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Maharishi (Sanskrit: महर्षि, lit.'great seer', IAST: Maharṣi) is a Sanskrit word used for members of the highest order of ancient Indian sages, popularly known in India as "seers", i.e., those who engage in research to understand and experience nature, divinity, and the divine context of existence, and these experiences' governing laws.


Maharishi is derived from Sanskrit maharṣi. It is formed from mahā, meaning "great", and ṛṣi, meaning "saint" or "seer".[1]

Description and usage[edit]

Maharshi may also refer to "seers" or "sages" in India.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] The term became popular in English literature "sometime before 1890" and was first used in 1758.[9][10]

Alternate meanings describe Maharshi as a collective name that refers to the seven rishis or saptarishis (including Maharishi Bhrigu) cited in the scriptures of Rig Veda and the Puranas, or any of the several mythological seers that are referenced in Vedic writings and associated with the seven stars of the constellation Ursa Major.[11][12]

While some suggest that the only ones who can adopt the title are those who achieve the highest state of awareness in the path of evolution and completely understand the working of parabramha, note that unlike Tibetan tulkus, maharishis outside of textual listings are not ordained, conferred nor confirmed by major institutional agency, so that this title is not typically adopted but acclaimed by admirers or critics, whether individuals or organizations including those composed of worshippers or disciples. Similarly, Mohandas Gandhi's prevalent honorific of 'Mahatma', 'Great Soul', is not used in every instance which references him, rather it is accorded by a referrer as a courtesy based on either the referrer's judgment or in acceptance or deference to judgments by some of those familiar with the object individual's case. Furthermore, some also claim that Maharshis are capable of making others become saints as they impart knowledge of the working of the divine, though this is not a dogmatic expectation in each tradition which uses 'Maharshi' as a title.[9][2]

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), usually referred as such as a humble honorific in contrast to individuals whose puissance is emphasized by reduplications such as 'Sri Sri', eschewed personal categorization as a modern Maharishi, however, is frequently accorded it by other pundits and by scholarly and spiritual observers.[13][14] Because Wikipedia's article on Sri Aurobindo describes him as a Maharishi, sites around the world which use Wikipedia's phrasing repeat this inclusion.[15]

Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) was an "Indian sage" with a philosophy about the path to self-knowledge and the integration of personality espoused in books by author Paul Brunton and Ramana's own writings such as the Collected Works (1969) and Forty Verses on Reality (1978).[16]

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918–2008) was an Indian guru, known for developing the Transcendental Meditation technique and for his association with the Beatles.

The title was also used by or credited to Valmiki, Patanjali and Dayananda Sarasvati.[17][18][19]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "MW Cologne Scan". www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de. Retrieved 2021-06-11.
  2. ^ a b Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (2009) Retrieved November 9, 2011
  3. ^ In Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary (2004) Retrieved November 2011
  4. ^ Collins German Dictionary (2007) Retrieved November 2011
  5. ^ Drury, Nevill (2002) Watkins Publishing, The dictionary of the esoteric: 3000 entries on the mystical and occult, page 200
  6. ^ Luck, Steve (1998) publisher: George Philip Ltd, The American desk encyclopedia, page 499
  7. ^ Online Etymological Dictionary Retrieved Nov 2011
  8. ^ Oxford Dictionary[dead link] Retrieved Nov 2011
  9. ^ a b Websters Online Dictionary with Multilingual Thesaurus Translation Archived 2011-11-18 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved November 2011
  10. ^ Merriam Webster M-W.com Retrieved November 2011
  11. ^ Dictionary.com Retrieved Nov 2011
  12. ^ Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (2002) Thames & Hudson, Retrieved November 2011
  13. ^ Siyag, Gurudev Shri Ramlalji. "SRI AUROBINDO on GANDHI". the-comforter.org. Gurudev Siyag's Siddha Yoga. Retrieved 27 December 2022.
  14. ^ Sanjeev, Nayyar. "SRI AUROBINDO on GANDHI". eSamskriti.com. eSamskriti. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  15. ^ Shiva, Chaudhary. "Revisiting Legacy Of Sri Aurobindo: Spiritual Reformer & Revolutionary Nationalist Of Indian Freedom Struggle". The Logical Indian. The Logical Indian independent and public-spirited digital media platform for Indian millennials. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  16. ^ In Chambers Biographical Dictionary (2007) Retrieved November 2011
  17. ^ J. Agarwal (15 September 2008). I Am Proud to be a Hindu. Pustak Mahal. pp. 191–. ISBN 978-81-223-1022-1. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  18. ^ J.M.Mehta (22 December 2005). Essence of Maharishi Patanjali's Ashtang Yoga. Pustak Mahal. ISBN 978-81-223-0921-8. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  19. ^ J.P. Mittal (1 January 2006). History of Ancient India: From 7300 BC to 4250 BC. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. pp. 270–. ISBN 978-81-269-0615-4. Retrieved 19 November 2011.