traditions usually called the Savakayana Hinayana,
a derogatory name meaning the Little or Narrow Vehicle.
However the name Savakayana, meaning the Vehicle
of the Hearers, is both more courteous and more accurate
in that for at least the first 300 years the Buddha's
teachings were orally transmitted i.e. they had to be
heard in order to be learned by heart and transmitted.
only Savakayana school that still flourishes is the Theravada
which was introduced into Sri Lanka
at the time of King Asoka (approximately 250 BC) and later spread from there
throughout South-East Asia. The Savakayana as represented
by the Theravada school is characterised by minimal doctrinal
development from the earliest versions of the Buddhist
teachings and by an emphasis on Vinaya
is still found in Sri Lanka and Burma,
where it successfully weathered Western colonialism in
the 18th and 19th centuries, and in Thailand.
In Cambodia, it was decimated
by Communism in the 1970s. Today, Theravada has gained
many new adherents in India, Malaysia, Singapore and particularly in Indonesia.
It has also gained a significant following in the West.
Rahula, What the Buddha Taught. London 1959;
R.Gombrich Theravada Buddhism. London, 1988.