Buddhist Maha Vihara, Kuala Lumpur
I am just back from Malaysia, and one of the most delightful places I visited while I was in Kuala Lumpur was the Buddhist Maha Vihara at Brickfields.
Brickfields is just the most fabulous place, very much my kind of town. It is known as Little India, but it is filled as well with Chinese restaurants, Burmese shops and this place, a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple that caters mostly to the Malysian Chinese community and is situated quite close to the Vivekananda Ashrama.You have to love Malaysia's multiculturalism.
I had been aware of the Buddhist Maha Vihara for many years, and indeed at various stages I had made plans to visit it, most notably because once a year they have a mass temporrary ordination for the Buddhist Rains Retreat season which attracts many foreign men looking to experience Buddhist monasticism in an English-speaking environment. These days I don't think I could handle three months of monastic renunciation, but the Buddhist Maha Vihara is nonetheless a beautiful place to visit and to absorb some peace and calm.
One fellow was experiencing so much calm that he had fallen asleep in the main shrine.
We were there on a hot Sunday afternoon, and I couldn't really blame him.
When I was an earnest and keen young Buddhist I used to order books and cassettes from this place (yes, cassettes were still current then - kids, ask your parents). I used to adore the little brown-paper-wrapped parcels that would arrive at my post office box in Darlinghurst, a world away from this sweet little corner of Little India.
The temple still gives away a great deal of literature for free, and it is one of the reasons for visiting. There are many fascinating books available in a host of different languages, and I came away with quite a pile. Naturally, I left a large donation. One that I have found particularly interesting is A Buddhist Reflects on Happy Living by Vijaya Samarawickama, a nicely written little analysis of contemporary Buddhism and the exact way in which karma is formed.
I also found a great book setting out the importance of the Theravada Buddhist sacred texts in the life of the lay-Buddhist called, Liberation: Relevance of Sutta-Vinaya by Ven. Dhammavuddho Thera.
The temple complex also houses a chedi in which I found a beautiful statue of Sakyamuni Buddha that I recognised instantly as Vietnamese. On closer examination I discovered that it was indeed a gift from the Vietnamese Theravada Sangha.
Buddhist Maha Vihara
123 Jalan Berhala
Brickfields Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
(most taxi drivers will know it, as KL is a small city. It is also about a 10 minute walk from the Sentral KL Monorail Station)
The temple is open all day every day, and offers a lovely opportunity to rest and reflect.
There is a large variety of free Buddhist literature available, so take the time to look through it if you are interested in learning more.
The temple offers a lot of special events and talks, so check the website at or send them an email enquiring about upcoming events and try to attend one of these.