshi Lama Rinpoche Geshe Tulku Householder Upāsaka and Upāsikā Śrāvaka

The ten principal disciples

Shaolin Monastery

Major figures

Gautama Buddha Kaundinya Assaji Sāriputta Mahamoggallāna Mulian Ānanda Mahākassapa Anuruddha Mahākaccana Nanda Subhuti Punna Upali Mahapajapati Gotamī Khema Uppalavanna Asita Channa Yasa Buddhaghoṣa Nagasena Angulimala Bodhidharma Nagarjuna Asanga Vasubandhu Atiśa Padmasambhava Nichiren Songtsen Gampo Emperor Wen of Sui Dalai Lama Panchen Lama Karmapa Shamarpa Naropa Xuanzang Zhiyi

Texts

Tripiṭaka Madhyamakālaṃkāra Mahayana
Mahayana
sutras Pāli Canon Chinese Buddhist canon Tibetan Buddhist canon

Branches

Theravada Mahayana

Chan Buddhism

Zen Seon Thiền

Pure Land Tiantai Nichiren Madhyamaka Yogachara

Navayana Vajrayana

Tibetan Shingon Dzogchen

Early Buddhist schools Pre-sectarian Buddhism Basic points unifying Theravāda and Mahāyāna

Countries

Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan Cambodia China India Indonesia Japan Korea Laos Malaysia Maldives Mongolia Myanmar Nepal Pakistan Philippines Russia

Kalmykia Buryatia

Singapore Sri Lanka Taiwan Thailand Tibet Vietnam Middle East

Iran

Western countries

Argentina Australia Brazil France United Kingdom United States Venezuela

History

Timeline Ashoka Buddhist councils History of Buddhism
Buddhism
in India

Decline of Buddhism
Buddhism
in India

Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution Greco-Buddhism Buddhism
Buddhism
and the Roman world Buddhism
Buddhism
in the West Silk Road transmission of Buddhism Persecution of Buddhists Banishment of Buddhist monks from Nepal Buddhist crisis Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism Buddhist modernism Vipassana movement 969 Movement Women in Buddhism

Philosophy

Abhidharma Atomism Buddhology Creator Economics Eight Consciousnesses Engaged Buddhism Eschatology Ethics Evolution Humanism Logic Reality Secular Buddhism Socialism The unanswered questions

Culture

Architecture

Temple Vihara Wat Stupa Pagoda Candi Dzong architecture Japanese Buddhist architecture Korean Buddhist temples Thai temple art and architecture Tibetan Buddhist architecture

Art

Greco-Buddhist

Bodhi
Bodhi
Tree Budai Buddharupa Calendar Cuisine Funeral Holidays

Vesak Uposatha Magha Puja Asalha Puja Vassa

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Kasaya Mahabodhi Temple Mantra

Om mani padme hum

Mudra Music Pilgrimage

Lumbini Maya Devi Temple Bodh Gaya Sarnath Kushinagar

Poetry Prayer
Prayer
beads Prayer
Prayer
wheel Symbolism

Dharmachakra Flag Bhavacakra Swastika Thangka

Temple of the Tooth Vegetarianism

Miscellaneous

Abhijñā Amitābha Avalokiteśvara

Guanyin

Brahmā Dhammapada Dharma
Dharma
talk Hinayana Kalpa Koliya Lineage Maitreya Māra Ṛddhi Sacred languages

Pali Sanskrit

Siddhi Sutra Vinaya

Comparison

Bahá'í Faith Christianity

Influences Comparison

East Asian religions Gnosticism Hinduism Jainism Judaism Psychology Science Theosophy Violence Western philosophy

Lists

Bodhisattvas Books Buddhas

named

Buddhists Suttas Temples

Category Portal

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Religion

Major religious groups
Major religious groups
and religious denominations

Abrahamic

Judaism

Orthodox

Haredi Hasidic Modern

Conservative Reform Karaite Reconstructionist Renewal Humanistic Haymanot

Christianity

Catholicism

Eastern Catholic Churches

Eastern Christianity

Church of the East

Assyrian Church of the East

Eastern Orthodoxy Oriental Orthodoxy

Ethiopian Orthodoxy

Independent Catholicism

Old Catholicism

Protestantism

Adventism Anabaptism Anglicanism Baptists Calvinism

Presbyterianism Congregationalism Continental Reformed

Lutheranism Methodism Pentecostalism Evangelicalism

Nontrinitarianism

Jehovah's Witnesses Mormonism Jesuism

Nondenominational

Islam

Sunni

Hanafi Maliki Hanbali Shafi'i

Shia

Twelver Isma'ilism Zaidiyyah

Ahmadi Ibadi Non-denominational Quranism Zahirism Salafism

Wahhabism Ahl al-Hadith

Mahdavia European Islam Nation of Islam

Others

Bábism

Azáli Bábism Bahá'í Faith

Druze Mandaeism Rastafari Samaritanism

Dharmic

Hinduism

Vaishnavism Shaktism Shaivism Ayyavazhi Smartism Balinese

Buddhism

Mahayana

Chan

Zen Thiền Seon

Pure Land Nichiren Madhyamaka Tiantai

Theravada Vajrayana

Tibetan Shingon Newar Bon

Navayana

Others

Dravidian Jainism

Digambara Śvētāmbara

Sikhism Gurung shamanism Bon
Bon
Lamaism Kirant Mundhum

Persian

Manichaeism Yazdânism

Yazidism Ishikism Ali-Illahism Yarsanism

Zoroastrianism

European

Armenian Baltic

Dievturība Druwi Romuva

Caucasian Celtic

Druidry

Germanic Hellenism Italo-Roman Romanian Slavic

Uralic

Finnish Hungarian Uralic

Mari Mordvin Udmurt

Central and Northern Asian

Burkhanism Chuvash Manchu Mongolian Siberian Tengrism

East Asian

Benzhuism Bimoism Bon Cheondoism Confucianism Dongbaism Faism Hmongism Jeungsanism Luoism Meishanism Mileism Muism Neo-Confucianism Ryukyuan religion Shenism Shigongism Shinto Taoism Tenrikyo Wuism Yiguandao

Southeast Asian

Burmese Satsana Phi Malaysian Indonesian

Marapu Kaharingan Kebatinan

Philippine Vietnamese

Caodaism Đạo Mẫu Hoahaoism

African

Traditional

Akan Akamba Baluba Bantu Berber Bushongo Cushitic Dinka Efik Fon and Ewe Guanche Igbo Isoko Lotuko Lozi Lugbara Maasai Mbuti San Serer Tumbuka Waaq Yoruba Zulu

Diasporic

Candomblé Kumina Obeah Quimbanda Palo Santería Umbanda Vodou Voodoo Winti

Other groups

Bathouism Bongthingism Donyi-Polo Kiratism Sanamahism Sarnaism Aboriginal Australian Native American Mesoamerican Hawaiian Polynesian

Recent

Discordianism Eckankar Jediism New Age New Thought Pastafarianism Raëlism Satanism Scientology Thelema Unitarian Universalism Wicca

Historical religions

Prehistoric

Paleolithic

Near East

Arabian Egyptian Mesopotamian Semitic

Canaanite Yahwism

Indo-European

Asia

Proto-Indo-Iranian Armenian Ossetian Vedic Zoroastrianism

Mithraism Zurvanism

Gnosticism

Manichaeism

Europe

Celtic Germanic

Anglo-Saxon Continental Norse

Greek

Gnosticism Neoplatonism

Manichaeism Balkan Roman Slavic

Topics

Aspects

Apostasy / Disaffiliation Behaviour Beliefs Clergy Conversion Deities Entheogens Ethnic religion Denomination Faith Fire Folk religion God Meditation Monasticism

monk nun

Mysticism Mythology Nature Ordination Orthodoxy Orthopraxy Prayer Prophesy Religious experience Ritual

liturgy sacrifice

Spirituality Supernatural Symbols Truth Water Worship

Theism

Animism Deism Dualism Henotheism Monotheism Nontheism Panentheism Pantheism Polytheism Transtheism

Religious studies

Anthropology Cognitive science Comparative Development Evolutionary origin Evolutionary psychology History Philosophy Neurotheology Psychology Sociology Theology Theories Women

Religion
Religion
and society

Agriculture Business Clergy

monasticism ordination

Conversion

evangelism missionary proselytism

Education Fanaticism Freedom

pluralism syncretism toleration universalism

Fundamentalism Growth Happiness Homosexuality Minorities National church National religiosity levels Religiocentrism Political science Populations Schism Science State Theocracy Vegetarianism Video games Violence

persecution terrorism war

Wealth

Secularism
Secularism
and irreligion

Antireligion Deism Agnosticism Atheism Criticism LaVeyan Satanism Deconstruction Humanistic Judaism Irreligion by country Objectivism Secular humanism Secular theology Secularization Separation of church and state Unaffiliated

Overviews and lists

Index Outline Timeline Abrahamic prophets Deification Deities Founders Mass gatherings New religious movements Organizations Religions and spiritual traditions Scholars

Category Portal

Authority control

.