From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Mahadana, MahAdAna, Mahaadaana

Mahādāna literally means ‘the great gift’.

Dāna or giving gifts has been extolled greatly in the scriptures, especially in the Dharmaśāstras and the Purāṇas. This aspect of dharma[1] has also been stressed much in the Kaliyuga or Iron Age.

Out of the several dānas mentioned there, ‘mahādāna’ or ‘a great gift’ is also the one. The mahādānas may be ten[2] or sixteen[3]. Some of them are:

  • Tulāpuruṣa - weighing a person against gold or silver, and distributing it to worthy persons
  • Gosahasra - a thousand milch-cows
  • Horses
  • Elephants
  • Chariots
  • Land
  • House
  • Bride
  • Servant-maids

An elaborate and complicated procedure has been set out for making these gifts.


  1. Dharma means righteous living.
  2. Agnipurāna 209.23, 24
  3. Matsyapurāṇa 274 to 289
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore