Yes, much different. As for finding out the Mahayana perspective, I've been asking a few questions of our Mahayana friends at E-Sangha who might well have some insight to provide.Is The Buddha Considered Eternal, in Mahayana Buddhism?http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... opic=83799
Compare what they say to the Theravadin understanding of the Buddha being genuinely unenlightened prior to becoming enlightened under the Bodhi tree at the age of 35. His years of asceticism were very real and not just an elaborate ruse to demonstrate the futility of harsh asceticism. His years of sensuous delights in the Palace were very real, not just an elaborate ruse to demonstrate the futility of sensual pleasures. As for what happened after his death, see the above sutta.
This is all of course all light-years away from a Dharmakaya/Nirmanakaya perspective on things.
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)
"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine