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Theravada is one of the two main divisions of Buddhism, the other being Mahayana.

During the reign of Emperor Asoka in India, the third Council[?] was held in Pataliputta[?] (308 BC). The existing heresies and deviations in the religion were expelled and a volume containing the teachings of the council was compiled. This book ? the Kathavatthu ? contained the "Teachings of the Elders" or Theravada. These books were sent to different parts of India and Sri Lanka.

Theravada also came to be known as Hinayana, the "Inferior Vehicle", but this term is recognized now as being obsolete and pejorative.

Theravada is the more austere branch of Buddhism, following more closely to the earlier forms of Buddhist practice. The main goal of the Theravada is the achievement of Arahant (lit. "worthy one", "winner of Nirvana"). In Theravada philosophy, each being is responsible for attaining Nirvana independently, thus allowing himself to guide others efficiently. The discriminative term 'Inferior Vehicle' thus came to be in opposition to Theravada by followers of Mahayana where the popular belief is that bodhisattvas are eternal and should help all sentient beings achieve enlightenment.

Historically, it has been dominant in Laos, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Thailand, and Sri Lanka.

Buddha Purnima is the highest religious festival in Theravada.

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