Gandhi, during his travel across India, first met Gopal Krishna Gokhale, whom he considered as one of his political mentors. In Calcutta he wanted to meet Rabindranath Tagore the poet, but he was not there in Shanti Niketan, the famous center of culture and learning that Tagore founded, but the poet was not in station.
But Gandhi stayed in Shanti Niketan for a week, acquainting himself with the life style the poet had evolved for the inmates and Gandhi was highly impressed by the cultural atmosphere prevailing there.
From Calcutta, he proceeded to Rangoon in Burma and on his return, visited Shanti Niketan again. Rabindranath Tagore was there and it was the first meeting of the two great souls of modern India, both of whom had the same goal in life though their paths differed vastly.
It was Tagore who addressed Gandhi for the first time as ‘Mahatma’ which meant ‘Great Soul’ and the honorific prefix ‘Mahatma’ which was to become famous all over the world as his (more popular) surname.
Gandhi continued his journey across India, through Haridwar in the north and Bangalore and Madras in the south, among other places.