Rishis Definition Seven Types Details

There are many terms that describe Men of Wisdom,Spiritual Teachers,Sages, Saints in Hinduism.

Many of these terms are used without understanding the connotation of these terms.

Munis,Rishis, Raja Rishis,Yogins are some these terms.

Let us see what the Scriptures say about these terms.

We shall see about the term Rishi.

This term is usually translated as ‘Seer’, who has seen.

This comes close to the meaning, but Rishi is more than seeing.

“Rishi Darsanaath’-Yakasha in his Niruktam 2.11

One who has seen Mantras (Mantra Drishtaa)
Rishi is one who can see with superior vision what others cannot.

Mantras, the mystically locked sounds are those that express an aspect of Reality.

Some Mantras the Reality itself, Gayatri Mantra.

These Mantras were grasped from the Ether by some people, who follow spiritual discipline.

These were grasped intuitively, ‘Seen’

‘Rishati jnaanEna samsaarapaaram’ -Paninini in Vachaspatikosam.

‘one who crosses and reaches the other shore of the Sea of Samsara’

The purpose of Life, according to Hinduism , is to transcend the cycle of Births and Deaths, Samsara.

The Mantras help one to cross the endless Cycle of Births and Deaths.

Rig Veda 1.31.16 and 9.96.18 describe  Rishi as ‘one who lights the flame of knowledge, one who stimulates thinking.’

This is a corollary to the definition we have seen already.

The Rishis  are associated with the  element of fire (Agni).

Krishna Yajur Veda, 2nd Khaanda 5th Prasna, 8th Anuvaka calls a Rishi ‘Saamitheni, one who can kindle fire properly for performing Homa.

Different Types of Rishis

Rishi is a general term.

Definition of Rishi.

According to Indian tradition, the word may be derived from two different meanings of the root ‘rsh’ (ṛṣ). Sanskrit grammarians derive this word from the second meaning: “to go, to move”.V. S. Aptegives 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-Williams also quotes the Hibernian (Irish) form arsan (a sage, a man old in wisdom) and arrach (old, ancient, aged) as related to rishi. Monier-Williams also conjectures that the root drish (to see) might have given rise to an obsolete root rish meaning “to see”.

Following is the classification of Rishis.

Vipra Rishis,

Brahma Rishis,

Deva Rishis,

Daanava Rishis and

Raja Rishis.

Those who were priests by virtue of their birth as Brahmins  are Vipra Rishis? , Uthanga.

Those who had realized Brahman?, The Reality through intense Tapas are Brahma Rishis, Vasishta, Atri, Viswamitra, Aaangirasa.

Sage Naarada is known as Deva Rishi belonging to the Devas.

Sukrachariar is Daanava Rishi due to his alignment with Asuras.

Amarakosa classifies Seven types of Rishia.Shrutarshi, Kāndarshi, Paramarshi, Maharshi, Rājarshi, Brahmarshi and Devarshi.

Though generally Rishis were Brahmins, there were a number of Kshatriyas or rulers who also achieved the status of Rishi by their Tapas.

And, they were known as Taja Rishis,  Sage Viswamitra, Ambareesha, Trasadayu, Sibi Chakravarthi and Maandaata were in this category.

King Janaka was a Raja Rishi.

From which Caste, Community do they come from?

Rishis are drawn from all the four Ashramams viz., Brahmacharya, Grihasta, Vaanaprasta and Sannyaasa

Attributes , Characteristics of Rishi.

Priyapraayaa vrittir Vinaya madurO vaachi niyama:
Prakrutyaa kalyaaNee matiranavageeta: parichaya: /
PurO vaa paschaad vaa tadidama viparyaasitara rasam
Rahasyam sadoonaam anupadhi visuddham vijayatE // Bhavabhooti-Uttara Rama Charitra.

‘ Universal love and affection, extreme sweetness in speech, utter humility, genuine consideration for the common good, an elegant dignity in demeanor.




3 responses to “Rishis Definition Seven Types Details”

  1. Rishi by definition is “One who Shines and Radiates Love and Light”

    Rishis were not Brahmins they were those who realized “Brahman” and are beyond any sect or caste system and are not to be segregated into such groups.

    Rishis can be from any source – Ex: Shiva – God head – Sadashiva Rishi; Snake — Ananta – Rishi; Parrot – Shuka Rishi; Crow – Kaka Bhushunda; Tree – Ruksha Rishi, Female – Maitreyi Rishi, etc… Even an Ant if it wishes can become a Rishi, likewise a Rock too can become a Rishi (Ex: Son of Tallana maharshi).

    There are many who have reached the Rishi-hood by their intense penance and Tapas (= Meaning “To Shine with Purtiy and Light”)

    Rishis are the ones who are the appointed caretakers of the entire creation and they work directly under Supreme Power – GOD! Rishis have innumerable and unimaginable Powers and Capacities and yet they are the embodiment of Humility and Compassion. Their every action has very far reaching effects beyond our understanding of Time and they always work for the Universal Welfare – Lokaha Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu – is their motto!

    We as humans can be guided to do higher and better “meditations” which yield faster results in removing Past Life Karmas and to help us move towards Liberation; But when they do, they do Tapas to gather the Unique and Rare Cosmic Energies and spend it for the welfare of all creation. They do not Judge; They are not Partial; they do not take sides of a country, of a religion or of any one side; but they look beyond our lives and understand our struggle in this brief period of Life here on earth and wait patiently and diligently to assist us in our Spiritual Progress as we Choose to follow the Ancient set of Value System known to be existing in this creation known as Sanatana Dharma and help us in clearing the blocks to progress.

    There are volumes that can be written about the Rishis; But being to the point of the subject – The Rishis definition at some points in this blog is not satisfactory and hence had to share the information here.


    • Thank you. I meant to wite a detailed post on Rishis and forgot about it.As the post in discussion is about the types of Rishis ,I did not dwell on the many aspects of Rishis.Regds


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