Saptarishis The Seven Rishis The First Disciples of Shiva

Saptarishis The Seven Rishis The First Disciples of Shiva

Rishi, Rishis, Saptarishis

According to Sadhguru, seven individuals, later known as the Saptarishis, were drawn to Shiva and became his first disciples. Rishis, as Sadhguru might say, were beings who touched a dimension of life that is not in perception for the average person. They had transcended the limitations of body and mind to experience existence in its full depth and dimension. This deep experiential insight allowed them to ‘see’ life in ways that others cannot.

In the ancient Vedic tradition of India, a Rishi is considered a seer or sage who has attained a high level of insight, wisdom, and spiritual enlightenment. “Rishi” comes from the Sanskrit root ‘rsh,’ which means “to see.” Thus, Rishis are often referred to as “seers” because they are believed to have ‘seen’ the eternal truths of existence and can see beyond the ordinary perception of reality.

Rishis are not just religious figures or priests but are revered as philosophers, researchers, and teachers of spiritual wisdom. They are known for their austerity, purity, knowledge, and realization of the self. They are also considered the original authors of the Hindu scriptures, especially the hymns of the Rigveda, who received the divine revelations or ‘shrutis.’ These revelations were often manifested as mantras or verses that the Rishis said to have ‘heard’ during deep meditation.

A Rishi is believed to have attained a state of consciousness where they can access the underlying unifying truth of the universe. This understanding allowed them to guide society in both spiritual and worldly matters.

As enlightened sages, Rishis provided spiritual guidance to society. Their teachings and practices helped guide individuals toward self-realization and enlightenment. Their lives exemplified ideals of asceticism, purity, and devotion to spiritual wisdom. The Rishis played a critical role in interpreting and promoting Dharma – the moral and ethical duties and responsibilities one must follow for a righteous life. They acted as moral and ethical guides for society, helping to maintain social order and harmony.

The Rishis established or influenced many cultural norms, rituals, and traditions in Hindu society. Various rituals, from birth to death, were codified by them. They also created systems of social governance, education, and other aspects of ancient Indian society. Rishis propagated various yoga and meditation techniques, providing a path for spiritual growth and realization.

Apart from spiritual knowledge, the Rishis contributed to various fields of study like mathematics, astronomy, medicine (Ayurveda), music, and more. They’re often portrayed as the ideal combination of a scholar, philosopher, and spiritual practitioner.

The Saptarishis

The Saptarishis (Sanskrit: सप्तर्षि, “seven sages”) are the seven great rishis in ancient India. Saptarishis are seen in various Hindu scriptures, including the Rigveda, the Shatapatha Brahmana, and the Mahabharata. The Saptarishis are the guardians of the divine laws and are considered present in every age (Yuga) to guide the human race. They are often represented as a constellation (the Big Dipper or Ursa Major), and their role is to maintain the laws of the universe and humanity’s moral and spiritual guidance.

The Vedic Samhitas never enumerate these rishis by name, though later Vedic texts such as the Brahmanas and Upanisads do so. The names of the Saptarishis vary across texts and Manvantaras (a unit of time in Hindu cosmology). For the current Manvantara (Vaivasvata Manvantara), they are most commonly mentioned as:

Kashyapa: Known as the father of many beings, including gods, demons, and animals. Kashyapa’s wife, Aditi, gave birth to the Adityas, or the Vedic gods.

Atri: Known for his austerity, Atri is considered the author of many hymns in the Rigveda. Anasuya, Atri’s wife, is revered as a model of devotion to her husband.

Vasistha: He was a family priest (Kulguru) of the Solar Dynasty, including Lord Rama. Vasistha is attributed as the author of several hymns in the Rigveda.

Vishvamitra: Initially a king, Vishvamitra became a sage after a series of conflicts with sage Vasistha. He is also considered the author of many hymns in the Rigveda.

Gautama: Gautama Maharishi is reputed to have formulated the Nyaya school of Hindu philosophy. He is the author of several hymns in the Rigveda and is said to have discovered the mantra of Ganapati (Ganesha).

Jamadagni: He was the father of Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Jamadagni was known for his temper and master of weaponry without equality.

Bharadvaja: He is one of the revered Vedic sages in Hindu tradition and a renowned scholar of Ayurveda.

The First Diciples of Shiva

According to Sadhguru, over 15,000 years ago, Shiva reached a state of transcendence and became utterly still. Seeing this, seven individuals, later known as the Saptarishis, were drawn to him and became his first disciples, as we mentioned above.

Shiva and The Saptarishis

In Sadhguru’s words, the Saptarishis approached Shiva with the utmost longing for knowledge. Seeing their deep yearning, Shiva gave them yogic teachings, thus transforming them into the first yogis apart from himself. Shiva opened up the possibility for human beings to evolve beyond their physical nature and attain their ultimate nature, often referred to as self-realization or enlightenment.

These seven disciples were imbued with this profound knowledge and sent in different directions to spread it worldwide. Thus, the Saptarishis are perceived as the lineage holders of the yogic tradition, spreading it far and wide to ensure the spiritual well-being of humanity.

Sadhguru also discusses the unique connection each of the Saptarishis had with different aspects of life. According to Him, each Rishi brought a different approach and dimension to the process of inner transformation. The Guru-Shishya (Teacher-Student) tradition originated with Shiva (the Adi Guru) and the Saptarishis (the first disciples).

In another legend, the Saptarishis are considered the mind-born sons of Brahma, the creator god in Hindu mythology. However, they could not complete their task of creation due to an overwhelming sense of detachment and dispassion. Recognizing their dilemma, Brahma advised them to pay homage to Shiva. The Saptarishis, heeding Brahma’s advice, performed severe penance and pleased Shiva with their devotion. Shiva then granted them the grace to maintain their sense of detachment yet proceed with their creation task.

The Saptarishis are considered the bearers of the divine wisdom of Shiva, encoded in the form of Vedas and other spiritual texts. They are entrusted with preserving these texts and disseminating their knowledge to humankind. The Saptarishis are vital links in the transmission of yogic sciences and the profound wisdom from Shiva, ensuring that these spiritual tools are available for all of humanity to strive towards its ultimate potential.