Open Access Articles- Top Results for Buddhism in Malaysia

Buddhism in Malaysia

Malaysian Buddhist
Template:Image array
Total population
5,620,483 (2010)
Regions with significant populations
Penang · Selangor · Kuala Lumpur · Johor
Malaysian Mandarin · English · Thai  · Chinese · Sinhala · Indian · Malay
Mahayana Buddhism  · Sukhavana
Related ethnic groups
Malaysia Hindus
File:Kek Lok Si 03.jpg
Kek Lok Si, or "Temple of Sukhāvatī", in Penang, Malaysia

Buddhism is the second largest religion in Malaysia, after Islam, with 19.2% of Malaysia's population being Buddhist although some estimates put that figure up to 21.6% when combined with Chinese religions.[1] Buddhism in Malaysia is mainly practised by the ethnic Malaysian Chinese but, there also Malaysian Sri Lankans that practice Buddhism such as Ananda Krishnan and K. Sri Dhammananda.


File:Muzium Negara KL1.JPG
Standing Buddha statue made from brass, found in a tin mine in Pengkalan Pegoh, Ipoh, Perak in 1931.

Buddhism was introduced to the Malays and also to the people of the Malay Archipelago as early as 200 BC. Chinese written sources indicated that some 30 small Indianised states rose and fell in the Malay Peninsula. Malay-Buddhism began when Indian traders and priests traveling the maritime routes and brought with them Indian concepts of religion, government, and the arts. For many centuries the peoples of the region, especially the royal courts, synthesised Indian and indigenous ideas including Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism and that shaped their political and cultural patterns. [1] However, the Malay Kedah Kingdom denounced Indian religion after the king of Chola from Tamil Nadu attacked them in the early 11th century. The king of Kedah, Phra Ong Mahawangsa, was the first Malay ruler to denounce the traditional Indian religion; he converted to Islam, and in the 15th century, during the golden age of the Malacca Sultanate, the majority of Malays converted to Islam.

File:Mahavihara brickfields.jpg
The Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.


File:Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple (from Lorong Timur), Sentul, Kuala Lumpur.jpg
Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple (from Lorong Timur), Sentul, Kuala Lumpur

According the Malaysian constitution, the majority ethnic group, the Malays, are legally defined as Muslim. They constitute 60% of the population, with the remainder consisting mostly of Chinese, who are generally Buddhists or Christians, and to the lesser extent Indians, who are generally Hindus. There are also smaller numbers of other indigenous and immigrants; among the latter are Malaysians of Sinhalese, Thai, and Eurasian origin. Nearly all of the Buddhists in Malaysia live in urban areas, since they are mostly engaged in business or employed in various professions.

Recently, a number of Malaysian Buddhist leaders have responded to the decline in religious participation by the children of Buddhist families, have attempted to reformulate their message to address modern life more directly. Groups involved in these education efforts include the Buddhist Missionary Society. Missionary Society leaders have argued that, while many educated youths seek an intellectual approach to Buddhism, an equally large number of people prefer to approach the religion through the tradition of ceremony and symbolism. In response to these needs, religious practices are carried out, but in a way that is simple and dignified, removing what can be seen as superstition. Efforts are made to explain why sutras are chanted, lamps lit, flowers offered, and so on.

As a religion without a supreme head to direct its development, Buddhism is practised in various forms, which, although rarely in open conflict, can sometimes lead to confusion among Buddhists. In Malaysia, some ecumenical moves have been made to coordinate the activities of different types of Buddhists. One example is the formation of the Joint Wesak Celebrations Committee of the temples in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, which coordinates the celebration of Wesak, a holiday commemorating the birth of the Buddha. An initiative has also begun to form a Malaysian Buddhist Council, representing the various sects of Buddhism in the country to extend the work of the development of Buddhism, especially in giving contemporary relevance to the practise of the religion, as well as to promote solidarity among Buddhists in general.

In 2013, a video of a group of Buddhist practitioner from Singapore conducting religious ceremonies in a surau had become viral on Facebook. Malaysian police have arrested a resort owner after he allowed 13 Buddhists to use a Muslim prayer room(surau) for their meditation at Kota Tinggi, Johor.[2] The incident has been a frown upon Muslims in Malaysia. It has also become a hot topic in the social media. Following up at 28 August 2013, the controversial prayer room was demolished by the resort management within 21 days from the date of receipt of the notice after much protests by the residents of Kota Tinggi. [3] [4] At the time, Syed Ahmad Salim, the resort owner explained that he had allowed the group of Buddhists to use the surau for a meditation session as he was unaware that it was an offence. [5]

Regional distribution of Buddhism

Malaysian states by per 2010 Census,[6]

Buddhism population
(2010 Census)
 % of Population
Johor 989,316 29.5 %
Kedah 275,632 14.2 %
Kelantan 57,792 3.8 %
Melaka 198,669 24.2 %
Negeri Sembilan 216,325 21.2 %
Pahang 215,815 14.4 %
Perak 597,870 25.4 %
Pulau Pinang 556,293 35.6 %
Perlis 22,980 9.9 %
Selangor 1,330,989 24.4 %
Terengganu 25,653 2.5 %
Sarawak 332,883 13.5 %
Sabah 194,428 6.1 %
W.P. Kuala Lumpur 597,770 35.7 %
W.P. Labuan 7,795 9.0 %
W.P. Putrajaya 273 0.4 %

According to the 2010 Census of Malaysia, there were 5,620,483 Buddhist living there (19.8% of the population [7] 83.6% of all the Malaysian Chinese were Buddhist.

See also


  1. ^ "The World Factbook: Malaysia". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 2007-11-22. .
  2. ^ "". The Star Online. August 14, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Surau in Kota Tinggi resort demolished". The Star Online. August 28, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Surau kontroversi diroboh(Malay)". Kosmo!. August 28, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ "One year after surau controversy, normalcy returns to Johor resort". Kosmo!. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Population Distribution and Basic Demographic Characteristics 2010 Department of Statistics, Government of Malaysia (2011), Page 83-101
  7. ^