Mahāvihāra monastery, (in) Anuradhapura, North Central Province, SL

Raw data

Mahavihara. A monastery [in Anuradhapura. Src: Muller (1995a-present)], Sri Lanka, where Faxian (AD 400) found 3,000 residents. Src: Eitel (1888:90)

"The Mahavihara (Pali for "Great Monastery") was for several centuries the center of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It was founded by king Devanampiya Tissa (247–207 BCE) in his capital Anuradhapura. The Mahavihara was the place where Theravadin orthodoxy was established by monks such as Buddhaghosa. The monks living at the Mahavihara were referred to as Mahaviharavasins.
The term Mahavihara was also applied to a number of the larger monasteries in India, among them Nalanda, Vikramashila, Odantipura, Somapura, Ratnagiri, and others."

"Adjoining Lohapasada or Brazen Palace are ruins of Alms-hall called Catussala of the Buddhist monks of Mahavihara monastery. At the eastern corner of these ruins is a rice boat, a 45 feet long vessel cut into a slab of rock that could contain alms to at least 3000 monks at a time. The rice boat corresponds well the narration of the Chinese Buddhist scholar Fa-Hsien. According to him, there were 3000 monks at Mahavihara monastery at Anuradhapura."

"The northern boundary of the Mahavihara was close to Thuparama and south towards Ruwanvelisaeya. Both chronicles clearly mentioned that Thuparama and Mahavihara were two different monasteries. Therefore Thuparama was not a part of the Mahavihara complex. That was a separate monastery complex belongs to the Mahavihara Sect. The evident from the existence of a Stupa, an image house, a Bodhi tree, a chapter house and a refectory hall required for an independent monastery. The western boundary of the Mahavihara was Abhaya wewa the first ever tank in Sri Lanka." Peiris (n.d.:1)

Input by: tmciolek, 27 Feb 2009

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 01 Oct 2013

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 200 from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Mahavihara monastery, Sri Lanka.

General location of the Mahavihara monastery, Sri Lanka.
lat=8.3533 long=80.3957
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2009.

Google Map link:,%20SL)&ll=8.3533,80.3957&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Mahavihara (Eitel 1888:90)

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Sri Lanka:North Central Province

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx. Lat 8.3533 Long 80.3957 - based on the approximate position of the Mahavihara site, as described in Peiris (n.d.:1) (i.e. to the N close to Thuparama, to the S. close to Ruwanvelisaeya, to the W. close to the Abhaya wewa (now Abhayavapi or Basawkulama Tank) - tmciolek, 8 Sep 2012.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Theravada

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • [missing data]

11. Date-early

MBM chrono-tag <=0200 - tmciolek 01 Oct 2013
<=0200 0200-32c 0233-66c 0267-99c 0300-32c 0333-66c 0367-99c 0400-32c 0433-66p dated-ex

12. Date-intermediate

  • In 400 AD visited by Faxian - Eitel (1888:90)

MBM chrono-tag 0400-32c 0433-66p - tmciolek 01 Oct 2013

13. Date-late

  • [missing data]

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • [missing data]

16. Additional notes

  • 3,000 monks in 400 AD (Eitel 1888:90)

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

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