Definition of Mahayana in US English:


(also Mahayana Buddhism)


  • One of the two major traditions of Buddhism, now practiced in a variety of forms especially in China, Tibet, Japan, and Korea. The tradition emerged around the 1st century AD and is typically concerned with altruistically oriented spiritual practice as embodied in the ideal of the bodhisattva.

    Compare with Theravada
    • ‘Buddhism has survived even in communist China, while in Japan the Pure Land sects of Mahayana Buddhism remain popular.’
    • ‘The kind of Buddhism we follow - Mahayana Buddhism - has the ideal that you're in the middle of all of the defilement, chaos and unrest, but you're still concentrating.’
    • ‘Clearly, this ‘Zen ‘is different from Mahayana Buddhism that teaches compassion and wisdom.’’
    • ‘In the United States the dominant form of Buddhism is Mahayana Buddhism, and Theravada Buddhism is confined to a few viharas.’
    • ‘To help others and to create the basis for benefit is the main precept for Mahayana.’
    • ‘It depends upon the level of teachings that one is able to relate to, such as Mahayana or Hinayana.’
    • ‘The Mahayana tradition of Buddhism is dominant in Vietnam, and over 70 percent of Vietnamese consider themselves at least nominally Buddhist.’
    • ‘The general Mahayana, like the Hinayana, can be subdivided into two vehicles: the Paramitayana and the Mantrayana.’
    • ‘Historically, Bhutan had a theocratic system of government similar to that in Tibet, dominated by the Druk Buddhist sect of Mahayana Buddhism.’
    • ‘Through practicing Mahayana, it is not easy to achieve the state of bliss or enlightenment.’
    • ‘Vietnamese Buddhists are almost always Mahayana Buddhists, the general school of Buddhism found in China, Japan, Korea, and Tibet.’
    • ‘Although later Mahayana Buddhism virtually made the Buddha himself into a god, the historical Gautama Buddha (who lived in the fifth century BCE) never mentioned God.’
    • ‘Buddhism was an influential religion throughout America by the 1970s, with Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism greatly influencing immigrants.’
    • ‘The ‘Northern School,’ known as Mahayana Buddhism, is found most often in China, Japan, Tibet, Korea, and Vietnam.’
    • ‘Many miraculous stories are told and many special ceremonies and art works relating to Avalokitesvara have made the Bodhisattva into a very central figure in Mahayana Buddhism.’
    • ‘In Mahayana Buddhism the starting point is complete emptiness - nothing at all.’
    • ‘The fifth century saw a Hindu kingdom established in Java and in the seventh century the kingdom of Srivijaya in south Sumatra was a major center of Mahayana Buddhism.’
    • ‘With proper motivation, any practice of Mahayana would have that benefit.’
    • ‘It was Mahayana Buddhism that spread to China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam.’
    • ‘The Buddhist thought of the Three Kingdoms does not seem to have gone much beyond research into the texts of Hinayana and Mahayana.’


From Sanskrit, from mahā ‘great’ + yāna ‘vehicle’.