The two vehicles in Mahayana Buddhism are those of the śrāvaka and pratyekabuddha. These two practitioners are regularly introduced in Mahāyāna literature where they are cast in a negative light as representatives of the so-called hīnayāna tradition, where they are set up in contradistinction to the bodhisattva . They are understood as practitioners who are engaged in a view toward practice and enlightenment which will permit them to reach the level of arhatship and not Buddhahood. This means that they are able to permanently sever the multitude of afflictions engendered by the three poisons . But they are unable to progress further along the path in the manner of the bodhisattva due to a lack in the development of their compassion for other beings as well as a limitation in their understanding of the emptiness of all phenomena . One of the first Mahāyāna scriptures to make detailed distinctions between the practitioners of the two vehicles and the bodhisattvas was the Śrīmālā-sūtra.

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