The word Mahārāja is Sanskrit for "great king" or "high king". Many languages have borrowed the word 'Maharaja', these languages include Punjabi, Bengali, Hindi and Gujarati. Its use is mainly for important rulers. A female ruler is known as Maharani (or Mahārāni) which means great queen. She can be the wife of a Maharaja or a ruler herself.
British India contained more than 600 princely states each with its own ruler. Some states called the ruler Thakur (if the ruler were Hindu) or Nawab (if he was Muslim); there were many other titles as well. Many Muslim rulers also had the title of Raja, one of the most famous being the Raja of Rajouri who was a Muslim raja. Originally only rulers of large empires such as the ancient Maurya Empire and Gupta Empire were Maharajas but in later centuries even rulers of small kingdoms used the title. In 1971, the government of Indira Gandhi abolished the titles and money for all Indian rulers. However some people still claim such titles.