Bhutans religion | Buddhism | The development of the doctrine | The Mahayana

The Mahayana

The decisive development for the religious life in the Himalayas, and therefore also for Bhutan, was the development of the Mahayana* Buddhism around the around the birth of Christ. The concept mahayana stands for »Greater Vehicle«, which was originally polemically set in opposition to the »Lesser Vehicle«, the Hinayana Buddhism. Nowadays, however, this meaning has been forgotten.

 


The sutras form the basic literature of the Mahayana Buddhism. They contain the words of the supramundane buddhas, which were actually recited to non-human listeners in heaven. It was only afterwards that they were handed on, in dreams or visions, to human authors. In other words, the philosophical statements of the sutras are of a supernatural and therefore authoritative nature.

The two most important sutras are the Prajnaparamita Sutra and the Saddharmapundarika Sutra. Many Mahayana monks show more reverence to the books of Prajnaparamita* than to the Buddha himself


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Religious text, cover made of wood with copper sheeting and fire-gilding. Sheets of paper with gold coloured writing, silk cloth for protection; 19th century; H: 24 cm., L: 69 cm., B: 20 cm.; loan from the National Museum, Paro
The Buddha himself proclaimed the text of the Prajnaparamita sutra (»Totality of Wisdom«) to the first bodhisattvas*, who recorded the text in writing. The sutra contains important philosophical treatises of the Mahayana Buddhism on the non-existence of worldly conditions and the True Reality.
Illustrations which are painted next to the text show deities which stand in connection to the explanations.


These illustrations, painted next to the text, represent deities which stand in connection to the practices of the Prajnaparamita sutra.


These illustrations, painted next to the text, show deities which stand in connection to the explanations of the Prajnaparamita Sutra.


These illustrations, painted next to the text, show deities which stand in connection to the explanations of the Prajnaparamita Sutra.