In some parts of South Asia, a maharaja was once the title of a king. Most maharajas ruled relatively small Indian states.
The word maharaja comes from two Sanskrit roots, mahānt, "great," and raja, "king." Even though the direct translation is "great king," many of the more recent maharajas had very little actual control, since it was common for them to claim the title based on supposed descent from an ancient maharaja. After India gained independence from Britain in 1947, the era of the maharajas came to an end.