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Hinayana (devanāgarī: हीनयान hīnayāna) is a Sanskrit term literally meaning: the "Smaller Vehicle", applied to the Śrāvakayāna, the Buddhist path followed by a śrāvaka who wishes to become an arhat. The term appeared around the first or second century. Hīnayāna is often contrasted with Mahāyāna Buddhism, which means the "Great Vehicle." This term is not used much today, because it is regarded as pejorative. Most western scholars regard the Theravāda school to be one of the Hinayana schools referred to in Mahayana literature, or regard Hinayana as a synonym for Theravāda.

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