A Hindu Primer
Shukavak N. Dasa
Copyright © 2007 Sanskrit Religions Institute
All rights reserved.
Divine Sages: Rishis
In common usage, a rishi is a word that simply means an inspired poet or sage or a holy person in general. In more specific usage the rishis are semi divine beings distinct from gods (devas), demons (asuras) and men who “heard” the Vedic hymns and passed them on down to mankind. In fact each sukta or hymn of the Veda is associated with the name of one of these rishis. The rishi are the patriarchs and progenitors of mankind. In the ancient texts 10 original rishis are mentioned who then become the source for the Hindu gotra lineages. Seven of these ancient and divine “seers” have been immortalized in the heavens. The Sapta Rishis, the seven sages, is the Hindu name for the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) in Hindu astronomy. Each star of the Big Dipper is named after one of these rishis.