Buddha

chinayaoshifo-temple

Theravada

Mahayana

Buddhist Scriptures

Pali Canon/Tripitaka only

Books of the Tripitaka plus many other sutras (e.g. Lotus Sutra)

Buddhas

Historical Buddha (Gautama) and past Buddhas only

Gautama Buddha plus Amitabha, Medicine Buddhas, and others

Bodhisattvas

Maitreya only

Maitreya plus Avalokitesvara, Mansjuri, Ksitigarbha and Samanthabadra

Goal of Training

Arhat

Buddhahood via bodhisattva-path

3 Buddha Bodies (Trikaya)

Very limited emphasis; mainly on nirmana-kaya and dharma-kaya

Emphasized, including the samboga-kaya or reward/enjoyment body

Original Language

Pali

Sanskrit

Language of Transmission

Tripitaka is only in Pali. Teaching in Pali supplemented by local language.

Scriptures translated into local language.

Buddha’s Disciples

Historical disciples described in Scriptures

Many bodhisattvas that are not historical figures

Mantras and Mudras

Some equivalent in the use of Parittas

Emphasized in Vajrayana; sometimes incorporated in other schools

Bardo (Limbo)

Rejected

Taught by all schools

Non-Buddhist Influences

Mainly pre-Buddhist Indian influences like concepts of karma, sangha, etc.

Heavily influenced by local religious ideas as transmitted to new cultures (China, Japan, Tibet).

Buddha Nature

Not taught

Emphasized, especially in practice-based schools

Rituals

Very few; not emphasized

Many, owing to local cultural influences

Posted in Articles.