Mahayana

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Mahayana

 

the self-designation of one of the two largest schools of Buddhism (the other major school is Hinayana Buddhism).

Mahayana Buddhism can be traced through literary sources to the first century B.C. However, the ultimate origin of Mahayana Buddhism may be found in the first Buddhist councils of the fifth through third centuries B.C.; at these councils there was considerable support for broad missionary activity, admission of secular persons to the Buddhist sangha (community), and the relaxation of the rules of religious obedience.

The formation of Mahayana Buddhism is associated with the names of Nagarjuna, Asanga, Ashvaghosha, and Aryadeva—the major exponents of Buddhist religiophilosophical thought in the first through fifth centuries. In Mahayana, the highest religious ideal is the Bodhisattva, the universal but incarnate cosmic principle of the interrelationship—through compassion and mutual aid—of all beings who strive to liberate themselves from the coils of earthly existence. In contrast to the arhat, the ideal saint of Hinayana, who strives for personal liberation through strict observance of canonical and ritual prescriptions, the Bodhisattva is seen as a model for others: he himself will not be liberated until every last being who seeks liberation succeeds in emulating his example and achieving Nirvana. More concretely, the concept of Bodhisattva involves the individual’s acquisition of a certain set of ultimate qualities (paramitas): supergenerosity, supermorality, superpatience, supervigor, superconcentration, and super-wisdom. The symbolism of the Three Bodies of Buddha (Trikaya) occupies a central place in the Mahayana cult: the “body of the Law” (Dharmakaya), the image of the universal spiritual being of Buddha; the “body of Enjoyment” (Sambhogakaya), the ideal image of Buddha sent down to disciples who are in a yogic trance; and the “body of the Illusory” (Nirmanakaya), the material human image of Buddha as a model of religious behavior.

The religious symbolism of Mayahana Buddhism consists of a complex pantheon of divinities embodying personalized values in the achievement of ultimate liberation. The most important of these include the Amitabha Buddha, or the spirit of Buddhism incarnate in the world; the Avalokiteshvara Buddha, or compassion for the world; and the Maitreya Buddha, or the hope of the world. Mahayana canonical literature is based on nine chief sutras, the Vaipulya Sutras. The principal Mahayana philosophical schools are the Yogachara, or Vijnanavada (founded by Asanga), and the Madhyamika, or Shunyavada (founded by Nagarjuna). The development of the Tantrist teachings of Buddhist yoga is associated with Mahayana Buddhism.

In the first centuries A.D., Mahayana spread to China, Tibet, Korea, Japan, and later to Mongolia and other countries. Most of the Mahayana canonical texts in India were written in Sanskrit, and in countries to which Mahayana spread were written in the local languages as well. Magnificent religious rituals are characteristic of Mahayana.

REFERENCES

Ashvagosha. ZhiznBuddy. Moscow, 1913.
Arnold, E. Svet Azii, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1906.
Schure, E. Sakiia-Muni drevnii mudrets. Odessa, 1897.
Suzuki, D. T. Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism. London [1907].
Sogen, J. Systems of Buddhistic Thought. Calcutta, 1912.

A. M. PIATIGORSKII

References in periodicals archive ?
Given that Mahayana view, it is an event that is most profitably understood within the context of Mahayanist universal altruism-well-founded in East Asian Buddhism, decisive in its mid20th century Vietnamese manifestations, and now again demonstrative of a radical contemporary contestation in Tibet.
However, it is also the explicit invocation of the discourse of Mahayanist emptiness as bodhisattva activity that makes its application to the current cases of self-immolation potentially misleading.
18), although Garfield's interpretation of this passage has been seriously challenged, and the more standard Mahayanist view is that everything in form that is effable--including dependent origination--is conventional.
Even if such responsibility is granted (as for example a Mahayanist, or Clements himself, might be willing to do), what is still unclear is how this responsibility takes action, the ways in which it is compelled to manifest in any given case.
Buddhism and Freedom of the Will: Pali and Mahayanist Responses.
The Mahayanist, including the Chan/Zen Buddhist emphasizes along the same lines that we need to get beyond sympathy to reach compassion.
There is, amazingly enough, no biography of Maitreya belonging to the Mahayanists that has come to light.
It enabled Mahayanists to make ahistorical sense for themselves of the historical diversity of Buddhist teachings.
I will suggest that in the development of textual discourse among Mahayanists such phrases are simultaneously figurative and literal, as both references are possible, depending upon whether the discourse was being orally transmitted or transmitted through writing (Skilling 2009).
Nalinaksha Dutt, in his still important Aspects of Mahayana Buddhism and Its Relation to Hinayana, notes that the Chinese pilgrim Yi Jing "who was chiefly interested in the Vinaya, remarks that the Mahayanists had no Vinaya of their own and that theirs was the same as that of the Hinayanists" (290).
Siderits's paleo-compatibilism seeks to salvage elements of both extremes by locating them on different levels of discourse, one of which, the conventional (in which persons exist and have free will), reduces to the other, the ultimate (in which there are no persons but only personseries that are entirely determined by impersonal causes), but his particular reductionism is mostly limited to pre-Mahayana Buddhism and unlikely to impress Mahayanists, compatibilists, or incompatibilists without further refinements.
Because Mahayana Buddhism embraces a more radical, non-linear, or holistic version of that doctrine, sometimes described distinctly as interdependent origination, that might be compatible with indeterminism, (14) Mahayanists are more likely to argue for incompatibilism between free will and determinism than Theravadins.