Mention of vehicles in early teachings

I understand vehicle is generally a translation of paths but i do have a question. I’ve read in some early Chinese Buddhist teachings about 3 vehicles and I didn’t think they would of had knowledge or thought as we do today about the 3 major schools of Buddhism. What would they have been possibly referring to.

Usually the Sravakayana, Paccekabodhi-yana, and Samma-sambuddha-maga in early Buddhism. But it depends on the exact text

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The Śrāvakayāna, Pratyekabuddhayāna, and bodhisattvayāna. Lotus sutra introduces the Buddhayāna.

Actually, it’s not that clear cut for 3 major “schools”.

There’s basically Theravada and Mahayana as the 2 traditions.

Within Mahayana, there’s a lot of schools. Zen/chan, pure land, Vajrayana, Tien tai, etc.

Just that in popular, basic usage of Buddhism, the tibetan Buddhism (which is only one of the regional buddhism which has Vajrayana), came to international prominence (after china invaded) and people distinguish them enough from other Mahayana, that there’s a common perception of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana schools.

Ask people say maybe 80 years ago, it’s doubtful if tibetan Buddhism would be as famous as Korean Buddhism, or Cambodian Buddhism, or Nepalese Buddhism.

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To elaborate

Sravaka = the hearers. They listen to the teaching from Buddha and got enlightened.

Pratyekabuddha = in a period where the teaching does not exist, some people secluded themselves, live homeless life, and contemplate dependent arising. They become enlightened, but they do not teach others. (Reason given usually that they don’t want to, or they have no ability to teach, or that the general population cant understand anything more than morality)

Bodhisattva = training to become full Buddha that will teach others.