Nirvana school ［涅槃宗］ (Chin Nieh-p’an-tsung; Nehan-shū): A school based on the Nirvana Sutra that flourished primarily in southern China. One of the thirteen major schools of Chinese Buddhism. In the fourth and fifth centuries, Tao-sheng, Hui-kuan, and other disciples of Kumārajīva defined the Nirvana Sutra as Shakyamuni Buddha’s ultimate teaching and maintained, based on that sutra, that the Dharma body is eternal and the Buddha nature is inherent in all beings. T’ien-t’ai (538–597) later established the system of classifying the sutras into five periods and eight teachings and defined the Nirvana Sutra as subordinate to the Lotus Sutra. T’ien-t’ai, for instance, cited the passage from the Nirvana Sutra that reads: “When this [Nirvana] sutra was preached . . . the prediction had already been made in the Lotus Sutra that the eight thousand voice-hearers would attain Buddhahood, a prediction that was like a great harvest. Thus, the autumn harvest was over and the crop had been stored away for winter [when the Nirvana Sutra was expounded], and there was nothing left of it [but a few gleanings].” Thus, with the rise of the T’ien-t’ai school in the Sui dynasty (581–618), the Nirvana school began to decline and was eventually absorbed by the T’ien-t’ai school. The teachings of the Nirvana school were transmitted to Japan, but it did not become an independent school there.