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Hīnayāna

Hīnayāna (Skt., ‘small vehicle’). A name used by Mahāyāna Buddhists for forms of early Buddhism, which they characterize as defective or preparatory in contrast to themselves, the ‘Great Vehicle’—in particular because they regard adherents of Hīnayāna as being preoccupied, selfishly, with the advancement of their own aggregation of appearance towards the goal of arhat, as opposed to that of bodhisattva. A less aggressive name for the earlier forms of Buddhism is Theravāda, ‘teaching of the elders’, but this strictly is inaccurate, since Theravāda is the name of one particular school belonging to the Sthavira group, itself one of the two parties into which early Buddhism split at the 3rd Council (see COUNCILS (BUDDHIST)) of Pātaliputra. An alternative name is ‘Pāli school’, because early Buddhism rested on the Pāli canon. More accurate, but unlikely to displace Theravāda, is Śrāvakayāna, the vehicle of the disciple (i.e. who seeks to become arhat, not buddha, or who ‘hears’, śrāvaka, in the mode of personal disciple).

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Hinayana

Hinayana a name given by the followers of Mahayana Buddhism to the more orthodox schools of early Buddhism. The tradition died out in India, but it survived in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) as the Theravada school and was taken from there to other regions of SE Asia.

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