The Sanskrit term Mahāyāna (Greater Vehicle) refers to a movement that probably had its origins in India sometime around the first century CE, but inscriptions that refer to Mahāyāna do not appear until the fifth or sixth centuries. This suggests that this trend within Indian Buddhist circles may have begun sometime around the beginning of the Common Era, but probably took centuries to coalesce as a distinctive and a recognizable stream of thought and practice.

Proponents of Mahāyāna characterized its doctrines and trainings as more expansive and effective than those of their opponents, whose schools they collectively referred to as a Lesser Vehicle (Hīnayāna). There is a considerable debate among contemporary scholars of Buddhism regarding the exact origins of Mahāyāna and what should be regarded as ...

  • Loading...
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles