The New International Encyclopædia/Mahātma
MAHĀTMA (Skt., possessing a great soul). A name applied in theosophy (q.v.) to a class of saints who are said to refrain from entering Nirvana (q.v.) that they may help mankind by their presence on earth. As a result of their asceticism and meditation they are supposed to possess superhuman powers, by means of which they are enabled to project their astral bodies to vast distances. The idea of mahātmas is entirely theosophical. Real Oriental philosophy knows nothing of them.