Rishis of ancient India

In this part of my website the rishis of ancient India will be introduced. The term "rishi" or "rsi" originally denoted the composers and singers of Vedic hymns. However, according to post-Vedic traditions, the rishi is also a "sage" to whom the Gods revealed the Vedas (Knowledge).

Sapta rishis are two Sanskrit words meaning "Seven Sages".


Vyasa is the most important rishi (sage) in the Hindu pantheon of religions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa, for he is the one who compiled the Vedas. He is also the author of the Hindu epic Mahabharata and the important character in many Puranas.



Markandeya was an ancient Indian Muni (sage) and he is known as author of religious Hindu texts. It may be a surprise to many people who are devotees of Lord Vishnu (vaishnavas) or Lord Shiva (shaivas), but Markandeya was a devotee of both. In the Hindu pantheon of (orthodox) religions, vaishnavas, shaivas, and shaktas represent mostly independent islands of beliefs.

Markandeya is one of the Chiranjeevin - the immortals in Hinduism. On the basis of the interactions of people known in Hinduism, it is sure that Markandeya lived through more yugas. He is sometimes called Maha Muni (Great Sage) and he is the author of important Hindu scriptures, Markandeya Purana is one of them. Summaries of Markandeya Purana say that sage Jaimini, the disciple of Veda Vyasa, asked Markandeya to explain to him some difficult parts of the Mahabharata. Here we can see that Markandeya was very, very important.

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Markandeya Purana is downloadable here.


A Vedic sage who wrote most of the Atharva Veda.


Astika, an ancient Hindu rishi (sage), is the Manasa's son that She conceived with Jaratkaru (see below).


A legendary scholar and a son of Brahma. He is among the seven (great) sages - Sapta Rishis.


Also known as Bharadwaj Gotra, a descendant of rishi Angiras, was one of the greatest Hindu sages. Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana (in the epic Ramayana) met many rishis and sages including Bharadwaja.


One of the seven sages, or Saptarishis, who lived in ancient India. Bhrigu was one of the Prajapatis (and Maanasa Putra - a brain child) that Brahma created as facilitators of creation.


Sometimes spelled as Caraka, was born about the year 300 BC and he made some most important contributions to the ancient Ayurvedic medical science.


An ancient rishi (sage), a great philosopher of the Mimansa school, and a disciple of Veda Vyasa (the son of wandering rishi Parashara).


Jaratkaru is a mythological sage, the Vyasa of the twenty-seventh Dwapara. He is the father of the Rishi Astika.


An ancient sage (rishi), the Saptarishi. He was the father of the Devas, Asuras, and all humankind. He was the son of Marichi and Aditi.


A Markandeya's disciple.


Sometimes also referred to as Kripacharya, was an important character in the Mahabharata; he is one of the Chiranjivin (the "immortals").


The son of Brahma and also one of the Saptarishis.


A divine sage (son of Brahma) in the Vaishnava tradition. He plays a chief role in a number of Puranic texts.


A Rigvedic Maharishi and author of many ancient Indian texts. He was the grandson of Vasishtha and the author of some verses in the Rigveda.


A character in many Puranic texts; he is famed for being uniquely devoted to Lord Vishnu. He is a mahajana - that is, a "great devotee" (in the Vaishnava traditions).


One of the ten Prajapatis - sons of Brahma, and one of the Saptarishis. He was the spiritual vibration through the power of which some texts of the Puranas were written.


Shukra is the name of the son of Bhrigu.


An ancient Indian surgeon and the author of the book Sushruta Samhita, in which he describes over 300 surgical procedures and 120 surgical instruments. He, too, classified human surgery into several categories.


A celebrated Tamil poet who wrote the Thirukkural, a work on ethics in Tamil literature.


An ancient Indian sage and the original teacher of the Black Yajur-Veda.


A Hindu philosopher (Vedic tradition) who lived during the reign of the Gupta Empire (4th - 6th century AD) in India. He is believed to be the author of the Kama Sutra.


The famous poet and the author of the epic Ramayana.


One of the Saptarishis. He was the Maanasa-putra ("a brain child") of Brahma. He possessed the divine cow known as Kamadhenu and the Kamadhenu's child Nandini. Vasistha (also spelled as Vashishtha) is the author of some parts in the Rigveda.


The father of Krishna (with Devaki, the Krishna's mother, the sister of Kansa).


A legendary ancient sage, a pupil of Vaishampayana.

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