Mahatma has involved himself with Byzantium's history for as long as any Cainite can remember, perhaps even before the arrival of Theusa, the city's true founder. From within his haven, Mahatma directed the city's growth, and considered himself Byzantium's shepherd. He drew the greatest artists and architects from across the known world to build Byzantium, a jewel on the road to the east. He regretted his earlier depredations (or perhaps feared losing his sanity to wassail) and wanted to regain some of the beauty he had lost. It was ever a difficult task, as the city changed hands between the Spartans and Athenians many times, and each occurrence led to the city's near destruction.
Emperor Constantine brought a definite end to the effort. His forces razed Byzantium to the ground, enslaved the surviving population and declared himself ruler. Mahatma himself nearly fell into torpor from grievous wounds inflicted in a battle with Roman Cainites. Three methuselahs accompanied the invaders: the Toreador Michael, an ancient creature recently converted to Christianity, the Ventrue Antonius, an empire builder who sought a way to supplant the Romans, and the Dracon, a mysterious Tzimisce who sought to reshape the world in his own image.
Rather than face this formidable trio directly, Mahatma left to gather strength and knowledge with which to combat them. He traveled the limits of the known world and beyond, seeking pawns for his personal crusade. He sent Cainite and mortal alike to raid his beloved city without thought for their survival. Any whom he could not manipulate, he destroyed. When the Beast raged against the core of his sanity, Mahatma met the one who would change the course of his unlife forever. He found this Cainite at the heart of some city along the Mediterranean, which one he does not recall. The mysterious vampire challenged his assumptions with maddening riddles for which Mahatma could see no solution and games for which he saw no purpose. Yet, he could see that he faced a being of power who could perhaps break the Romans' hold over his city.
Mahatma tried every possible trick to convince this Cainite to aid him in his quest, but nothing worked. When he tired of these games, he found he could not move to strike down the creature. He realized then that no force at his command could move this being, and he offered to learn from the mysterious vampire instead. The Cainite opened a third eye and introduced himself as the prophet Saulot.
Saulot guided Mahatma on the path to Golconda for several decades, and Mahatma grew to rely upon the Antediluvian's tutelage. He found the hope Saulot offered to be a flash of light within the darkness his unlife had become. On the night that Saulot disappeared without warning, Mahatma fell into a frenzy that ravaged an entire village. When Mahatma returned to his senses and saw how far he had fallen from Saulot’s teachings in only a few short hours, he sank into the earth. He lay there for many nights and heard the mourning and outrage when other mortals found the destruction he had wrought. He thought he could hear Saulot's thoughts nearby, but they were elusive and he was unsure. Slowly, gripped by ennui and self-loathing, he slipped into torpor.
Mahatma dreamed of Tremere's crime of Amaranth and the Triumvirate's eventual fall – Antonius' destruction, the Dracon's departure and Michael's descent into delusion. Upon awakening, Mahatma returned to his beloved Byzantium, only to find it devastated by Crusaders and barbarians, most of its beauty stolen or destroyed. He saw the outcome of his earlier manipulations and nearly returned to torpor.
As Mahatma again returned to the earth's embrace, however, he heard Saulot's voice in his dreams. Each night, the voice grew louder and more insistent, and finally it drove him from the earth. Saulot instructed him to return to the path, to regain what he had lost when Saulot left him. Mahatma tries to reach Golconda, but he has yet to near that goal. He believes he is close now, closer than ever before. Saulot's voice has long since left him, but he believes he is strong enough to continue on his own.
Now, Mahatma observes the Cainites of Istanbul and watches for ones whom he deems worthy of redemption. He has found only one such being: Justinian of the Nosferatu. Mahatma communicates his intentions to Justinian through dreams and visions. He uses his power to protect the Nosferatu from the ravages of the Jyhad so that this protégé might find the way to Golconda — and perhaps show Mahatma what has eluded him all these centuries. The Inconnu finds his patience slipping, however; he may kill Justinian and seek another pupil.
Mahatma does not hesitate to destroy any unwelcome additions to the city's population, although he never does so directly. He has networks of spies and contacts among the mortal population who do this work for him. He does not want to see the Inquisition follow indiscreet Cainites into his city.
Now, Mahatma observes and rarely interferes. He quietly supports the Ventrue Prince Mustafa through his advisor, the Toreador Nakshidil. Specifically, he has Justinian watch her. Mahatma tutors Justinian through dreams and visions in the ways of the Inconnu and hopes eventually to reveal more to him. Justinian's duties also include watching for those who truly seek Golconda and bringing them to Mahatma's attention. It should be noted that the Inconnu often poses as Justinian's sire.
- According to "Constantinople by Night", his childe incapacitated Byzar before A.D.196. According to "Clan Novel: Cappadocian", Marcus Musa Giovanni found his torpid body after A.D. 1204 (and left him in place). So, a large part of Mahatma's backstory does not match up with Byzar's.
The Black Hand: A Guide to the Tal'Mahe'Ra reveals that Mahatma has worked in tandem with Lazarus and Japheth under the identity of the Capuchin. His effort is to keep the Inconnu in line so that they do not interfere with his plans and the plans of his broodmates.
Appearance and Personality
Mahatma never shows his true appearance to others. He often appears as a young mortal man of great beauty, a physically perfect specimen of manhood, almost akin to Michelangelo's David come to life. He has alabaster skin and long black hair, which falls straight down his back. When he shows this face, Mahatma prefers to follow mortal fashion trends. When he feels penitent, he shows the face of a particularly hideous Nosferatu, acrawl with lice, ticks, and other unsavory creatures, and dressed in the stinking rags of a leper.
He conceals himself from the Kindred and their constant questions. He does not have the time to deal with curiosity seekers who lack commitment. When he does find individuals who are worthy of salvation, he sends Justinian to contact them before he makes any final determination regarding their fate. Kindred who do not measure up are destroyed. He loves to spend time in Istanbul's Kumkapı district nightclubs in an attempt to connect with mortals. Even so, he is frustrated by the weight of centuries that separates him from them. When he desires isolation, he visits the Topkapi Museum and Castle, which encompasses Byzantium's original boundaries. One night each week, the castle is closed to the public so that he alone may enjoy its splendor and the memories it brings him.