Theravada Buddhism : The Way Of The Elders Essay

2442 WordsAug 10, 201410 Pages
Theravada Buddhism, or otherwise known as ‘The Way of the Elders’, is the oldest form of Buddhism, and was formed just after 500 BC. It was established by the Second Buddhist Council, which was assembled 100 years after the Buddha’s death who died approximately around 483 B.C.E. During the time of the Second Council, there was plentiful controversy revolving around monastic beliefs and followers. Many monks were disagreeing with the set beliefs and interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings and were consequentially being expelled or leaving by their own will. In order to settle this controversy there was a split instituted in the religion, with the group of monks who remained faithful to the initially set beliefs deeming themselves ‘The Elders’ (or ‘Thera’ in Pali). The other group regarded themselves as ‘The Great Community’ (Mahasanghika in Sanskrit), and they interpreted the Buddha’s teachings more liberally or openly, as they believed this was in fact more accurate to the Buddha’s beliefs. Over time, these groups evolved into Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism respectively. Today, Theravada Buddhism is active in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia and in other parts of Southeast Asia. Its origin language is Pali, while Mahayana’s is Sanskrit. Theravada is known to be the stricter and more traditional division of Buddhism, and therefore has a smaller number of followers compared to Mahayana. The belief system of Theravada Buddhism follows the traditional
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