The Mahayana (Large Vehicle) is a main direction of today's Buddhism, aside from the Hinayana (Small Vehicle). It sees itself as the secondrotation of the wheel of the doctrine.
The Mahayana was solidified by Nagarjuna and Asanga and was taught as such about 500 years after Buddha's death.
In the Hinayana, the practitioner desires to obtain salvation from suffering. In the Mahayana there is the wish that all beings can attain a true spiritual solution.
This Bodhisattva-Yana was initially not a new line, but a view of variuos monks in the existing nikāyas. Thesplitting took place after the second buddhist council.
The path of the Mahayana developed two lines through the visions of Asanga and Nagarjuna:
The lineage of the profound way over Nagarjuna with emphasis on the emptiness (Shunyata) and Prajnaparamita (wisdom from the other shore)
The lineage of the wide way with Asanga (Vijnaptimatra: 'Only Consciousness'): The development of Bodhicitta and the behavior and rules of a Bodhisattva (Vijñānavāda, Yogacara), later spreading as Ekayana in Asia.
Among the teachings of the third rotation of the wheel of the Dharma are the Vajrayana and the explanations of the Buddha nature as in the Uttara-Tantra-Shastra.
== Mahayana - Sutras ==
The Mahayana, during its spread, produced a series of his own writings, which include :
the Lalitavistara-Sutra as Buddha-Biography of Mahayana,
as well as the five Buddha Maitreya writings on Asanga and Vasubandhu:
Mahayanasutralamkara(Jewelry of the Mahayana Sutras),
Dharmadharmatavibhaga (Distinguishing the facts from their true nature)
Ratnagotravibhaga - Uttara Tantra Shastra - about Buddha - Nature
In addition to Prajñāpāramitā(highest wisdom of the other shore), an adapted form of the indian Tara - cult was introduced.
Chinese Buddhism had furthermore the three sutras of the Pure Land, ie.the Sukhāvatīvyūha-Sūtra, the Sutra of Immeasurable Life, the small Pure-Land Amitabha Sutra, the Amida Sutra, the Amitāyurdhyāna Meditation Sutra and the Contemplation Sutra.
East asian Mahayana saw the Tathâgatagarbha(Buddha-Nature, dharma-dhatu) as the essence of all beeings, comparable to the Dharmakaya of Vajrayana.