Maharishi Gautam



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Fast Facts
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Function: 
Sage
Traditions: 
Sanatna Dharma
Main Countries of Activity: 
India
Date of Birth: 
Unknown
Place of Birth: 
not Known
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Yes
Other Related Gurus: 
Saptarishis

Biography

Gautam Maharishi (Hindi: गौतम महर्षि) is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) sapta-rishis (seven Rishis) of the current Manvantara (seventh) . He was one of the Maharishis of Vedic times, known to have been the discoverer of Mantras -- 'Mantra-drashtaa', in Sanskrit. The Rig Veda has several suktas that go with his name. He was the son of Rahugana, belonging to the line of Angiras. The Devi Bhagavatam says that the river Godavari is so named because of its association with Gautam. He had two sons by name Vamadeva and Nodhas, both themselves discoverers of Mantras. There is a hymn called Bhadra in the Sama Veda which again is ascribed to Gautam Maharishi.

Personal life

His wife is Ahalya, herself the mind born daughter (manasa putri) of Creator Brahma. The Puranas speak of the story wherein it is described how Gautam won the hand of Ahalya by perambulating the divine cow in order to fulfill the stipulation of Brahma that whoever first goes round the whole Earth will win the hand of Ahalya. The Chief priest of King Janaka of Mithila, by name Shatananda, was the son of Gautama and Ahalya. Gautam's sixty-year long penance is mentioned in the Shanti parva of the Mahabharata. The Narada purana describes the story of the 12-year famine during which Gautam fed all the Rishis and saved them.

Gautama was one of the famous seven rishis termed Saptarshi. He was the progenitor of the Gautam gotra. He was the son of Rahugana.

With Bharadvaja, Gautam shares a common ancestry as they are both descended from Angirasa, and sometimes they are both bracketed together under the name Angirasa.

The sons of Gautam are Vamadeva and Nodha. The 4th book of the Rigveda is that of the Vamadeva Gautam family.

Legends

The descent of Lord Shiva as Tryambakeshvar, that constitutes the source of the Jyotirlinga nearby, happened for the sake of Gautama. The Brahmaanda-purana mentions that one of the sub-branches of the Raanaayani branch of Sama Veda was initiated by this Gautam. Some famous disciples of Gautam were Praachina-yogya, Shaandilya, Gaargya, and Bharadwaja.

According to the Ramayana, Rishi Gautam once went to take bath in the river Ganges early morning. The king of the devas, Indra, was fascinated with Gautam's wife, Ahalya. Indra came in the form of Gautam and made love to Ahalya. As he was escaping, he was caught by Rishi Gautam who was returning to the Ashrama from his bath. Gautam cursed Ahalya and Indra both for this act. Ahalya was converted to stone, while Indra was cursed with one thousand female genitals (Sahasrayoni). Later, taking pity on both, Gautama converted both these curses to boons. Indra's female genitals (yonis) became eyes, and he came to be known as Sahasraaksha. As for Ahalya, Gautam granted her the boon that she would be brought back to human form by the touch of the feet of Lord Rama and would reunite with him.

Author of the earliest Dharma-sutra

Gauatam was also the author of Dharma-sutra known as Gautam Dharma sutra It is in fact the earliest Dharma Sutra. It contains 28 chapters with 1000 aphorisms. Almost every aspect of the observances of Hindu dharma - including the rules for the four Ashramas, the forty sanskāras, the four varnas, kingly duties, the punishments for various offences, the obsequies for the dead, do's and don'ts of food consumption, the dharmas of women, the rules for Praayaschitta (atonement for sins), and the rules of succession of property. In this sense Gautama's Dharma Shastra may perhaps be considered the oldest law book of the world.

Akṣapāda Gotama, the 2nd century founder of the school of philosophy that goes by the name of 'Nyaya' (Logic), is not to be confused with Gautam Maharishi.

Teachings

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