(from Sanskrit mahāsaṅgha, “great order of monks”), early Buddhist school in India that, in its views of the nature of the Buddha, was a precursor of the Mahāyāna tradition. The Cullavagga states that the Vinaya (but not the other Pitakas) was recited and verified at the Council of Vesâlî. As I have mentioned elsewhere, Sinhalese and Chinese accounts speak of another Council, the Mahâsangha or Mahâsangîti. Though its date is uncertain, there is a consensus of tradition to the effect that it recognized a canon of its own, different from our Pali Canon and containing a larger amount of popular matter.
see also: Sangha