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File:The fish avatara of Vishnu saves Manu during the great deluge.jpg
Matsya (fish) rescues the Saptarishi and Manu from the great Deluge
In traditional Hindu astronomy, seven stars of Ursa Major are identified with the names of Saptarshis

The Saptarishi (from Sanskrit: सप्तर्षि (saptarṣī), a Sanskrit dvigu meaning "seven sages") are the seven rishis in ancient India, who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and other 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: Agastya, Atri, Bhardwaja, Gautam, Jamadagni, Vashistha and Vishvamitra followed by Brihadaranyaka Upanisad 2.2.6 with a slightly different list: Gautama and Bharadvaja, Shandilya and Jamadagni, Vashistha and Kashyapa and Atri, Bhrigu. The late Gopatha Brahmana 1.2.8 has Vashistha, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Gautama, Bharadvaja, Gungu, Agastya, Bhrigu and Kashyapa.

In post-Vedic texts, different lists appear; some of these rishis were recognized as the 'mind-born sons' (Sanskrit: मनस पुत्र, manasputra) of Brahma, the representation of the Supreme Being as Creator. Other representations are Mahesh or Shiva as the Destroyer and Vishnu as the Preserver. Since these seven rishis were also among the primary seven rishis, who were considered to be the ancestors of the Gotras of Brahmins, the birth of these rishis was mythicized.

In ancient Indian astronomy, the constellation of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) is called saptarishi, with the seven stars representing seven rishis, namely "Vashistha", "Marichi", "Pulastya", "Pulaha", "Atri", "Angiras" and "Kratu". There is another star slightly visible within it, known as "Arundhati". Arundhati is the wife of Vashistha. Vashishtha and Arundhati together form the Mizar double.[1]

As per legend, the seven Rishis in the next Manvantara will be Diptimat, Galava, Parashurama, Kripa, Drauni or Ashwatthama, Vyasa and Rishyasringa.

Saptarishi cycle[edit]

A lesser-known Hindu system of time-reckoning is the Saptarshi cycle of 3600 years (possibly based on the 60-year cycle, see ch. 2.4.5. below). At any rate, by the Christian age we find writers who take this concept of a 3600-year cycle literally, and it is hard to either prove or refute that this may have been a much older tradition.

The medieval Kashmiri historian Kalhana claimed that the previous cycle had started in 3076 BC, and the present one in AD 525. J.E. Mitchiner has suggested that the beginning of the Saptarshi reckoning was one more cycle earlier, in 6676 BC: “We may conclude that the older and original version of the Era of the Seven Rsis commenced with the Seven Rsis in Krttika in 6676 BC, used a total of 28 Naksatras, and placed the start of the Kali Yuga in 3102 BC. This version was in use in northern India from at least the 4th century BC, as witnessed by the statements of Greek and Roman writers; it was also the version used by Vrddha Garga, at around the start of the Christian era.”22 This would roughly coincide with the start of the Puranic dynastic list reported by Greco-Roman authors as starting in 6776 BC.

Indeed, the Puranic king-list as known to Greek visitors of Chandragupta’s court in the 4th century BC or to later Greco-Roman India-watchers, started in 6776 BC. Pliny wrote that the Indians date their first king, “Liber Pater” (Roman equivalent of Dionysus), to “6,451 years and 3 months” before Alexander the Great (d. 323 BC), while Arrian puts “Dionysus” as head of the dynastic list at 6,042 + 300 + 120 = 6,462 years before Sandrokottos (Chandragupta), to whom a Greek embassy was sent in 314 BC.23 Both indications add up to a date, give or take a year, of 6776 BC. This would, according to the implicit chronology of Puranic tradition, be the time of Manu’s enthronement, Manu being the Aryan patriarch who established his kingdom in North India after having survived the Flood. One of Manu’s heirs was Ila, ancestress of Yayati, whose five sons became the patriarchs of the “five peoples” who form the ethnic horizon of the Vedas, one of them being Puru; in Puru’s tribe, then, one Bharata started the Bharata clan to which most of the Vedic seers belonged.

It so happens that in the 7th millennium BC, the oceans were still in the process of recovering the ground they lost during the ice Age, when the sea level was for thousands of years nearly a hundred metres below the present level. The importance of the Glaciation, which peaked ca. 16,000 years ago, in the reconstruction of Eurasian migration histories can hardly be overestimated. .... Since large populations had settled in the coastal areas vacated by the receding sea at the beginning of the Ice Age, the progressive melting of the ice-caps led to the progressive flooding of ever higher-situated population centres, for several millennia until perhaps 5,000 BC.... .. Most probably, that is the origin of the Flood story.24 The Puranas describe Manu as the leader of mankind after the Flood, and if we apply a realistic average length to the rulerships of the kings mentioned in the Puranic dynastic lists, Manu may have lived in the 7th millennium BC, the time of the rising waters, warranting the suspicion that the Flood story is related to historical events at the end of the ice Age.

The myth of Atlantis and other submerged continents probably has a similar origin. The Tamils have a tradition of a submerged land to India’s south, of which the Maledives and Sri Lanka are remaining hilltops: KumArIkhaNDam or, in the parlance of the Madras-based Theosophical Society, Lemuria. The city in which their poets’ academy or Sangam (recorded in the early Christian era, but claimed to be ten thousand years old) was established, was said to have been moved thrice because of the rising waters. Though it is hard to see how poets working at the turn of the Christian era could have a memory of events five millennia older, one cannot dismiss as pure fable a story which tallies neatly with the known geological facts of the rising sea level at the end of the Ice Age.

And if such memory was possible, the existence of a system of time-reckoning going back that far is not impossible either. But we must admit that for the time being, this is merely “not impossible”. However, even if we let the Saptarshi cycle start only in 3076 BC, unrelated to Manu and the Flood, this is still hard to reconcile with the theory of an Aryan invasion in the 2nd millennium BC.

    • 22J.E. Mitchiner: Traditions of the Seven Rishis, Motilal B Delhi 1982, p. 163. I thank Prof. Subhash Kak for this reference.

23Pliny:Naturalis Historia 6:59; Arrian: Indica 9:9. I thank Dr. Herman Seldeslachts for checking these references.

    • Elst 1999

Present Saptarishis[edit]

Saptarishis are the hierarchy working under the guidance of the highest creative intelligence, Paramatma. The present batch of the Saptarishis are Kashyapa, Atri, Vasistha, Vishvamitra, Gautama Maharishi, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja. 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 Saptarishis[edit]

In post-Vedic religion, Manvantara is the astronomical time within a 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 the omnipotent supreme almighty-Vishnu & next in line to brahma's place-Vayu; other deities such as ChaturmukhBrahma(present Brahma whose age is currently around 51 years) and Shiva, Shakti, Indra, 's cycle would have completed and they would have been united with the Omnipotent supreme entity - Brahman(Vishnu). Later on, Vayu ascends the throne of Brahma and the process of creation thus begins again after the mahapralaya(great destruction of the universe), Rishis and their sons are born anew in each new Manvantara according to the Vishnu Purana.

Manvantara in Hindu units of time measurement, on a logarithmic scale.
Manvantaras and Saptarishis in each of them
Manu (Manvantara) Saptarishis
Swayambhu Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya, and Vasishtha.[2]
Swarochisha Urja, Stambha, Prana, Nanda, Rishabha, Nischara and Arvarivat
Auttami Kaukundihi, Kurundi, Dalaya, Sankha, Pravahita, Mita and Sammita (Sons of Vasistha)
Tamasa Jyotirdhama, Prithu, Kavya, Chaitra, Agni, Vanaka and Pivara
Raivata Hirannyaroma, Vedasrí, Urddhabahu, Vedabahu, Sudhaman, Parjanya and Mahamuni
Chakshusha Sumedhas, Virajas, Havishmat, Uttama, Madhu, Abhinaman, and Sahishnnu
Vaivasvata Kashyapa, Atri, Vasistha, Vishvamitra, Gautama Maharishi, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja
Savarni Diptimat, Gslava, Parasurama, Kripa, Drauni or Ashwatthama, Vyasa and Rishyasringa
Daksha-savarni Savana, Dyutimat, Bhavya, Vasu, Medhatithi, Jyotishman, and Satya
Brahma-savarni Havishman, Sukriti, Satya, Apammurtti, Nabhaga, Apratimaujas and Satyaketu
Dharma-savarni Nischara, Agnitejas, Vapushman, Vishnu, Aruni, Havishman and Anagha
Rudra-Savarni Tapaswi, Sutapas, Tapomurti, Taporati, Tapodhriti, Tapodyuti and Tapodhana
Rauchya Nirmoha, Tatwadersin, Nishprakampa, Nirutsuka, Dhritimat, Avyaya and Sutapas
Bhautya Agnibshu, Suchi, Aukra, Magadha, Gridhra, Yukta and Ajita

The names of the current Saptarshis are: Kashyapa, Atri, Vasistha, Vishvamitra, Gautama Maharishi, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja. The Saptarishis keep changing for every Manvantara. 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 5111 year now in 2020); Dvapara Yuga is twice Kali Yuga, Treta Yuga is thrice Kali Yuga and Satya 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 (nights of Brahma), Brahma takes rest and there is no creation during this period. Thus 1 day for Brahma constitutes 2 * 1000 Chaturyugas (= 8,640,000,000 years) as per earthly time calculation. Brahma has got month and year. Thus 1 year constitutes 360 x 8,640,000,000 = 3,110,400,000,000 years; lifespan of Brahma is 100 years = 100 x 3,110,400,000,000 = 311,040,000,000,000 years or 311.04 trillion earthly years.

1 Kalpa = 1 day of Brahma = 12 hours of Brahma = 1 night of Brahama = 1000 yuga cycle. 1 yuga cycle = Satya yuga (1,728,000 years) + Treta yuga (1,296,000 years) + Dvapara yuga (8,64,000 years) + Kali Yuga (4,32,000).

Brahma's life span seems huge but he also dies. Brahma's life in the Karan ocean is just like a bubble. A bubble comes out during exhale and disappears during inhaling of Mahavishnu.

This is material universe, creation and annihilation. One who is intelligent does not get bewildered by such data. He goes beyond such data and looks for eternal and starts searching who is the cause of all cause and tries to connect. One who finally gets connected is actually successful. Positions of demigod are also temporary. Hence, not beneficial.

In Hindu astronomy the seven stars of the Saptarshi Mandal or Big Dipper are named as

Kratu α UMa Dubhe
Pulaha β UMa Merak
Pulastya γ UMa Phecda
Atri δ UMa Megrez
Angiras ε UMa Alioth
Vasistha ζ UMa Mizar
Marichi η UMa Alkaid

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.

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.

In Another Aspect[edit]

Names of Saptarishis in major Hindu texts[edit]

<imagemap> Image:HinducosmoMap2.svg|thumb|right|250px|alt=Click! Dhruva, Saptarishi, Shani, Bṛhaspati, Budha, Shukra, Chandra, Vivasvan, Garbhodaksayi Vishnu rect 172 2 277 31 w:Dhruva rect 171 96 259 122 w:Saptarishi rect 174 148 239 179 w:Shani rect 170 198 258 222 w:Bṛhaspati rect 171 256 242 278 w:Budha rect 177 282 240 298 w:Shukra rect 177 317 221 333 w:Chandra rect 177 332 212 349 w:Vivasvan rect 101 375 261 398 w:Garbhodaksayi Vishnu </imagemap>

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:

Saptarishi in Jainism[edit]

In Jainism it is stated that, "Once at Mathura situated in Uttar Pradesh Seven Riddhidhari Digamber saints having 'Aakaashgamini Vidhya' came during the rainy season for chaturmaas whose names were 1.) Surmanyu, 2.) Shrimanyu, 3.) Shrinichay, 4.) Sarvasundar, 5.) Jayvaan, 6.) Vinaylaala 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 Shatrughna in all four directions of the city."

See also[edit]


  1. Shankar, P.N (1 January 1985). A guide to the night sky (PDF). Bangalore: Karnataka Rajya Vignana Parishat.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Wilson, Horace Hayman; trans. (1840) "Vishńu Puráńa", Contains an account of the several Manus and Manwantaras.

Template:Rishis of Hindu mythology