Much of esoteric Buddhist scripture positions itself as Mahāyāna. The word tantra, which generally refers to esoteric Buddhist scripture, has the sense of “connection” (Skt. Prabandha). Esoteric Buddhist scriptures are systematically arranged both as a whole and individually. The verbal concept of tantra includes later expressions that lead to classification of Buddhist Tantras.
The Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra also positions itself as Mahāyāna. The Buddhaguhya’s Commentary on the Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra posits two divisions of bodhisattvas in Mahāyāna, namely those principally concerned with the practice of perfection (pāramitā) and those principally concerned with mantra practice. The method of Mahāyāna’s mantra practice (mahāyānaṃ mantracaryānayaṃ) is positioned as the supreme teaching (yānavaraṃ). The three ascetic discourses of Srāvakas, pratyekabuddhas, and Mahāyāna are distributed according to the level of realization of emptiness. Compared to the elaborate catechisms of Japan’s Shingon school of esoteric Buddhism, Buddhaguhya suggested extremely simple definitions. The ultimate goal of Mahāyāna’s mantra practice is an emphasis on the dharma body, which is also the ultimate goal and ideological characteristic of esoteric Buddhism. The concept of the dharma body is also defined as the realization of the emptiness or unreality of all things (sarvadharma-śūnyatā). The Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra consistently advocates the philosophy of emptiness that is at the root of Mahāyāna Buddhism.