Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. In India and Tibet, one of a class of persons venerated for great knowledge and love of humanity.
  • n. Hinduism Used as a title of respect for a person renowned for spirituality and high-mindedness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An epithet granted in India and Tibet to people thought to have great knowledge and love of humanity

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of a class of sages, or “adepts,” reputed to have knowledge and powers of a higher order than those of ordinary men.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An adept in Brahmanism: a name recently applied by “theosophists” to certain imaginary beings, of preternatural powers, asserted to exist in or near India.
  • n. An alleged adept in Brahmanism: a name applied by modern European and A merican theosophists to certain imaginary persons who have acquired, by ascetic or ‘astral’ means, preternatural powers, and are asserted to exist in or near India. The term so used is modern and is due to European manipulation. No beings so named and endowed have any ancient recognition in Indian literature.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (Hinduism) term of respect for a brahmin sage

Etymologies

Sanskrit mahātmā : mahā-, great; see meg- in Indo-European roots + ātmā, life, spirit.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Sanskrit, महात्मा (mahātman) महा (mahā) + आत्मन (ātman) meaning great spirit (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Certain subjects, like Gandhi, who is often referred to as mahatma, or great soul, are particularly guarded.

    NYT > Global Home

  • Behold the "mahatma" that supported the British in World War

    Bloggers.Pakistan

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the mahatma — Sanskrit for “great soul” — was a Gujarati, born in Porbandar, on the Arabian Sea, in 1869.

    India’s New Face

  • To do this, says the mahatma, I have merely to separate your astral forms from your bodies; then to return them, each into the others 'corporosity.

    The woe of an aspiring genius.

  • The mahatma of the title, is helping Jack and Charley learn about their prospective brides (each is courting the other's sister) by offering to "tear your astral form from its sublunary habitation and send it gasping through the empyrean."

    The woe of an aspiring genius.

  • But we should still be grateful for where we are in the journey and for the man who began it all, the mahatma of the 19th century who has been some what obscured by time – Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.

    Girls, Women and the legacy of Mahatma Phule

  • The old mahatma was not easy for Chiang to convince.

    The Last Empress

  • By NAVENDU G » mahatma gandhi pole dance on January 15, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    sexytime with Mahatma Gandhi, pole dancer « raincoaster

  • Emotionally compelled, Nehru grew close to the mahatma, and became engaged in the cause.

    THE COMMANDING HEIGHTS

  • * Indira Gandhi, Nehru's only daughter, was briefly married to Feroze Gandhi—no relation to the mahatma.

    The Commanding Heights

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