is Sanskrit for "Great Souls." While the term is popularly applied to people like Mohandas Gandhi
, the term is widely used to refer to adepts or liberated souls. The word was popularized in theosophical literature in the late 19th century when Madame Helena P. Blavatsky
, one of the founders of the Theosophical Society, revealed that her teachers were adepts or Mahatmas who reside in Tibet. They were personages who were highly developed spiritually, and who had acquired supernormal powers. The Mahatmas were not disembodied beings, but people with flesh and blood, and who are involved in overseeing the growth of individuals and the development of civilizations.