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“Vajrayana Buddhism” designates the Diamond Vehicle (or Adamantine Vehicle) of Buddhism that is found in Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, parts of Nepal, and the Indian state of Sikkim. The analogy to a diamond reflects the indestructibility of its methods. Its practitioners believe it to be the most powerful, most effective, most advanced, and most dangerous Buddhist path. According to its adherents, Vajrayana is superior to its precedents, Hinayana (“Lesser Vehicle,” also known as Theravada) and Mahayana (“Greater Vehicle”). This entry discusses the history and philosophy of Vajrayana Buddhism, as well as the tantras, mantras, deities, ritual practice, and distinctive features of Tibetan Vajrayana.

History

Vajrayana Buddhism was being practiced in India in the sixth century CE. Its distinct sets of practices and scriptures developed outside the monastic context ...

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