By Yogi Baba Prem Th.D Acharya, Yogacharya, Veda Visharada
While known within India and serving as anchors for yoga globally, the Rishi’s remain somewhat of a mystery in the modern age of spirituality; yet they constitute one of the driving forces behind spirituality and its manifestation within the physical dimension. Despite this important role, the Rishi’s remain relatively unknown to most practitioners of yoga, and are somewhat limited to specific incarnations within the mind of many Hindu’s. For both groups, this is often due to confusion and a somewhat limited understanding as to the nature of the Rishi.
If one were to allow their mind to drift back to the earliest development of the universe, one would see the initial manifestation of the Rishi’s as two primary groups, those born of the mind of Brahma, and those born of Prajapati. Those born of the mind of Brahma represent flows of consciousness within the cosmic mind. Those born of Prajapati are flows of consciousness within material creation. While it is somewhat uncommon for humanity to think of time beyond a few lifetimes when referencing Rishi’s, one must expand back to the origins of the cosmos and extend forward into the more limited cycles of lifetimes, noting that the Rishi’s are often acknowledged as having extremely long lifetimes, and according to tradition, have the ability to incarnate for specific periods and then leave the earthly existence only to manifest again in a later age. While this may appear fantastic, it is striking that within all the world’s major religions, one does find a reoccurring reference to lengthy cycles of life; which necessitates the question, “could other religions have ‘borrowed’ the concept of lifetime length from the older teachings of Yoga/Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma?” While it is difficult to conclusively answer, there is little doubt that Hinduism has influenced many of the world’s religions to some degree, as ancient people appear to have been more mobile and open to new ideas and teachings than has been previously thought.
Pertaining to a physical incarnation, Rishi’s are divided into several categories, with the following three being the most common:
1. Brahma Rishi
2. Raja Rishi
3. Deva Rishi
A Brahma Rishi is a Rishi that is born into and fulfills the role of a Brahmin (priest), often these would serve a king and humanity. A Raja Rishi is born as a king, politician or has a connection with the warrior group. As such they would have a connection with the preservation of dharma, and historically we do see Raja Rishi’s going to war to reestablish dharma within India. A Deva Rishi has achieved an equal state with the Devas or Gods. Such a Rishi is viewed as having a shakti (power) equal to the devas. It is possible for a Rishi to belong to two categories, as such a Raja Rishi could also be a Deva Rishi, or a Brahma Rishi might be a Deva Rishi as well.
The Rishi’s play import roles and fulfill Divine tasks in the cosmic order for the world and fulfill specific duties for the benefit of humanity. Within Hinduism, there are numerous teachings regarding a performance of a ritual on a grander scale for humanity. One such event occurred during the dawn of the Kali Yuga.
From the perspective of the Yoga/Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma tradition, the Kali Yuga has been somewhat gentle, if one can call the last 5000+- years gentle. The reason for this is a Vedic Rishi known as Saunaka, who performed an important ritual over a long period of time. The purpose of the ritual was to diffuse the energies of the emerging Kali Yuga for the benefit of humanity. The Rishi’s asked Lord Brahma where this sacred ritual should be performed. Lord Brahma hurled a disc toward the earth and it passed through what is known as Naimisaranya, also known as ‘Chakra Tirtha Kund’, see image below:
While this important ritual was the Rishi’s gift to humanity. Over time, it has become clear this ritual has waned in its influence, as we have entered into a dramatic technological shift and era over the past hundred years. Have you ever wondered why humanity suddenly catapulted forward in technology? From a Yogic/Hindu/Sanatana Dharma view it was the fading effects of this ritual. In reality, the effects of the ritual have been fading for many hundreds, if not thousands, of years giving rise to dramatic changes within human lifestyle within a relatively short period of time.
As we progress deeper into this age and the effects of the Kali Yuga strengthen, an important counter balance is slowly emerging--Vedic and Rishi Yoga. The emerging Vedic and Rishi Yoga has been supported by a worldwide expansion of yoga, which has been marked by more practitioners of physical yoga than any other time in recorded history. At this point, there are few practitioners of Vedic or Rishi Yoga as the system in its pure form requires a highly developed mind, an impressive skill set and strong skills of meditation. Advanced practitioners may serve as a conduit for the Rishi energy periodically by intensifying the Rishi vibration within an area. To achieve this level of consciousness one must achieve Jnana or Tapas loka (the realm of knowledge and the realm of austerity), and possess the ability to remain there for long periods of time. Within our current age, very few practitioners have achieved Rishi loka, and few have received the darshan of the Rishi’s.
Prior to beginning the study of Rishi Yoga, one would need to be firmly established in one of the traditional yoga systems, and would need to have established a foundation in Vedic Yoga acquiring the various skill sets required for the practice of the yoga itself. Some teachers would group Rishi Yoga as a system within Vedic Yoga; likewise, it would be equally true to say that Vedic Yoga is a result of Rishi Yoga. Despite the requirements for this system of study, it is accessible to a larger number of people through more simple techniques that will pave the way for more serious study. Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) stated, ‘All souls are evolving toward becoming world-creating seers and Rishi’s, which is the full development of our creative nature and its creative Shakti.’ (Vedic Yoga p. 274).
Rishi Yoga is generally not taught outside of the Vedic/Dharmic tradition and it is not really taught in a class or workshop, but requires study with one of only a handful of actual practitioners of Vedic or Rishi Yoga. As the energies become stronger for the emerging Rishi Yoga, it is likely one will see an explosion of buzz words such as ‘Vedic’ and ‘Rishi’, but regrettably there are currently few practitioners of these enigmatic traditions.
The practitioners of Rishi Yoga are at peace and harmony with nature within the three Vedic worlds: Bhur (earth), Bhuvah (atmosphere) and Svah (heavens). A practitioner of Rishi Yoga can read the arcane language of nature and the Vedas. Both Rishi and Vedic Yoga traditions require an intimate relationship with mantra and the Vedic teachings; therefore, it is common that this system of yoga is taught in the traditional ‘Gurukual’ system, one on one. It requires a strong meditative mind and patience, as the Rishi loka is not easily achieved. Additonally, to walk the Vedic path requires a great deal of humility and respect, as well as the patience to cultivate a relationship with the teacher and Rishi's themselves.
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