Saptarishi, Part Two

BY: SUN STAFF

Saptarishi


Aug 27, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — A study of the famous Rishis and Munis of Vedic literature.


Current Sapta Rishis

As noted in our last segment, the present age is considered to be the seventh Manvantara, under the guidance of Vaivasvata Manu. The names of the current Saptarshis, or Seven Great Sages for this Manvantara are: Kashyapa, Atri, Vashista, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja. These personalities change for every Yuga.

There are various different lists naming the Saptarishi, and the reason for this is simply the rolling cycles of the great ages. The Seven Great Rishis, or Maharishis, govern the functioning of the Cosmos across the ages, and all those named in the groups below have held the post of Saptarishi at some point. The Rishis have different names in different times and places, like so many of the divine incarnations.

The following list of names of the Saptarishis are given in both the Shatapatha Brahmana and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2.2.4):

    Atri
    Bharadvaja
    Gautama
    Jamadagni
    Kashyapa
    Vashista
    Vishwamitra

In the Krishna Yajurveda, the Sandhya-vandana mantra gives this list:

    Angiras
    Atri
    Bhrigu
    Gautama
    Kashyapa
    Kutsa
    Vashista

And in the Mahabharata, the following Seven Rishis are named:

    Atri
    Kashyapa
    Kratu
    Marichi
    Pulaha
    Pulastya
    Vashista

Brihat Samhita gives the Seven Rishis names as follows:

    Angiras
    Atri
    Kratu
    Marichi
    Pulastya
    Pulaha
    Vashista

The Saptarishis are likewise mentioned in both the Sikh and Jain scriptures, these seven are named as Saptarishis, avatars of Lord Brahma:

    Baches
    Kalidas
    Kashyap
    Khat
    Sukra
    Valmiki
    Vyas

In Jain literature, which seems to be closely modeled after Vaisnavism in many ways, the following narrative is given:

    "Once at Mathura situated in Uttar Pradesh Seven Riddhidhari Digamber saints having 'Aakaashgamini Vidhya' came during rainy season for chaturmaas whose names were 1.) Surmanyu, 2.) Shrimanyu, 3.) Shrinichay, 4.) Sarvasundar, 5.) Jayvaan, 6.) Vinaylaalas and 7.) Jaymitra. They all were sons of King Shri Nandan of Prabhapurnagar and queen Dharini. Shri Nandan king took diksha becoming shishya of Omniscent Pritinkar Muniraaj and attained salvation. Because of great tapcharan of these seven digamber munis the 'Mahamaari' disease stopped its evil effect and they all gained the name as 'Saptrishi'. Many idols of these seven munis were made after that event by 'King Shatrughan' in all four directions of city."

Having already discussed one of the Saptarishi, Angiras (Angira Rishi), we will proceed with a brief survey of the remaining six Great Rishis.


Sources:

Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya Lila 20:246
Account of the Several Manus and Manwantaras Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson (1840)
Inhabitants of the Worlds
Pareekshaa by Arjika Gyaanmati Mataji
Wiki


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