Sunteți pe pagina 1din 3

Theravada Buddhism: The "Way of the Elders"

The Theravada form of Buddhism is dominant in southern Asia, especially in Sri Lanka,
Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. or this reason it is sometimes kno!n as
"Southern Buddhism."
Theravada means "The #ay of the $lders" in %ali, reflectin& the Thera'adins( belief that they
most closely follo! the ori&inal beliefs and practices of the Buddha and the early monastic
The authoritati'e te)t for Thera'adas is the %ali Canon, an early *ndian collection of the
Buddha(s teachin&s. The later Mahayana sutras are not reco&ni+ed.
The purpose of life for Thera'adins is to become an arhat, a perfected saint !ho has achie'ed
nir'ana and !ill not be reborn a&ain. As a result, Southern Buddhism tends to be more
monastic, strict and !orld,renouncin& than its -orthern counterpart, and its approach is more
philosophical than reli&ious.
There are four sta&es to becomin& an arhat.
1. Sotapanna ("stream,enterer") , a con'ert, attained by o'ercomin& false beliefs
2. Sakadagamin ("once,returner") , one !ho !ill only be reborn once more, attained by
diminishin& lust, hatred and illusion
3. Anagamin ("ne'er,returner") , one !ho !ill be reborn in hea'en, !here he or she !ill
become an arahant
4. Arhat ("!orthy one") , one !ho has attained perfect enli&htenment and !ill ne'er be
Because of this focus on personal attainment and its re/uirement that one must renounce the
!orld to achie'e sal'ation, Mahayana Buddhists refer to Thera'ada Buddhism as the "Lesser
0ehicle" (1inayana).
*n Thera'ada, it is thou&ht to be hi&hly unlikely, e'en impossible, that a layperson can achie'e
liberation. Because Mahayana disa&rees, it re&ards itself as pro'idin& a "2reater 0ehicle" to
liberation, in !hich more people can participate.
Differences Between Theravada and Mahayana
Theravada Mahayana
Location Southern (Sri Lanka,
Thailand, Burma,
Laos, Cambodia,
parts of Southeast
-orthern (Tibet, China,
Tai!an, 3apan, 4orea,
Mon&olia, parts of
Southeast Asia )
Schools and
5ne sur'i'in& school
(as many as 67
e)isted at one time)
7 ma8or schools. four
practice,based (9en, %ure
Land, 0a8rayana, 0inaya):
four philosophy,based
(Tendai, A'amtasaka,
;o&acara and Madhyamika)
%ali Canon<Tripitaka
Books of the Thera'ada
Tripitaka plus many other
sutras (e.&. Lotus Sutra)
Buddhas 1istorical Buddha
(2autama) and past
Buddhas only
2autama Buddha plus
Amitabha, Medicine
Buddhas, and others
Bodhisattvas Maitreya only Maitreya plus
A'alokites'ara, Mans8uri,
4siti&arbha and
Goal of
Arhat Buddhahood 'ia
3 Buddha 0ery limited $mphasi+ed, includin& the
emphasis: mainly on
nirmana,kaya and
sambo&a,kaya or
re!ard<en8oyment body
%ali Sanskrit
Language of
Tripitaka is only in
%ali. Teachin& in %ali
supplemented by
local lan&ua&e.
Scriptures translated into
local lan&ua&e.
1istorical disciples
described in
Many bodhisatt'as that are
not historical fi&ures
Mantras and
Some e/ui'alent in
the use of %arittas
$mphasi+ed in 0a8rayana:
sometimes incorporated in
other schools
Bardo (Lim"o) =e8ected Tau&ht by all schools
Mainly pre,Buddhist
*ndian influences
like concepts of
karma, san&ha, etc.
1ea'ily influenced by local
reli&ious ideas as
transmitted to ne! cultures
(China, 3apan, Tibet).
-ot tau&ht $mphasi+ed, especially in
practice,based schools
&ituals 0ery fe!: not
Many, o!in& to local
cultural influences