Sapta Rishis are seven ancient sages, who are considered as the repository of immense virtue and wisdom. They also remained as great Gurus, the preceptors, who went about imparting their wisdom selflessly for the benefit of the world. Scriptures lay down that people have to repay three debts during their lifetime and these are the debts — to Gods, to ancestors, and to the sages. Guru Purnima, the full Moon day falling in the month of Ashada (July—August), is perhaps the right day for showing such respects to these Gurus and pay back some of our debts.
Here, let us get to know something about the greatness of these seven sages.
Bhrigu — He is the sage who is hailed as the father of Vedic astrology. He compiled the famous work on predictive astrology, and that creation itself goes by the name Bhrigu Samhita. Legends hold that none other than Goddess Mahalakshmi herself was born to him as his daughter as per his wishes. Also, his son Shukra, the Venus, rose to the position of a powerful planetary lord, well celebrated and worshipped.
Vasishta — He is one of the renowned sages, very well known as the Guru of Lord Rama and the kings of the reputed solar dynasty. He is a Brahma Rishi, who occupied an exalted status among the sages. He authored Vasishta Samhita, the book on electional astrology, which helps to find out the most auspicious time for an event. Nandini was the daughter of Kamadhenu, the wish-fulfilling divine cow and she remained as one the prized possessions of the sage.
Jamadagni — He is well-known as the father of Parashurama, the highly aggressive incarnation of Lord Vishnu, regarded as the sixth of his ten great Avatars. This great sage who shared his vast knowledge and wisdom with the world is also considered as a descendant of Bhrigu Rishi.
Vishvamitra — He was initially a warrior king. His intense rivalry with Vasishta made him renounce his throne, undertake a severe penance, become a sage and rise ultimately to the level of a Brahma Rishi. According to epic Ramayana, it was he who was instrumental in the union of Lord Rama and mother Sita, in a divine marriage. Gayatri mantra, regarded as perhaps the most powerful of the prayer hymns was given to the world by Vishvamitra, while he is also credited to have composed the mantras found in the 3rd section of Rig Veda, the most ancient of Vedic scriptures.
Atri — He is a very ancient sage whose name finds mention in the oldest of Vedas, the Rig Veda, the Puranas, and in epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Anusuya is his spouse. She is hailed as the epitome of virtue and included as one among the seven pathivrathas, the extremely chaste women. Atri Samhita is his creation which lays down codes of conduct, yogic tenets, and principles of ethical living.
Gautama — He is one of the highly regarded sages, who has contributed hymns to both the Rig and Sama Vedas, considered the first and the second of the four Vedas, respectively. He has given to the world, the Gautama Sutra, consisting of the guiding principles of law and conduct.
Kashyapa – This sage has done very early, and commendable work on subjects like Ayurvedic pediatrics, gynecology, and obstetrics, and these are available to the world in the form of Kashyapa Samhita. Kashyapa Silpa is another excellent work of his dealing with decorative arts, architecture, and iconography.