June 16, 2024

Rishi is a Vedic term which means, ‘a person who is enlightened and accomplished’. Vedic hymns have been composed by the Rishis. Rishis are considered to be great Sages or Sadhus in the post-Vedic tradition of Hinduism. Rishis practiced extreme Tapas (meditation) to realize eternal knowledge and supreme truth, which was composed in the Vedic hymns by them. The females called Rishikas, have also contributed to the Vedic scriptures composition.

The word Rishi may have been obtained from 2 different meanings with one being the root ‘rsh’ and the other meaning, ‘to move, to go, to move nearby, to flow, flowing’. The word Rishi is explained as someone who uses spiritual knowledge to reach beyond this mundane world.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Jaiminiya Brahmana verses contain some of the earliest lists of Rishi. As per the Jaiminiya Brahmana, the list of earliest Seven Rishis is Gautam, Agastya, Jamadagni, Bhardwaja, Vashishtha, Atri and Vishvamitra. As per the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad the Rishis include Bhardvaja and Gautama, Jamadagni and Shandilya, Kashyapa and Vashishta, Bhrigu and Atri.

Rishis are regards as Saints or Sages in the Post-Vedic tradition which constitute a specific class of divine human beings. Rishis are described as ‘seers of thought’ by Swami Vivekananda.

Rishi is a male given name and a Brahmin last name, less commonly. Rishi is described in Carnatic music as the 7th chakra of Melakarta ragas. Chakra names are based on numbers that are assocated with each name. The seventh chakra is ‘Rishi’, as there are 7 rishis, in this case. Descendant families of the Rishis refer to lineage of their ancestors through their family ‘gotra’. The ‘gotra’ concept is followed in the Hindu society, by the Brahmins.