Rishi (Sanskrit: ऋषि IAST: ṛṣi) is a Vedic term that denotes
an inspired poet of hymns from the Vedas. Post-Vedic tradition of
Hinduism regards the rishis as "seers", "great sadhu" or "sages" who
after intense meditation (tapas) realized the supreme truth and
eternal knowledge, which they composed into hymns.
2 "Seer" of the Vedas
Rishi in Indonesia and Khmer temples
4 Ruesi in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos
5 Other uses
6 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Rishi (Great Yogi, Phra Ruesi, Lao: ພະລືສີ, Thai:
พระฤาษี) may be derived from two different meanings of
the root 'rsh'.
Sanskrit grammarians derive this word from the
second meaning: "to go, to move". V. S. Apte gives this
particular meaning and derivation, and Monier-Williams also gives
the same, with some qualification.
Another form of this root means "to flow, to move near by flowing".
(All the meanings and derivations cited above are based upon Sanskrit
English Dictionary of Monier-Williams).
Monier-Williams also quotes
Tārānātha who compiled the great (Sanskrit-to-Sanskrit) dictionary
named "ṛṣati jñānena saṃsāra-pāram" (i.e., "one who reaches
beyond this mundane world by means of spiritual knowledge").
More than a century ago,
Monier-Williams tentatively suggested a
derivation from drś "to see". Monier-Wiliams also quotes the
Hibernian (Irish) form arsan (a sage, a man old in wisdom) and arrach
(old, ancient, aged) as related to rishi.
conjectures that the root drish (to see) might have given rise to an
obsolete root rish meaning "to see".
However, the root has a close
Avestan cognate ərəšiš "an
ecstatic" (see also Yurodivy, Vates). Yet the Indo-European dictionary
Julius Pokorny connects the word to a
PIE root *h3er-s meaning
"rise, protrude", in the sense of "excellent" and thus cognate with
Ṛta and right and Asha. In Sanskrit, forms of the root rish become
arsh- in many words, (e.g., arsh)
Modern etymological explanations such as by
Manfred Mayrhofer in his
Etymological Dictionary leave the case open, and do not prefer a
connection to ṛṣ "pour, flow" (
PIE *h1ers), rather one with German
rasen "to be ecstatic, be in a different state of mind" (and perhaps
Some of the earliest lists of
Rishi are found in Jaiminiya Brahmana
verse 2.218 and
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad verse 2.2.6.
"Seer" of the Vedas
A temple relief showing a Rishi.
In the Vedas, the word denotes an inspired poet of Vedic hymns. In
particular, Ṛṣi refers to the authors of the hymns of the Rigveda.
Post-Vedic tradition regards the Rishis as "sages" or saints,
constituting a peculiar class of divine human beings in the early
mythical system, as distinct from Asuras, Devas and mortal men. Swami
Vivekananda described "Rishi"s as Mantra-drashtas or "the seers of
thought". He told— "The truth came to the Rishis of
India — the
Mantra-drashtâs, the seers of thought — and will come to all Rishis
in the future, not to talkers, not to book-swallowers, not to
scholars, not to philologists, but to seers of thought."
The notable female rishikas who contributed to the composition of the
Vedic scriptures are: The
Rig Veda mentions Romasha, Lopamudra, Apala,
Kadru, Visvavara, Ghosha, Juhu, Vagambhrini, Paulomi, Yami, Indrani,
Savitri, and Devayani. The
Sama Veda adds Nodha, Akrishtabhasha,
Sikatanivavari and Gaupayana.
Mahabharata 12, on the other hand, there is the post-Vedic list of
Marici, Atri, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu,
Pulastya and Vashista. The
Mahābhārata list explicitly refers to the saptarshis of the first
manvantara and not to those of the present manvantara. Each
manvantara had a unique set of saptarshi. In Harivamsha 417ff, the
names of the Rishis of each manvantara are enumerated.
In addition to the Saptarṣi, there are other classifications of
sages. In descending order of precedence, they are Brahmarshi,
Maharshi, Rajarshi. Devarṣi, Paramrṣi, Shrutarṣi and Kāndarṣi
are added in Manusmriti iv-94 and xi-236 and in two dramas of
The Chaturvarga-Chintāmani of Hemādri puts 'riṣi' at the seventh
place in the eightfold division of Brāhmanas. Amarakosha (the
Sanskrit synonym lexicon compiled by Amarasimha) mentions seven
types of riṣis : Shrutarshi, Kāndarshi, Paramarshi, Maharshi,
Brahmarshi and Devarshi.
Amarakosha strictly distinguishes
Rishi from other types of sages, such as sanyāsi, bhikṣu,
parivrājaka, tapasvi, muni, brahmachāri, yati, etc.
Rishi in Indonesia and Khmer temples
Most medieval era Hindu temples of Java, Indonesia show
statues or reliefs, usually guarding the southern side of Shaivite
temples. Some examples include
Candi Sambisari and the Prambanan
temple near Yogyakarta.
Agastya is known as Phra Reusi
Akkhot in Thailand.
Ruesi in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos
A statue of a Ruesi at Wat Suan Tan in Nan, Thailand
Ruesi (sanskrit: ṛṣi , Khmer: តាឥសី, Thai:
ฤๅษี, Lao: ລືສີ) is a hermit sage, the equivalent of
Rishi in India.
Rishi is also a male given name, and less commonly a Brahmin last
In Carnatic music, "Rishi" is the seventh chakra (group) of Melakarta
ragas. The names of chakras are based on the numbers associated with
each name. In this case, there are seven rishis and hence the 7th
chakra is "Rishi".
The descendant families of these Rishis, refer to their ancestral
lineage through their family "gotra". This is a common practice among
the Brahmin sects of the current Hindu society.
^ a b Hartmut Scharfe (2002), Handbook of Oriental Studies, BRILL
Academic, ISBN 978-9004125568, pages 13–15
^ cf. Commentary on Unadi-Sutra,[by whom?][year needed] iv, 119
^ Dhātupāṭha of Pānini, xxviii). V. S. Apte
^ V. S. Apte (Sanskrit-Hindi Kosh, 1890, reprint 1997 by Motilāl
Banārasidās Publishers, Delhi)
^ a b c Monier-Williams, Monier (1899), A Sanskrit-English Dictionary,
Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, p. 226
Yasna 31.5; cf. 40.4
^ Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen, Heidelberg 1986, I
^ a b c Justin McDaniel (2013), This Hindu holy man is a Thai
Buddhist, South East Asia Research, Volume 21, Number 2, page 309,
Swami Vivekananda on Rishis".
Swami Vivekananda Quotes. Retrieved
12 April 2014.
^ Maud Girard-Geslan et al (1997), Art of Southeast Asia, Harry
Abrams, Paris, page 350
^ South Indian Music Book III, by Prof. P Sambamoorthy, Published
1973, The Indian Music Publishing House
^ Ragas in
Carnatic music by Dr. S. Bhagyalekshmy, Pub. 1990, CBH
Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965), The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary
(Fourth Revised and Enlarged ed.), New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass,
Apte, Vaman Shivram (1966), Sanskrit-Hindi Koṣa (Reprint 1997 ed.),
New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass
Chopra, Deepak (2006), Life After Death: The Burden of Proof (first
ed.), Boston: Harmony Books
Kosambi, D. D. (1956), An Introduction to the Study of Indian History
(Second ed.), Bombay: Popular Prakashan Pvt Ltd, 35c Tardeo Road,
Popular Press Bldg, Bombay-400034
Śāstri, Hargovind (1978), Amarkoṣa with Hindi commentary,
Sanskrit Series Office
Rishikas of the Rigveda
The dictionary definition of rishi at Wiktionary
1st (Svayambhuva) Manvantara
2nd (Svarocisha) Manvantara
3rd (Uttama) Manvantara
4th (Tapasa) Manvantara
5th (Raivata) Manvantara
6th (Cakshusha) Manvantara
7th (Vaivasvata) Manvantara
Vyasa (Vedas, Vedanta)
Other Hindu sages