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Related to Hinayana: Vajrayana



one of the two major branches of Buddhism, the other one being Mahayana Buddhism. The concept of Hinayana was introduced by the Mahayanists at the beginning of the first millennium A.D., not long after the emergence of Buddhism itself. Hinayana Buddhism comprises a number of schools, including Theravada, Sarvastivada (Vaibhashika), and Sautrantika; at present, however, the adherents of Hinayana Buddhism tend to identify it with the Theravada school, or the “teaching of the elders.” Hinayana Buddhism, as it developed and spread to the southern countries—such as Ceylon, Laos, and Thailand—became firmly established there under the name of Southern Buddhism. Among its basic texts are the Abhidharma-kosa by Vasubandhu and the Tipitaka.

Buddhism preaches individual perfection for the attainment of “deliverance,” or Nirvana; in Hinayana, the moral and intellectual development of the individual was proclaimed to be completely independent of any forces external to man, and particularly divine ones. Hinayana is distinguished by its relatively strict and at the same time negative moral principles. Its ideal is the arhat —the individual who strives unswervingly and above all toward self-perfection and who in effect cares little for the perfection of others. In the philosophical frame of reference, a related aspect of Hinayana is its denial that either the soul or god exist as independent entities and the assertion that dharmas are the only existing essences—dharmas being the specific psychophysical elements of the individual’s life activity, inseparably linked to the surrounding world. Dharmas represent the union of the subjective and the objective, the material and the spiritual, and they are in perpetual motion.

The Hinayanists regard the Buddha as a historical person who differs from others by his incomparably greater perfection but is not endowed with divine authority. He is represented as the highest ideal of human existence and as a model for others, inasmuch as every man has the potential to become a Buddha.

In theory, Hinayana Buddhism has substituted life in a monastic community, or sangha, for worship and ritual; the significance of the latter, however, has been preserved in the countries that practice Southern Buddhism, where a distinctive form of polytheism developed.


Radhakrishnan, S. Indiiskaia filosofiia, vol. 1. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from English.)
Vallée Poussin, L. de Ia. Bouddhisme. Paris, 1909.
Bareau, A. Les Sectes bouddhiques du petit Véhicule. Saigon, 1955.
Lamotte, E. Histoire du bouddhisme indien. Louvain, 1958.
See also references under BUDDHISM.


References in periodicals archive ?
The Mahayanasamgraha suggests that Mahayana morality is superior to Hinayana in four ways: (1) in its classifications (prabheda-visesa), (2) in its common and separate rules (sadharana-asadharana-siksavsesa), (3) in breadth (vaipulya-visesa), and (4) in depth (gambh rya-visesa).
3) The Lotus Sutra negated the necessity of being first born into a male body before one could attain nirvana, the requirement under Hinayana Buddhism, with gender equal universal salvation as long as avaivartika, the Stage of Non-Retrogression, was already reached by the woman.
It seems that both Hinayana and Mahayana have subscribed to the same misunderstanding that it is purely personal.
The Hinayana Buddhist tradition was widespread and strong in all provinces, with an estimated 4,100 pagodas found throughout the country.
If almost "nothing about the Rastrapala can be called revolutionary," if the "practices it advocates are all quite standard fare," and if the word Hinayana does not occur and the word Mahayana only appears in the later Sanskrit edition, in what sense can the Rastrapala be classified as 'Mahayana'?
of Michigan-Ann Arbor) challenges some commonly held views about the Hinayana Buddhist site Ajanta and related caves.
For instance, Radhakrish- nan and Moore's Sourcebook includes fifty-six pages of Hinayana Buddhist texts, perhaps a reflection of mid-twentieth century concerns to excavate the earliest, and purportedly most authentic, stratum of Buddhist teachings.
Buddhists included followers of the Mahayana and Hinayana schools, and there were both Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians.
It can be said that Buddhist Tantra is built upon the foundational ethical and philosophical systems of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism, and upholds even more strongly the universally compassionate ethic of the Mahayana.
61) A comparison with the traditional Hinayana vinayas reveals that while alcohol and garlic are forbidden in all vinayas, this is not so for meat, onions, or leeks.
The Hinayana Buddhist tradition is widespread and strong in all provinces, with an estimated 4,100 pagodas found throughout the country.