Religions of the world Buddhism

Similar to other prominent religions of the world, Buddhism too, is no exception to various schools of thought that tend to interpret the founding principles of Buddhism in their own unique way. This has lead to the birth of different traditions of this faith, all encapsulated under the head of Buddhism. This 'branching out' can be traced back to the death of Lord Buddha, in around 380 B.C. After Lord Buddha, his disciples took his teachings to all the corners of the world. As a result, today, there are over 500 million followers of Buddhism in the world.

However, even while the religion spread its wings across the world and was interpreted differently all over, it still had only three main schools of thought that followed different Buddhist traditions. These three separate Buddhist schools of thought include Hinayana sect or the 'Lesser Vehicle', Mahayana sect or the 'Greater Vehicle', and Vajrayna or the 'Indestructible Vehicle'. A careful study of Buddhism will reveal that all the differing Buddhist traditions in the world actually originated from one of these three traditions only.

Hinayana or Lesser Vehicle:

The term Hinayana came into being in the 1st or the 2nd century. The Hinayana form of Buddhism is mainly practiced in countries such as Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand. Hinayana form of Buddhism is also often referred to as the Theravada school of Buddhism. The Hinayana school of thought gives more credence to the attainment of Nirvana or enlightenment of the soul. Religious experts say that Hinayana school of thought includes those sutras where Lord Buddha admonishes the practitioner of Buddhism to follow the sravaka path.
According to them, the Hinayana teachings do not emphasize on the importance of the soul detaching itself from the worldly emotions of pain and suffering. Instead, this tradition focuses more on the liberation of the self. According to the beliefs of this school of though, any practitioner of Hinayana who successfully rids himself of suffering, is called 'Arahant'. The Mahayana school of thought describes 'Arahant' of the Hinayana sect as someone who can never become a Buddha or even go back to the material world to help others get rid of emotional sufferings.
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