(Last Updated on : 08/09/2009)
Buddhism developed thoughts of different schools through the pressure of logic. The initiation period of the school of thoughts was at the early age after the death of Buddha. At the time of the Council at Vaisali, there were doctrinal controversies. This controversy induced the Mahasangha of secedes. They separated the schools of thoughts into eight differentiations. Theras convoked the Vaisali Council that flourished in the second century B.C. The main branch of the schools believed the approval of Sarvastivada or the realistic theory that everything exists. According to the Hindu thinkers there are four chief Buddhist schools, of which two belong to the Hinayana and two to the Mahayana. The Hinayana schools include the Vaibhasikas and the Sautrantikas, who are realists or Sarvastiva, believing that there is a self-existent universe actual in space and time, where mind holds a place on equal terms with other finite things. The Mahayana schools, the Yogacaras are the idealists and the Madhyamikas. The contention of Yogacaras holds that that thought is self-creative and all producing-It is the ultimate principle, and even the ultimate type and form of reality. The philosophy of Madhyamika, sometimes called Sarvavainasikas or nihilists, is a negative critical system. It formulates the metaphysical background of the Mahayana Sutras.
Different Schools of Buddhism came into existence with the passage of time. The two primary schools of Buddhism were Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism. Later from these two branches several forms of Buddhism came into existence. Though the form of expression in these schools differs but the basic principles remain the same. It was the monastic rules, the culture and the customs of the country where the Buddhist teachings were adopted that influenced the several schools of Buddhism
Theravada School of Buddhism
: Having its roots in India Theravada Buddhism is believed to be the oldest school of Buddhism. It was popularized in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China and other Asian countries. According to the doctrine of Theravada Buddhism all an individual needs to do is abide by the basic principles of Buddhism strictly. Moral conduct, meditation and wisdom are the three basic principles of Theravada Buddhism.
Mahayana School of Buddhism
: The main idea behind Mahayana Buddhism is that anyone can reach the stature of the Buddha by following Buddha marga. Mahasanghikas sect is believed to be the source of the Mahayana Buddhism. This school of Buddhism had a huge impact on China, Korea and Japan. Mahayana school is a huge umbrella under which a number of philosophies and principles are included.
Vajrayana School of Buddhism
: This is the tantric school of Buddhism
. It is believed that by practicing Vajrayana a Buddhist follower can achieve enlightenment easily. It is more popularly used in Tibetan Buddhism. When considered on a larger aspect it is a part of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. It is also commonly referred to as Lamaism because at the center of the school lies the lama.
Chinese schools of Buddhism
: An integral part of the Chinese culture this school of Buddhism is further divided into 10 more Buddhist schools. Their way of expression may differ but the basic doctrines of Buddhism, such as the Eightfold Paths
, Four Noble Truths
and others are the same. The Chinese monastic community is an extension of the order of the monks that Buddha had established. The arahants here are known as Lohans but the principles that they abide by are the same. The monks in the monastic community serve the people either by teaching them or by doing social services.
Japanese schools of Buddhism
: This school too has five sub divisions. While some of these forms are obsolete today the Zen school of Buddhism is still one of the popular beliefs. Tantric Buddhism was also a part of Japanese school of Buddhism once upon a time.
No matter into how many sub divisions the schools of Buddhism can be classified, none of them break away from the fundamental teachings of Gautama Buddha
. Even after centuries of Buddha's death these schools abide by the ideals once set up by the Enlightened One.