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Theravada tradition is based on the set of teachings decided by the Third Council to contain the teachings of the Buddha. Shri Lanka has played a central role in preserving the Theravada scriptures and practices.

After the Third Council, the Tripitaka collection of sutras were taken to Shri Lanka. Most of these were originally in the Pali language, but some were compiled in other languages. Through the centuries however,all teachings were translated into Pali (around 35 BCE).

Initially,most ordained Sangha were known as parivrajahas (wanderers).They would assemble during the rainy season when travelling became problematic. Gradually, buildings were donated and the Sangha became more static.


The Mahayana appears to have developed between the 1st Century BC to the 1st Century CE. About the 2nd Century CE Mahayana became clearly defined. Master Nagarjuna developed the Mahayana philosophy of Sunyata (emptiness) and proved that everything is Void in a small text called Madhyamika-karika. After the 1st Century CE., the Mahayanists took a definite stand and only then the terms of Mahayana and Hinayana were introduced.

Around the first century CE, teachings of a different style appeared. The terms Mahayana and Hinayana appeared in the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra or the Sutra of the Lotus of the Good Law. Of great influence to the development of the Mahayana was Master Nagarjuna (2nd Century CE) who is known for his profound teachings on the philosophy of emptiness.


Mahayana tradition the tantras or tantric texts emerged.Based firmly on the Hinayana and Mahayana tradition,the actual philosophy differs only slightly from the Mahayana, but the practices can be quite different.Prior to engaging in tantric practices, a proper understanding of the Hinayana and Mahayana philosophy is considered essential. Only then should one obtain initiation or permission from a qualified tantric master to do a specific tantric practice.Tantric practices are psychologically very profound techniques to quickly achieve Buddhahood. This is considered important, not for oneself, but because as a Buddha one has the best achievable qualities to help others.The motivation is:'the faster I can achieve Buddhahood, the sooner I can be of maximum benefit to others'.