Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism, by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, published in 1907, is a historical description of Buddhism, and how the religion has organized itself into many branches. It is said that just a few hundred years after the demise of the Buddha, there were more than twenty different schools. However, two main schools seem to have been dominant: Mahayana and Hinayana (since 1950 the World Fellowship of Buddhists declared “Theravada” should be used instead of Hinayana). Mahayana is the liberal and progressive, but also the speculative and in many respects very metaphysical. Theravada on the other hand is somewhat conservative and may be considered in many points to be a rationalistic ethical system. Mahayana literarily means “The Great Vehicle” while Hinayana refers to “the small or inferior vehicle.” The two major branches are also known as respectively the northern and southern Buddhism because of their geographical distribution. The Mahayana school of Buddhism found its supporters in Nepal, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan while the more conservative Hinayana school established itself in Ceylon, Siam, and Burma.
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