Roughly 500 years later, two main schools emerged -- the Theravada and Mahayana schools.
Theravada sought to preserve the original and orthodox teachings of Gautama Buddha (the Historical Buddha).
With only a few exceptions, statues and artwork of the Arhat in Japan are not typically worshipped as the central objects of devotion.
THE FIRST DISCIPLESThe Theravadins clearly differentiate between monks and laity.
For more on these three main schools of Buddhism, click here.
Sects from all three schools are still active in Japan today.Each of the four was associated with one of the four compass directions.In later centuries, the number increases from four to 16, then later on to 18.They have learned the teachings of Shaka (Historical Buddha), earned the title of Mugaku ("nothing else to learn") and achieved the highest state attainable by Shaka’s disciples.Thus, they are no longer reborn into the world of suffering, no longer trapped in the cycle of samsara (the cycle of rebirth and redeath, the six states of existence).