Religious schools and traditions

Mahayana means ‘great vehicle’ in Sanskrit. It is a division of Buddhism that evolved in the centuries following the death of the Buddha. Mahayana Buddhists created a rich body of literature; its earliest manuscripts date to around the beginning of the Common Era. They developed a new understanding of the reality of the world (e.g. emptiness), reinterpreted the nature of the Buddha (e.g. the three-body doctrine), and offered a new path to nirvana. Within a few centuries, they founded various schools of Mahayana Buddhism that spread from India across all of Asia.