Mahayana is a large religious and philosophical structure. It constitutes an inclusive faith characterized by the adoption of new Mahayana sutras in addition to the earlier Agama texts, and a shift in the basic purpose and concepts of Buddhism. Mahayana sees itself as penetrating further and more profoundly into the Buddhas Dharma. There is a tendency in Mahayana sutras to regard adherence to Mahayana sutras as generating spiritual benefits grater than those which arise from being a follower of the non-Mahayana approaches to Dharma.
Although the Mahayana movement traces its origin to Gautama Buddha, scholars believe that it originated in India in the first century CE, or the first century BCE. In the course of its history, Mahayana spread throughout East Asia. The main countries in which it is practiced today are China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam and worldwide amongst Tibetan Buddhist practitioners as a result of the Himalayan Diaspora following the Chinese invasion of Tibet. The main schools of Mahayana Buddhism today are Pure Land, Zen (Chan), Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon, Tibetan Buddhism and Tendai. The latter three schools have both Mahayana and Vajrayana practice traditions.