The doctrine of the Vaibhasika ('supporter of the vibhasa') was based on the vibhasas, the abhidharma commentaries produced by the Sarvastivadins. The Maha-vibhasa was a commentary on the first book of the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma and explained the orthodox Sarvastivadin view that dharmas move from a future state, to an active, momentary present manifestation, and then to a past state, without changing their nature. The Vaibhasikas elaborated on this view in complex manuals and treatises. The Vaibhasikas were also associated with an early characterization of the Buddha as consisting of all the pure dharmas that make up an enlightened being, including the dharmas that made up his physical presence and his knowledge. This moved the understanding of the Buddha further away from the Buddha as a dead human being towards later Mahayana interpretations of the Buddha as transcendent.
The Vaibhasika school was a scholarly offshoot from the Sarvastivada based on texts written around the second century CE. The Vaibhasika was particularly successful in Kashmir and its scholarly activity had considerable influence on other Buddhist schools. The demise of the Vaibhasika came about largely through the activity of Vasubandhu who, in the fourth century, produced the definitive Abhidharma text, the Abhidharmakosa in which he set out Vaibhasika doctrine and criticized it from a Sautrantika perspective. The Abhidharmakosa remains an important text for the Tibetans who continue to study it as part of their scholarly tradition.
There is no inscriptional or textual evidence to suggest that the school had a distinct symbol system.
The school has no contemporary adherents.
There is no evidence to suggest that the school had a main centre. It was particularly successful in Kashmir.