Difference between Mahayana and Vajrayana

Mahayana and Vajrayana are two sects of Buddhism. Both Mahayana and Vajrayana are old sects but they have been at odds over some fundamentals and principles. Although most of the basic principles are same but things like seeking faith through different means is the main factor that separate the two ideologies.

Mahayana focuses on seeking enlightenment through equality among human beings and it does not treat man differently. It believes that faith is not limited to certain groups or people, as anyone can achieve enlightenment with effort and the guidelines mentioned by Buddha. Vajrayana, on the other hand, is a bit stricter when it comes to getting enlightenment through practice. The ideology says that man cannot seek forgiveness and enlightenment unless they improve their inner strength and faith first.  People belonging to Vajrayana sect have written extensively on how to purify a soul and what can be done to spread the word of Buddha across the world. Whereas Mahayana briefly discusses the matter of enlightenment and focuses more on pragmatic approach like improving yourself and telling others to improve themselves at the same time.


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    Mahayana is one of the main directions of Buddhism. After the influence of the sect in its early days, the Mahayana Buddhism evolved into two distinct sects with their own names—Hinayana and Mahayana. According to some historians, the Vajrayana is also one of the Mahayana denominations, but over the years, it has developed its own identity and traditions.

    Mahayana teachings are based on the knowledge of one's own suffering that emerges from the practice of the Four Noble Truths (First Dharma). A person develops the Mahayana compassion for the suffering of other beings and wishes to redeem it completely from their suffering. The focus of the Mahayana stands, this compassion to all beings impartially - without exception - to extend and increase steadily until it reaches the depth of love, as a mother feels for her single and dearest child.

    To help all human beings get freedom from suffering to (enlightenment), the practitioner seeks motivation through the meditation and the teachings of Buddha. This motivation is in Mahayana Buddhism as bodhicitta, which means "mind of enlightenment". This spirit has two goals:

    First: To help others

    Second: To get enlightenment from Buddha.

    Image courtesy: kathika.com

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    Vajrayana is from the fourth century in India. Vajrayana is the Buddhist tradition of the highlands of Tibet. The sect saw a full-fledge growth in Tibet and parts in Mongolia. Moreover, the ideology also influenced the Chinese and Japanese Buddhism.

    Image courtesy: indianetzone.com

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