Saptarishi are the seven greatest sages of the Vedic realm and are the seven mind-born sons of Brahma who serve as his representatives. It is believed that they have attained a semi-immortal status i.e. an exceedingly long lifespan due to their yogic power and their penance. They are to be present through the four great ages, to guide the human race by working closely with Lord Shiva to maintain the balance on Earth and guide humanity so the stars of the Big Dipper or Ursa Major that has guided sailors and travelers for years has been named after the them.
All the Saptarishi are Brahmarishis which means they have completely understood the meaning of Brahman ( the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe). This means that they are so powerful that they are capable of defeating every weapon on earth, are greater even than the devtas in power and piety. Therefore, they are the highest in rank over Devatas and other classifications of Rishis and can – according to Vedic literature – enter the realms of the gods and demons. They can forecast the future, and are not influenced by the circle of life and death. They will live for a period equal to seventy-one mahāyugas or 306,720,000 years, after which the universe gets destroyed and Saptarishi merge in God and new Saptarishis will come up, nothing else can destroy them.
Many different lists of the names of the seven sages are given. Probably this differs from age to age because they keep replacing one another, but most lists include Vishvamitra, Vasishta, Atri, Gautama, Bharadwaja, Kashyapa, Agastya and Jamadagni.
What’s more is that even our ancestral lineage, Gotras (a lineage or clan assigned to a Hindu at birth), relates directly to the Saptarishi. In most cases, the system is paternal and the Gotra assigned is that of the person’s father.
Therefore, the Saptarishis are the 7 immortal human forms that will live through the numerous Manavataras that the Great Ages of this Earth Cycle will see. These seven great sages are supposed to uplift the human kind to their best of capabilities and enlighten the planet in its entirety.
About the Present Saptrishis
Sage Bharadwaja is a descendant of sage Angirasa and son of Devarsi Brihaspati. He is the Author of Ayurveda and the father of Guru Dronacharya, Devavarnini and Ganga. The sage was a master of advanced military arts, including the Devastras. He had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of Vedas and in addition meditated for Indra, Lord Shiva and Parvathi for more Vedic Knowledge.
The husband of Arundathi, Rishi Vasishtha is one of the oldest and most revered Vedic rishis. He is credited with the 7th Mandala of Rigveda, the Vasisht Samhita (a treatise on electional astrology), Yoga Vashishtha, and the Agni Puran. He was the family priest of the Raghu dynasty and the teacher of Rama. He os also known as the first sage of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy by Adi Shankara.
Vishwamitra rose to the position of a Brahmarishi through his own merit alone, despite how difficult it was (the status was awarded only to Brahmanas). Born as a Kshatriya. Having fought, lost and then pardoned by the Sage Vashishta, it made a deep impression on the King. He realized that the power obtained by penances was greater than mere physical might. He renounced his kingdom and began his quest to become a greater sage than Vasishta and took on the name Vishwamitra. He wrote the Gayatri Mantra and most of the Mandala 3 of Rig Veda.
Gautama Rishi belongs to the lineage of Angiras who married Ahalya, the daughter of Brahma. He authored the Gautama Dharma Sutra and some of the Rig Vedic & Sama Vedic mantras and Suktas. He is said to be a person without ego, but he curses his wife and Indra for infidelity.
Sage Atri is one among the Sages who propounded the sacred thread (Poonal) and his wife Anusuya is an embodiment of chastity. He is considered to be one of the great discoverers of sacred mantras for creating hymns dedicated to Lord Agni, Lord Indra and other Vedic deities in Hinduism. Atri Samhita and Atri Smriti are two works of the great sage. Anasuya gave birth to Lord Dattatreya as an avatar of Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
Kashyapa is the son of Rishi Marichi and grandson of Brahma. He was the father of Devas, Asuras, Nagas, garudas, Vamana, Agni, Adityas, Daityas, Aryaman, Mitra, Pusan, Varuna, and all Humanity and is the progenitor, Prajapati. He was an author of Kashyapa Samhitha which is a classical reference book in the field of Ayurvedic Paediatrics, Gynecology, and Obstetrics. He is the most ancient rishi listed in the colophon verse in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and is credited as the self-made scholar of the Atharvaveda.
Jamadagni is the father of Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu and the descendant of sage Bhrigu one of the Prajapatis created by Brahma, he himself was the incarnation on Shiva. He was well versed in the art of weaponry and scriptures without any formal education. He once became annoyed with the sun because of too much heatsp he shot several arrows into the sky, terrifying Surya, who appeared before the rishi as a Brahmin and gave him two inventions that helped mankind deal with his heat – sandals and an umbrella.