Maharishi is an anglicized spelling of the Sanskrit word Maharṣi महर्षि (formed from the prefix mahā- meaning "great" and r̥ṣi meaning "seer"). Maharishi is often used as an addition to a person's name as an honorary title. The term was first seen in modern English literature in the 18th century.
Description and usage
Maharishi may refer to a Hindu, or Vedic, guru or "spiritual teacher" of "mystical knowledge". Additional meanings cited by dictionaries include: sage, poet, spiritual leader, wise man and holy man. The term became popular in English literature "sometime before 1890" and was first used in 1758.
Alternate meanings describe Maharishi 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.
Anyone can adopt the title. According to Brewers Dictionary, outside of India, the most well known Maharishi is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who founded Transcendental Meditation and made it available to the West.
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).
The title was also used by Valmiki, Patanjali and Dayananda Sarasvati.