Rishi Vasistha

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Vasistha (Sanskrit: वसिष्ठ), in Hindu mythology was one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, i.e the present Manvantara,[1] and the Rajpurohit / Rajguru of the Suryavamsha or Solar Dynasty. He was the manasaputra of Brahma. He had in his possession the divine cow Kamadhenu, and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners.

Arundhati (Sanskrit: अरुंधति) is the name of the wife of Vashisht. The star Mizar of the stellar constellation Ursa Major is thought of as Vashisht and the small one beside it, Alcor, as Arundhati.

Vashisht is credited as the chief author of Mandala 7 of the Rigveda. Vashisht and his family are glorified in RV 7.33, extolling their role in the Battle of the Ten Kings, making him the only mortal besides Bhavayavya to have a Rigvedic hymn dedicated to him. Another treatise attributed by him is "Vashisht Samhita" - a book on Vedic system of electional astrology.

Tales featuring Vashisht

Vashisht is featured in many tales and folklore, a few of which are briefly described below.

The tale of Vasishsta

Sage Vashishtha was Ram's guru and the Rajpurohit of "Ikshwaku" dynasty. He was a peace loving, selfless, intelligent and great Rishi. He had established Gurukula (residential college) on the banks of river "Saraswati", where he and his wife "Arundhati" were taking care of thousands of students stayed there and studied there and Vashishtha Rishi was the chief principal.

Vashishtha was the Sadguru of his time, possessing 20 "kala's" (divine arts) and had complete knowledge of the whole cosmos and the god. Many of his Shlokas are found in Vedas as well.

This tale tells of how Vashisht possessed a cow named Kamadhenu who could produce enough food for a whole army of troops instantly. The king Vishwamitra, who visited Vashisht's hermitage, was very impressed with the cow and tried to take it away from Vashisht by force, but Vashisht's spiritual power acquired through penance was too great for him. After being unable to conquer Vashisht, Vishwamitra decided to acquire power himself through penance. He gained much power and many divine weapons from Lord Shiva. And once again he attempted to conquer Vashisht. But even the divine weapons he acquired could not defeat the power of Vashisht's Brahmadanda (Stand for resting the arm during meditation). Vishwamitra finally decided to become a Brahmarishi himself, and he renounced all his possessions and luxury and led the life of a simple forest ascetic.

The tale of King Dileepa

King Dileepa was a king of the Raghuvamsha dynasty. He had a wife named Sudakshina, but they had no children. For this reason, Dileepa visited the sage Vashisht in his ashram, and asked him for his advice. Vashisht replied that they should serve the cow Nandini, child of Kamadhenu, and perhaps if Nandini was happy with their service, she would grant them with a child. So, according to Vashisht, Dileepa served Nandini every day, and attended to her every need for twenty-one days. On the twenty-first day, a lion attacks Nandini. Dileepa immediately draws his bow and tries to shoot the lion. But he finds that his arm is paralysed and cannot move. He reasons that the lion must have some sort of divine power. As if to confirm this, the lion started to speak to him. It said that Dileepa had no chance of saving the cow because the cow was the lion's chosen meal. The lion tells Dileepa to return to Vashisht's ashram. Dileepa replies by asking if the lion would let Nandini go if he offered himself in Nandini's place. The lion agreed and Dileepa sacrificed his life for the cow. But then the lion mysteriously disappeared. Nandini explained that the lion was just an illusion to test Dileepa. Because Dileepa was truly selfless, Nandini granted him with a son.

Yoga Vasistha

Yoga Vasistha is an ancient scripture narrated by sage Vasistha to Rama. A unique and an extremely profound discourse, that provides innumerable insights and secrets to the inner world of consciousness. This extremely huge scripture (English translation about 6.5 Mb) covers all the topics that relate to the spiritual study of a seeker.

This scripture is a must read for anyone trying to understand the concepts of consciousness, creation of the world, the multiple universes in this world, our perception of world, dissolution of the world and the liberation of this soul.

Yoga Vasistha propounds that everything from the blade of grass to the universes is all but consciousness alone. There is naught else but consciousness. It expounds the non-dual approach to this creation.

Just as the blue sky is an optical illusion this entire world and the creation is but such an optical illusion. When the illusion ends in the mind, the world and its miseries too end. The self is the seer of all, the self is the perceiver of all and the self is the experiencer of all. And that self is only one. There is no two, there is no subject, seer and the object. It is all one.

Another oft repeated verse in the text is that of Kakathaliya (coincidence). The story of how a crow alights on a coconut tree and that very moment the ripe coconut falls on the ground. The two events are apparently related, yet the crow never intended the coconut to fall nor did the coconut fall because the crow sat on the tree. The intellect mistakes the two events as related, though in reality they are not.

All of creation is the play of consciousness. As an unenlightened person may have a desire for action, and then perceives themselves doing action, the two are unrelated as the crow and the coconut. Consciousness is the actor, the action, the process and the witness of action.

Story of Yoga Vasistha

Rama, the eldest son of Dasaratha, after completing a pilgrimage of holy places returns to the palace. After his return, he is constantly found wandering lost in thought and completely disenchanted with the worldly life and the pleasures of the kingdom. This surprises and concerns his father King Dasaratha.

One day, in his court arrives the great sage Visvamitra. Visvamitra requests Dasaratha to send Rama with him while he conducts his yagna. He wants Rama to fight the demons who would disrupt the yagna.

Dasaratha refuses to send Rama on the context that Rama is still a child who does not know the ways of battle. At this stage, before Visvamitra could get angry, Sage Vashisht interferes and pleads with Dasaratha to not refuse the request of Visvamitra and invite curses on himself.

When Dasaratha expresses his other concern about Rama's sudden change in behaviour, Vasistha asks for Rama to be brought before him.

Rama is then brought to the palace and Dasaratha asks him what is bothering him. Rama then explains his disenchantment with worldly things and expresses sadness at the miserable life as a worldly man.

The ensuing answer to Rama's questions forms the entire scripture that is Yoga Vasistha.

Vashisht head

A copper item representing a human head styled in the manner described for the Rigvedic Vashisht has been dated to around 3700 B.C. in three western universities using among other tests carbon 14 tests, spectrographic analysis, X-ray dispersal analysis and metallography (Hicks and Anderson. Analysis of an Indo-European Vedic Aryan Head - 4500-2500 B.C., in Journal of IE studies 18:425-446. Fall 1990.). This could suggest that some Rigvedic customs were already known at a very early time, though the possibility remains that the bronze head could have been recast from an earlier item. Unfortunately the head was not found in an archaeological context. (It was rescued from being melted down in Delhi.)



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