Mahāyāna (Sanskrit: महायान mahāyāna, literally the "Great Vehicle") is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. Mahāyāna Buddhism originated in India, and is associated with one of the oldest historical sect of Buddhism, the Mahāsāṃghika.
The Mahāyāna tradition is the larger of the two major traditions of Buddhism existing today, the other being that of the Theravāda school. According to the teachings of Mahāyāna traditions, "Mahāyāna" also refers to the path of seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called "Bodhisattvayāna", or the "Bodhisattva Vehicle."
In the course of its history, Mahāyāna Buddhism spread from India to various other Asian countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Bhutan, and Mongolia. Major traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism today include Zen/Chán, Pure Land, Tiantai, and Nichiren, as well as the Esoteric Buddhist traditions of Shingon, Tendai and Tibetan Buddhism.