Tuesday January 16, 2018

Hinayana and Mahayana: two schools of thoughts of Buddhism

Buddhism can further be divided into two schools of thoughts- Hinayana and Mahayana

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Buddhism the most fostered religion of the world is further divided into two major schools of thoughts: Hinayana or the lesser vehicle and Mahayana or the greater vehicle. The division originated in Prajnaparamita Sutras (the formulations on achieving the ultimate awareness). Both the sects have a profusion of differences between them.

Buddhika_Sanjeewa_-_WFB_-_The_World_Fellowship_of_Buddhists_27th_General_Conference_at_Baoji,_Beijing,_China._-_08

Buddhika Sanjeewa, Beijing, China. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hinayana

  • It is an ancient version of Buddhism, without any noticeable change in it. It contains preachings as Buddha himself had instructed.
  • Bodhisattvas are the compassionate human beings who aspire to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of sentient beings. No such concept exists in Hinayana.
  • Hinayana includes eighteen schools and the most important of them are Sarvastivada and Theravada. Sarvastivada were widespread in Northern India when the Tibetans started to travel over the region while Theravada was dominant in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

Related article : Spread of Buddhism

  • They don’t believe in idol worship and believe in salvation through self-discipline and meditation.
  • In Hinayana, Buddha is portrayed in human form. Asoka was the patron of Hinayana and Pali was the language used by Hinayana scholars.
  • There are only symbols related to Buddha- circle, animals related to Buddha’s life like lion- symbol of Mahabhinishkraman (Sanskrit term for “the great departure”), elephant- symbol of birth, et al. The stories of Hinayana tend to believe that when Buddha’s mother was conceiving him, she dreamt of a white elephant entering her womb.
  • The aim of a Hinayana devotee is to get Nirvana which can be achieved with life. When the person becomes free of all sangyas and asangyas (all worldly attractions and distractions), the person is said to have achieved Nirvana.

Mahayana

  • It originated in first century A.D. after it split from Theravada. It is a modified version of Buddhism in which some liberties are awarded to the devotees.
  • Mahayana Buddhism is prevalent in India, China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Mongolia.
  • Mahayana doctrine was based on the possibility of universal liberation from suffering for all being and hence named as the greater vehicle.
  • It affirms the existence of Bodhisattvas and their language is Sanskrit.

Peace_Pagoda_Temple_Sculpture

Peace Pagoda temple, Darjeeling, India. Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • Buddha is presumed in divine form, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and they started to profess idol worship. It allows salvation to be alternatively obtained through the grace of Buddha by having faith and devoting oneself to mindfulness of Buddha. They believe in mantras (chanting).
  • After getting Nirvana, the person has to help other people to attain nirvana.

Shruti Pandey is a third year engineering student at HBTI, Kanpur and aspires to bring a change through words. Twitter handle: srt_kaka

 

 

 

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  • Pragya Jha

    Buddhism is a religion which focuses on non-violence and peace….Hinayana and Mahayana are the sub parts of this religion.Followers of Hinayana don’t believe idol worship whereas followers of Mahayana believe in idol worship.

  • Pragya Jha

    Buddhism is a religion which focuses on non-violence and peace….Hinayana and Mahayana are the sub parts of this religion.Followers of Hinayana don’t believe idol worship whereas followers of Mahayana believe in idol worship.

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‘Religion’ in India- Types and its Connection to Country’s Civilization

The Ancient religions of India are Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

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Religion
Ancient Religions of India.

India’s economic and political strata in today’s world have reached a great level, but that is still not what the country is known for. The country is known for its diversity and religions because the term ‘religion’ in India is not just a system of belief and worship, but a way of life too. Since ancient times, it has been an integral part of its culture. For the citizens of this country, religion pervades through all the activities of life- from cooking chores to working and politics. The religion we follow plays an important role in our upbringing as well. Our conditioning is done based on the principles of our religion. India is a home to many religions- Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and others.

How old is the Indian civilization?

The Indian civilization is around 4000 years old, with the existing Indian religions growing in that period. The antiquity of the religions in India begins from the Harappan culture. It’s a secular country which respects all kinds of religion and culture, but during the ancient times, when the Human civilization was developing, there were three main religions native to India- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The predominant religion during this period was Hinduism, which is said have originated in the Northern India.

Religion wise Indian Population:

  • HINDUISM – about 82%
  • ISLAM – about 12%
  • CHRISTIANITY – about 2.5%
  • SIKHISM – about 2%
  • BUDDHISM – about 0.7%
  • JAINISM – about 0.5%
  • ZOROASTRIANISM – about 0.01%
  • JUDAISM – about 0.0005%   (stated by adaniel.tripod)

Hinduism

Religion
Brahma                                                                                                                                                          Pixabay

Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Its followers worship several deities. Unlike the other religions, this religion does not have one teacher. Its followers, the ‘Hindus’ believe in a supreme divine spirit called ‘Parama Brahma’. The concept of Parama Brahma states that Brahma is omnipresent.

Hindus believe in vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the whole world is a single family. They also believe in Sarva dharma Sama Bhava, which means all religions are equal. The practice follows the ideas of mercy, charity, compassion, benevolence, non-violence and mercy. It believes the concept of ‘Bhakti’ or devotion.

The sacred writings of Hinduism include the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Upanishads.

Also Read: The history and development of Indian Handicrafts

Jainism

Religion
Lord Mahavira                                                                                                                                                   Pixabay
According to tradition, the founder of Jainism was first Tirthankara Adinatha. However, the religion was widely propagated by the 24th Tirthankara, Mahavira. He was born in Vaishali, Bihar, who belonged to the clan ‘Licchavi’. Mahavira was moved by the sufferings of people, and therefore, left his home at the age of 30 to seek the truth. He supported the teachings of the previous Tirthankaras, and added his own beliefs to the teachings.
He believed in the ideology of leading a good life and not doing any wrong. He did not encourage the practice of needing the help of God for everything.
Doctrines of Jainism:
  1. Ahimsa (Non-violence)
  2. Satya (Truth)
  3. Asteya (Non-stealing)
  4. Brahmacharya (Chastity)
  5. Aparigraha (Non-possession)

Buddhism

Religion
Lord Buddha                                                                                                                                                    Pixabay
Buddhism is a religion which consists of different kinds of beliefs and practices based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. Buddha’s name was Siddhartha. He was the son of the Shakya clan’s leader. It is believed that Siddhartha made three observations, which changed his life:  a feeble old man; a person suffering from disease; and a dead body being taken for cremation. This propelled him in finding the true meaning of life. He left his home at an early age and attained ‘enlightenment’ in Bodhgaya.
He also prescribed the four noble truths and eight fold path.
Four noble truths are:
  • Dukkha (truth of suffering)
  • Samudāya (truth of the suffering’s origin)
  • Nirodha (the truth of suffering’s cessation.)
  • Magga (Direction to eight-fold path)

The eight fold path are- Right aims, Right beliefs, Right conduct, Right speech, Right effort, Right occupation, Right meditation and Right thinking.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at twitter @ImMeghaacharya.