Saptrishi (Ursa Major and Pleiades)

In Indian mythology, the seven central stars of Ursa Major that form the cup shape, is refered to as Saptarshi meaning seven (sapta) sages (rishis). These are Vasistha, Bharadvaja, Jamadagni, Gautama, Atri, Visvamitra and Agastya. These seven Rishis are often mentioned in the later works as typical representatives of the character and spirit of the pre-historic or mythical period.

However, Agni developed a desire for the wives and wanted to seduce them. On the other hand a minor goddess or a nymph (depending on who you ask) wanted to marry Agni. She therefore took the form of six of the seven wives of the Saptarshi’s and mated with Agni. However, the Saptarshi’s themselves uncertain about the chastity of their wives, divorced them and they went on to become the Kritika or Pleiades. Only one wife Arundhati of Vasishta remained loyal to her husband that is the binary in Ursa Major. In other variations, Kritika or Pleiades are seven in number and not related to Saptarshi at all. They are the mothers of Kartikeya who is sometimes mentioned as one of the two sons of Shiva but there are other suggestions including Kartikeya being the son born of Agni and and Swaha who brought up the five daughters and hence together they were called Kritikas.

The Saptarishis are the seven holy sages, who are regarded in the Vedas as the founders of the Vedic religion. Some of these rishis were recognized as manasputra, the ‘mind-born sons’ of Lord Brahma, and work closely with Adiyogi or Lord Shiva. They are naturally the most evolved ‘light beings’ in the creation, and the guardians of the divine laws.

The Saptarishis are situated on sapta-rishi loka, the seven stars of the Bear constellation, named Marichi, Vasishta, Anghirasa, Atari, Pulasthya, Pulaha and Krathu.

As per Hindu Shastras, there are four yugas: Krita Yuga/Sat Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. We are at present in the Kali Yuga. The Saptarishis keep changing for every Yuga. The names of the current Saptarshis are: KashyapaAtriVasishthaVishvamitraGautama MaharishiJamadagni and Bharadvaja.

Kashyapa – Kashyapa is the son of Marichi and grandson of Brahma. He was the author of Kashyapa Samhitha, which is a classical reference book in the field of Ayurvedic Paediatrics, Gynecology, and Obstetrics. Kashmir, the northern Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent got its name from Kashyapa Rishi.

Atri – Atri is the one most mentioned in the scripture Rigveda.

He is the seer of the fifth Mandala of the Rigveda, which comprises hymns, mainly to Agni and Indra . Atri was married to Anasuya Devi. They had three sons, DattatreyaDurvasas and Soma. In the Ramayana, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana visit Atri and Anasuya in their hermitage.

Vasishtha – Vasishtha is credited as the chief author of Mandala 7 of Rigveda. He was married to Arundhati, and therefore he was also called Arundhati Nath, meaning the husband of Arundhati. Vasishtha is believed to have lived on the banks of Ganga in modern-day Uttarakhand. The texts Agni Purana and Vishnu Purana are attributed to Vasishtha.

Vishvamitra – Before he rose to the rank of a Brahmarishi, Vishvamitra was known as King Kaushika. After he was defeated in a war by Sage Vasishtha, Vishwamitra renounced his kingdom and began his quest to become a greater rishi than Vasishtha. Usually, one cannot rise to the level of a Brahmarishi through merit alone. However, after performing meditation and austerities for thousands of years, he was awarded the rank of Brahmarishi from Bramha himself. The word Vishwamitra means friend of the world. Vishvamitra is said to have found Gayatri Mantra, a highly revered mantra from the RigVeda, dedicated to Savitr, the sun deity

Gautama Maharishi – Gautama belongs to the lineage of Vedic Rishi Anghirasa, and is credited with authoring many hymns in Mandala 1 of Rig Veda. The river Godavari is said to be named after Gotama. He was married to Ahalya, one of the daughters of Lord Brahma. According to the scriptures, Gautama cursed Ahalya for her infidelity after being seduced by Indra, and later she was liberated from the curse by Rama. Gautama also saved many people from drought by pleasing Lord Varuna with his meditation.

Jamadagni – A descendant of Sage Bhrigu, Jamadagni literally meaning consuming fire, was born to sage Richika and Satyavat. He was well versed in the scriptures and weaponry without formal instruction, and is the father of Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu. After knowing from his yogic powers, that his wife Renuka was filled with desire upon seeing a group of Gandharvas, Jamadagni asks Parashurama to kill his mother, which he did. Pleased, Then, upon receiving boons from Jamadagni, Parashurama asked that his mother’s head be restored to life. In Buddhist scriptures, the Buddha pays respect to Jamadagni by declaring that the Vedas in their true form were revealed to the original Vedic rishis, including Jamadagni.

Bharadvaja Rishi – Bharadvaja was a renowned scholar, economist and an eminent physician. Father of warrior Brahmin Droṇācārya, He and his family of students are considered the authors of the sixth book of the Rigveda. Bharadvaja’s theories on medicine and causal phenomenon is described in Ayurvedic treatise Charaka Samhita.Several treatises like Dhanur-veda, Bharadvaja samhita and Niti sastra are attributed to him.

They live for a period of time known as a manvantara, (306,720,000 Earth Years). The Immortal Saptarishis continue to live through the cycle of Creation and Destruction of the Universe, and work to uplift the human kind and enlighten the planet to its full potential. At the end of a manvantara, the universe gets destroyed, and Saptarishis merge in God. The task of filling the earth is then given to new appointed Saptarishis.

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