Friday July 20, 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.

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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.

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Buddhist Monk Losang Samten Uses Colors to Spread Message of Peace

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

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Samten
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten uses colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. VOA

According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.

Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten does just that, using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. VOA

Decades of mandalas

Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.

“When I was a teenager, age of 17,” he told VOA, “I had a privilege to enter His Holiness Dalai Lama’s monastery … in India. I have been studying sand mandalas ever since then. So it’s a long time.”

VOA found Samten painstakingly layering grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.

Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.

“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”

When Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama, it was the first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries. Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.

“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.

Nothing is permanent

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama. VOA

“In the winter of 1959, [we] crossed Mount Everest, it took us two months to cross,” he told VOA. “You cannot travel during the day and so scared and not enough food not enough clothes. I was age of 5. I saw, I mean unbelievable dead bodies, people dying without food. I became a monk at age 11 when I was in school, refugee school.”

Samten left monastic life in 1995 and became the spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He says the patience of the creative process, can lead observers to find calm determination within themselves.

“When I am doing this mandala at universities and schools, many kids came to me, (saying) ‘when I saw you doing the sand mandala, that help me so much to finish my education, patience …’ I have a lot of stories,” he said.

Monk Samten
Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. VOA

Beauty comes and goes

After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously.

“Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “… One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”

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Or like sand, ever changing in the wind.

Samten often invites children to participate in the ceremony.

To gallery visitor Traci Chiodress that was part of the charm of the event.

“I think it’s powerful to see something so beautiful created, and then taken apart, and to be done in a community with a group of people of different ages,” she said. “I just think it’s an important type of practice.” (VOA)