Many of them lived in the various vihdras or residences situate throughout the island; but the main centre of intellectual effort, down to the 8th century, was the Maha Vihara, the Great Minster, at Anwradhapura.
Of these the most important was that of the Haihayas of Ratanpur, a family which, settled from time immemorial in the Nerbudda valley, had towards the close of the 10th century succeeded the Pandava dynasty of Maha Kosala (Chhattisgarh) and ruled, though from the 16th century onwards over greatly diminished territories, until its overthrow by the Mahrattas in 1745.
The Maha Yazawin or " Royal Chronicle," forms the great historical work of Burma.
The sovereign, Phra Paramendr Maha Mongkut, was a very accomplished man, an enlightened reformer and devoted to science; his death, indeed, was caused by fatigue and exposure while observing an eclipse.
Other orders are the Siamese Crown (Mongkut Siam), five classes, founded 1869; the family Order of ChulahChon-Clao, three classes, 1873; and the Maha Charkrkri, 1884, only for princes and princesses of the reigning family.
And we may safely draw the conclusion that if the great Indian epics, the Maha-bharata and the Ramayana, had been in existence when the formation of the Buddhist canon began, the course of its development would have been very different from what it was.
And as the Mahavastu was a standard work of a particular sect, or rather school, called the Maha-sanghikas, it has thus preserved for us the theory of the Buddha as held outside the followers of the canon, by those whose views developed, in after centuries, into the Mahayana or modern form of Buddhism in India.
The later one is entirely in verse, and shows off the author's mastery of the artificial rules of prosody and poetics, according to which a poem, a maha-kavya, ought, according to the later writers on the Ars poetica, to be composed.
All the four real kings were called Maha-raja.
The symptoms of this disease, called maha murree or mahamari by the natives, were precisely those of oriental plague.
Even greater was the support it received later on from the Puranas, a class of poetical works of a partly legendary, partly discursive and controversial character, mainly composed in the interest of special deities, of which eighteen principal (maha-purana) and as many secondary ones (upa-purana) are recognized, the oldest of which may go back to about the 4th century of our era.
Both were childless, and great was the rejoicing when, in about the forty-fifth year of her age, the elder sister, Maha Maya, promised her husband a son.
Jainism purports to be the system of belief promulgated by Vaddhamana, better known by his epithet of Maha-vira (the great hero), who was a contemporary of Gotama, the Buddha.
Maha-vira was not an originator; he merely carried on, with but slight changes, a system which existed before his time, and which probably owes its most distinguishing features to a teacher named Parswa, who ranks in the succession of Jinas as the predecessor of Maha-vira.
Parswa is said, in the Jain chronology, to have been born two hundred years before Maha-vira (that is, about 760 B.C.); but the only conclusion that it is safe to draw from this statement is that Parswa was considerably earlier in point of time than Mahavira.
The latter have only as yet been traced, and that doubtfully, as far back as the 5th century after Christ; the former are almost certainly the same as the Niganthas, who are referred to in numerous passages of the Buddhist Pali Pitakas, and must therefore be at least as old as the 6th century B.C. In many of these passages the Niganthas are mentioned as contemporaneous with the Buddha; and details enough are given concerning their leader Nigantha Nata-putta (that is, the Nigantha of the Jnatrika clan) to enable us to identify him, without any doubt, as the same person as the Vaddhamana Maha-vira of the Jain books.
This remarkable confirmation, from the scriptures of a rival religion, of the Jain tradition is conclusive as to the date of Maha-vira.
The most distinguishing outward peculiarity of Maha-vira and of his earliest followers was their practice of going quite naked, whence the term Digambara.
It is related of the founder himself, the Maha-vira, that after twelve years' penance he thus obtained Nirvana (Jacobi, Jaina Sutras, i.
Professor Jacobi, who is the best authority on the history of this sect, thus sums up the distinction between the Maha-vira and the Buddha: "Maha-vira was rather of the ordinary class of religious men in India.
The Buddha's philosophy forms a system based on a few fundamental ideas, whilst that of Maha-vira scarcely forms a system, but is merely a sum of opinions (pannattis) on various subjects, no fundamental ideas being there to uphold the mass of metaphysical matter.
Maha-vira treated ethics as corollary and subordinate to his metaphysics, with which he was chiefly concerned."
In the course of further centuries these books in turn were superseded by new treatises; and in one school at least, that of the Maha-yana (great vehicle) there was eventually developed a system of metaphysics.