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