Vashistha - The Divine Saptarishi

Sage Vashistha is one of the most respected sages in Hinduism and is one of the Saptarishis - The 7 Divine Sages. He was a scholar from the Vedic period who is known for his literary and is one of the chief authors of Rigveda. The tale of Ramayana has him as the chief priest for the Raghukul Dynasty and the teacher of Lord Rama and his brothers. He was the Sadguru of the Vedic period and possessed spiritual powers. He was an enlightened being and the knower of Cosmos. He and his wife Arundhati had set up a Gurukul along the banks of river Sarayu. He taught several students under his guidance. Vashistha is also known for his enmity with sage Vishwamitra.

According to scriptures, Vashistha was born thrice. He was first born as Manasputra, a mind-born son of Brahma. Brahma wanted him to establish the priestly order and become a chief priest. However, Vashistha wasn't very keen to become a priest. During the Daksha Yagya where Sati immolated herself, Vashistha along with several other sages got killed in the epic fight between Veerabhadra and Daksha. Vashistha was recreated by Brahma. This time he decided to fulfill his father's wish by becoming a chief priest. However, he was again cursed to death by a king named Nimi. King Nimi had asked Vashistha to conduct a ritual in his kingdom. However, Vashistha was busy serving Lord Indra and hence asked Nimi to wait. Nimi approached other sages for the ritual. Vashistha took this as an insult and cursed him to death. Nimi too cursed him back in revenge. Hence both died. Vashistha hurried back to Brahma to be recreated again. Brahma assured him that he shall be born again as the son of God Varuna and Urvashi. Hence this was his third and final birth.

Vashistha started serving the Ishvaku (Solar) kings and became their mentor and guide. He taught all the famous Raghukul kings like Dilip, Aja, Dashrath, Rama, and his brothers. He also possessed Nandini who was a wish-fulfilling cow and was the daughter of heavenly cow Kamadhenu. Nandini provided Vashistha with everything he needed. When Vishwamitra saw this cow he forcefully tried to snatch it from Vashistha. However, he was defeated by Vashistha as the sage possessed immense spiritual powers. Vishwamitra decided to conduct severe penance to acquire skills to beat Vashistha. He pleased Shiva with his devotion. Shiva handed him a lot of celestial weapons in return. Vishwamitra again went back to fight Vashistha. However, he was defeated again as Vashsitha was still stronger. Triggered by the defeat, Vishwamitra decided to practice severe austerities again. This time he wanted the title of Brahmarishi as this was the most difficult one to achieve. With devotion and dedication, he pleased Brahma and finally became a powerful sage. However, he still had a little pride left in him which made him weaker than Vashsitha. Soon VIshwamitra realized the same and shed off his pride.

King Dilip who was a king from the Ishvaku dynasty once consulted Vashistha for help. He and his wife had been childless for a long time. They needed an heir for the throne and hence decided to seek help from Vashistha. Vashistha told Dilip to take care of Nandini, the divine cow. If Nandini got pleased with his service she would grant him his wish. Dilip started taking care of the cow. He served her day and night and took care of all her needs. Once Nandini was about to get attacked by a ferocious lion. Dilip tried to save Nandini by offering himself to the lion as his prey. Nandini wanted to test Dilip's service and hence had plotted this plan. Pleased with his devotion she granted them a son.

Sage Vashistha was married to Arundhati who was a very pious lady and is still remembered as an extremely dedicated and devoted wife. Together they set an ideal example of a husband and wife. Vashsitha and his had set up their ashram in Ayodhya. Once there was a huge famine in Ayodhya. Vashistha being their Guru was consulted for help. Vashsitha with his spiritual powers created a divine well which became the source of the Sarayu river and hence solved the problem of draught. This well is still visited by sages and devotees and seems to have a magical aura around it.

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