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Explanation of the Main Branches of Buddhism

Although the roots of Buddhism go back to India, over the centuries the religion spread across the whole of Asia. It’s really easy to get lost between the many different schools and sub-branches of Buddhism, but most commonly it is divided into two main branches: Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhism.

Golden Buddha photo by Dragan Maksimovic via Photopedia
Golden Buddha photo by Dragan Maksimovic via Photopedia

Theravāda Buddhism

Years after the death of the Buddha, the Buddhist Sangha, the monastic community split into two mainstream schools called Sthavira and Mahāsanghika, mainly due to some differences in the religious practice and the interpretation of the teaching.

The Theravāda tradition is said to be the continuation of the more orthodox Sthavira school.

The ‘Theravada’ is a Sanskrit expression which means the ‘Doctrine of the Elders’.

The Theravāda is a conservatist current in the sense that the theravādins put great emphasis on the preservation of the doctrine and the tradition in its original and most authentic form.

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