Sanskritमहर्षि "IAST|maharṣi", from महा "mahā" "great" + ऋषि "IAST|ṛṣi" "seer"; also anglicized "Maharishi", see below; compare महाराज " mahārāja" vs. राज " rāja") may refer to any number of individuals who have had the title added to their names, such as Shri Ramana Maharshi, an Advaita Vedantasage of South India, or Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation.
The word is a compound of two words: "mahā" or "
maha", meaning great either in quantity or quality, and "IAST|ṛṣi" or " rishi", meaning a seer or one with awareness.
Corresponding to its two spellings, the word may be pronounced in two different ways: “Ma-har-shi” or “Ma-ha-ri-shi”. The first pronunciation follows
Sanskritrules of sound combination (" sandhi") and is generally used by experienced speakers of Sanskrit. The second pronunciation (referred to as "broken sandhi") is often used by beginners to the language but is still considered correct by experienced speakers. The spelling "Maharishi" is notably used by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Within India, the term is technically a title, not a name, yet it is often used as a term of address.
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