One of the major schools of Buddhism, traditionally active in much of Nepal, Tibet, and East Asia and emphasizing compassion and the possibility of universal salvation.
A major movement or school in Buddhism: it emphasizes acts of virtue and compassion rather than asceticism and contemplation.
Origin of mahayana
Sanskrit Mahāyānamgreater vehicle (as contrasted withHīnayānamlesser vehicleHinayana) mahā-greatmeg- in Indo-European roots yānamvehicleei- in Indo-European roots
They were Buddhists, and it is probable that the Mahayana or northern form of Buddhism was due to an amalgamation of Gotama's doctrines with the ideas (largely Greek and Persian) which they brought with them.
And as the Mahavastu was a standard work of a particular sect, or rather school, called the Maha-sanghikas, it has thus preserved for us the theory of the Buddha as held outside the followers of the canon, by those whose views developed, in after centuries, into the Mahayana or modern form of Buddhism in India.
The latter, in Sanskrit, is the earliest exposition we have of the later Mahayana doctrine.
The Mahayana systems are the union of Buddha's teaching with the forms of the Brahman philosophy.
We have now also the text of the Prajna Paramita, a later treatise on the Mahayana system, which in time entirely replaced in India the original doctrines.