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From its beginnings as a small religious community of mendicants and householders in northeastern India in the sixth century BCE, Buddhism developed into a global religion with a significant presence today in India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan and, more recently, in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. Buddhism's vitality and adaptability have allowed it to transform civilizations and to shape and be shaped by the cultures with which it came into contact. Mahayana, or the “Great Vehicle,” is one of two major schools or branches of Buddhism. This entry reviews the history of Mahayana Buddhism, its tenets, and the diverse forms that it has assumed from its origins to the present day.

Origins

Arising in the Indian Buddhist community in ...

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