Statues depict the Buddha, Gotama Sakyamuni,  in many forms.

Statues depict the Buddha, Gotama Sakyamuni, in many forms.


Groups Within

There are many varieties of Buddhism, the two main divisions being Theravada (or Hinayana) and Mahayana.

Theravada, prominent in Southeast Asia, is atheistic and philosophical in nature and focuses on the monastic life and meditation as means to liberation.

Mahayana, prominent in China and Japan, incorporates several deities, celestial beings, and other traditional religious elements. In Mahayana, the path to liberation may include religious ritual, devotion, meditation, or a combination of these elements. Zen, Nichiren, Tendai, and Pure Land are the major forms of Mahayana Buddhism.

Nichiren Buddhism originates from the Japanese monk Nichiren (1222-1282). It differs from other schools in being focussed on life in this world, and in believing that it is the only valid form of Buddhism. Its practice consists mainly in a chant from the Lotus Sutra as a means of awakening the Buddha nature in oneself.

Zen, a school originating in China, then Japan, emphasises understanding the meaning of life directly, without being misled by logical thought or language.


The Chaplaincy to the University of Glamorgan provides the following information from its own researchers. Each page has been checked by the chaplaincy advisor from the relevant faith group. Within every major religion, there are differences of opinion between leaders, and between leaders and followers. We only aim to provide an overview.