Translating මහින්ද්රා බෞද්ධ පන්සල

There is a vihāra in Kuala Lumpur called the “Buddhist Maha Vihara” in Brickfields. The wikipedia article has the Sinhala for this temple as “මහින්ද්රා බෞද්ධ පන්සල.”

I, as a naive inquirer, expected one of these words to be a Sinhala borrowing of the term “Mahāvihāra,” but running this Sinhala text through a Romanization engine gives “Mahindrā Bauddha Pansala.” “Pansala” seems to be “temple,” an equivalent to “Mahāvihāra.”

Is “Mahindrā” to be understood as “mahā” + “indra,” as in “great lord,” so that we read “Mahindrā Bauddha Pansala” as “Great Lord Buddha['s] Temple?” Instead, is “Mahindrā” a reference to this Venerable who apparently is very important in Sri Lankan Buddhist history? Lastly, is the “au” in Buddha a feature of the Sinhala language, or is this a quirk of the Romanization engine I used?

Sincerely, someone with clearly too many questions for one post.


In the sidebar of the wikipedia page it has බෞද්ධ මහා විහාරය which is the actual Sinhala translation of the English name (Bauddha Mahā Vihāraya)

Bauda, I believe is the adjective form. So it means Buddhist. (baudāgama is “Buddhist religion”) In Sinhala most Buddhist words are from the Sanskrit. Not sure if that’s what’s happening here.

Pansala is the Sinhala equivalent of vihara. In English we say temple, to distinguish it from, say, an āranya which would be a forest monastery.


OK, I think this may be a case of Wikipedia being wrong…

There is another temple, Mahindarama Buddhist Temple. Here is their wikipedia page:

You can see that this page also claims to translate the name as මහින්ද්රා බෞද්ධ පන්සල. Even that isn’t the Sinhala for Mahindarama. And their name really is Mahindarama. And that name I’m fairly confident refers to arahant Mahinda.

Also, I’ve never heard the term Bauda Pansala. It’s kind of redundant. All pansals are Buddhist, if I’m not mistaken.

Also, and someone could correct me, but I believe it is common in foreign countries for the first temple in the city to take on the name Maha Vihara. “The” Mahavihara of course is the ancient orthodox monastery in Anuradhapura. I don’t believe it implies any connection with that historical monastery, though.


Just to add to what @snowbird has said…one way of forming adjectives meaning “belong or relating to” in Sanskrit is to add “a” before the vowel in the first syllable. Jina (the conqueror)–>Jaina (of the conqueror, i.e. Jain). Buddha (the awakened one)–>Bauddha (of the awakened one, i.e. Buddhist). From sūtra–>Sautrantika (those who follow the sūtra), Vibhāṣa–> Vaibhāṣika (those who follow the Vibhāṣa), etc. The same thing happens in Hindi & other Sanskritised modern languages.