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.

    • ‘They have no residential quarters, unlike the pagodas of the Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists of the region.’
    • ‘I've mainly studied Theravada, Zen and Mahayana.’
    • ‘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 majority of Laotians practice Theravada Buddhism, a form of Buddhism popular in Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka.’
    • ‘However, the Sinhalese follow the southern or Theravada (also called Hinayana) form of Buddhism.’
    • ‘The only early school of Buddhism to survive to the modern day is Theravada Buddhism.’
    • ‘In Theravada Buddhism one accumulates merit through renunciation.’
    • ‘I think these are collected and revered in places where Theravada Buddhism is practised.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Steele says he chose to concentrate on Theravada Buddhism - even though he studied under many revered Tibetan lamas - in part because of its simplicity.’
    • ‘Almost 95 per cent of the population adheres to the Theravada Buddhist religious tradition.’
    • ‘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 website used to have a side-by-side comparison showing the differences between Mahayana and Theravada.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The major religion in Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Buddhism was an influential religion throughout America by the 1970s, with Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism greatly influencing immigrants.’


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