Tibetan Buddhism vs Buddhism: Difference and Comparison

Most Asian countries follow Buddhism as their core religion, and they somehow have different names, prominently Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Himalayan Buddhism, and more.

How each of them originated and practised has a huge book of numbers. Major classified Buddhism is conditioned, whereas Tibetan Buddhism is an Un-conditioned and advanced form of Buddhism.

Several factors determine the separate forms of Buddhism, and a few of them is explained below: 

Key Takeaways

  1. Tibetan Buddhism incorporates Vajrayana practices, whereas other forms primarily follow Theravada or Mahayana traditions.
  2. Tibetan Buddhism emphasizes the role of the guru and esoteric rituals; other forms of Buddhism focus on meditation and mindfulness.
  3. Tibetan Buddhism uses a unique pantheon of deities, while other forms have different representations and interpretations of the Buddha.

Tibetan Buddhism vs Buddhism 

Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Vajrayana Buddhism, is a form of Buddhism that developed in Tibet and other Himalayan regions. It includes teachings and practices from Mahayana Buddhism and also incorporates elements of Tibetan shamanism, Bon religion, and other indigenous practices.

Tibetan Buddhism vs Buddhism

The people of Tibet largely follow Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, they believe in supernatural powers.

It is a very strong religion between monastic communities and lay people, where laypeople have outwardly religious activities. People also called it Himalayan Buddhism or Northern Buddhism.

In 1959 the leader of Tibetan Buddhism fled from China and settled in India.

Buddhism is one of the biggest religions followed in the world, as introduced by Lord Buddha.

The practice of Meditation to solve the problem of people suffering in the 5th Century, Prince Siddharth formed Buddhism for soul enlightenment and to break the chain of suffering death and re-birth.

There are mainly 2 groups in Buddhism, namely Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTibetan Buddhism Buddhism
TeachingsTibetan Buddhism mainly follows the teachings of the Dalai Lama.Buddhism mainly follows the teachings of the Gautam Buddha.
Important TraditionsTibetan Buddhism mainly observes the following traditions namely: Nyingma (pa), Kagyu(pa), Sakya (pa), and Gelug (pa).Buddhism mainly observes the following traditions namely: Vinaya Pitaka and Nikayas of Sutta Pitaka
Elements Tibetan Buddhism has the following 2 elements: shamanistic and animistic.Buddhism has a shamanistic element. 
Ancestral leaders.Tibetan Buddhism till now has 14 Dalai Lama’s from 1600 bc as a leader.There is only one Gautam Buddha who founded and leaded Buddhism.
FoundationTibetan Buddhism was founded after Buddhism by Lamas.Buddhism was founded firstly by Siddhartha.

What is Tibetan Buddhism?

The Buddhism practice followed by the people of Tibet is called Tibetan Buddhism. It was introduced initially in India and China, Later on, it was also spread in Mongolia and Nepal.

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Gradually it becomes a dominant religion in Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism follows Tantrik practice also, which undertakes Deity yoga and the Six Dharmas of Naropa.

If one lives in Tibet and has to follow Tibetan Buddhism, Dalai Lama, who founded Tibetan Buddhism is the governing leader of the Tibetan Schools of Buddhism. As per Tibetan Buddhism, peace cannot be easily found and kept.

The range of Spiritual practices in Tibetan Buddhism is adopted from Indian Buddhism, which includes “Shamtaha” and “Vipassana”.

Tibetan Buddhism is the dominant religion in Himalayan territory and is spread to neighbourhoods of Tibet like Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia, and a few Indian parts.

It combines important teachings of Mahayana, Buddhism, shamanistic, etc. Tibetan Buddhism has its roots associated with India as a King in Tibet transmitted it from India in the 8th century.

The name of the king who bought Buddhism from India was Trisong Detsen.

Some Special features of Tibetan Buddhism are Mantra’s, Meditation, Rituals, Initiations, Rich visual symbolism, and the Status of the lamas or the leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

tibetan buddhism

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a spiritual practice followed by North-east Indians and some parts of the North-India Himalayas to uncover the hidden truth in our soul.

It originated 2500 years ago in India and has many beliefs and traditions.

Being one of the biggest religions followed by Asian countries, Buddhism has been further classified into various parts. 563–483 B.C.E. was the era when Siddhartha spread Buddhism in Asia and all over the world.

As per one of the beliefs followed by Buddhism, Life is a cycle where one has to suffer and die, and then rebirth suffers and dies.

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To break this chain through enlightening (Nirvana), one needs to come out of this cycle with spiritual practice. Siddhartha, prominently called Lord Buddha, was the first man to break this cycle and achieve Nirvana.

Till now, it has been preached that Gautam Buddha was the only person to achieve Nirvana.

In Buddhism, they do not follow any God or Statue, though they have non-deity supernatural figures which Buddhist follow to attain the stage of Nirvana.

In Buddhism, there are mainly four truths about life Suffering: the Origin of Suffering, the Cessation of Suffering, and the Path after the cessation of suffering lead to enlightenment.


Main Differences Between Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhism

  1. Area of Observance: Tibetan Buddhism is followed by people of Tibet, Mongolia, and Nepal on a huge scale in contrast, Buddhism is largely observed in Northern and Eastern parts of India.
  2. Inter-connection: Tibetan Buddhism is one of the parts of Buddhism; therefore, Buddhism comes before Tibetan Buddhism.
  3. Groups: There are 5 groups in Tibetan Buddhism, mainly Nyingmapa, Kagyupa, Sakyapa, Gelugpa, and New Kadampa. There are 2 Major groups within Buddhism, namely Theravada and Mahayana. 
  4. Origin of Religion: Tibetan Buddhism originated from Indian and Chinese Buddhism, and Buddhism was formed with the deep meditation practice of Gautam Buddha.
  5. Practise Followed: Tibetan Buddhism strongly believes in Tantric and supernatural powers, whereas, In Buddhism, they hardly follow and believe Tantric Buddhism and 
Difference Between Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhism
  1. https://philpapers.org/rec/PERDIT
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/074811897201895

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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13 thoughts on “Tibetan Buddhism vs Buddhism: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Interesting breakdown of the differences between Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhism. It’s fascinating to see how each form has its own unique traditions and elements. I appreciate the depth of detail in this article.

  2. This article provides a comprehensive overview of Tibetan Buddhism and its distinctions from other forms of Buddhism. It is an enlightening exploration of religious practices and beliefs.

  3. This article’s analysis of Tibetan Buddhism and its comparison with Buddhism is enlightening. The in-depth exploration of religious practices and beliefs is truly captivating.

    • Indeed, Cook. The examination of historical and cultural influences on these two forms of Buddhism is quite thought-provoking.

    • I found the exploration of the origins and spiritual practices of Tibetan Buddhism to be particularly compelling. The article offers an intellectually stimulating read.

  4. The comparison between Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhism is quite informative. I found the insights into the origins and traditions of each form to be enlightening.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Xking. The historical and cultural contexts of these two forms of Buddhism are well elucidated in this article.

    • The article presents a well-researched and detailed examination of Tibetan Buddhism and its distinctions from other forms. The information provided is both educational and engaging.

  5. The detailed comparisons between Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhism provide valuable insights into their unique characteristics. This article is a wealth of knowledge for those interested in religious studies.

    • I found the article’s examination of Tibetan Buddhism to be both engaging and educational. Its exploration of cultural and historical influences offers a nuanced understanding of this form of Buddhism.

  6. This article is an intriguing and valuable resource for those seeking to understand the complexities of Tibetan Buddhism. The depth of analysis in this piece is truly commendable.


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