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Rishis of our Land - 1

From: Vijayaraghavan Srinivasan (
Date: Fri Oct 29 1999 - 13:43:04 PDT

Dear BhaghatOttamAs:

If our great Hindu heritage were to enjoy an unbroken continuity for the 
past 6000 years or so of known history, thus making it one of the world’s 
most ancient civilization, then our ‘rishis’ of yore have undoubtedly played 
a great part in shaping it that way.  The vitality and vigor of their 
thoughts have survived the tests and tribulations of time and what is more 
our Sanatana Dharma will remain eternal as long as mankind exists.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Valmiki and how he was transformed 
by the ‘Rama’ mantra.  Similarly the story of  VasishtA and Vishwamitra and 
that of Agasthya have been heard and reheard during our childhood.  
Sometimes these stories go to demonstrate the incredible prowess of our 
rishis (such as VasishtA’s Brahma Dandam), and their tenacity to perform 
penance for extraordinary length of time.  We also come across their humble 
beginnings (that of Valmiki muni) which never deterred them from achieving 
great heights and oftentimes their seeming transgressions of Dharma 
(Viswamitra, Vyasa and ParAsara)

Who are these rishis and will a study of their lives help the student of Sri 
Vaishnavism.  Vedanta Desika in Daya Satakam pays salutations to rishis like 
ParAsara and says but for their kindness, we would not have known the 
kalyAna GunAs of our EmperumAn.

Their philosophy is all-inclusive, their message is universal and their 
purpose ‘Loka KalyAnam'.  Their imagination is bold and cuts across all 
barriers and it challenges the human mind.  Some of their declarations 
penetrate the very core of our being.  For example: they declared

(1) Oh Sun of refulgent glory ! – please know that the indwelling person in 
you is also seated in my heart (SayachAyam Purushe…. Taittiriya..).
(2) Let noble thoughts come to us from every side (Aa nO badrA: …….)
(3) LokA samstha SukinO Bhavanthu etc.

Therefore a study of their lives is definitely going to be instructive and 
beneficial.  Eventhough I feel unequal to the task, I wish to make an humble 
attempt in summarizing the lives of these divine men.  Navalpakkam Swamigal 
published a series of articles in the Nrusimha PriyA (1969 –74) about the 
rishis.  This has been compiled in a book form and it is an important source 
book for studying the lives of Rishis.  Ramayana is another great source 
book.  With the blessings of BhaghavatAs like you nothing is impossible 
(mUkam karOti vAchAlam…..) and therefore please bless the attempt of this 
‘Siriyavan’ in fulfilling this kaimkaryam.

S. Vijayaraghavan

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