An attempt has been made to explain as to what were the essential causes that led to the rise of the Mahayana, and, upon its emergence, how it tried to fulfil the Religious aspirations and hopes of its adherents by removing such barriers as would prevent the ordinary people from enjoying the salvific peace of the Dharma which the Buddha, upon the attainment of enlightenment, had proclaimed to the masses of India. The Mahayanists carried out successfully the salvific mission of the Buddha by giving equal opportunity to both the religious and the laity insofar as the ultimate soteriological goal of liberation from bondage was concerned. One of the ways of accomplishing this religious task was to deify the Buddha, and in doing so the Mahayanists thereby transformed Buddhism into a religion of devotion. This devotional spirituality will ultimately find its fullest expression in the compassion of a Bodhisattva. No more would a true Mahayanist seek his own salvation; rather he would work, out of deep compassion, for the salvation of others. It is this altruistic spirituality which permeates the ethos of Mahayanism. At the philosophical level it discovered the limitations of reason, and so offered a sound critique of all those systems of thought, whether Buddhist or Hindu, which adhered to pluralistic realism. Taking into consideration the doctrine of dependent origination, it found out that all phenomenal originates have arisen not by themselves, but by depending upon various causes and conditions. In relation to knowledge it would mean that knowledge itself is dependent upon the knower and the known. From this discovery the conclusion was arrived at: anything that arises dependently is destitute of any intrinsic nature. In philosophical terms it means that phenomenal entities are empty of any nature. It is this concept of "emptiness" which would be viewed as being identical with reality. The knowledge of reality as emptiness is not arrived at through analysis; rather it is realized through wisdom. Thus it is compassion and wisdom which constitute the essence of Mahayana spirituality.