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Thread: Alternate term for "Hinayana"

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    Forums Member Lazy Eye's Avatar
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    Alternate term for "Hinayana"

    I think there are good reasons to ditch the use of "Hinayana", even among Mahayanists, due to its derogatory connotations. But what term should be used instead?

    We could just say "Theravada". The problem, though, is that Hinayana does not really refer to Theravada specifically, but to any non-Mahayana school -- for example the Sarvastivadins. So the two terms are not really synonymous -- Theravada would be one "Hinayana" school, but not the only one.

    Alternatives might include:

    Śrāvakayāna. According to Mahayana, the basic distinction is between sravakas ("voice hearers") and followers of the bodhisattva path. It seems to me that sravakayana -- the "sravaka vehicle" -- gets this across.

    Nikaya Buddhism. Non-Mahayana Buddhists accept only the earlier canon, known generally as the nikayas or agamas.

    Early Buddhism. Problem here is that Mahayana also developed within the context of various early schools, notably the Mahāsaṃghika.

    Pali Suttarians. Leaves out Abhidhammists. Plus the Pali Canon is not the only existing collection of suttas; it just happens to be the most complete.

    Path of the Sages or Arahant path... ?

    Although probably here to stay, "Mahayana" may not be the best term either. We could use bodhisattvayana instead.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Lazy Eye; 09 Sep 11 at 11:25.

  2. #2
    Just thought I'd mention that there's a pinned link in the General Buddhist Discussions forum to an article explaining Theravada - Mahayana Buddhism

    http://www.buddhismwithoutboundaries...ayana-Buddhism

    ... and also in the same post a link to an article "The Myth of Hinayana"

    http://www.lienet.no/hinayan1.htm


    Which concludes:


    "Hinayana is nothing but a myth, although a confused and disruptive one, and wise Buddhists ought to lay that word at rest on the shelves of the Museum of Schisms, where it rightly belongs, and find other words to denote those spiritual attitudes that they wish to define."

    .

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    Forums Member FBM's Avatar
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    Are there still Sarvastivadins around? If not, I think "Theravada/Theravadins" is close enough for non-scholarly use.

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    Forums Member Lazy Eye's Avatar
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    Aloka,

    Yes, I think the article shows pretty clearly why the term should be consigned to the Buddhological dustbin. But what term should replace it?

    Mahayana, I think it can be argued, needs some sort of descriptor to refer to the non-Mahayana yana. From where I'm standing, sravakayana seems like the best candidate -- and in fact, from what I understand, it was the original term used (with hinayana following later as the polemics heated up).
    Last edited by Lazy Eye; 09 Sep 11 at 13:55.

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    Forums Member srivijaya's Avatar
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    Hinayana referred to two defunct schools of Buddhism. "Defunct" is the key word here. When using the term in it's correct historical context, say to debate the tenets, it's fine. When directed elsewhere it's pejorative and incorrect.

    There will always be a difficulty though. Maha means great... ...as opposed to... ...what?

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    Forums Member stuka's Avatar
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    Simply setting one derogatory word aside and replacing it with another does nothing to address the underlying derogatory sectarianism that produced the derogatory word in the first place.

    One might as well replace the word "nigger" with "jigaboo", and then kid himself that the wrong has been righted.

    You can switch terms all you want, but nothing changes at all until you give up the delusion that the Buddha's liberative teachings are inferior to the superstitions that other sects have embraced.

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    Forums Member Lazy Eye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBM View Post
    Are there still Sarvastivadins around? If not, I think "Theravada/Theravadins" is close enough for non-scholarly use.
    Practically speaking, that's probably the case. The problem that I see, though, is that "Mahayana" ultimately defines itself in terms of an aspiration (the bodhisattva path), so it's not strictly a distinction among schools. Supposedly Mahayana practices emerged among a number of early schools, and wasn't originally defined as a school in its own right. It's possible such practices were even found among the schools that gave rise to Theravada.

    There will always be a difficulty though. Maha means great... ...as opposed to... ...what?
    Exactly. Maybe an argument in favor of ditching "Mahayana" too, in favor of "bodhisattvayana" -- which may have been the original term anyway.

    Not that this will ever happen...
    Last edited by Lazy Eye; 09 Sep 11 at 14:06.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Lazy Eye View Post
    Aloka,

    Yes, I think the article shows pretty clearly why the term should be consigned to the Buddhological dustbin. But what term should replace it?

    Mahayana, I think it can be argued, needs some sort of descriptor to refer to the non-Mahayana yana. From where I'm standing, sravakayana seems like the best candidate -- and in fact, from what I understand, it was the original term used (with hinayana following later as the polemics heated up).
    Hi Lazy Eye,

    Personally I wouldn't replace it with another term because I don't think it would catch on and its fictitious anyway .

    ....and we've already discussed the term 'Hinayana' in a thread in the Theravada forum fairly recently.

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    Forums Member Lazy Eye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stuka View Post
    Simply setting one derogatory word aside and replacing it with another does nothing to address the underlying derogatory sectarianism that produced the derogatory word in the first place.

    One might as well replace the word "nigger" with "jigaboo", and then kid himself that the wrong has been righted.

    You can switch terms all you want, but nothing changes at all until you give up the delusion that the Buddha's liberative teachings are inferior to the superstitions that other sects have embraced.

    A distinction of superior or inferior is not necessarily the equivalent of a racial slur. I believe Linux and Mac are superior to PC. Is that derogatory?

    On the other hand, if I describe PC users as "vile, contemptible, base, abject, despicable" then I am being offensive. Same with "Hinayana".

  10. #10
    Continuing from my previous post....additionally I think this kind of debate
    would be better placed in the Beyond Belief forum to be honest!....but that's just an opinion of course.

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