adjective great, extensive, big important, venerable
■ nom. mahā Snp.1008; Mhvs.22, Mhvs.27. Shortened to maha in cpd. pitāmaha (following a-decl.) (paternal) grandfather Pv-a.41; & mātāmaha (maternal) grandfather (q.v.)
■ instr. mahatā Snp.1027-pl. nom. mahantā Snp.578 (opp. daharā)
■ loc mahati Mil.254
■ f. mahī 1 one of the 5 great rivers (Np.) 2 the earth. See separately
■ nt mahantaṃ used as adv., meaning “very much, greatly Ja.v.170; Dhp-a.iv.232. Also in cpd. mahantabhāva greatness, loftiness, sublimity Dhs-a.44
■ Compar mahantatara Dhp-a.ii.63, and with dimin. suffix -ka Ja.iii.237
■ The regular paraphrase of mahā in the Niddesa is “agga, seṭṭha, visiṭṭha, pāmokkha, uttama pavara,” see Cnd.502.

Note on mahā & cpds

  1. In certain compounds the combn with mahā (mah˚) has become so established & customary (often through politeness in using mahā for the simple term), that the cpd. is felt as an inseparable unity and a sort of “antique” word, in which the 2nd part either does not occur any more by itself or only very rarely, as mah’ aṇṇava, which is more freq. than aṇṇava; mah’ ābhisakka, where abhisakka does not occur by itself; cp. mahānubhāva, mahiddhika mahaggha; or is obscured in its derivation through constant use with mahā, like mahesī [mah + esī, or īsī] mahesakkha [mah + esakkha]; mahallaka [mah + *ariyaka]; mahāmatta. Cp. E. great-coat, Gr. ἀρξ˚ in ἀρξ ιατρός = Ger. arzt. Only a limited selection of cpd. words is given, consisting of more frequent or idiomatic terms. Practically any word may be enlarged & emphasized in meaning by prefixing; mahā. Sometimes a mahā˚ lends to special events a standard (historical) significance, so changing the common word into a noun proper, e.g. Mahâbhinikkhammana, Mahāpavāraṇa.

  2. Mahā occurs in compounds in

    1. an elided form mah before a & i;
    2. shortened to maha˚; before g, d p, b with doubling of these consonants.
    3. in the regular form mahā˚: usually before consonants, sometimes before vowels. This form is contracted with foll. i to e and foll. u to o. In the foll. list of compounds we have arranged the material according to these bases.
  3. mah˚

    • -aggha very costly, precious Pp.34; Mhvs.27, Mhvs.35; Pv-a.77, Pv-a.87; Sdhp.18.
    • -agghatā costliness great value Pp.34, Sdhp.26.
    • -aṇṇava the (great ocean Mhvs.19, Mhvs.17.
    • -atthiya (for ˚atthika) of great importance or use, very useful, profitable Ja.iii.368
    • -andhakāra deep darkness Vism.417.
    • -assāsin fully refreshed, very comfortable SN.i.81.
  4. maha˚

    • -ggata “become great,” enlarged, extensive fig. lofty, very great MN.i.263; MN.ii.122; AN.ii.63, AN.ii.184 AN.iii.18; Vv-a.155; Ja.v.113; Dhs.1020 (translation: “having a wider scope”) Vb.16, Vb.24, Vb.62, Vb.74, Vb.126, Vb.270, Vb.326; Tikp.45; Vism.410, Vism.430 sq. (˚ārammaṇa); Vb-a.154 (id.), Vb-a.159 (˚citta); Dhs-a.44. See on term Cpd. 4, 12, 55 1014; [cp. BSk. mahadgata Divy.227].
    • -gghasa eating much, greedy, gluttonous AN.iv.92; Pv.iii.1#11 (= bahubhojana Pv-a.175); Mil.288; Dhp.325 (cp. Dhp-a.iv.16)
    • -ddhana having great riches (often combined with mahābhoga) Dhp.123; Ja.iv.15, Ja.iv.22.
    • -pphala much fruit; adj bearing much fruit, rich in result AN.iv.60, AN.iv.237 sq. Snp.191, Snp.486; Dhp.312, Dhp.356 sq.
    • -bbala (a) a strong force, a great army Mhvs.10, Mhvs.68 (variant reading, T. has mahā-bala) (b) of great strength, mighty, powerful Ja.iii.114; Mhvs.23, Mhvs.92; Mhvs.25, Mhvs.9.
    • -bbhaya great fear, terror SN.i.37; Snp.753 Snp.1032, Snp.1092, cp. Cnd.501.
  5. mahā˚

    • -anas kitchen Mhvs.5, Mhvs.27 (spurious stanza)
    • -anasa kitchen Ja.ii.361; Ja.iii.314; Ja.v.368;; Dhp-a.iii.309; Thag-a.5.
    • -anila a gale Mhvs.3, Mhvs.42.
    • -ānisaṃsa deserving great praise (see s. v.), [cp. BSk. mahānuśaṃsa Mvu.iii.221].
    • -ānubhāva majesty, adj. wonderful splendid Ja.i.194;; Pv.iii.3#1; Pv-a.117, Pv-a.136 Pv-a.145, Pv-a.272.
    • -aparādhika very guilty Ja.i.114.
    • -abhinikkhamaṇa the great renunciation Dhp-a.i.85.
    • -abhisakka [abhi + śak ] very powerful Thag.1111.
    • -amacca chief minister Mhvs.19, Mhvs.12.
    • -araha costly Mhvs.3, Mhvs.21 Mhvs.5, Mhvs.75; Mhvs.27, Mhvs.39; Pv-a.77, Pv-a.141, Pv-a.160.
  6. mahā˚

    • -alasa great sloth Dhp-a.iii.410.
    • -avīci the great Purgatory Avīci, freq.
    • -isi in poetry for mahesi at Ja.v.321.
    • -upaṭṭhāna great state room (of a king Snp-a.84.
    • -upāsikā a great female follower (of the Buddha) Vv-a.5.
    • -karuṇā great compassion Dhp-a.i.106 Dhp-a.i.367.
    • -kāya a great body Mil.16.
    • -gaṇa a great crowd or community Dhp-a.i.154.
    • -gaṇḍa a large tumour Vb-a.104.
    • -gedha great greed Snp.819; Mnd.151.
    • -cāga great liberality, adj. munificent Mhvs.27 Mhvs.47. As -paricāga at Snp-a.295 (= mahādāna).
    • -jana a great crowd, collectively for “the people,” a multitude Pv-a.6, Pv-a.19, Pv-a.78; Mhvs.3, Mhvs.13.
    • -taṇha (adj.) very thirsty Ja.ii.441.
    • -tala “great surface,” the large flat roof on the top of a palace (= upari-pāsāda-tala)
    • -dāna (see under dāna) the great gift (to the bhikkhus) a special great offering of food & presents given by laymen to the Buddha & his followers as a meritorious deed usually lasting for a week or more Mhvs.27, Mhvs.46; Pv-a.111, Pv-a.112.
    • -dhana (having) great wealth Pv-a.3, Pv-a.78
    • -naraka (a) great Hell, see naraka.
    • -nāga a great elephant Dhp.312; Dhp-a.iv.4.
    • -nāma Name of a plant Vin.i.185; Vin.ii.267.
    • -niddā deep sleep Pv-a.47
    • -nibbāna the great N. Dhp-a.iv.110.
    • -niraya (a) great hell Snp-a.309, Snp-a.480; Pv-a.52. See Niraya & cp. Kirfel; Kosmographie 199, 200.
    • -nīla sapphire Vv-a.111
    • -pañña very wise DN.iii.158; AN.iii.244; Dhp.352; Dhp-a.iv.71.
    • -patha high road DN.i.102; Snp.139; Dhp.58 Vism.235; Dhp-a.i.445.
    • -paduma a great lotus Ja.v.39 also a vast number & hence a name of a purgatory, cp Divy.67; Kirfel, Kosmographie 205.
    • -pitā grandfather Pv-a.107.
    • -purisa a great man, a hero, a man born to greatness, a man destined by fate to be a Ruler or a Saviour of the World. A being thus favoured by fate possesses (32) marks (lakkhaṇāni) by which people recognise his vocation or prophesy his greatness. A detailed list of these 32 marks (which probably date back to mythological origin & were originally attributed to Devas) is found at DN.ii.17, DN.ii.19, passim, DN.iii.287; Snp.1040 sq.; Dhp.352; Mil.10; Snp-a.184, Snp-a.187 sq., Snp-a.223 , Snp-a.258, Snp-a.357, Snp-a.384 sq.; ˚lakkhaṇāni: DN.i.88, DN.i.105, DN.i.116; Snp.549, Snp.1000 sq.; Vism.234; Vv-a.315; Dhp-a.ii.41.
    • -bhūta usually in pl.
    • -bhūta(ni) (cattāro & cattā) the 4 great elements (see bhūta), being paṭhavī, āpo, tejo, vāyo DN.i.76; Mnd.266; Vb.13, Vb.70 sq.; Vism.366 sq.; Tikp.39, Kp.56 sq., Kp.74 sq., Kp.248 sq.; Vb-a.42, Vb-a.169, Vb-a.253
      ■ See Cpd. 154, 268 sq., & cp. dhātu 1.;
    • -bhoga great wealth adj. wealthy Pv-a.3, Pv-a.78.
    • -maccha a great fish, seamonster Ja.i.483.
    • -mati very wise, clever Mhvs.14, Mhvs.22 Mhvs.19, Mhvs.84 (f. ˚ī); Mhvs.33, Mhvs.100 (pl. ˚ī).
    • -matta [cp. Sk. mahāmātra] a king’s chief minister, alias Prime Minister, “who was the highest Officer-of-State and real Head of the Executive” (Banerjea, Public Administration in Ancient India, 1916). His position is of such importance, that he even ranges as a rājā or king: Vin.iii.47 (rājā… akkhadassā mahāmattā ye vā pana chejjabhejjaṃ anusāsanti ete rājāno nāma)
      Note. An acc. sg mahā-mattānaṃ we find at AN.i.154 (formed after the prec. rājānaṃ)
      ■ Vin.i.74 (where two ranks are given senā-nāyakā m. mattā the m. of defence, and vohārikā m. m. those of law); DN.i.7; DN.iii.88; DN.iii.64 (here with epithet khattiya); AN.i.154, AN.i.252, AN.i.279; AN.iii.128; Vin.iv.224 Vism.121; Vb-a.312 (in simile of two m.), Vb-a.340; Pv-a.169. Cp. Fick. Sociale Gliederung 92, 99, 101.
    • -muni great seer Snp.31.
    • -megha a big cloud, thunder cloud MN.ii.117; Snp.30; Vism.417.
    • -yañña the great sacrifice DN.i.138 sq., DN.i.141 (cp. AN.ii.207≈).
    • -yasa great fame Vv.21#6; Mhys.5, 22.
    • -raṅga [cp. Sk. m- rajana] safflower, used for dyeing Vin.i.185 (sandals); Vin.ii.267 (cloaks).
    • -rājā great king, king, very freq.: see rājā-rukkha a great tree Vism.413 (literally); Mil.254 (id.) otherwise the plant euphorbia tortilis (cp. Zimmer Altind. Leben 129).
    • -lātā (-pasādhana) a lady’s parure called “great creeper” Dhp-a.i.392; Vv-a.165 (-pilandhana); same Snp-a.520.
    • -vātapāna main window Dhp-a.iv.203.
    • -vīṇā a great lute Vism.354; Vb-a.58.
    • -vīra (great) hero Snp.543, Snp.562.
    • -satta “the great being or a Bodhisatta Vv-a.137 (variant reading SS. bodhisatta). [Cp BSk. mahāsattva, e.g. Jtm.32].
    • -samudda the sea the occean Mhvs.19, Mhvs.18; Vism.403; Snp-a.30, Snp-a.371; Pv-a.47.
    • -sara a great lake; usually as satta-mahāsarā the 7 great lakes of the Himavant (see sara), enumerated e.g. at Vism.416.
    • -sāra (of) great sap, i.e. great wealth adj. very rich Ja.i.463 (˚kula, perhaps to be read mahāsāla-kula).
    • -sāla (adj.) having great halls, epithet of rich people (especially brāhmaṇas) DN.i.136, DN.i.235; DN.iii.16, DN.iii.20; Ja.ii.272 (˚kula); Ja.iv.237 (id.), Ja.iv.325 (id.); Ja.v.227 (id.) Pp.56; Vb-a.519; Dhp-a.iii.193.
    • -sāvaka [cp. BSk mahāśrāvaka Divy.489] a great disciple Vism.98 (asīti ˚ā); Dhp-a.ii.93.
    • -senagutta title of a high official (Chancellor of the Exchequer?) Ja.v.115;
    • -hatthi a large elephant MN.i.184 (˚pada elephant’s foot, as the largest of all animal feet), referred to as simile (˚opama at Vism.243, Vism.347, Vism.348.
  7. mahi˚ [mah’ i˚]

    • -iccha full of desire, lustful, greedy AN.iv.229; Thag.898; Iti.91; Ja.i.8; Ja.ii.441.
    • -icchatā arrogance, ostentatiousness AN.iv.280; Vb-a.472
    • -iddhika [mahā + iddhi + ka] of great power, always combined with mah-ānubhāva to denote great influence high position & majesty Vin.i.31; Vin.ii.193; Vin.iii.101; DN.i.78, DN.i.180 (devatā), DN.i.213; SN.i.145 sq.; SN.ii.155, SN.ii.274 sq. SN.ii.284 sq.; SN.iv.323; SN.v.265, SN.v.271 sq., SN.v.288 sq.; AN.v.129; (said of the Ocean); Pv-a.6, Pv-a.136, Pv-a.145.
    • -inda (ghosa) lit. the roar of the Great Indra, Indra here to be taken in his function as sky (rain) god, thus: the thunder of the rain-god Thag.1108. [Cp. BSk. māhendra in ˚bhavana “the abode of the Great Indra,” and vaṛṣa “the rain of the Gr. I.” (here as rain-god), both at Avs.i.210].
    • -issāsa [Sk. maheṣvāsa] great in the art of the bow, a great archer SN.i.185; Dhp-a.i.358.
  8. mahe˚ [mahā + i]

    • -esakkha [mahā + īsa + khyaṃ fr. īś ] possessing great power or authority AN.ii.204 AN.iii.244; Cnd.503#2; Vism.419; Sdhp.511. The BSk form is maheṣākhya evidently differing in its etymology The P. etym. rests on the same grounds as esitatta in mahesi Dhp-a.iv.232.
    • -esi [mahā + isi; Sk. maharṣi] a great Sage AN.ii.26; Snp.208, Snp.481, Snp.646, Snp.915, Snp.1057, Snp.1061 Thag.1132; Thag.2, Thag.149; Dhp.422 (explained at Dhp-a.iv.232 as “mahantaṃ sīla-kkhandh’ ādīnaṃ esitattā m.” cp. the similar expln at Cnd.503); Mnd.343; Vism.505; Vb-a.110; Pv-a.1.
    • -esiyā = mahesī
    • -esī īsa*, but in Sk. (Vedic) as f. of mahiṣa, buffalo] chief queen, king’s first wife, king’s consort; also the wife of a great personage Ja.ii.410 Ja.v.45;; Pp.56; Mhvs.2, Mhvs.22 (pl. mahesiyo) Vv-a.184 (sixteen). Usually as agga-mahesī, e.g. Ja.i.262; Ja.iii.187, Ja.iii.393; Ja.v.88.
    • -esitta state of chief consort, queenship Ja.v.443; Pv.ii.13#10; Thag-a.37; Vv-a.102.
    • -eseyya = ˚esitta Ja.v.91.
  9. -maho [mahā + u, or + o]

    • -ogha the great flood (see
    • -ogha) Snp.4, Snp.945; Dhp.47, Dhp.287; Dhp-a.iii.433.
    • -odadhi the (great) ocean, the sea Snp.720, Snp.1134; Mil.224; Mhvs.18, Mhvs.8.
    • -odara big belly (addressing a king’s minister).
    • -odika full of water, having much water deep, full (of a river) Snp.319; Ja.ii.159; Mil.346
    • -oraga [m + uraga] a great snake Ja.v.165.

Vedic mahant, which by Grassmann is taken as ppr. to mah, but in all probability the n is an original suffix
■ cp. Av. mazant, Sk. compar. mahīyān Gr. μέγας (compar. μείζων), Lat. magnus, Goth mikils = Ohg. mihhil = E. much