rishi (Sanskrit: "seer; one who sees") — is a word that simply means a sage or a divine seer in general. the great sages of ancient India who, in deep states of meditation (communion with the cosmos), and through spiritual experimentation, discovered the underlying, fundamental truths of the Universe, and whose teachings formed the basis for the spiritual culture of the ancient Vedic civilization. In more specific usage the rishis are divine beings distinct from devas (Gods), asuras (demons) and men who “heard” the Vedic hymns and passed them on down to mankind.

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.


The Vedas introduce rishis as krantdarshis, those capable of seeing beyond narrow, selfish, good and bad of present times. Because of this capability rishis are known as drashtas. Modern science uses microscope and telescope for expansion of vision. Yet, our vision doesn’t reach to depths and heights. Rishis could see beyond everything. Nothing in the present, past or future was beyond their vision.

Three Types of Vision

Upanishads mentions three types of drishti (vision) sukshmadrishti, antardrishti and divyadrishti

The shukshmadrishti of the rishi sees the wider spectrum of human life.

The antardrishti of rishi is capable of seeing the root causes of our behavior hidden in the anatahkaran in form of seeds.

The divyadrishti of the rishi enables him to see the past, present and future at the same time.

Classification of Rishis

Rishis can be classified as brahmarshi, rajarshi and devarshi. Though all the three are engaged in the service of Vishwa vasudha (world) the areas of work are different. Brahmarshi is always engaged in [[chintan]]. He can reach to the depths of consciousness and subtlety of universe and find the principles of life. This type of research work is generally possible only in seclusion and hence brahmarshis lead a life of seclusion. Vashista, Vishvamitra and Yagnavalkya are examples of Brahmarshis.

Uttarkhand in Himalayas is such divine place where several bhramarshis are engaged in the research into tatvagnan and atma vignan and come out with the lofty principles, which can manifest divinity in man.

The principles formulated by Brahmarshis are implemented by Rajarshis, who are engaged in the direct service of society. King Janaka is an ideal example of rajarshi.

Devarshis are those who communicate the messages of Brahmarshis to others in inspiring words. Narada is an example of Devarshi who could inspire Dhruva, Parvati, Valmiki and Prahlada.

Rishi paramparas of 14 rishis

  1. Vishwamitra
  2. Vyasa
  3. Patanjali
  4. Parshuram
  5. Bhagirath
  6. Charak
  7. Yagnavalkya
  8. Jamadagni
  9. Narada
  10. Aryabhatt
  11. Shankaracharya
  12. Pippalad
  13. Kanad
  14. Sutashownik


1. Who is Rishi?, Institute of Universal Consciousness

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