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WOOCS 2.1.4

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Ancient Saints of India

Hindu mythology is rich with characters portraying the righteousness who are either kings or the rishis – the saints, sages or seers. There are a number of rishis who are immortal and live throughout the ages. As per Hinduism, the ages are four with the names – Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali.  All these are called as “yugas”. Yuga means a certain period of human years that the human race will sustain.  It is believed that at the end of each yuga, the world ends and the next yuga starts afresh. Rishis or sages in Hindu mythology are deathless and they live throughout these yugas. In the Hindu Mythology, there are seven such great rishis or seers, together called as Saptarishis. These rishis are enlightened sages who appear every yuga as per the hindu mythology. Because of their yogic and spiritual power, these Saptarishis are also immortal. The live through the end of the world. The rishis in the Saptrishi network are: Bharadwaja, Vishwamitra, Vasishta, Jamadagni, Kashyapa, Atri, Gautama.  Because of the immortal status, they appear in most of the ithihasas and puranas – epics in the history of Hinduism, either in the same or in different name. There is a belief that all these seven rishis were born from the mind of Brahma, the creator of the cosmos. Brahma is the Hindu God and Hindus believe that he created this whole universe.  They live for each Manvantara, around 306,720,000 human years. Manvantara is also a period of duration given for one Brahma called as Manu. Their role is to spread and govern the laws of civilization as laid down by Manu. Manu is similar to Brahma, who is believed to manage this cosmos for his life span. For each Manvantara, new set of Saptarishis are appointed according to the Hindu belief. Some of them may repeat from the previous Manvantara. The term “Saptarishi” also refer to the seven sages representing seven stars of Great Bear constallation – Ursa Major.  The concept of Saptarishis also appear in Jainism called as seven Digamber sages.  Among the Hindu gods and goddesses, Saptarishis are at the higher level than any other saints. They are also called as progenitors of the human race.  It is also believed that all these Saptharishis revolve around the pole star called as Dhruva in the Hindu mythology.

Saptrishis are other called as the council for governing the whole creation of this universe.

  • Bharadwaja – The sage who united with God Sun. He belong to the family who contributed the 6th mandala in Rg Veda – one of the four vedas. He is believed to be the author of Ayurveda with the power of meditation. He is the son of Brhaspati, who is the advisor of “Guru” of all the Gods in Hinduism.  His son Dronacharya was the master of all the weapons and the teacher of Kauravas and Pandavas who lived in ancient India at the time of Lord Krishna. It is in the famous and historic epic of India called “Mahabharatha”
  • Vishwamitra – He was a king of ancient times, who had to fight with sage Vasishta. Vasishta denied the king’s request to get a cow that yields everything in this world. Vasishta defeats the king with the spiritual powers and later Vishwamitra undertakes strong penance and austerities to please lord Shiva. Pleased Shiva bestows the king with the celestial powers. Though both fight again with their powers, Vasishta wins and Vishwamitra renounces the kingdom and goes with the spiritual quest to become a greater sage than Vasishta.
  • Jamadagni – father of Parashurama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The sage had 5 sons and 5th was Parashurama. There is a famous story of this sage – his wife wished to have a younger husband.  Knowing this through the spiritual powers, the sage wanted her to be killed by the sons. None of them, except Parashurama obeyed the order to kill his mother. Pleased with this obedience, the sage wanted Parashurama to ask for a boon in which Parashurama asked his mother back.
  • Vasishta – Contributor in several hymns in rigveda, and also is one of the saptarishis of this age. He is the advisor of the Solar Dynasty. Regarded as the son of Lord Rama, the incarnation of Vishnu, he formulated Vasishta Samhita, an exposition on electional astrology.  The famous writing called “Yoga Vasishtam” is the conversation between sage Vasishta and Lord Rama. He describes about the mind, its control, etc. in this writing.
  • Kashyapa – the sage who was sent to save the life of king Parikshith, grandson of Arjuna, the warrior in of the Mahabharata war.  Parikshith was about to be killed by the serpent king Takshaka and this sage saves the king from Takshaka.
  • Atri – Sage Atri is said to be the found of the sacred thread worn by the Brahmins. It is said that Sage Atri influenced Dronacharaya – the military head of Kauravas in the epic Mahabharata and the teacher of both Kauravas and Pandavas – to put the weapon down because Dronacharya was killing the soldiers in the opposite side against the law of war.
  • Gautama – one of the saptarishis of this Manvantara.  He has formulated Gautama Dharma Sutra. It is said that he saved a village by brining water with the help of Lord Shiva. He is the successor of Angiras – one of the Saptrishis of previous Manvantara. It is believed that is the writer of the law in the beginning. He formulated the book of law – it is called as Manu Smriti in Hindu mythology. Smriti means that what prevails in the current age.  Al the rules and regulations in Hinduism is followed as per the sayings in Manu Smriti.



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