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|Vajrayāna Buddhism (Devanagari: वज्रयान; Mongolian: Очирт хөлгөн, Ochirt Hölgön) is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle. The period of Vajrayana Buddhism has been classified as the fifth or final period of Indian Buddhism. Vajrayana is a complex and multifaceted system which evolved over several centuries and reveals much inconsistency and a variety of opinions. Vajrayana probably came into existence in the 6th or 7th century CE, while the term Vajrayana first came into evidence in the 8th century CE. Its scriptures are called the Tantras. The distinctive feature of Vajrayana Buddhism is ritual, which is used as a substitute or alternative for the earlier abstract meditations.
Vajrayana scriptures say that Vajrayana refers to one of three routes to enlightenment, the other two being Hinayana and Mahayana.
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