Although at the time of the earthly Buddha's first sermons and teachings he stressed the need for a coherent progression of his message, the religion did in fact split as it travelled across vast parts of Asia.
The two major strands of Buddhism became the Hinayana, the form of Buddhism that stresses the scriptures of the Buddha and the Mahayana that seeks to use teachers, lamas and Buddhist philosophers to interpret the word. Today we find the Hinayana groups in south India, Sri Lanka and across South East Asia. Whereas the Mahayana is found mainly to the north across Nepal, Tibet, Ladakh, China, Korea and Japan as well as in parts of Central Asia. In Indonesia there is some inter-mixing of the branches.
In this study the development of these two branches of Buddhism are discussed. How have the two branches diversified and what are the common themes?
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