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Mahatma is a Hindu sage. The term literally means "Great Mother" since it has been masculinized similarly as the Semitic word ima "mother," which became iman, a male sage. The original mahatmas were the Primal Matriarchs, or matrikadevis. A.G.H.
Walker, Barbara G. The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. New York, HarperCollins, 1983. p. 571