The word Mah?r?ja (also spelled maharajah) is Sanskrit for "great king" or "high king" (a karmadharaya from mah?nt "great" and r?jan "king"; due to the distinct Indoeuropean origin of the two words, the Latin cognates are very similar: "magnus rex"). Due to Sanskrit's major influence on the vocabulary of most languages in India, the term 'maharaja' is common to many modern languages, such as Bengali, Hindi, Gujrati, etc. Its use is primarily for Hindu potentates (ruler or sovereign). The female equivalent title Maharani (or Maharanee) denotes either the wife of a Mah?r?ja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The term Maharaj denotes separate noble and religious offices, although the fact that in Hindi the suffix 'a' in Maharaja is silent makes the two titles near homophones.
Maharaja as a ruler's title
On the eve of independence in 1947, India (including present day Pakistan) contained more than 600 princely states (see tha