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Buddhist Sects and Schools

There are many subdivisions within Buddhism, but most can be classified into three major branches: Theravada ("Way of the Elders"), Mahayana ("Greater Vehicle") and Vajrayana ("Diamond Vehicle"). Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism went their separate ways in the first century CE. Mahayana then subdivided into several diverse schools, such as Zen, Pure Land and Nichiren, many of which flourish today in East Asia. The Vajrayana Buddhist tradition is an esoteric sect that is predominant in Tibet and Nepal.

  • Mahayana Buddhism

    Mahayana Buddhism emerged in the first century CE as a more accessible interpretation of Buddhism. As the "Greater Vehicle" (literally, the "Greater Ox-Cart"), Mahayana is a path available to people from all walks of life - not just monks and ascetics... full article →
  • Theravada Buddhism

    The Theravada form of Buddhism is dominant in southern Asia, especially in Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. For this reason it is sometimes known as "Southern Buddhism... full article →
  • Vajrayana Buddhism

    Vajrayana (Sanskrit, "Diamond Vehicle" or "Thunderbolt Vehicle") is the Tantric branch of Buddhism, which includes Tibetan Buddhism. full article →
  • Nichiren

    Nichiren Buddhism is a form of Buddhism from Japan that emphasizes repeated recitation of the mantra namu myoho renge kyo ("salutation to the Lotus Sutra") for health, happiness and enlightenment... full article →
  • Pure Land Buddhism

    Pure Land (also known as Shin Buddhism and Amidism) is a sect of Buddhism that is based upon the Pure Land sutras that were first brought to China around 150 CE by the monks An Shih Kao and Lokaksema... full article →
  • Tendai Buddhism

    The Tendai school of Buddhism has been called "one of the most important developments in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism." {1} It is the largest school of Buddhism and has had great practical devotional influence on Chinese and Japanese society... full article →
  • Tibetan Buddhism

    The Tibetan expression of Buddhism (sometimes called Lamaism) is the form of Vajrayana Buddhism that developed in Tibet and the surrounding Himalayan region beginning in the 7th century CE... full article →
  • Zen

    Zen Buddhism is perhaps the most well-known school of Buddhism in the west. Its concepts have been influential on western society since the latter half of the 20th century... full article →

Article Info

Title Buddhist Sects and Schools
Last UpdatedNovember 18, 2016
URL www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/branches
Short URLrlft.co/1340
MLA Citation “Buddhist Sects and Schools.” ReligionFacts.com. 18 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 21 Feb. 2017. <www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/branches>

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