Pratyekabuddhayana (Skt. pratyekabuddhayāna; T. rang rgyal gyi theg pa; C. yuanjue sheng; J. engakujō; K. yŏn’gak sŭng 覺乘) is translated as the "vehicle of the solitary realizer".
It is one of the three vehicles (yanas) within the Mahayana school.
A pratyekabuddha is one who realizes enlightenment without the aid of a teacher.
The term is used within Mahāyāna texts to describe one hypothetical path to enlightenment.
In early Buddhist schools
At least some of the early Buddhist schools used the concept of three vehicles including Pratyekabuddhayāna. For example, the Vaibhāṣika Sarvāstivādins are known to have employed the outlook of Buddhist practice as consisting of the Three Vehicles:
Within the three yanas
In the Abhidharma-samuccaya, Asaṅga describes the types of person who follow each the three yanas (vehicles) as follows:
- Those who follow the Śrāvaka Vehicle (Skt. śrāvakayanika) are described as having weak faculties, following the Śrāvaka Dharma, utilizing the Śrāvaka Piṭaka, being set on their own liberation, and cultivating detachment in order to attain liberation.
- Those in the Pratyekabuddha Vehicle (Skt. pratyekabuddhayānika) are portrayed as also utilizing the Śrāvaka Piṭaka, they are said to have medium faculties, to follow the Pratyekabuddha Dharma, and to be set on their own personal enlightenment.
- Finally, those in the Mahāyāna (Skt. mahāyānika) are portrayed as utilizing the Bodhisattva Piṭaka, as having sharp faculties, following the Bodhisattva Dharma, and set on the perfection and liberation of all beings, and the attainment of complete enlightenment.
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