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Mahayana Buddhism Essay

461 words - 2 pages

Mahayana BuddhismThe Mahayana Buddhism movement has its beginnings in northern India and Central Asia around 410 B.C.E. and is well rooted in the Theravada School. However, the Mahayanists consider the Theravada to be Hinayana or "the lesser vehicle". Mahayanists accept much of the scripture and ritual that the Hinayanists believe in, but they hold their concepts to be of higher value than that of the Hinayana. Their belief in attaining Nirvana through devotion, their view of Nirvana as heaven, and their notion that salvation is attained through intercession of a bodhisattva distinguishes them from the ...view middle of the document...

So, Mahayana Buddhism was for the commoners; it provided hope for them to reach their Nirvana.Mahayana Buddhism also teaches that salvation could also "come from the intercession of a bodhisattva (he who possesses Buddhahood)" (Duiker and Spielvogel, 244). According to this concept, an individual who attained Nirvana has an option to stay on this earth in a form of spirit to help all human beings who are trying to attain Nirvana. This is another notion that attracted many commoners to Mahayana Buddhism, since this idea instilled hope of attaining salvation in the minds of many ordinary people.Mahayana Buddhism also attempted to interpret Buddhism as a religion rather than a philosophy. It manipulated the notion of Nirvana by adding new depth to its meaning. Nirvana, according to Mahayana, meant a true heaven where souls of the faithful would find rest (Duiker and Spielvogel, 244). So, Mahayana Buddhism adds to the term Nirvana by stating that when a soul attains Nirvana, it enters its final resting place of heaven.Mahayana Buddhism tries to reform some of the basic Theravada beliefs. Just like the Protestant Reformation of Europe, the Mahayanists were not trying to start another religion but rather they were attempting to modify the Hinayana beliefs to suit the common people. Their major modifications came in the concepts of salvation, Nirvana, and heaven.

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