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Major Buddhist Schools of Asia + Ancient Buddhism in the Indian Subcontinent

Major Buddhist Schools of Asia + Ancient Buddhism of the Indian Subcontinent☸

• Buddhism is one of the greatest faiths to have been born out of India. It was followed by hundreds of societies prior to the arrival of Islam and Christianity. Today it is the 4th largest religion followed by around 550 million people worldwide.

• A majority of Buddhists live in Asia. Asia has been home to many Schools and Sub-schools of Buddhism for millennia. Today, 3 major and 1 minor school dominate Asian Buddhism.

🟠 Theravāda Buddhism (The Way of the Elders) - South and Southeast Asia.
🟡 Mahāyāna Buddhism (Greater Vehicle) - East Asia and Malaysia.
🔴 Vajrayāna Buddhism (Diamond Vehicle) - Tibet and Central Asia.
🔵 Navayāna (New Vehicle) - Dalit Communities of South-Western and Central India.

• The Indian Subcontinent was home to a multitude of ancient Buddhist schools starting from the times of Aśoka (circa 250 b.c.e.). The schools mainly differing ideologically and varying interpretations of the Buddhist Sutras and the Pali canon.

• All of these ancient schools died out due to replacement by a different school or conversions to Hinduism and Islam. It is believed that the Mahāyāna school might be an evolved version of the Dharmaguptaka school. While Theravāda could be a merger of Vibhājyavāda and Mahāsāmghika schools. These ideas are debatable.

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