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A mahant (/məˈhʌnt/) is a religious superior, in particular the chief priest of a temple or the head of a monastery in Indian religions.[1]


The Hindi word mahant comes from Prakrit mahanta-, Sanskrit mahat (accusative case: mahantam) meaning "great".[2]


Other titles for the word mahant, serving in the context of a well known religious place, include priest or pundit—generally always being a gyani or pastor.

In other branches of Hinduism, the mahant is an ascetic who is the head and leader of the temple and has religious responsibilities as a preacher.[3]


In Sikh history, the mahants were the hereditary managers who controlled and held the door keys of Sikh gurdwaras. After the creation of the SGPC and the Nankana massacre involving Mahant Narayan Das, a law was passed handing over gurdwaras to reformer Sikhs.[4]


  1. ^ New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed., 2005), p. 1020.
  2. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary, p. 1361.
  3. ^ Raymond Brady Williams (2001). An Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. pp. 239. ISBN 052165422X.
  4. ^ Mahant Archived 2009-02-23 at the Wayback Machine

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