The Sanghas of Buddhism
- Buddha decided to spread the truths of life he acquired through rigorous meditative practices; for that purpose, he had established an association of monks (who were known as “Bikhus/ Bikhunis").
Vihara / Monastery
- This association of monks are taught with Buddhist principles, who followed the life of austerity. The slaves and diseased people were not allowed to participate in Sanghas.
- Women were allowed to participate in Sanghas during later periods. They were also allowed to be monks in monasteries.
MONASTRIES: Are also known as the Vihara’s where the monks stayed. They are built near the Chaitya’s (Place of worship/ Meditation hall of the monks).
- Buddha asked his followers to avoid extreme practices of penance and luxury, so he advocated a path named “Madhya Marg/ The Middle Path” to strike a balance in life.
The Buddhist Sects
The Buddhist monks of various regions started to adopt the different practices according to their region. This difference in methods led to the emergence of sects among Buddhism. These sects are called as,
- Hinayana Buddhism
- Mahayana Buddhism
Hinayana Buddhism / The Lesser Vehicle
- The followers of Hinayana Buddhism believed in the original teachings of Buddha.
- Prohibited idol or image worship of Buddha.
- Believed Self – discipline and meditation can lead to the salvation of individuals.
The Dhamma Chakra
- The followers of Hinayana Buddhism used "Pali Language”.
- Strongly preached the concept that “Buddha will never be reborn”.
- Theravada school of Buddhism was a part of the Hinayana sect.
- Hinayana Buddhism contains “18 sub-schools” which taught various tenets of Buddhism.
Mahayana Buddhism / The Greater Vehicle
- The Mahayana Buddhism was known by the name because the ideals it adopted were liberal than Hinayana Buddhism.
- Mahayana is a Sanskrit word which means “Greater vehicle".
- Believed that salvation can be attained with the assistance of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas.
- Worshipped the images of Buddha in Chaityas.
Place of Mahayana Worship
- “Sanskrit Language” was used to propagate the ideals of Mahayana Buddhism.
- Believed to have originated from the Northern parts of India and Kashmir, which later spread into Central, East and parts of South-East Asia.
- Firmly believed in the concept of “Rebirth of Buddha”.
- The gen school is the Sub-school of Mahayana Buddhism.
The Buddhist Councils
The rulers of the ancient era who patronised Buddhism organised Buddhist councils where important literature sources of Buddhism were compiled and documented. There were four such councils conducted by various rulers during their period.