1884, lit. "great-souled," from Skt. mahatman,
"great" (see maharajah
) + atman
"breath, soul, principle of life." In esoteric Buddhism, "a person of supernatural powers." In common use, as a title, a mark of love and respect. Said to have been applied to Gandhi (1869-1948) in 1915 by poet Rabrindranath Tagore.