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Book: Buddhism in Five Minutes

Chapter: 39. What are the Main Contemporary Divisions in Buddhism: Theravāda, Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.40778


It is frequently said that in the world today there are three types of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. This is certainly true, although it is wrong to think of these as monolithic entities, or as three “schools” or “sects” that differ from each other in simple matters of belief. Each of these labels has a complex history, and refers to families of still very diverse modes of Buddhist thought and practice across different regions and periods of Asian and, more recently, global religious history.

Chapter Contributors

  • Christopher Jones ( - cjones1) 'University of Cambridge'