Vajrayana Buddhism currently has perhaps 10 million adherents. It has two main sub-schools: bullet Tibetan Buddhism is found in Bhutan, Southwestern China, Mongolia, Nepal, Northern India, Russia, Tibet.
bullet Shingon Buddhism is found in Japan.
Etymology of Tantric Buddhism:
Its most common name, Vajrayana, comes from "vajra" which refers to the thunderbolt of Indra, the Sanskrit name of the god of weather and war. The term "vajra" refers both to the thunderbolt and the indestructible material from which it is made. In the latter sense, it is translated as "adamantine" or "diamond." Thus, Vajrayana is often referred to as the Adamantine, Diamond or Indestructable Vehicle. 2
Tantra means "thread" or "continuity" in Sanskrit. It refers to the "... root scriptures of Vajrayana Buddhism, which are ascribed to the Buddha in various manifestations." 4 Each usually describes the mandala diagram and practice associated with a particular yidam -- one of the deities, each of whom is a manifestation of the Buddha.
Origin of Tantric Buddhism:
Vajrayana "developed out of the Mahayana school of teachings sometime between the third and seventh centuries BCE." 1
Followers believed that their path is the purest form of Buddhism, and that it was actually practiced by Buddha. However, they suggest that he did not teach it to his disciples because he considered it too advanced. The first Vajrayana texts surfaced about the 4th century CE. They were written at the Nalanda University in northern India.
There is no consensus about where this tradition started. Some think that it originated in Bengal in what is now India and Bangladesh; others suggest that it started in Udyana in what is now Pakistan; still others suggest southern India.
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