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Mahatma (devanāgarī: महात्मन् mahātma) is a Sanskrit term meaning "Great Soul". This epithet is commonly applied to saints, spiritual teachers, and even prominent people.

In Theosophical literature the term is used to refer to the Masters of the Wisdom.

General description

In The Theosophical Glossary H. P. Blavatsky defines the term as follows:

Mahâtma. Lit., “great soul”. An adept of the highest order. Exalted beings who, having attained to the mastery over their lower principles are thus living unimpeded by the “man of flesh”, and are in possession of knowledge and power commensurate with the stage they have reached in their spiritual evolution. Called in Pali Rahats and Arhats.[1]

The Mahatmas are occultists who have developed the psychic and spiritual powers that are still latent in most human beings:

A Mahatma is a personage who, by special training and education, has evolved those higher faculties and has attained that spiritual knowledge which ordinary humanity will acquire after passing through numberless series of incarnations during the process of cosmic evolution, provided, of course, that they do not go, in the meanwhile, against the purposes of Nature. . .
The occultist, when he has identified himself thoroughly with his Atma, acts upon the Buddhi, for, according to the laws of Cosmic Evolution, the Purusha — the universal seventh principle––is perpetually acting upon and manifesting itself through Prakriti—the universal sixth principle. Thus the MAHATMA, who has become one with his seventh principle—which is identical with Purusha, since there is no isolation in the spiritual monad—is practically a creator, for he has identified himself with the evoluting and the manifesting energy of nature.[2]

However, since the Mahatmas are incarnated, they are subject to limitations when acting through the body. As Master K.H. wrote in one of his letters to A. P. Sinnett:

For you know — or think you know, of one K.H. — and can know but of one, whereas there are two distinct personages answering to that name in him you know. The riddle is only apparent and easy to solve, were you only to know what a real Mahatma is. You have seen by the Kiddle incident — perchance allowed to develop to its bitter end for a purpose — that even an "adept" when acting in his body is not beyond mistakes due to human carelessness.[3]

See also

Online resources



  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 201.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 261-262.
  3. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 130 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 433.