Basic Vehicle (Skt. Hīnayāna; Tib. ཐེག་དམན་, tek men, Wyl. theg dman) — literally the 'Lesser Vehicle', but perhaps more accurately understood as 'Vehicle of Lesser Result'. What principally distinguishes followers of the Basic Vehicle from those of the Great Vehicle (Skt. Mahayana) is their motivation. They aspire for the personal liberation of nirvana, and lack the courage to pursue the greater fruition of the Mahayana—this being the enlightenment of all sentient beings.
Even though the Theravada school is the only Basic Vehicle school extant today, by the time the Buddha's discourses were written down in Pali in Sri Lanka, there were a total of 18 or 20 different ancient buddhist schools.
With the first division into schools, the two following schools appeared:
- Sthaviravadin (Skt. Sthāviravādin; Tib. གནས་བརྟན་པ་)
- Mahasanghika (Skt. Mahāsāṇghika; Tib. ཕལ་ཆེན་པ་)
The Sthaviravadin later divided into three other schools:
- Pudgalavadin (Skt. Pudgalavādin; Wyl. gang zag smra ba) or Vatsiputriya (Skt. Vātsīputrīya; Tib. གནས་མ་བུ་པ་)
- Sarvastivadin (Skt. Sarvāstivādin; Tib. ཐམས་ཅད་ཡོད་པར་སྨྲ་བ་)
- Vibhajyavadin (Skt. Vibhajyavādin)
The Mahasanghika later divided into two other schools:
- Lokottaravadin (Skt. Lokottaravādin)
- Prajñaptivadin (Skt. Prajñaptivādin)
- Fundamental Vehicle
- Individual Vehicle
- Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Buddha's Teachings (Harmony, 1999), page 16.
- Chögyam Trungpa, The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, Volume One: The Path of Individual Liberation (Shambhala, 2014)