Rishi Vasistha is considered to be one of the most famous rishis of all time by the Hindus. He died after teaching many good lessons to the people around him and is believed to be credited as the chief author of Mandala 7 of Rig Veda. He is a prominent figure in both the Ramayana and Mahabharata period. His name has also been associated with one of the seven stars, a constellation in the northern sky mainly known as the Saptarishis. Yoga Vasistha is a syncretic medieval era text that presents Vedanta and Yoga philosophies. It is written in the form of a dialogue between Vashistha and Prince Rama of Ayodhya, about the nature of life, human suffering, choices as the nature of life, free will, human creative power and spiritual liberation.
Rishi Vasistha was considered to be born of Brahma’s will-power. He completely devoted himself for the goodness and welfare of the world. Vasistha started his hermitage on the banks of river Saraswati and went on teaching the Vedas to hundreds of his disciples daily. This was the reason why he was called as the Kulapati in those times.
He got married to Arundhati, who is well known for her virtues and devotion to her husband. There is a small star close to Vasistha in the Great Bear or Saptarshi Mandal. Which, they have named it after Arundha. Among the Hindus, the bride is shown the star and she worships the star, after the wedding. It is a symbolic acceptance of the ideal of virtue and devotion by the bride.
Shakti – Vasishta’s Son
Shakti was the son of Rishi Vasistha who was a saint too, just like his father. Once a king was passing him by in his chariot but didn’t move aside, even after he saw the saint. Out of anger, Shakti cursed him to become a demon. Later, the demon finally killed Shakti as well as the other sons of Vasistha. But forgiveness was in veins of Vasistha. He freed that demon (the king) of the curse Shakti had forced him into, once. At last, the king realized and felt ashamed of what he did to Vasistha’s family.
The Arrival of Vishwamitra
In those days, there was this King named as Vishwamitra. Once while returning from hunting, king Vishwamitra was passing by Vasistha’s ashram. He thought of taking some rest with all his army at his back. Vishwamitra saluted Vasishta with proper respect and diligence. Vasishta was also very glad to meet king Vishwamitra. He also gratified the king and his army with fruits and other delicacies. After this, the king wanted to leave as he couldn’t stay at his ashram because of the large army he had with him, and the food won’t suffice for all of them taken together, and since the people in the ashram had to be fed too. But Vasistha didn’t allow the king to leave the empty stomach and supplied him with sufficient amount of food and supper. The king was very much delighted at this. He was very much influenced and inspired by the ethics possessed by Vasistha and the values he spread in service of others.
Rishi Vasistha fed the entire large army of Vishwamitra with the help of his magical cow, Nandini, who was gifted to Vasistha by Indra. She could produce lots of milk and sweets through magic. The king got very much amazed by this cow. He suddenly turned into a greedy man and demanded for the cow to take with him to his kingdom from Vasistha. But this demand was refused by Vasistha as this was a gift from the Deva, Indra. This led to a heated argument between the two and finally, this turned into a big fight, in which Vasistha won because Nandini had magical powers through which she was able to defeat the entire army of Vishwamitra.
Satyavadi Harischandra – A Disciple of Vasistha
Harischandra was the King of Ayodhya, who was a disciple of Vasistha. Once Vishwamitra challenged Vasistha upon the fact if Harischandra would ever lie or not. Vasistha firmly said that he would never lie, even if he is kept in the worst of the situations. But Vishwamitra wanted to enter into a forced controversy with Vasistha and he did. But at last, Vasistha was right, that he would never lie and hence Vishwamitra lost.
Brahmarshi Vishwamitra and Vasistha
Vishwamitra was very much desperate in getting recognition of a Brahmarshi. He wanted to become equal to Vasistha and wanted to gain powers equal to him. He also requested Lord Brahma to grant him the powers of a Brahmarshi so that he gains powers equal to him. But then one day he realized that it was the ego inside him that did not let him become powerful and good like Vasistha.
He then fell in front of Vasistha and pleaded for forgiveness for every bad thing that he had done to Vasistha these years. It was then that Vasistha recognized him as a Brahmarshi and granted him the powers like the ones he had as a great saint of all times.
Rishi Vasistha is known for all his good deeds and qualities even now, in around every corner of this world.