tiltbillings wrote:Ñāṇa is quite correct in his statement. The stuff on ATI is both sectarian and highly dated.
. . . Can you cite a more reputable source re. this topic?
Let me point you to Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition by Paul Williams
for a discussion of the origins of the Mahayana that takes into account the more recent threads of scholarship on the subject. Also, Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path According to the Inquiry of Ugra (Ugrapariprccha) (Studies in the Buddhist Traditions)
by Jan Nattier, who reasonably argues that the Mahayana arose as a back to the basics movement among forest monks belonging to various pre-Mahayana schools.
See for very concise and partial synopsis of these two authors works can be found in this section of the longer article on the Mahayana: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahayana#O ... 1y.C4.81na
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The Mahayana did not arise out of Vinaya issues with the Mahasanghikas, nor did it arise as a doctrinal split with any one school where the "Mahayanists" said "Poop on you guys, we are leaving."
One of the cardinal features that helped give rise to the Mahayana was a redefining of the Buddha, elevating him and in the process devaluing the arahant, which resulted in making Buddhahood the goal. In the very early Mahayana movements the arahant was also seen seen a legitimate goal of practice, unlike how it became later perceived by later, more polemical Mahayanists. This separation of the Buddha from the arahant, which is not something one finds in the Pali suttas, was, in good part, a result of the Buddha-ology that arose after the death of the Buddha, where the Buddha's story was fleshed out via hagiography, where the Buddha's status was elevated, giving rise to the idea of the bodhisatta/bodhisatva quite beyond what one finds in the suttas, which gave rise to the idea that that one could also become a bodhisatta/bodhisatva with the idea of becoming a Buddha. Some monks within the sangha of the various schools took this as being a sole goal of their practice.
The Mahayana followers in India followed the Vinayas of the Mainstream Schools in which they ordained -- that is to say, often within the same monastery one could find followers of a Mainstream School and followers of the Mahayana, both keeping the same Vinaya, and this phenomenon was not confined to any one Mainstream School. The Mahayana in India was pretty much a minority movement. Also, keep in mind there is no "the Mahayana." "The Mahayana" was and is a collection of lines of thought and practices that share some general common features, but the various Mahayana schools have also had significant doctrinal variances and they argued among each other over probably everything, which seems to be a Buddhist trait that still plays itself out (but never here on this forum).