RAJA, the Hindu title for a chief, or prince, derived from the same root as the Latin rex. Other forms are rao, rana and rawal, while chiefs of high rank are styled maharaja, maharao and maharana. The Hindustani form is rai, and the title of the Hindu emperor of Vijayanagar in S. India was raya. It is not confined to the rulers of native states, being conferred by the British government on Hindu subjects, sometimes as an hereditary distinction. In the form of rao it appears as a suffix to the names of most Mahrattas, and to the names of Kanarese Brahmans.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)