Definition - What does Vajrayana mean?
Vajrayana is a form of Buddhism that is sometimes referred to as Tantric Buddhism. It developed in India in the fifth century out of the Mahayana tradition and quickly spread to neighboring countries, most notably Tibet. It is sometimes considered its own path and sometimes a branch of Mahayana Buddhism.
The name comes from the Sanskrit, vajra, meaning “thunderbolt” or “diamond,” and yana, meaning “vehicle.” With roots in Hinduism, vajra also refers to a ritualistic tool and mythical weapon. It represents that which is indestructible within a person and the power to overcome illusion.
Yogapedia explains Vajrayana
As an esoteric path of Tantra, Vajrayana uses rituals and sacred objects to channel divine energy and achieve enlightenment — among them, mantras, mandalas and other rituals. Those on the path to enlightenment are bodhisattvas, or buddhas-to-be, and they undertake the spiritual journey to benefit all sentient beings. The ultimate goal is samyaksambuddhahood: becoming a fully spiritually awakened buddha.
The guru (or lama in Tibet) plays a key role in Vajrayana, passing teachings along to the student and guiding him/her on their spiritual journey.