Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 4 - Chapter 1 - Verse 12


बह्वेवमुद्विग्नद‍ृशोच्यमानेजनेन दक्षस्य मुहुर्महात्मन: ।उत्पेतुरुत्पाततमा: सहस्रशोभयावहा दिवि भूमौ च पर्यक् ॥ १२ ॥


bahv evam udvigna-dṛśocyamānejanena dakṣasya muhur mahātmanaḥutpetur utpātatamāḥ sahasraśobhayāvahā divi bhūmau ca paryak


While all the people talked amongst themselves, Dakṣa saw dangerous omens from all sides, from the earth and from the sky.


In this verse Dakṣa has been described as mahātmā. The word mahātmā has been commented upon by different commentators in various manners. Vīrarāghava Ācārya has indicated that this word mahātmā means “steady in heart.” That is to say that Dakṣa was so stronghearted that even when his beloved daughter was prepared to lay down her life, he was steady and unshaken. But in spite of his being so stronghearted, he was perturbed when he saw the various disturbances created by the gigantic black demon. Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura remarks in this connection that even if one is called mahātmā, a great soul, unless he exhibits the symptoms of a mahātmā, he should be considered a durātmā, or a degraded soul. In Bhagavad-gītā (9.13) the word mahātmā describes the pure devotee of the Lord: mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ. A mahātmā is always under the guidance of the internal energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus how could such a misbehaved person as Dakṣa be a mahātmā? A mahātmā is supposed to have all the good qualities of the demigods, and thus Dakṣa, lacking those qualities, could not be called a mahātmā; he should instead be called durātmā, a degraded soul. The word mahātmā to describe the qualifications of Dakṣa is used sarcastically.