5. Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism

  1. Steven M. Emmanuel
  1. James Blumenthal

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch5

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy

How to Cite

Blumenthal, J. (2013) Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism, in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy (ed S. M. Emmanuel), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324004.ch5

Author Information

  1. Oregon State University, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470658772

Online ISBN: 9781118324004



  • Indian Mahāyana Buddhism;
  • Madhyamaka philosophy;
  • Yogācāra


The ideas, topics, and parameters of Indian Mahāyana Buddhist philosophy are immense and diverse. The soteriological goal of achieving the liberative state of nirvāna provides the basic aim and orientation of all Buddhist philosophy, including the Indian Mahāyana. The Yogācāra school (also known as Cittamātra) of Mahāyana philosophy makes use of the technical term “emptiness” in its descriptions of the essenceless way in which things are said to exist, yet the details of the way this is explained are strikingly different from those of their Madhyamaka counterparts. The chapter presents a basic outline of the structure of Mahāyana path system with the caveat that, for individual thinkers, the devil, so to speak, is in the details.