Definition of Theravada in US English:


(also Theravada Buddhism)


  • The more conservative of the two major traditions of Buddhism (the other being Mahayana), and a school of Hinayana Buddhism. It is practiced mainly in Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.

    • ‘The prevailing - although unofficial - view of the meaning of the five stripes is that the red represents the land and the people; the white is for Theravada Buddhism, the state religion, and the central blue stripe symbolises the monarchy.’
    • ‘I've mainly studied Theravada, Zen and Mahayana.’
    • ‘In Buddhism, there are two major schools: Theravada and Mahayana.’
    • ‘I'm personally into and learning Theravada, but this made the basic concepts of Buddhism clear for me when it was seriously confusing a while back and I thought it was great.’
    • ‘Buddhism was an influential religion throughout America by the 1970s, with Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism greatly influencing immigrants.’
    • ‘I think these are collected and revered in places where Theravada Buddhism is practised.’
    • ‘In Theravada Buddhism one accumulates merit through renunciation.’
    • ‘The majority of Laotians practice Theravada Buddhism, a form of Buddhism popular in Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka.’
    • ‘It does not pay for them to dissociate themselves from their respective traditional roots - Tibetan Buddhism, Theravada, Zen or whatever form they have incorporated into their lives.’
    • ‘They have no residential quarters, unlike the pagodas of the Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists of the region.’
    • ‘However, the Sinhalese follow the southern or Theravada (also called Hinayana) form of Buddhism.’
    • ‘Since only one of the twelve schools of the Elder tradition survives today, namely the school known as the Theravada, I will henceforth speak of the two main surviving forms of Buddhism as Mahayana and Theravada.’
    • ‘The major religion in Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism.’
    • ‘Almost 95 per cent of the population adheres to the Theravada Buddhist religious tradition.’
    • ‘Steele says he chose to concentrate on Theravada Buddhism - even though he studied under many revered Tibetan lamas - in part because of its simplicity.’
    • ‘Cambodia is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country; 95 percent of the population practices Theravada Buddhism, the type of Buddhism found in many of the countries in southern Asia.’
    • ‘But it is possible to construct a criterion of right and wrong out of material scattered in different places throughout the Pali Tipitaka, the scriptural basis of Theravada Buddhism.’
    • ‘The only early school of Buddhism to survive to the modern day is Theravada Buddhism.’
    • ‘It is during this period that Theravada Buddhism first made its appearance in Burma, and the Pagan kings built a massive city with thousands of pagodas and monasteries along the Irrawaddy River.’
    • ‘The website used to have a side-by-side comparison showing the differences between Mahayana and Theravada.’


From Pali theravāda, literally ‘doctrine of the elders’, from thera ‘elder, old’ + vāda ‘speech, doctrine’.