The Saptarishi (from saptarṣi, a Sanskrit dvigu meaning "seven sages") are the seven rishis who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and Hindu literature. The Vedic Samhitas never enumerate these rishis by name, though later Vedic texts such as the Brahmanas and Upanisads do so. They are regarded in the Vedas as the patriarchs of the Vedic religion.
The earliest list of the Seven Rishis is given by Jaiminiya Brahmana 2.218-221: Vashista, Bharadvaja, Jamadagni, Gautama, Atri, Visvamitra, and Agastya, followed by Brihadaranyaka Upanisad 2.2.6 with a slightly different list: Gautama and Bharadvāja, Viśvāmitra and Jamadagni, Vashiṣṭha and Kaśyapa, and Atri, Brighu. The late Gopatha Brāhmana 1.2.8 has Vashiṣṭa, Viśvāmitra, Jamadagni, Gautama, Bharadvāja, Gungu, Agastya, Bhrighu and Kaśyapa.
In post-Vedic texts, different lists appear; some of these rishis were recognized as the 'mind born sons' (Sanskrit: manasa putra) of Brahma, the representation of the Supreme Being as Creator. Other representations are Mahesha or Shiva as the Destroyer and Vishnu as the Preserver. Since these seven rishis were also among the primary eight rishis, who were considered to be the ancestors of the Gotras of Brahmins, the birth of these rishis was mythicized.
In some parts of India, people believe these are seven stars of the Big Dipper named "Vashista", "Marichi", "Pulastya", "Pulaha", "Atri", "Angiras" and "Kratu". There is another star slightly visible within it, known as "Arundhati". Arundhati is the wife of vasistha.The seven Rishis in the next Manvantara will be Díptimat, Gálava, Parasurama, Kripa, Drauńi or Ashwatthama, Vyasa and Rishyasringa.
Present Sapta Rishis
Sapta Rishis are the Hierarchy working under the guidance of the Highest Creative Intelligence, Parmatma. The present batch of the Sapta Rishis is Bhrigu, Atri, Angirasa Vashista, Pulastya, Pulalaha and Kratu. They bring down to the earth the required Knowledge and Energies to strengthen the processes of Transition (Pralaya). They are naturally the most evolved Light Beings in the Creation and the guardians of the Divine Laws.
Names Of The Sapta Rishis
In post-Vedic religion, Manvantara is the astronomical time within an Kalpa (aeon), a "day(day only) of Brahma", like the present Śveta Vārāha Kalpa, where again 14 Manvantaras add up to create one Kalpa.
Each Manvantara is ruled by a specific Manu, apart from that all the deities, including Vishnu and Indra; Rishis and their sons are born anew in each new Manvantara, the Vishnu Purana mentions up to seventh Manvantara.
The names of the current Saptarshis are: Kashyapa, Atri, Vashista, Vishvamitra, Gautama Maharishi, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja. The Saptarishis keep changing for every Yuga. 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, which will last for 432,000 years(we are in 5106 year now in 2015); Dvapara Yuga is twice Kali Yuga, Treta Yuga is thrice Kali Yuga and Krita Yuga is four times Kali Yuga. Over all, 4,320,000 years termed as 1 Chaturyuga. 1000 Chaturyugas make the day of 12 hours for Brahma(Creator) and during another 12 hours, Brahma takes rest and there is no creation during this period. Thus 1 day for Brahma constitutes 1000 Chaturyugas(= 4,320,000,000 years). Thus 1 year constitutes 360 x 4,320,000,000 = 1,555,200,000,000 years; lifespan of Brahma is 100 years = 100 x 1,555,200,000,000 = 155,520,000,000,000 years
Vasishta is accompanied by his wife the faint companion star Arundhati(Alcor/80 Ursa Majoris). The valid avatar's clan will be named after Ashvamedh.
Savarni shall be the 8th Manu and this Manvantara is called Savarni Manvantara. The seven Rishis in the eighth Manvantara will be Diptimat, Gslava, Parasurama, Kripa, Drauni or Ashwatthama, Vyasa and Rishyasringa.
The ninth Manu will be Daksha-savarni and it is called Daksha-savarni Manvantara. Savana, Dyutimat, Bhavya, Vasu, Medhatithi, Jyotishman, and Satya will be the seven Rishis.
In the tenth Manwantara the Manu will be Brahma-savarni and it is called Brahma-savarni Manvantara. The seven Rishis will be Havishman, Sukriti, Satya, Apammurtti, Nabhaga, Apratimaujas and Satyaketu.
In the eleventh Manwantara the Manu will be Dharma-savarni and is called Dharma-savarni Manvantara. The seven Rishis will be Nischara, Agnitejas, Vapushman, Vishnu, Aruni, Havishman and Anagha.
In the twelfth Manwantara the son of Rudra, Savarni, will be the Manu and is called Rudra-Savarni Manvantara. Tapaswi, Sutapas, Tapomurtti, Taporati, Tapodhriti, Tapodyuti and Tapodhana will be the seven Rishis.
In the thirteenth Manwantara the Manu will be Rauchya and is called Rauchya Manvantara. The seven Rishis will be Nirmoha, Tatwadersin, Nishprakampa, Nirutsuka, Dhritimat, Avyaya and Sutapas.
In the fourteenth Manwantara, Bhautya will be the Manu and is called Bhautya Manvantara. The seven Rishis will be Agnibshu, Suchi, Aukra, Magadha, Gridhra, Yukta and Ajita.
At the end of every four ages there is a disappearance of the Vedas and it is the province of the seven Rishis to come down upon earth from heaven to give them currency again.
Saptarishis given in major Hindu texts
1. The Shatapatha Brahmana and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2.2.4) acknowledge the names of seven rishis (or Saptarshis) as:
2. Krishna Yajurveda in the Sandhya-Vandana Mantras has it as:
3. Mahabharata gives the Seven Rishis' names:
4. Brihat Samhita gives the Seven Rishis' names as:
The reason for the differences in the mentioned list is that there are seven Rishis who govern the functioning of the Cosmos in batches and all the above-mentioned Rishis have had the post of a 'Saptarishi' at some point. These Rishis had different names in different places. Saptarishis are seven Rishis and nobody else is given the title of the saptarishis. Hence, clearly they have different names. But, many rishis were known as maharishis (great sages.)
Sapatrishi in Sikhism
Sapatrishi in Jainism
In Jainism theory it is stated that, "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 Omniscient 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."
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