The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Sthavirah; Also known as Sthaviranikaya or Aryasthavirah. Sthavirah and Mahasanghikah are the two earliest sects in Buddhism. At first, they were not considered to be different. Sthavirah merely represented the intimate and older disciples of Shakyamuni, while Mahasanghika being the rest. It is said that a century later, a difference of opinion arose on certain doctrines. Three divisions were named as a result (all in Ceylon): Sthaviranikaya
In the course, the eighteen Hinayana sects were developed.
From the time of Ashoka, four principal school are regarded as prevailing:
As far as Sthavira is concerned, there are eleven sects reckoned.
The Sthaviravadins were reputed as nearest to early Buddhism in its tenets, though it is said to have changed the basis of Buddhism from an agonostic system to a realist philosophy.
see also; Sthaviravāda