For a millennium [Buddhism] was a powerful force in molding
	the religious, moral, artistic, educational, and social
	life of India.  But by the end of that thousand-year period
	its decline in the subcontinent had begun, and in another
	five hundred years it had practically disappeared from the
	land of its birth.  But Buddhism lived and continued to
	grow because of its missionary fervor.  The eagerness of its
	followers to carry the saving way to others had by this
	time spread it far and wide through northern and southern
	Asia; it became one of the living religions of China and
	Korea; it won Tibet and contended successfully with Shinto
	for the soul of Japan.

	In this process of missionary expansion it was itself
	profoundly transformed....  During the early centuries of
	that period -- from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 200 -- a
	cleavage into the two great schools of subsequent Buddhist
	history, Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism, was taking place.
	SINCE THESE TWO TERMS THEMSELVES REFLECT THE MAHAYANA
	VIEWPOINT (MAHAYANA MEANING "THE GREATER VEHICLE" OF
	SALVATION, AND HINAYANA "THE LESSER VEHICLE") I shall refer
	to the Hinayana school by a different term that is
	nonprejudicial and is acceptable in the Hinayana countries,
	namely "Theravada" Buddhism ("the way of the elders").

	_The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha_, ed. E.A.Burtt;
		Mentor Books, 1955; p. 23.  MY EMPH.
	___________________________________________________________


	The Mahayana emerges into history as a loose confederation
	of groups, each associated with one or more of a number of
	new *Sutras* [Buddha-teachings]....  These attained a written 
	form, in Middle Indian dialects, very soon after they were
	composed.  Scribal amendations then gradually transformed
	them into 'Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit', which approximated
	to classical Sanskrit, the prestige language of India.
	ANYONE ACCEPTING THE NEW LITERATURE AS GENUINE *SUTRAS* --
	AUTHORITATIVE TEACHINGS OF THE BUDDHA -- THEREBY BELONGED
	TO THE NEW MOVEMENT.  This did not necessitate monks and
	nuns abadoning their old fraternities, as they continued
	to follow the monastic discipline of the fraternities in
	which they had been ordained....

	Traditionalists denied that the new literature was 'the
	word of the Buddha' (*Buddha-vacana*), like the early
	*Suttas*.  This early material did include teachings and
	inspired utterances of the Buddha's major disciplines,
	but these were accepted as 'the word of the Buddha' as
	he had agreed with the teachings, or because of his general
	praise for such disciples.  Even after these were all dead,
	some remembered material was added to the *Suttas* if it
	harmonized well with the existing corpus in style and
	content.  The new *Sutras* were very different in style
	and tone, but were defended as 'the word of the Buddha'
	through various devices.  Firstly, they were seen as
	inspired utterances coming from the still-existing Buddha,
	through meditative visions and vivid dreams.  Secondly,
	they were seen as the products of the same kind of perfect
	wisdom which was the basis of the Buddha's own teaching of
	*Dharma*....  Thirdly, in later Mahayana, they were seen
	as teachings hidden by the Buddha in the world of serpent-
	deities (*naga's*), till there were humans capable of seeing
	the deeper implications of his message, who would recover
	the teachings by means of meditative powers.  Each explanation
	saw the *Sutras* as arising from meditative experiences.  
	Nevertheless, they take the form of dialogues between the
	'historical' Buddha and his disciples and gods....

	The new *Sutras* [were seen to contain a] liberating truth,
	[being] a deeper level of teaching than the early *Suttas*,
	[and] there was said to be a huge amount of 'merit' in
	copying them out, and disseminating, reciting, expounding,
	understanding, practising, and even ritually venerating them.
	Such claims suggest defensiveness on the part of a new, small
	movement trying to establish itself.  THE MAHAYANA *SUTRAS*
	WERE PROBABLY PRODUCED BY THE NEW BREED OF CHARISMATIC 
	*DHARMA*-PREACHERS WHO CHAMPIONED THEM.  These monks, and some
	lay-people, directed their preaching both within and beyond
	the existing Buddhist community, to win converts.  This they
	did by extolling the virtues of perfect Buddhahood, so as to
	elicit a conversion experience of profound psychological 
	effect....

	The new perspective on scriptural legitimacy led to the
	Mahayana having an open, ongoing 'revelation', which produced
	a huge outpouring of new *Sutras* in India in the period
	up to around AD 650.  These were composed anonymously,
	often by a number of authors elaborating a basic text, to
	produce works frequently running to hundreds of pages in
	length.  In contrast, the early *Suttas* are ninety-five
	printed pages long at most, and often only run to a page
	or two.  In certain early *Suttas* such as the *Maha-samaya*..., 
	the Buddha is a glorious spiritual being surrounded by
	countless gods and hundreds of disciples.  The Mahayana
	*Sutras* developed this style.  In them, the Buddha uses
	hyperbolic language and paradox, and makes known many
	heavenly Buddhas and high-level heavenly *Bodhisattvas*,
	existing in many regions of the universe.  A number of these
	saviour beings, Buddhas and in time *Bodhisattvas*, became
	objects of devotion and prayer, and greatly added to the
	appeal and missionary success of the Mahayana.

   The nature of the Mahayana and its attitude to earlier schools

	At first, the new movement was called the *Bodhisattva-yana*,
	or '(spiritual) vehicle of the *Bodhisattva*'.  This was in
	contradistinction to the 'vehicle of the Disciple' (*Sravaka-
	yana*), followed by the disciples of the Buddha's earlier
	teachings, who sought Arhatship rather than perfect Buddhahood.
	It was also contrasted to the 'vehicle of the solitary Buddha'
	(*Pratyeka-buddha-yana*), a term used to cover the practice of
	certain solitary ascetics, mainly of an age past, who were
	seen to have attained Buddhahood, but who were unable to teach
	others as perfect Buddha did.  AS THE NEW MOVEMENT RESPONDED TO
	CRITICISMS FROM THOSE WHO DID NOT ACCEPT THE NEW *SUTRAS*, IT
	INCREASINGLY STRESSED THE SUPERIORITY OF THE *BODHISATTVA-YANA*,
	AND REFERRED TO IT AS THE 'GREAT VEHICLE', THE *MAHA-YANA*.  THE
	OTHER 'VEHICLES' WERE DISPARAGED AS BEING THE 'INFERIOR VEHICLE',
	OR *HINA-YANA*.  The 'greatness' of the new vehicle was seen
	to lie in three areas: its compassionate motivation, directed
	at the salvation of countless beings; the profundity of the
	wisdom it cultivated; and its superior goal, omniscent
	Buddhahood....

	The peculiarity of the Mahayana was that it urged all 'sons and
	daughters of good family' to tread the *Bodhisattva*-path.
	Even so, the stereotype of the Mahayana as being more open to
	lay aspirations does not seem straightforwardly applicable to
	the early Mahayana.  In early Chinese translations of
	Mahayana texts, the lay *Bodhisattva* is expected to live a
	life free of attachment to family, and to aim to ordain as
	soon as possible....

	Over the centuries, many monks studied and practised according
	to both the Sravakayana and Mahayana; not infrequently, both
	were present in the same monastery.  The Chinese, in fact, did
	not come to clearly differentiate the Mahayana as a separate
	movement till late in the fourth century.  Moreover, in Eastern
	and Northern Buddhism, the term 'Hinayana' came to be mostly
	used to refer to the lower level of spiritual motivation and
	practice which prepared for the Mahayana level.  In fact, IT 
	IS A MISTAKE TO EQUATE THE 'HINAYANA' WITH THE THERAVADA SCHOOL,
	BOTH BECAUSE THE TERM IS A DISPARAGING ONE NOT ACCEPTED BY THE
	SCHOOL, AND ALSO BECAUSE IT WAS USED TO REFER TO ALL SCHOOLS
	WHICH DID NOT ACCEPT THE MAHAYANA *SUTRAS* AS AUTHORITATIVE.
	Moreover, these schools also included a *Bodhisattva*-path,
	so it is incorrect to see them as purely Sravakayana in nature.

	_An Introduction to Buddhism_, by Peter Harvey, Cambridge
		University Press, 1991; pp. 90-4.
	________________________________________________________________

the term 'vehicle' implies a place or a state to attain to, a 'goal' 
which many associate, perhaps incorrectly, with *Nirvana*.  the notion 
that certain systems of Buddhism could be metaphorized as carrying-
devices into Nirvana does not appear to have itself been an instruction
of the Buddha in the earliest sutras.  in fact this is easily seen as 
one of the many artifices (along with the revision of the status of
Ar(a)hat to that of Bodhisattva) which enthusiastic Buddhists have 
utilized for proselytizing efforts (or maybe as 'skilful means').

intentionally poking fun at this idea, the Avidyana (Vehicle of 
Ignorance) neither accepts it nor denies its facility.  instead we 
envision the scapegoat of ignorance (avidya) as the central hub around 
which revolves all systems of buddhism.  we do not attempt to either 
claim that our texts are from the Buddha (*Buddha-vacana*) or not from 
the Buddha, since we are ignorant of where this central figure (the 
Buddha) resides, and observe that ignoring and its refined exercise
are the typical instruction of buddhist schools.

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