Paññāsikhara wrote:I think that one reason is this - what other term does one use for non-Mahayana traditions?
why not what they call themselves?
Because then one would have to say either "Buddhists" - but the Mahayanists are Buddhists, too, so it doesn't make the necessarily distinction; or say "Theravadins-Sarvastivadins-Vatsiputriyas-Mahisasakas-Dharmaguptas-Kasyapiyas-Bahusrutiyas-Aparasailiyas-Purvasailiyas-Prajnaptivadins-Lokottaravadins" all the time, and that is a huge mouthful!
Unless you have some other term we could use?
Maybe you are just thinking of "Theravadins", but my point is, the two categories of "Theravadins" and "Mahayanists" does not exhaust all of the Buddhists, there are still a heck of a lot more. How do we refer to all the non-Mahayanists?
The term "mainstream (Buddhism)" has become my own standard term, too. I recommend it to others to use as well.
that would be place/group specific wouldn't it? say mainstream Buddhism here it automatically refers to Theravada, say it anywhere else mainstream refers to the majority group, or group the forum is about!
I am not sure what you mean by "here", on DhammaWheel Forum?
As Tilt has pointed out, for most of Buddhist history up until maybe the Pala period, after which Buddhism went into decline in India, all the non-Mahayana groups were the "majority". Hence, it is an appropriate term in general.
If the place had some particular school, out of the many non-Mahayana schools, as it's majority, then in that case, one could just use the name of the school. eg. the Sarvastivada in Kasmir / Gandhara, the Theravada in Sri Lanka.
But I am referring to Indian Buddhism in general. Hence, not one single school with it's "own name".