The following articles were taken from Sri Ranga Sri archives with permission of Sri Anbil Ramaswamy

The Vedas declare that a Brahmin is born into this world with three debts to be discharged.
?jaayamaanO vai BraahmaNa: tribhir riNavaa jaayatE/
BrahmacharyENa rishibhya:, yagjnEna dEvEbhya:,
Prajayya pitrubhya://
(Vide: Taittriya Samhita, Satapatha BraahmaNa, Baudayana Dharma Sutra, Purva Mimamsa Darsana 6.2.11, Sabara Baashya
The three debts are:
1. Rishi RuNam: Debt due to Rishis. This can be discharged by observing celibacy (Brahmacharyam) and learning and studying the Vedas.
2. DEva RuNam: Debt due to the Celestials: This can be discharged by performing one or more of the Yagjnas like JyotishtOmam, Agni hOtram, Pancha Mahaa Yagjnam etc.
3. Pitru RuNam: Debt due to manes: This can be discharged by begetting children, after duly getting initiated into Grihastaashrama (as Householder).
It will be noticed that ?Rishi Runam? is the very first debt mentioned in the above Veda Vaakhyas.

?The debt to the Rishis is the debt which he owes to learning in the shape of his cultural heritage. Such an obligation, he can discharge only by making his own contribution to learning, which he can achieve only on the basis of Brahmacharya? (Vide Radha Kumud Mukherjee, ?Ancient Indian Education?, Delhi, 1989, p.69)

Dharma Sastras require us to pronounce the name of the Rishi of one?s Gotra as also those of the Rishis of one?s Pravara. We do this in all our domestic rituals like Sandhyaavandanam, Upanayanam, Abhivaadanam, Vivaaham etc.

It is therefore, necessary to know about the Gotras and Rishis because it is these Rishis who discovered the Mantras in the first place. Being ?Mantra DrishTas?, Rishis becomes the principal Gurus of the respective Mantras and the founded the Gotras bearing their names.
(Vide: ArshEya BraahmaNa 1.1.6, Brihad-yoga Yaagjnavalkhya 1.27, Bharadwaja 5.43, Brahma Sutra 1.1.39, Sankara Baashya Brihad Devata 1.2.
They emphasize that -
?The remembrance of the Seer of a Mantra becomes an integral part of any recitation?. ?ArshaanukramaNI? is a work that gives a list of hymns, the authors etc. to familiarize us in this regard.

What is GOtra?
?GOtra? is an exogamous (septs) patrilineal sibship whose members trace their descent to a common ancestor?
(Brough, John ?The early Brahminical system of Gotra and Pravara?, Cambridge, 1953 (page 2)

In Atharva Veda, it referred to a clan. All are believed to have descended from one or the other of the ?Rishis? who lent their names to the various Gotras. Thus, Gotra signifies one family or one?s lineage.

What is ?Pravara??
In daily worship, one mentions not only the name of the specific founder of one?s GOtra and the Rishi who founded it but also the ?Pravara? consisting of a group of Rishis who constitute a triumvirate (3) or pentagon (5) of remote ancestors of one?s family.

Why is this?
?GOtra is the latest ancestor or one of the latest ancestors of a person by whose name his family has been known for generations; while ?Pravara? is constituted by the Sage or Sages who lived in the remotest past, who were most illustrious and who are generally the ancestors of the Gotra Sages or in some cases the remotest ancestor alone?
(Vide P.V. Kane, History of Dharma Sastra, Poona Vol.II, Part I, p.497)

What is meant by the word ?Rishi??
Yaska in his Niruktam 2.11 defines Rishi as ?Rishi Darsanaath? - one who has seen Mantras (Mantra DrishTaa)
In other words, Rishi is one who can see with superior vision what others cannot.

PaaNini in his ?Vaachaspati kOsam? defines ?Rishi? as ?Rishati jnaanEna samsaarapaaram?- ?one who crosses and reaches the other shore of the Sea of Samsara?

Rig Vedam 1.31.16 and 9.96.18 describe ?Rishi? as ?one who lights the flame of knowledge, one who stimulates thinking?.

It is clear from the above that the Rishis took elaborate efforts to discover the Vedas, Vedangas and all branches of knowledge to make our life on earth enjoyable while at the same time showing the way to salvation in the after-life scenario.

It is therefore, our duty to remember them for their invaluable contributions towards our well being and pay our respects and gratitude to them.

The Rishis seem somehow to be closely associated with element of fire (agni). In fact, KrishNa yajur Veda, 2nd KhaaNdam 5th Prasna, 8th Anuvakam calls a Rishi as ?SaamithEni? which means one who can kindle fire properly for performing Homam?

There was a competition between one NrumEdan and his colleague ParuchEpan as to which of them had grasped the Mantras perfectly. It was agreed that the one who was able to generate fire in a wet log of wood would be the winner. NrumEdan uttered his Mantra but he could not ignite and only smoke issued forth from the log. When ParuchEpan did the same, it immediately caught fire. NirumEDan praised ParuchEpan calling him ?Oh! Rishi!? This shows how the word was held in highest reverence in days of yore.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on the monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, Now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry.
Different Kinds of Rishis

Rishis were classified into several categories. Apart from ordinary ? Rishis?, there were ?Vipra Rishis?, ?Brahma Rishis?, ?Deva Rishis? ?Daanava Rishis? and ?Raaja Rishis?.

Those who were priests by virtue of their birth as Brahmins were called ?Vipra Rishis? (e.g) Sage Uthanga.

Those who had realized ?Brahman? through intense Tapas were known as ?Brahma Rishis?(e.g.) VasishTa, Atri, and Aaangirasa.

Sage Naarada is known as ?Deva Rishi.

Sukrachariar is known as ?Daanava Rishi? due to his alignment with Asuras.

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 ?Raaja Rishis?. (e.g.) Sage Viswaamitra, Ambareesha, Trasadayu, Sibi Chakravarthi and Maandaata were in this category. We know that King Janaka was a ?Raaja Rishi?.

Rishis are drawn from all the four Ashramams viz., Brahmacharya, Grihasta, Vaanaprasta and Sannyaasa. In the beginning of AraNya KhaaNDam of Srimad Valmiki RamayaNam, we find several kinds of Rishis enumerated. Similarly, in KaLidaasa?s ?Raghu Vamsa?, we find the life sketches of several Rishis.

In Bhavabhooti?s ?Uttara Raama Charitram?, the essential characteristics of a Rishi are brought out beautifully in the following SlOKa:

Priyapraayaa vrittir Vinaya madurO vaachi niyama:
Prakrutyaa kalyaaNee matiranavageeta: parichaya: /
PurO vaa paschaad vaa tadidama viparyaasitara rasam
Rahasyam sadoonaam anupadhi visuddham vijayatE //
? Universal love and affection, extreme sweetness in speech, utter humility, genuine consideration for the common good, an elegant dignity in demeanor. These are not ?adopted? virtues but spring naturally from within and last forever as the greatest wealth for the Rishis?.

In other words, they have unshakeable determination in the pursuits conducive to the attainment of their spiritual goal, a total disregard for pleasures that flesh is heir to, knowing that such pleasures to be of no lasting value, unremitting in the performance of Tapas, simple living and high thinking, compassion in heart for all living beings, extreme devotion to the Lord (i.e) Bhagavad Bhakti of a very high order matched by absolute probity and rectitude of character, self control, long life, forebearance and fortitude in the face physical and psychological calamities and discomforts -and such other innumerable qualities.

Even today, there may be some great souls who do not claim to be ?Rishis?. In the PuraaNas, however, we find sometimes that some Rishis also seem to falter from this ideal code of conduct.
We will discuss these later.

And, unfortunately, today, there is also no dearth of pseudo Swamis who strut about claiming to be Rishis without any of the qualities enumerated above, making it difficult to tell the fake from the genuine!

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on the monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar - (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
A discussion was going on regarding this question for quite sometime.

Rig vEda itself is replete with many women ?Rishikaas? also known as ?Brahmavaadinis? who not only recited Vedas regularly but perhaps some of them also taught Vedas to their Sishyas.

Sounaka?s Brihad Devata, BrihadaaraNyaka and other Upanishads refer to several such ?Brahmavadinis? like ?
Aditi, Agastyasvasaa, Apala, DakshiNaa, GhOsa, Godhaa, IndraaNi, Indramaataa, Indrasnushaa, Jaritaa, Juhu, Lakshaa, Medha, Nadyah, Nisat, Oorvasi, PoulOmi, Raatri, Romasaa, Sarasvati, Sachi, Saramaa, Sarparajni, SikaTa nivaavari, Sooryaa, Sraddhaa, Srih, Upanisat, Vasukrapatni, Visvavara, Waak, Yami.

?Known as Brahmavaadinis, the Rishikas were eligible for ?Upanayana?, ?Vedaadhyayana? and ?Agni Upaasana?

ya tu hareetEnOktam dvividaa: striyO Brahmavaadinya: sadyOvadhwascha/
tatra brahmavaadeenaam upanayanam agneeindanam vEdaadhyayanam svagruhE cha bikshaarhayEti /SadhyO vadoonaam tu upasthitE vivaaahE katanchid upanayana maatram kritvaa vivaaha: kaarya: //
Vide: Smriti Chandrika I, p.24; ViramitrOdaya, Samskaara prakaasika, p.402;

cf ibid yamOpi ?
puraakalpE kumaareeNaam mounjee bandanam ishyatE /
Adhyaapanam cha vEdaanaam saavitree vachanam tatha //

Some of the ?Rishikas? were Rishipatnis too. It will not be out of place to mention that the better halves had equal rights with their men in the performance of yagjnas, for the wife, says the Veda, is half of oneself.

?ArdhO vaa esahaatmanO yat patni? (Taittriya Samhita; Taittriya BraahmaNa; Jaimaniya BraahmaNa 1.86)

The Vedic text ?ayagjnO vaa yEsha yO apatneeka:) emphatically says that there is no Yagjna without a wife.... It was for the performance of ?Dharma?; the duties ordained by the Veda, that the Rishis had led the householder?s life. ?Rishipatnis? had a prominent place in the Society. VasishTa- Arundati, Agastya-LOpaamudra, Atri-Anasuya, Goutama-Ahalya, and others are the Rishi couples who are regarded with veneration even today?.

In BrihadaaraNyaka Uponishad 3.6; 3.8, we see Vachaknavi Gaargi questioning the Sage Yagjnavalkya. The same Upanishad 2.4; 4.5 mentions MaitrEyi learning Brahmavidyaa from Yagjnavalkya, her husband. It is interesting to mention that the Upanishad prescribes a ritual for ensuring the birth of a daughter endowed with learning. Atah ya ichchEd duhitaa mE paNDitaa jaayEta,?tiloudanam paachayitvaa?asneeyataam iti?

(Authority: ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi
Sri N.S. Devanathachariar - Introduction by Sri P.S.Ramanathan).


This is because these women Riashikas were quintessence of celibacy, actually practiced the technique and exercise of overcoming their own inherent feminine biological disabilities connected with menstrual cycles. They were quite conversant with the requirements of intonation and pronunciation that often needed drawing sounds deep from the navel. They were also fully conversant with the rules of grammar peculiar to Sanskrit ? the language through which religion spoke in days of yore. That is why, even in those days, women who could not master the perfection of the language preferred to speak in the much easier but not-so-perfect Praakrit.

?Apart from grammar, the accent, intonation, articulation and pronunciation play a vital role in preserving the heritage. They are variously defined as - Ucha staayi (high pitch) Neecha staayi (low pitch) Madhyama staayi (middle pitch) Dheergha (elongated) Hrasva (shortened), GaNa (repetition back and forth) Udaatta (high key), Anudaatta (low key) Swara (tone) etc. so that even the letter, let alone the words of the mantras and other sacred literature could not be altered or tampered with at will. It would be sacrilegious to do so. As for pronunciation, they are governed by rules on - gutterals, palatals, linguals, retroflex, dentals, labiels, aspirates, nasals, semivocals, diphtongs, visarga and anuswara which are distinct and clear so that if anyone of them is misused in the place of the correct one, it would render the words either meaningless or twisted out of shape?
(Chapter 4 of ?Hinduism Rediscovered? by Anbil Ramaswamy)

And, Veda Adhyayanam has to be continued like Taila dhaara (flow of oil) without interruption even for a single day. For the modern women, uninitiated in this technique and exercise makes it difficult for them to follow the rules both in letter and spirit.


Even in these days, some men might be able to follow these rules of grammar but there can be no ?Rishis? in modern times. The codes of conduct for ?Rishis? were extremely hard and the transgression of the rules was not only considered a sin but it was also believed that the holy learning would leave the offender.

Apasthamba says that because of this, no Rishis (Mantra DrishTas) are born amongst the men of later ages.

NiyamEshu tapa: sabda: / Tad adikramE vidyaakarma nisravanti /?
Tasmaat RishayOvarEshu na jaayantE niyaMa atikramaat
(Apastamba Dharma Sutra 1.2.5; 1.6)

Also, he quotes SvEtakEtu:
? He who desires to study more, after having settled as a householder, shall dwell two months in every year, with collected mind, in the house of his teacher and continue to serve him? Even if in the modern times, one might have done Veda Adhyayanam in the PaaTasaala tradition, it is hard to find one following the SvEtakEtu?s dictum mentioned above, which he himself practiced.

Aswalaayana Grihya Sutra 1.8.10-12 states that a ?Rishi? can sill be born to the newly married, if they abstain from saline food and sleep on the ground for one year ?

Akshaara lavaNaasinou brahmachaariNaava alankurvaaNaavadha: syaaninou syaataam /atha oordvam, triraatram dvaadasa raatram / samvatsaram vaa Eka Rishir jaayatE iti //

Haradatta concludes thet there will be none who will receive the revelation of Mantras in Kaliyuga.


If one does not know or forgets one?s GOtra, Dharma texts recommend the adoption of the GOtra of the great Rishis Jamadagni or Kaasyapa.

SvagOtra pravara ajgjnaanE Jamadagnim UpaasrayEt / NirNayasindu
Gotra naase Tu kasyapa:?. Kasyapa gOtrasya Sarva saadhaaraNatvaat /
(Smriti Chandtrika p.398)

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on
- Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry
- ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
- ?Sandhyavandanam? book jointly published by Sri Visishtadvaita Research Centre, Madras, Tillaisthanam Swamy Kainkarya Sabha, Bangalore and Sri Poorvacharya Kainkarya Sabha, Bangalore.
- Sri Desika Diary of Seva Swamigal for Chitrabanu yaer
- ?The early Brahminical System of Gotra and Pravara? ? a translation of ?Gotra - Pravara Manjari? of Purushottam Pandita by Brough J, Cambridge University Press (1953)
Though this compilation is based on the above, it is not comprehensive and we do not guarantee the accuracy of the details. This is because the major Gotras are divided into minor subdivisions known as gaNas and gaNas themselves are further subdivided into lineages. The term ?Gotra?, however, is often used to refer to the major Gotras, as also to gaNas and even these lineages. Thus, we find several ?gaNas? and ?lineages? listed under major ?Gotras?, each being appended with the term ?Gotra?. And, you will see the same Rishis occurring in the Pravaras of one or more different groups in the nature of permutation and combination. We will be grateful for any additions, corrections, modifications etc. with appropriate PramaaNams.
Please send them to Ramanbil@xxxx

Please refer to your elders as to the correct Pravara to be used with reference to your Gotra. for your observance.
In our daily Sandyavandanam, we recite the names of seven Rishis who are considered to be the Chief Gotra pravartakas. Viz,
Atri, Brigu, Kutsa, VasishTa, Goutama, Kaasyapa and Aangirasa.

First, we will present the Pravaras of these Gotras, gaNas and lineages:
Gotra / gaNa/ lineage   Pravara
1.      Atri a a.k.a. AatrEya:  AatrEya, Archanaanasa, Syaavaasva
2.      Brigu a.k.a Bhaargava
(1) Srivatsa: Bhargava, Syaavana, Aplavaana, Aurva, Jamadagni
(2) Vadoola     Bhargava, Vitahavya, SavEdasa
(3) Vatsa Bhargava, Syavana, Apanavana
3.      Kutsa:  Angirasa, Mandatra, Kutsa
4.      VasishTa
(1)     KaunDinya       VasishTa, MaitraavaruNa, KaunDinya
(2)     Parasara        VasishTa, Shaktya, Paraasara
5.      Goutama: Aangirasa, Aayasya, Goutama
6.      Kasyapa
(1)     Kasyapa:        Kaasyapa, Aavatsara, Daivala
(2)     Naidruvakasyapa:Kaasyapa, Aavatsara, Naidruva
(3)     SaNdilya:
(a)     Kaasyapa, Aavatsara, SaaNDilya
(b)     Kaasyapa, Aavatsara, Naidruva, Repa, Raipa, SaNdilya
7.      Angirasa:
(1)     Bharadwaaja: Aangirasa, Baarhaspatya, Bharadwaaja
(2)     Harita: Aangirasa, Ambarisha, Yuvanaasva
(3)     SadamarshaNa: Aangirasa, Paurukutsa, Trasatasya
(4)     Gargi:
(a)     Aangirasa, Baarhaspatya, Bharadwaaja, Sainya, Gaargya
(b)     Aangirasa, Sainya, Gaargya,
(c)     Kaasyapa, Aavatsara, SaaNdilya
(5)     Moudgalya:
(a)     Aangirasa, Pharamsva, Moudgalya
(b)     Dharkya, Pharamsva, Moudgalya
(c)     Aangirasa, Davya, Moudgalya
(6)     KaNva:
(a)     Aangirasa, Ajaamilana, KaNva
(b)     Aangirasa, Gaura, KaNva
(7)     BaadrayaNa:     Aangirasa, Baarhaspatya, Raatra
(8)     Agastya: Agastya, Dardyayuda, Saumavah
(9)     Sankriti:
(a)     Aangirasa, Gauravita, Sankritya
(b)     Saadhya, Gouraveeta, Sankritya

Besides the above, there are much too numerous other groups beyond the scope of the present write up, like -
Agastya Agastya, maahEndra, amyObhuva
Aja Vaiswamitra, Madhuchandasa, Aajya
Dhanajaya Vaiswmitra, Kaushika, AgamarshaNa
Jamadagni Baargava Aurva, Jaamadagna
Kousika: Viswaamitra, AgamarshaNa, Yuvanaasva
Shunaka Shaunaka
Upamanyu VasishTa, Aindrapramaada, Aupamaanyava
VaamadEva Aangirasa, VaamadEva, Baarhadukta
Viswaamitra: Viswaamitra, Devaraatha, Audala
and many others

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on
- Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry
- ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)

The Gotra Pravartaka of this Gotram is Sage ?Atri?. He is reputed to be one of the six ?Manasaputras? of Brahma, the others being - Mareechi, Aangiras, Pulastyar, Pulahar and Kratu. He is considered to be the Senior-most of the Sages, having been born, may be, when the earth itself was born!

His wife ?Anasuya?, was equally great, if not more, than Sage Atri himself in her Tapas. Her father was Kardama Prajapathi who knew the past, present and the future (trikaaljnaani). He named her as ?Anasuya?. True to her name, she was devoid of jealousy so totally that others felt jealous of this trait in her!

She was the role model for a Pativrata. No greater proof is needed than the incident in which she transformed the Trimurtis of Brahma, VishNu and Siva into ?just born? babies and fed them being nude herself, when they tried to test her Paativratyam!

All the Vedas praise the glory of this Sage Atri. His power of intense penance (tapas) is such that he is deemed to have performed tapas seated under the deepest part of the Ocean for 3000 dEva years (not manushya years!).

He begot innumerable sons and each one of them lived true to the adage ?Like father, like Son?, and performed equally intense Tapas. That is why AatrEya Vamsam is said to be the largest of all lineages.

He is reputed to have founded the whole of the 5th MaNDalam of Rik Veda.

Rik Veda 5.40.9 alludes to how he restored the brilliance of the Sun (Soorya) when the demon, Raahu blacked him out, while none else could accomplish this impossible feat.

Ya vai soorya svarbhaanus tamasaavidyad asura: /
Atraya: thum anvavindan na hi anyE asaknuvan //

The Sun can shed light during day. What about the night? We know that in the night, the moon shines on earth. It is said that it is this Sage who bade moon (SOma) to shed his light on the plants to invest them with healing powers. That is why Moon is also known as ?Oshadeesa? Thus, the credit for making the Sun and the moon to shine goes to Sage Atri.

There is a Yaaga named after this Sage. It is called ?Atri Chaturaham?. The Sage performed this Yaaga and reaped its full benefits. ?Anyone performing this Yaaga is sure to reap similar benefits to the full,? says Taittriya Samhita

?Atriradadaadouvaarya prajaam putrakaamaaya sa ririchaanOmanyata nirbeerya: sithilO yaatayaamaa sa etam Chaturaatram apasyath thum aaharath tEnaa yajata//?

Gold is considered to be the most valuable material. Taitriya Samhita while referring to the procedure for performance of Soma yaaga, stipulates that this precious gold should be gifted on the occasion only to a Brahmin born in the precious lineage of Atri.

Taittriya Samhita 6.6.1 specifically refers to such a one as the most suited for receiving the ?gift of gold?. Though there may be 16 Ritviks who tirelessly engage in the conduct of the Yaaga, Veda ordains that only a Brahmin born of the Vamsam of Sage Atri should be honored first and foremost.

Apasthamba, BOdaayna, Kaatyaayana and others also concur in this.

Apasthambha Srouta Sutram 13.6.12 mentions that of the three Pravartakas of AtrEya Gotra, the first honor should go to the one belonging to the direct descendants of Atri and only if and when such a one is unavailable, the honor could go to the second and the third and in that order.

BraahmaNam adhya Raadhyaasam iti
AatrEyaaya prathamaaya hiraNyam dadaati,
Dviteeyaaya triteeyaaya vaa//

Non-violence (Ahimsa) is deemed to be the first quality to be acquired. But, this is not always possible in practice. Should an occasion arise when germs need to be exterminated, Veda Mantram prescribes expatiation of the sin accruing there from by simply uttering the name of Sage Atri. It is said that the Sage had mastered the means of dispelling such sins by virtue of his ?power of penance? (TapObalam).

Bodaayana Srouta Sutram 9.18 attests to this:

?Yadi gharmadugham vaa mahaaveeram vaa krimaya: Upaadhi gachchEyu: Taanadbhi: prakshaalayEth ?AtriNaa tvaa krimE hanmi? iti mantrENa?

Sage Atri is known as one of the four primary disciples of Lord Vikaanasa who appeared from the nail of Brahma to propagate the procedure for Bhagavad Aradhana.

To this day exist a Samhita granta, in the name of Sage Atri, as a basic reference manual in this regard. Vedas and Puranas speak very high of the glory of AatrEya Gotram.

Let us pay our obeisance to the most ancient Rishi couple of Atri and Anasuya and seek their benediction.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry
and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)

The Chief Pravartaka of Bhaargava Gotram is Sage Brighu.
Several Gotras with thousands of adherents belong to one or the other subdivisions of this Gotram. (e.g) Srivatsa and Vadoola etc.

The other 4 Rishis who constitute Pravara Rishis besides Brighu are Chyavana, Aaapnavaana, Ourva, and Jamadagni.

Each one of these is hailed for his individuality and greatness. But, it is Sage Brighu who outshines all of them.

What more proof is needed than the declaration of Lord KrishNa Himself when He said ?mahrsheeNamm Brighur aham??

Another aspect by which Sage Brighu covered himself with glory is the fact that like Ksheera-Samudra Raja, Rajarishi Janaka and Periyazhwar, he became the Father-in-law of the Lord Himself! Mahaalakshmi was born as the daughter of Brighu Maharishi and his wife Kyaati (daughter of Kardama Prajaapati). And, that is why Mahaalakshmi is known as ?Bhaargavi?

You know that Sriman Narayana is the Supreme Lord who alone can grant Moksham. And, it is not possible to attain Moksham without the Purushakaaram of Sri Mahaalakshmi. Mahaalakshmi, as Nammaazhwar puts it, is never separated from the Lord. The merciful Thaayaar (Sri) is the one to look up to, whether you want spiritual liberation (Moksham) or material prosperity or both. And, wealth is the sine-qua-non for material prosperity.
?AruL illarkku avvulagu illai, poruL illarkku ivvulagu illai?

Do you want to strike it rich right here and now?
There is a secret recipe for this.
What is this recipe? Where can we find it?

It is found in ?Atahrva Veda - Uttara bhaagam?. It is called ?Sri Lakhmi Narayana Hridayam?. The beauty of the Stotram is that first you recite Naryana Hridayam. Goddess Lakshmi will hasten to where Narayana is remembered. Then, you recite Lakshmi Hridayam and this will please her. Then, again you conclude by repeating Narayana Hridayam. A clever way to lock in both Lakshmi and Narayana in your own Hridayam! And you are assured of realizing what you need both here and hereafter.

Do you know who is the author of this magic formula?
It is none other than Sage Brighu who has blessed us with this recipe! After all, he is the father of Mahaalakshmi as stated above. His prescription will surely earn the favor of the divine couple for us.

Of the 10 major Avataras of the Lord, we come across the name of Rama three times - Rama with the axe (Parasuraama), Rama with the bow, (Sri Raama) and Rama with the plough (Balaramaa). The first of these three namely Parasuraama is known as ?Bhaargava Raama? to indicate that he was born in the lineage of Sage Brighu.

A few of the other famous personalities belonging to the Bhaargava Gotram are:
· Sounaka, who learned all the PuraaNas from the renowned Sootha PouraaNikar and publicized them to the world.
· Sage MarkaNDeya who won over the Lord of death and who was the sole witness to the VaTapatrasayee during the great deluge.
· Sage Dadeechi who gifted his backbone to Indra to be used with Vajraayudam to kill Vritraasura.
· Uddangar who helped JanamEjaya in performing the terrific serpent sacrifice ?Sarpa Yaaga?
· And, countless other brilliant Sages too numerous to be enumerated in this short write up.

There is an important portion of Taittriya Upanishad named after Sage Brighu and is called ?Brighuvalli? which deals with the expatiation of Vedanta.

In the Mahaabhaarata, we see the famous discussion between Bharadawaja and Brighu known as ?Brighu Bhaaradwaaja Samvaadam? where the eternal rals (Tattvas) are discussed threadbare.

The name of Sage Brighu is associated with several holy places (PuNya Kshetras) like ?Brighu Desam?, holy waters (PuNya theerthas) like rivers ?Brighu Theerrtham?, ponds like ?Brighu PushkaraNi?, streams like ?Brighu PrasravaNam? and holy mountains like ?Brighu Thungam?.

The popular notion is that fire and water do not go well together. Scientists are now rediscovering the nexus between the two by means of scientific experiments. Long before mankind started these experiments, it was the Rishis of Bhaargava lineage who first discovered this nexus and declared it to the world! Though generally, Rishis have great association with fire, the attachment of Bhaargava Rishis? to fire is one of its kind.

Rik Veda attests to this fact:
Imam vidhantO apaam sadhastE
pasum na nashTam padairaNu gman /
Guhaa chatantamusir OjO namObhir ichchanthO
dheeraa BrighavO vindan// (Rik Vedam 10.46.2)

Fire was hiding in a secret place. What was this secret place? It is water. None could find this out. But, it was because of the extreme attachment to fire that prompted the Rishis of Bhaargava Vamsam to search for and find out fire from its hide out. Rik Veda likens this to the anxiety and efforts of the owner of a missing cow in somehow finding it by tracing its footsteps! This is the meaning of the above statement.

There is a Mantram in Rik Vedam which Ritviks utter:
?Oh! Agni! I call upon you, in the name of such great Rishis like Ourvar, Brighu and Aapnavaanar?

ayam iha prathamO dhaayi dhaatrubhir
hOtaa yajishtO adhvarEshveeDya:/
Yam apnavaanO BrighavO viruruchuh
vanEshu chitram vibhvam visOvisE/ (Rik Vedam 4.7.1)

In spite of his close association with fire, an occasion arose when Sage Brighu spelled a terrific curse on fire. The whole world came to a standstill. The celestials including Brahma were stupefied. All Yaagas came to a dead halt because of this curse. What was the curse, how did it come about, was it solved and if so how?

There is long story behind this. We will see this in the next issue.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry
And ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
In the last issue, we observed:
?In spite of his close association with fire, an occasion arose when Sage Brighu spelled a terrific curse on fire. The whole world came to a standstill. The celestials including Brahma were stupefied. All Yaagas came to a dead halt because of this curse. What was the curse, how did it come about, was it solved and if so how??

The curse was simply this:
?Oh! Agni! You will devour everything? (Sarva BhakshakO Bhava)

What is so strange about this?
It only means that fire has to consume anything and everything it comes into contact with. In other words, fire would lose its sense of discrimination as to what is edible and what is not. This is the result of the curse of Brighu.

This was not the case before the curse. Fire used to accept only those Havis offered in Yagnas that were sanctified by appropriate Mantras, for transmission to the respective deities. Other articles would neither be offered nor would fire accept them. Fire is known as ?Havya Vaahana? ? the Courier of offerings. In this respect, fire represented the mouth of the celestials and received offerings on their behalf.
Do we put anything in our mouth that is not fit for consumption?
The same applies to the mouth of the holy Fire god. It is Brighu?s curse that changed this situation.

Why did Brighu spell this curse?
Brighu had two wives. One of them was the beautiful ?PulOma?. An incident that happened when PulOma was a baby was the cause of this curse.

Baby PulOma was very naughty and troubled her parents too much. It became very difficult for the parents to control her vagaries. In order to discipline her, they would take her out of the house and pointing to a tree, they used to terrorize her saying ?See! There is a Brahma Raakshasa in that tree. If you are adamant anymore, we will simply give you away to him?. On hearing this, the child would get scared and behave herself for the nonce. Whenever she misbehaved, the parents used this strategy to bring her round. This was happening for a long time - even till she attained marriageable age. In due course, her parents gave her in marriage to Brighu Maharishi.

There was actually a BrhmaRaakshasa in that tree. Neither PulOma nor her parents knew this but the Raakshasa knew the all. He convinced himself that the parents of the beautiful girl had repeatedly and voluntarily promised to offer her to him and waited for the right moment to receive her in marriage!

When she was married to Brighu, he felt insulted and duped in what appeared to him a denial of his lawful right. He could do nothing due to the power of the Rishi except nursing a grievance of injured pride waiting to be avenged and was lurking near the hermitage of the Rishi. The Rishi could see through his designs by dint of power of his penance and took steps to protect her from the advances of the Raakshasa. Whenever he had to go out, he used to entrust her to the care of his good friend, the Fire God.

One day, when the Rishi had gone for his bath in the river, the Raakshasa entered the hermitage and attempted to abduct her. A spat ensued between the Raakshasa and Fire God. The Raakshasa argued that her parents had offered her to him duly in return for benefits received and that it was the Rishi who had wronged him by marrying one who was his due. He reminded the Fire God that he was aware of this fact because Fire god was also called ?Jaatha Vedas? meaning ?one who knew all that had happened? and cited him as an ?eye-witness for the prosecution?!

This became a ?Dharma SankaTam? for the fire God. On the one hand, what the Raakshasa said was true. On the other, it is but natural for parents to scare their wards through such tactics, which were just that and no more. And, there was no wedding ceremony performed between PulOma and the Raakshasa with Vedic rites, whereas her marriage ceremony was duly performed and consecrated with the Rishi. The claim of the Raakshasa was unjustified. Consequently, he gave a ruling against the Raakshasa.

But, the Raakshasa could not wait till the delivery of judgement. He forcefully kidnapped PulOma saying that he would marry her through ?Raakshasa Vivaaham? ? a form of marriage allowed in the Sastras for the Raakshasas.

PulOma was then in the final stages of pregnancy. In the melee, she fell down on one side, the Raakshasa on the other. She gave birth to a baby boy who was resplendent like the Rishi himself. Its brilliance was such that the Raakshasa was reduced to ashes.

Do you know who was this child? It was the famous ?Chyavana Maharishi? He was named so, because he literally slipped out of his mother?s womb (Chyavana means slipping out)
(Cf The name of Sriman NarayaNa ?A-chyuta? which means ?One who would not forsake or give up or let slip his devotees from out of his protection)

Brighu returned after his morning ablutions. Finding his wife in that condition, he took her to a safe place and with raging ire, he cursed Fire God as aforesaid for failure to protect PulOma entrusted to his care.

?Sarva? means ?all? including the dirty and the reprehensible. Unable to accept such unpalatable offerings, Devatas loathed thm and refused to accept such filthy stuff. ?Homas? came to a standstill. The Devas who were literally starved of their routine provender approached Brahma to solve the problem!

Brahma could not change the curse. But, he assuaged the celestials saying ?It is a blessing in disguise, since fire has the capacity to purify by incineration even such unclean things. Agter all, such purification was beneficial to all and the offerings became purified to make them fit for transmission to the celestials. The Sun also does cleanse the earth with his rays and for this reason, we do not consider him as unclean. The same applies to fire also?

Brahma to Agni:
na tvam sarva sareerENa sarva bhakshtvam yEshyasi /
UpaadEna archishO yaastE sarvam Dhakshyanti taah sikhaah //
Yathaa soorya suchih sprushTam sarvam suchi vibhaavyatE /
Tathaa tvadarchir nirdagdham sarvam suddham bhavishyati //

Thus, we see that even the great Brahma had to bow to the words of Sage Brighu. Such was the glory of the Sage.

Let us see some more reasons that add credit to the name of Brighu.

- ?Gaayatri? is considered as one of the greatest of Mantras. The expression ?Bharga:? occurring as the key word in this Mantra alludes to the brilliance of the Sun.
- The summit of a steep mountain goes by the name of Brighu. Committing suicide by jumping from the top of such mountains is called ?Brighu Pathanam? ? a reference to the highest point in a mountain that serves as the ?Suicide point?!
- There are several works in Astrology, AyurvEda etc that carry his name.
- In the lore of creation, a separate part known as ?Brighu Sargam? deals extensively with the creation process.

Let us now take leave of Sage Brighu.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry
And ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
The Chief Pravartaka of this Gotram is the Sage Kutsa. In our daily prayers, when we recite the names of the Rishis, he is mentioned third after Atri and Brighu, even though he is a descendent of the Vamsam of Sage Aangirasa who is mentioned as the last of the seven Rishis. So, we will consider his glory in this posting. The Haritas, Mudgalas, KaNvas Sankritis and others belong to this lineage.

?Kutsa? is indeed a very strange name. The word ?Kutsa? means in Sanskrit ?fault-finding? ?One who engages in scolding or belittling others?. How could such a name attach to one who was a great Mantra DrishTaa in his own right besides being in the lineage of the renowned Maharishi Aangirasa?

It might mean that perhaps he was very exasperated with the vagaries of the world and was vocally expressing his displeasure to the annoyance of those who were annoyed with him for his stentorian disciplining. And, therefore, this name got stuck to him.

It is, however, seen that even this great Rishi who was so strict in his own observances, once made a mistake in pronouncing a Veda mantram and, therefore, was cursed to become a ?frog in the well?. When he atoned for his lapse, Veda Purusha told him that even while being a frog, he would remember his previous birth and will be relieved of the curse if he did penance in a PushkaraNi (Holy waters) and prayed to Soundararaja PerumaaL in Vaalmiki kshEtram for 48 days. This he did and was cured of his curse and regained his former self.

This Valmiki kshetram is none other than my native place, ANBIL, the birthplace of Sage Vaalmiki and one of the 108 Divya DEsams consecrated by Tirumazhisai Azhwar. The PushkaraNI is known as ?Mandooka PushkaraNi?.
(Authority: ?Tiruvarangam TirukkOyil? (pages 73-74) of the official publication of Sri Ranganatha Swami Devastaanam, Srirangam)

(Incidentally, this is one of the many glories of ANBIL,
ANBIL is situated 5 miles east of Lalgudi, in Tiruchy District, Tamil Nadu)

Nevertheless it does not detract from his glory due to his extreme and punctilious adherence to probity and rectitude, fame, greatness, severity of penance, knowledge, strict observance of codes of conduct as laid down in the Saastras, attitude of absolute benevolence, that earned him the respect and regard from even his critics.

We are familiar with the PrOkshaNa mantram, ?Om Bhoo: Bhuva: and Suvaha?. The Mantra drishTa of the fourth Vyaahriti ?Suvah?. Is none other than this ?Kutsa? Rishi. The Veda Vakhya in Taittriya Samhita 2.6.5 attests this fact thus:
?BrahmavaadinO vadantyatbhir haveemshi proukshee: kenaapa iti brahmaNEti brooyaat adbirhyEva haveemshi prOkshati brahmaNaapa:? This occurs in the Yaaga prakaraNam in the Vedas as an answer to the question:
?With what do you purify the offerings (havis)??
? By sprinkling water?
?With what do you purify water to be able to impart purity to the havis??
? With mantra?
?What is that mantra??
?Boo: Bhuva: Suvaha: mantra?

The mantra drishTas of this triad were Atri, Brighu and Kutsa. It is this mantra that is the foundation for all lowkeeka and Vaideeka karmas tirelessly referred to throughout the Vedas and Upanishads. This forms an integral part in all Nitya and Naimittika karmas, in Yaagas, in offering prayers to Bhagavaan, in all expiatory homas ?Sarva Praayas chitta hOmam, in the Gaayatri japam, in Arghyam and in PraaNaayaamam. Sage Kutsa is one of the three Rishis who discovered this mantra.

That the name of Kutsa is found mentioned in the Vedas in about 40 to 50 contexts shows how the greatness of this Rishi is recognized in the Vedas.Rik Veda 4.16.10 mentions a conversation between Sage VaamadEva and Indra which illustrates how Kutsa and Indra were not only bosom friends but also were ?look-alikes? so much that at one stage IndraNi herself could not differentiate between them. She had to ascertain from the ?horse?s mouth? of Indra himself!

It would appear that at the request of Kutsa who was the son of one Rajarishi called ?Ruru?, Indra helped in decimating Ruru?s enemies and invited Kutsa to Indraloka to celebrate the victory. It was then that the above incident happened.

There is a Sooktam in Rik Veda 1.106.6 that consists of 7 mantras. Though Kutsa discovered this Sooktam, he took pride in calling it in conjunction with his Achaarya, Aaangirasa as ?Kutsa: Aangeerasa:

Once, Kutsa fell into a deep well. Indra came running and saved his friend. This is mentioned in Rik Vedam 10.40.6.

Kaalidaasa commences the 5th Sargam of his ?Raghuvamsa? with an invocation to Kutsa. ?Koutsa: prapEdE Varatantu sishya:? This Koutsa was the Sishya of Sage Varadantu who was himself the Sishya of Kutsa Maharishi. In those days, it was a matter of pride for the Sishyas to call themselves after the names of their Praachaartyas. Thus, the name of ?Koutsa? was fashioned out of the name of ?Kutsa?.

This ?Koutsa? learned all the scriptures at the feet of Sage Varadantu. On completion of studies, he requested his Guru what he wanted as ?GurudakshiNa?. Varadantu did not desire anything. But, when Koutsa insisted, the Guru got wild and asked for 14 crores of sovereigns. Like Brahmin Brahmacharis were wont to, Koutsa was eking out existence by begging for alms ?Unchavritti?. Where would he go for such a huge amount? He approached Raghu Mahaaraja for help. Raghu was so munificent that he offered Koutsa a huge treasure that far exceeded the funds asked for. Koutsa agreed to take only what he had requested (14 crores of sovereigns) and not anything more. Raghu was insistent that he should take the entire offer. Finally, Raghu bought camels and horses with the excess amount and mounted the treasures on them and sent them to the Acharya. All were happy and satisfied.

That was Krita Yuga. None would chase after wealth more than what was absolutely needed and considered it a great sin to amass anything more. We in the Kali Yuga, chasing after mammon, cannot comprehend this virtue that the people of yore practiced!

While taking leave of Raghu, Koutsa blessed him to beget an equally virtuous son. In due course, Raghu Maharaja got an illustrious son called ?Ajan?. This ?Aja Maharaja? was the father of Dasaratha, the father of Sri Rama. Thus, it was due to the blessings of Sage Koutsa that fame of Raghu Vamsa was firmly established.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
The Chief Pravartaka of this GOtram is Sage VasishTa. His name appears as the foremost of the Pravara Rishis of several GOtras (e.g.) KouNDinya, Upamanyu, Paraasara, JaatukarNya, Sankriti, LOhinya etc.

Sage VasishTa needs no introduction. His name reverberates through the entire gamut of our holy scriptures so that there can be none even remotely acquainted with Srutis and Smritis who could ever miss this Sage. He spans like a colossus over ages and eons, being associated with the galaxy of Gods and Goddesses, dynasties of Kings and emperors, lineages of Sages and Savants.
We have a famous Slokam, which literally details his heading the genealogical tree. While introducing Sage Vyaasa, it says-
Vyaasam VasishTa naophtaaram SaktEh poutram akalmasham /
Paraasara aatmajam vandE Sukha taatam tapOnidhim //
?Vyaasa was the great grandson of VasishTa; Grandson of Sakti; Son of Paraasara; father of Sukha?. Thus, generations of famous Maharishis belong to the lineage of VasishTa.

We all know how Sage Viswaamitra struggled hard to get recognition as ?Brahma Rishi? at the hands of Sage VasishTa. It is this Viswaamitra who used the expression ?MahaatEja:? (Most brilliant) to describe VasishTa, his archrival!

Aham vEdmi mahaatmaanam Raamam Satya paraakramam /
VasishTOpi mahaa tEJaa yE cha imE tapasi stithaah // (VR 1.9.14)

He was one of the ten sons of Brahma. Valmiki Ramayanam attests to this fact saying ?VasishTo BrahmaNa Suta:? (VR 1. 52.6)

His strict adherence to the codes of conduct prescribed in the Sastras(anushTaanam) is proverbial and has become a by-word for referring anyone with a high record of moral rectitude and scrupulous adherence to the religious rigor and discipline being called ?Saakshaat VasishTa?

One such Sage living amidst us today is H.H. Srimad ANDavan, Srimad Gopala Desika MahaaDesikkan of Poundarikapuram Swami Ashramam, Srirangam hailed verily as ?VasishTa? by all the Prakrutam Acharyas today.

If VasishTa is so renowned, his wife Arundati is equally venerated as the exemplary chaste spouse, the perfect wife for the perfect husband!

Even to this day, showing the bride Arundati star is an integral part of Hindu Weddings. The significance is that the wife-to-be is exhorted to follow the example of Arundati in upholding steadfast fidelity to the would-be husband.

Prior to Vyaasa?s times there was no division of Veda into Rik, Yajur, Saama and Atharva, All the Vedas were in one whole. Like father the four faced Brahma, (though VasishTa did not have four faces), he had mastered all the four Vedas in their entirety. VasishTa is the Pravartaka of for innumerable mantras lying all over the Vedas. (e.g.) Rik Veda has 10,000 Riks. This forms only 10% of the Rik Samhita and VasishTa is reputed to be the mantra drishTa for a majority of these. The whole of the 7th MaNDala containing 100 Sooktas and 819 Mantras are attributed to him. In Saama Veda, there are special sections called ?VasishTa Nivaham?, ?VasishTa chapam?, and ?VasishTasya ankusam? etc. KaaLIdaasa describes VasishTa as the very treasure of Veda:
? atha atharva nidhE tasya vijitaari poorNa: /
Arthyaam arthapatir vaacham aadadE vadataam vara: // (Ragu Vamsam 1.59)
He adds further tributes like
?VasishTam rOga naasanam? (Ibid 6.44.2)
?VasishTam veerudhaanaam? (Ibid 6.21.2)

Though he could have commanded all the wealth one could dream of, he deemed Jnaana and AnushTaana as the only real wealth. All that he could call his own was a cow named ?Nandini?. Nandini could produce instantly whatever he desired and all that he needed were the ingredients (saamgri) for the homas that he conducted innumerable times. And, Nandini never failed in providing all this and more.

Nandini was also the one source of trouble for him all the time!
Once, Viswaamitra who was a Rajarishi visited his hermitage with a huge entourage. With the help of Nandini, VasishTa treated the host of guests to a fabulous treat almost instantly. Viswaamitra was nonplussed at the bewildering rapidity with which the cow could produce the feast, in the midst of the deep forest where nothing could be procured. He demanded Nandini and offered a thousand cows in barter. VasishTa would not oblige.

When Viswaamitra tried to take away Nandini by force, at the command of VasishTa, it created an invincible army that routed the forces of Viswaamitra.

Worsted and humiliated at his defeat, Viswaamitra did severe penance for no better purpose than acquiring powerful weapons including the mystic ?Brahma astra?. Having got them, he hurled all of them at VasishTa, the ?Brahma putra?. VasishTa merely planted his holy staff consecrated with the brilliance of his power of penance (TapObalam). All the weapons of destruction of Viswaamitra were disarmed, demolished and rendered impotent before this staff!

Viswaamitra gave up declaring that the ?Power of prince was no match to the power of penance (Brahma tEjas)?
? Dik balam kshatriya balam, Brahma tEjO balam balam? (VR 1.56.23)

His only ambition now was to be recognized as ?Brahma Rishi? and that
?Right from the horse?s mouth? ?as they say - the mouth of VasishTa. It was thus, the expression ?VasishTar vaayaalE Brahma Rishi? has become popular.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
There was another occasion when trouble for VasishTa arose on account of Nandini. The 8 Vasus known as AshTavasus once visited his hermitage. Like Viswaamitra, they also wanted to snatch away Nandini forcibly. VasishTa was so incensed with them that he uttered a curse that they lose their divinity and be born as human. One of the 8 Vasus who tormented Nandini most was ?Dhyou?. When they pleaded with VasishTa to forgive them, VasishTa mitigated his curse that they regain their divine status as soon as they died. ?Dhyou?, however, was to languish for an interminably long time before he could get relieved from the curse. This ?Dhyou? was none other than the renowned ?Bheeshma? hailed as ?Pitaamaha? in Mahabhaarata.

A strange desire overtook the Ikshvaaghu king, Trisanku. He wished to ascend to the heavens with his physical body in tact! It is well known that it is impossible to do so according to Veda Sastras. He approached VasishTa who was the Kula guru for the Ikshvaaghu Vamsam, because he believed that nothing was impossible for VasishTa.

No doubt, there was nothing that VasishTa could not accomplish.
For example, we all know ?Dasa-ratha?. Do you know how he got this name? He could drive his chariot in all the 10 directions. That is why he came to be known as ?Dasa+ratha?. He could do this only because of the power of VasishTa. While he could travel to any world (celestial or nether worlds), it was never his desire to over stay his visa in any of them, because he knew that it was against Dharma.

Another example is that several generations later, there was a king called Raghu in the Ikshvaaghu dynasty. He created a chariot to transport his guest, Sage Kutsa together with a huge treasure gifted to him as dakshiNa. This chariot could move without let or hindrance on land, sea or the skies as desired> how did this chariot acquire this power? Again, it was by a miracle wrought by VasishTa. VasishTa uttered a mantra and sprinkled water on the chariot. This invested the strange powers on the chariot. KaaLidaasa mentions this incident in his ?Raghuvamsa? (5.27)

VasishTa mantOkshaNaja prabhaavaat Udanvad aakaasa maheedharEshu/
MarutsakhasyEva valaahakasya gatirvijagnE nahi tad rathasya //

If VasishTa, who had such miraculous powers to do anything he wished, turned down the request of Trisanku, there must be some valid reason behind it. What was this reason?

Anything that VasishTa did was to be precisely in tune with Dharma, never against it. Trisanku?s request to become a ?permanent Resident? (Green-card holder?) of Svarga in his present form was against Dharma Sastras. Naturally, he rejected the request outright.

Then, Trisanku approached the 0ne hundred sons of VasishTa, only to be cursed to become an outcaste ?ChaNDaaLa?, that incidentally made it impossible for him to fulfill his desire with a ChaNDaaLa body at that.

He made straight to Sage Viswaamitra, the archenemy of VasishTa in the hope of cashing in on his enmity with VasishTa and the belief that Viswaamitra would not let him down. The rest is history.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
You may wonder how is this possible. It is common knowledge that VasishTa was actually the son (Saakshaat putran) of Brahma. Then, how could he be deemed as Brahma himself?
To answer this paradox, we have to have a look at the basics of Yaagas.
The performer of any sacrifice (Yajamaana) is required to be assisted by Ritviks. The number of Ritviks varies according to the various types of Yaagas. For example, ?JyotishTomam? aka ?SOma yaagam? would need 16 Ritviks who would act in 4 different groups each consisting of 4 Ritviks. One among them will be the chief of the particular group, others being assistants to him. These chiefs are called Advaryu, Hotaa, Udgaataa and Brahmaa. Advaryu assumes responsibility for the conduct of the Yaaga as laid down in the procedural manual of Yajur Veda; Hotaa takes the responsibility for reciting the Rik mantras as per the Rik vEda; Udgaata sings the samans (more or less the same mantras but set to music) in the manner laid down in the Saama Veda. The last one who supervises the entire procedure (Master of ceremonies?) is called Brahma. This is the most difficult assignment because he has to have his eyes and ears all around to see that nothing happens to vitiate the efficacy of the performance. Thus, VasishTa, the ?Brahma putra? and Ritviks belonging to his lineage are eligible to carry on this function.

Vedas give another reason for this. In Soma Yaaga, the primary deity is Indra. VasishTa is the one who has ?actually seen? (Pratyaksham) Indra, which other Rishis could not do. And, when he had this Pratyaksham, Indra initiated him into a secret mantra called ?stOmabhaaga? and because of his knowledge of this secret formula; he would be honored as Brahma in all sacrifices. And, Indra advised him not to reveal it to other Rishis. Because of this, the descendents of VasishTa came to occupy this coveted position in all yaagas.

RishyO vaa Indram pratyaksham naapasyan/ thum VasishTa: pratyaksham apasyath/ sO abhraveet braahmaNam tE vakshyaami yathaa tvat purOhitaa: prajaa: prajanishyantE/ atha itarEbhyO rishibhyO maa prOvaacha iti tasmaa yetanta stOmabhaagaan abhraveet tatO VasishTa purOhitaa: prajaa: praajaayanta tasmaad VasishTO Brahmaa kaarya:/
(Taittriya Samhita 3.5.2)

As we saw earlier, VasishTa and his spouse Arundati formed a perfect couple ?made for each other? each enhancing the glory of the other. There are several mantras attesting to this (e.g.)

Sapta rishaya: prathmaam krittikaanaam arundatee yad druvataam ha ninyu:/
Shad krittikaa mukhya yOgam vahanteeyam asmaakamEdhatvashTamee /
(Mantra Prasnam 1.9.7)

This is an important mantram in which Arundati?s name occurs. At the time of commencement of Oupaasanam, it is customary for the groom to ?show? ?Dhruva? and ?Arundati? stars. This is the mantram that is recited on the occasion.

The seven Rishis (Sapta Rishis) on the firmament are Mareechi, Atri, Angeeras, Pulastyar, Pulahar, Kratu, and VasishTa. They have their respective wives who had their respective names, but collectively they were called by the name ?Krittika?. Arundati is the 7th Krittika. All the other Rishis and their wives acknowledged that ?Arundati? was the firmest one. The groom while ?showing? the Arundati star, tells his bride to be firm and act as the ?8th Krittika? taking after the 7th one viz., Arundati.

Arundati was never separated from VasihTa and they could be seen always together, KaaLidaasa says in his ?Raghu Vamsa? that when King Dileepan visited VasishTa?s place, he paid his respects to both of them ?together?.

In Kumaara Sambhavam also this togetherness of this couple has been referred to in the context of the Sapta Rishis negotiating the marriage proposals between Lord Siva and Paarvati. While other Rishis came without their spouses, only Arundati accompanied her husband during the negotiations!

It is the ?Brahmavarchas? of VasishTa that was responsible for the ultimate coronation of Sri Rama and the establishment of ?Rama Rajya?.
Such is the glory of VasishTa GOtram.
(Postings on VasisTa GOtram completed)

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
The Pravartakar of this Gotra is Goutamar.
He has nothing to do with the historical ?Gautama Buddha? aka ?Siddharta? whom some have sought to elevate to the status of an Avataara.

Next only to the lineage of Aangeeras Maharishi, which branched off into those of Gautamas, Bharadwajas and Kevala Aangiras, the one bearing the name of Goutama is one of the largest groups. His lineage itself branched off into 1o subsets viz.,
1. Aayaasyas,
2. Shaardwatas,
3. KoumaaNdas,
4. Dheerghatamas
5. Ouchnasas,
6. KarENupaalis,
7. RaahugaNas,
8. Somaraajakas,
9. Vaamadevas and
10. Brihdgeetas.
The Pravaras of all these, commence with the name of ?Aangiras? and ends with the name of ?Goutama?, the names of the respective Rishis being sandwiched between these.

The name ?Goutama? is derived from the root ?gOtama?. ?tama? means ?darkness? and ?gO? means inter alia ?bright light?. Together, they indicate that he dispels darkness (ignorance) by his brilliance (knowledge).

Another interpretation goes like this: ?gO? means ?Cow?. The words ?tara? and ?tama? indicate the comparative and superlatives in Sanskrit. By this, it could be held that he was the one who had countless cows in his cowshed.

The name ?Goutama? occurs in Rik Veda, yajur Veda, Saama Veda, Atharva Veda, Itihaasas, PuraaNas, Kalpa Sutras, Tarka and other Sastras. It is not clear whether all these relate to one ?Goutama? or one or more of the descendents of the original ?Goutama?, who also were known generically as ?Gautama? only! But, one thing is clear. This name has undoubtedly a conjuring effect by virtue of the virtues of the great Rishi and his illustrious descendents so much so that, numerous others have sought to pride themselves assuming this name!

Superficial readings of some of the stories about ?GOutama? seem anything but flattering though they do convey a moral beneath each. We will allude to a few such dubious stories that, however, in the ultimate analysis enhance the greatness of the Rishi.

Sastras permit offering obeisance but prohibit offering Abhivaadanam to ladies other than one?s mother. This Rishi seems to have done Abhivaadanam to a lady and that too to a ?Brahma Raakshasi?. He introduces himself to the Raakshasi, as ?gOtama? thus:
? GObhistamO mama dhvastamjaatamaatrasya dEhatah /
viddhi maam gOtamam krityE yaatudhaani nibOdha maam //

How it came about is contained in a story in the 94th Chapter of Anusaasana Parva of Mahaa bhaarata.

Once upon a time, there was a severe famine that took a heavy toll on the lives of livestock, birds and humans as well. All the bodies of water had become bone dry; not a blade of grass or other greenery survived. When no food was available, cannibalism ruled the roost not only among men but extended to the great Rishis themselves! Who were these Rishis, who stooped so low? The list is unimaginable.

Mahaabhaarata lists them thus: (vide 13.94.4)
KasyapO atri VasishTas cha BharadwaajO atha goutamah /
ViswaamitrO jamadagnih saadhvee chaiva api Arundatee //
It may be noted that the list includes the renowned wife of Sage VasishTa.

The above Rishis known as Sapta Rishis went hungry for days on end. They chanced to come across the corpse of a man lying unattended and were preparing to eat up the entrails of the dead person.

A King belonging to the Vamsam of the famous Sibhi Chakravarthi happened to see their plight and was as much shocked as we are today! Many questions arose in his mind:
· ?How come these great Rishis could stoop to such a despicable act?
· What happened to their Jnaanam, AnushTaanam, Tapas and Vairaaghyam?
· Does it prove the old adage that in the face of hunger every virtue vanishes??
(Pasi Vandaal pathum parandu pOm)

He fell at their feet, prevailed upon them to stop this sinful act and offered to give them not only sufficient food but also great treasures that he had saved ?for the rainy day? (may be, in this case ?the rainless days!).

The King successfully weaned them from consuming the corpse but he was not successful in persuading them to accept his gifts. This is because the Rishis felt ?accepting alms? was even more heinous than what they were about to embark upon. (Yerpadu igazhchchi). All the Rishis spoke to him in one voice that accepting alms was like consuming honey adulterated with poison.

?Raaja! PratigrahO raajnO! madvaa svaadO vishOpamah?
So saying, they left for the deep forest to continue their Tapas.

The King was totally disappointed. He summoned his guards to fetch some fig fruits; concealed within them some gold coins and asked them to hand over to the Rishis. He did it in all good faith so that the Rishis could slake their hunger by eating the fruits while he could acquire some merit in seeing that some portion of his wealth reached the deserving recipients.

The Rishis who noticed the coins, refused to accept the gift of fruits saying ?Those who desire supreme happiness here and the hereafter should never accept such gifts: ?apratigraahyam Yetat prEtya cha Iha sukhEpsinaa?.

Each came up with an excuse for not accepting the coins concealed in the fruits. Let us confine ourselves with what ?Goutama? said:

Na tallOkE dravyam asti yal lOkam pratipoorayEth /
Samudrakalpa: purushO na kadaachana pooryatE? (MB 13.94.29)

?There is nothing in this world that can satiate a person?s desires completely. Desire is like a vast and deep ocean. Man will never be satisfied with anything?

When the King heard this from his guards, he became very angry. But what could he do against such great Rishis? He started doing a Yaagam. From the sacrificial fire pit arose a frightful Raakshasi. The King ordered the Raakshasi to kill the Rishis. But, how could she also carry out the King?s orders in the face of the power of penance of the Rishis. She hid herself under the water of the only lake that had a semblance of water inspite of the severe drought. She was sure that the Rishis would come to the lake to drink water and tormented by hunger they would attempt to pluck a few lotus stems that were still there in the lake and that she could make it a pretext to kill them.

As expected, one day the Rishis came to shores of the lake. She prevented them from drinking the water saying that she was the guardian of for the lake and none could drink its waters without her permission. She demanded that they should appear before her one by one and do ?abhivadanam? spelling out their respective Gotram, Pravaram etc. The Raakshasi expected that in their thirst and hunger they would not heed her warnings and she could make that an excuse to kill them for disobeying her.

This, however, was a transgression of the Sastric injunction against offering Abhivaadanam to a lady! A real ?Dharma SankaTam? for the Rishis!

In their hunger and thirst, the Rishis preferred to disobey Sastra rather than disobey her command! Each one of them approached her and told their respective names, Gotrams, Pravarams etc. This is the context in which ?Goutama? did Abhivadanam as mentioned earlier.
We will see another such story in our next posting.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and "MaharishigaL Charitram" by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
Another incident that does no credit to the great Sage is that on an occasion, he attempted to drown his own father.

Let us see how this happened.
His father was the Sage "Dheegrgha Tamas", son of Sage Usatyar and grandson of Sage Aangirasa. Due to a curse, he was born blind and hence his name "Dheegrgha Tamas" meaning "One in eternal darkness".
Though he was physically blind, he had superior vision having mastered all the Vedas and Saastras and was respected by one and all. None came forward to marry this blind man. He remained a bachelor for long because of his congenital disability. At long last, a woman called "PradvEshi" agreed to marry him. Her first son was our Goutama, only to be followed in quick succession by many others without end!

"PardvEshi" got fed up with him and started hating her husband. One day, true to her name, she called her sons and directed them to throw away their old, decrepit and blind father in the river Ganga. Goutama and his brothers dutifully carried out the order instantly. They put him on a wooden plank (an apology for a boat) and let it float on the surface of the fast rushing, raging floodwaters. They returned home in smug satisfaction that they had not directly killed him and if the sharks in the river were to eat him up, it was not their fault! In those days, people used to adopt this method to get rid of unwanted persons. Was not KarNa given the same treatment by none other than his own mother?

Sometimes, the victims used to survive and live happily ever after, thanks to some good Samaritans as it happened in the case of KarNa. The poor old man was caught in the swirl and was struggling for life but he also luckily found a savior. A king who saw his predicament rescued him and took him under his tutelage.

Be that as it may. The question arises : How could a Sage stoop to perpetrate such a heinous crime (adharmam), write on "Dharmam" in what is known as "Goutama Dharma Sutram" (GDS) and held in high esteem for this contribution?

This work seeks to provide guidance for leading a virtuous life. Is it not funny travesty and contradictory for the sage preaching good conduct contrary to what he himself practiced!

But, Goutama is not seem to be alone but is in good company. Did not Parasurama cut off the head of his own mother? And, we see that on occasions, many other Rishis also transgressing moral codes of conduct.

It is natural for us to ponder over their indiscretions and tempted  to generalize our condemnation against all Rishis in general.

Goutama seems to have entertained the same reflection on his own conduct. Even at the outset, in the said (GDS)he hastens to raise this question and proceeds to provide an answer.
"drushTO dharma vyatikramaH saahasam cha mahataam" (GDS 1.1.3) and
"Avara dourbalyaath") Ibid 1.1.4)
Great ones have indeed transgressed Dharma and performed such extraordinary actions. But, others cannot copy them because they do not have the strength"

What is this "Strength", he speaks of? The great Rishis could do intense Tapas to neutralize the effects of their misdeeds committed due to force of circumstances. They had firm determination and the power to expiate their sins through "Praayschittam" and would never ever withdraw from taking adequate steps in this regard. Their only aim and objective would be to attain "Atma-Suddhi" and would not mind any shame or hardship, but with single-minded concentration would be ready to torture themselves for thousands of years till achieving this expiation.

Lesser folks cannot attempt to do such feats. Therefore, it would be dangerous to cite them as precedents. If they had resorted to exceptionable behavior at times, they also had recourse to exceptional means to expiate the stigma attached to such conduct. We cannot adoptthe former when we are not capable of the latter.

This is the purport of the two Sutrams mentioned above.

That we have to follow the "Aachaarams" (Conduct) of Sages is true but the exceptions also have to be taken note of. The Conduct of great ones fall under two categories viz
(1)     Those that are in accordance with Saastras and
(2)     Those that are contrary to the Saastras. Others can follow those in category (1) by all means. In respect of
(2), the Rishis knew that some of their actions were not in accordance with Dharma. Though they knew this, they had to perform them knowingly due to special circumstances.

It is not for ordinary folks like us to question what is Dharma and what is not in the case of Rishis. All we can do is to ascertain whether a particular action is sanctioned in the Saastras and avoid those that are not so sanctioned.

Kumarila BhaTTar explains this very clearly in "Poorva Mimamsaa Darsanam,1.3.7, Tantra vaartikam" thus:

DushTa kaaraNa yaani karmaaNi saadhubhih /
prayuktaani prateeyEran dharmatVEnEva taanyapi//

Sareera sthitayE yaani sukhaartham vaa prayunjatE /
Arthaartha vaa na tEshvasti sishtaanaamEva dharma dheeh //

DharmatvEna prapannaani sishTair yaani tu kaanichit /
VaidikaiH kartru saamaanyaat tEshaam dharmatvam ishyatE //

Yo hi sdaachaara: puNyabudhyaa kriyatE,
sa dhramaadarsatvam pratipadyEta /
yas tu kaama krOdha lObha mOha sOkaadi hEtutvEnOpalakshyatE,
sa yathaa vidhi pratishEdam vartishyatE//

sishTam yaavat sruti smritityOs tEna yanna virudhyatE /
that sishTaacharaNam dharma pranmaaNatvEna gamyatE //

yadi sishtasya kOpa: syaad virudhyETa pramaaNataa/
tadakOpaathtu na aachaara pramaaNatvam virudhyatE//

The above Slokas prove the above conclusions. Those well versed in Saastras have given this verdict after good deal of deliberations of the circumstances.

No doubt, for all intents and purposes, the action of Goutama was indeed "Adhrama"; so also was the conduct of Parasurama in cutting off the head of his mother.

Sometimes, parents differ from each other and order opposite actions on their sons and daughters. This is really a case of "Dharma SankaTam". Such a dilemma arose in the case of Sri Rama. His father asked him to go on exile to the forest. His mother, Kousalya prevailed upon him not to go. But, Sri Rama found an ingenious solution. Poor Parasurama and Goutama could not find such an escape route! They incurred enormous sin by their actions but also did enormous Tapas, the power of which relieved them of their sins.

We ordinary folks should never make this a pretext to indulge in "adharma'. Kumarila BhaTTar again gives the example of a huge elephant playfully breaking a massive branch of a mammoth tree. Smaller animals cannot try to copy this and risk their life in the process. He says:
"Manda tapasaam gajairiva mahaa vaTa kaaashTaadi bhakshaNam aatma
vinaasaayaiva syaat" (Tantra Vaartikam 1.3.7)

In our own times, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa while walking on the road with one of his disciples stopped to drink some liquor on a wayside grove. The disciple thought that he could also do the same. After sometime, they found molten iron in the boiling cauldron of a blacksmith. Without any hesitation, Ramakrishna drank of the liquid as easily as one would gulp down water. The disciple realized that he could not repeat the feat. The moral is that we should follow what great people advise and not try to do what they do.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
There are several great and renowned Rishis who belong to this Goutama Gotram but all of them are known by the generic name of ?Goutamas? only. Each one of them occupies his rightful place in the galaxy of great Rishis. It would appear that the very appellation of ?Goutama? attached to their individual names catapults them to dizzy heights of glory. You will be already familiar with most of them (e.g.) Devabaagar, AruNar, Uddhaalakar, SvEtakEtu, VaamadEvar, NachikEtas, Chirakaaree, Kripaachariar, Ekadan, Dvidan, Tridan, Goutami. The virtuous wife of Goutama, the famous Ahalya is an outstanding personality in this. We will briefly allude to their glory.

KaaTakam waxes eloquent on the greatness of this Devabaagar. Of all the Rishis, special mention is made of him as the only one who knew the esoteric mantra propitiating the fire god ?Agni?, known as ?Saavitraagnisayanam?. He was so conversant with this, that one day he heard a voice from heaven (an asareeri) saying: ? ?Goutama dEvabaaga who knew Savitram well, knows everything?. Devabaagar was astonished at the body less voice and asked the voice itself
?Who are you??
The voice replied
? I am Savitraagni, the seat of the exalted celestials; I hold the secret light of knowledge?.
The scriptures aver that in those days when ?Agni dEva? was propitiated with total dedication, he would condescend to converse with the Upaasaka in a human voice.

For example:
You would have heard of the popular story of ?UpakOsalan?. With a view to learn Brahma Vidya, he approached his Guru for Gurukulavaasam. With absolute Bhakti, he tended the fires of his Acharya for 12 long years. Still his Guru did not impart the Vidya. UpakOsala was not deterred and continued ?Agni pooja? with utmost patience in the hope that the Acharya would someday teach him the precious Vidya.

One day, after completing his daily chores, he came to offer ?Paadapooja? to his Guru. But, his Guru had gone out somewhere. Acharya?s wife also did not know where the Acharya had gone and when he might return. UpakOsala was beside with grief.

AgnidEva saw his plight and himself came forward to teach him the Brahmavidya that he had longed for, for so long! ?Atha hi agnayas samoodirE?- says ChandOkyha Upanishad 4.10.4

Later on, the Guru returned and came to know what had transpired in his absence. Appreciating the patience of UpakOsala, he completed the instructions.

The case of Devabaagar was similar to this says KaaTakam 1.9.
?YEtaavati ha goutamah / yagjnOPaveetam kritvaadhO nipapaata /
namO nama iti /sa hOvaacha / maa bhaishee Goutama/ jitO vE tE lOKa iti /?

Such was the greatness of the one belonging to the ?Goutama Gotram?
It would appear that everyone belonging to the lineage of Goutama were deeply involved in the study and interpretation of Vedanta. In fact, they seem to have been responsible for starting most of the philosophical disputes on Brahmavidyas like Sadvidya and Panchaagni Vidya, the two most important Vidyas dealt with in the Upanishads.

AruNa Maharishi of Goutama Vamsam had a son named Uddalakar, and this Uddlaka had a son named SvEtakEtu. SvEtakEtu learned the Saastras from his own father and was considered an authority and shone brilliantly by virtue of his knowledge. Once, he went to the court of PravaahaNan, the King of Paanchaala. When the King put a few questions to test SvEtakEtu?s knowledge, the boy could not answer any of them. He felt very upset and returned to his father and put those questions to his father. The father also drew a blank because he himself did not know the answers. Both father and son were covered with shame and both of them made a beeline to the King?s place and requested the King to educate them on the topics.

The King thought that it was not proper for a Kshatriya to be the preceptor of a BrahmaNa. Instead of accepting them as Sishyas, he offered a lot of treasures and pleaded with them to return satisfied accepting the gifts. This was like adding insult to injury for the father-son duo. Uddaalaka quoted Goutama kalpa sootram that declared that though a Brahmin was expected to learn everything, it would not be improper for him to become the Sishya of any others temporarily for acquiring necessary knowledge. After acquiring this knowledge, there is no bar for him to resume his role as an Achaarya.

Aaapat kalpOBraahmaNasya abraahmaNaath vidyOPadEsah/
SamaaptE BraahmaNO guruH/

The King thought about it deeply and then agreed to impart Panchaagni Vidya on condition that Uddaalaka should do service for a long time and be waiting patiently. Uddalaka did accordingly and learning the Vidya, finally revealed it to the world for our benefit. What he got with so much of effort, toil and trouble has become easily accessible to posterity. This Vidya deals with how the soul leaving the body rests at 5 different places before being born again as a human. It also reveals the path taken by those who have done enormous PuNya and the path open to others who have done only sins and many such rare Tattvas.

It is this Uddalaka who taught ?Sad Vidya? to SvEtakEtu. It is this Uddalaka who learned ?Antaryaami BraahmaNam? from Sage Yagjnyavalkyar and published it for the benefit of humanity. In the Upanishads, Uddalaka is referred to as ?Goutama? only. In fact, all the Rishis who followed him in this lineage are reputed to be great Vedaantins.

This is another illustrious Rishi belonging to ?Goutama? Vamsam. Rg Vedam calls him ?VaamadEvO Goutama:? because it is he who founded the 4th MaNDalam of Rg. Vedam that contains 589 Mantras

In the PaTTaabhisheka Sargam of Yuddha KhaaNdam of Srimad RamayaNa, 8 Mahrishis are mentioned who presided over the coronation and poured holy waters consecrating Lord Rama as the Emperor. In this, VaamadEva is second only to Sage VasishTa.
?VasishTO vaamadEvas cha jaabaalir atha Kaasyapa:
Abhyashinchan nara vyaagram?? is the famous Slokam

Why are these two given so much importance?
It is because these two were the Raajagurus of Dasaratha even before the birth of Sri Rama.

?Ritvijou dvaabhimathou tasyaastaam Rishi sattamou /
vasishTO vaamadEvas cha mantriNas cha tathaaparE? (VR 1.7.4)

And, that is why both these take prime spots during the coronation. Although the other preceptors of Dasaratha were equally well qualified as great seers, Vaamadevar of the ?Goutama? lineage occupied such an exalted position next only to and along with Sage VasishTa.

This VasisTa-VaamadEva duo was prominent in the deliberations at the time of King Dasaratha?s earlier AswamEdha Yagjna. In AyOdhya KhaaNdam, on the death of Dasaratha, these were the ones who arranged for Bharata?s return from his maternal uncle?s place. Thus, these two could be seen appearing at all times when important decisions were to be taken in the entire Ramayana.

?Goutama? Vamsam has its own specialties. They were the pioneers in leading the World in following the path of the Vedas (Vedamarga PratishTaapana). The 4th MaNDalam of Rg vEDa relates to VaamadEva. The 26th Sooktam here in just 3 mantras clearly explains the state of mind of a realized person (Brahmagjnaani). Those who have attained Brahmaswaroopm do not come down to earth to relate their experience! Even if one were to explain, we do not have the capacity to understand what they say. Till VaamadEva?s exposition, this remained an inexplicable mystery. It is he who clarified the position in unambiguous terms in these 3 mantras. (Vide Rg Veda 4.26). In short, these mantras explain how Bhagavaan is the sole cause of all that is and will be in the universe.

BrahadaaraNyaka Upanishad and Brahma Sootram speak about the glory of VaamdEva thus:
?Tadvaitath pasyan rishir vaamadEvO pratipEdE
aham manur abhavam sooryas cha iti? (BrahadaaraNyaka Upanishad 3.4.10)
?Saastra drushTyaatu upadEsO vaamadEvaath? (Brahma Sootram 1.1.31.)

These sentiments are echoed in Tiruvoimozhi 5.6.1 paasuram
?KaDal gjnaalam seithEnum yaanE ennum?.

PaaNini in his AshTaadhyaayi indicates that VaamdEVa Goutama was the seer of ?saama VEdam: ?DrishTa saama/ vaamadEvaaayadhyaou/?

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)

NachikEtas belongs to ?Goutama Gotra? and like others of this lineage; he was also one of those who acquired Brahmajnaanam even as a kid. The family tree of Nachiketas reveals this.

There was a great personality in the Goutama Gotra called AARUNI. His son was UDDALAKAR and Uddalakar?s son was SvEtakEtu.

Another son of Uddalakar was ?VAAJA SRAVAS? and his son was ?VAAJA SRAVASAR?. Nachiketas was the son of this Vaaja Sravasar. All of them carry the family name of ?Goutama? only.

Once, Vaaja Sravasar performed a Yaaga called ?Viswajit?. The inexorable condition attaching to this Yaaga is that the performer should give away their entire possessions as gifts (DakshiNa). Cattle were the greatest wealth in those days. So, the Rishi gave away his entire stock of livestock. Nachiketas was closely watching. He thought within himself:

? All these cows are pretty old, infirm and decrepit, so much so that they could not even consume grass or drink water, let alone yielding milk. Of what use would they be to the recipient?? So thinking, he took bold to ask his father:
? To whom are you going to give me away as gift??

Vaaja Sravasar did not take his query seriously and ignored. But, Nachikatas was not to be put off like that. He repeated the question again and again. The father became mad at him. In a fit of anger, he screamed:
?I am giving you away to the Lord of death?

Immediately Vaaja Sravasar realized the enormity of his words because in such a Yaaga when the yajamaana declares his intent to give away something, there can be no looking back. He was beside with grief. The boy pacified his father and his words of solace are remarkable.

?Oh! Father! You don?t have to feel sorry. I am not alone in my march to the kingdom of death. A veritable crowd goes before me and another big crowd will be following me?. ?bhaoonaamEmi prathamO bahoonaamEmi madhyamah? (kaTopanishad 1.1.5.)

Though he pacified his father, it was now his turn to feel desolate, not that he was afraid of death. But, his concern now was what better use he could be to the Lord of death that these crowds were not capable of providing.
?thaih ha smOthitam vaag abhi vadati / Goutama kumaaram iti/? (KaTakam 2.8)

The Goutama-the father, advised Goutama-the son, of a suitable strategy. The son was equally smart to do exactly as advised, with the result that he came back alive to his father, having secured a threesome of boons from Yama, the last and most important of which related to the esoteric truth about the ?after-life scenario?. This truth that he got from Yama with utmost perseverance is now easily available to the world today. Thus, all the great personages belonging to the Goutama vamsa are greatly responsible for the enlightenment of the ?ways and means? of liberation that lie open for us to adopt and benefit.

We have heard the adage ?Procrastination is the thief of time?. This thief, however, is not always bad. And, we have also heard ?Haste makes for waste?. Here is an occasion when the miracle of procrastination saved a descendent of Goutama vamsa from the agony and consequences of bad decisions taken in haste leading to waste.

Another Goutama called ?Medhatithi ? is spoken of highly in the PuraNas. He had a son named (appropriately) as ?CHIRAKAREE?. He used to be sluggish in whatever he did. The word ?urgent? was not in his dictionary. So, the name meaning ?One in slow motion? seemed to fit his demeanor. Though everyone made fun of him, he was not in the least bothered about it. ?Slow, and steady?, he won ultimately. Let us see how:

MEdaatithi once suspected the chastity of his wife and ordered Chirakaaree to behead her. Dutiful son that he was, Chirakaaree went with a knife in hand to the riverside where he found his mother. He was ?hamletting? within his mind whether ?To kill or not to kill?. It was truly a ?Dharma SankaTam? situation for him. If he killed her, it would result in the sin of matricide though he was only carrying out his father?s orders; if he did not, he would be guilty of transgressing the command of his father. True to his name, he was greatly perplexed and went on debating the issue within his mind for hours on end.

It was not very difficult for him to find a solution to this dilemma. After all, ?Goutama Dharma Sutra? has clearly spelled a way out in such tricky situations.
Aachaaryah srEshTO gurooNaam / maatEtyEkE/ maatEtyEkE?
(Goutama Dharma Sutra 1.2.56)

This lists and provides a protocol for grading various persons who should be deemed superior inter se among them. It says that of all those who should be revered, the following gradation has to be observed viz Mother, Father, Acharya, Maternal uncle, Ritviks who lead Yaagas, and in that order.

Should a doubt arise, the Sutram declares that the mother is the one deserving utmost reverence and precedence over the rest. After all, was it not the author of this Goutama sutra, who obeyed his mother in resorting to homicide by letting his father drift into the fast flowing waters of the river? Finally, Chirakaaree came to a conclusion not to kill his mother.

Meanwhile, DevEndra appeared before Medaatithi in the garb of a Brahmin. He was muttering a proverb to the effect ?one should not act in haste and repent in leisure?. Medaatithi realized his mistake. He rushed to the riverside. To his great astonishment and greater sense of relief, he saw the mother and son sitting side by side. He called his son aside and told him that he had changed his mind and that Chirakaaree had no need to execute his order. His regret (SOKam) issued forth in the form of a couple of beautiful verses (slOkams). These have been incorporated in Kumaarikaa KhaaNDam 6.25.29 of Skaandam.

rOgE darpE cha mane cha drOhE paapE cha karmaNI /
apriyE chaiva kartavyE Chirakaaree prasasyatE //
dharmE satrou satruhastE paatrE cha nikaTa stithE/
bhayE cha Saadhupoojaayaam Chirakkaree na sasyatE//
?It is desirable to wait patiently in the case of disease, violence, pride wicked acts, and undesirable efforts.
It is not good to procrastinate in doing Dharma, in facing enemies, in offering gifts to the deserving, in facing threats and in paying obeisance to the pious souls?

The father heaped praise on the son for his patience. All this is the norm of Krita yuga. People were not afraid of acknowledging their faults and readily accepting responsibility, unlike now when we see some people indulging in worst abominable crimes without qualms of conscience and yet acting as if they are the paragons of virtue on earth! We need not condemn for these lapses because they know and do what is necessary to expiate.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and  ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar (referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
This is the name of a great hero whom we encounter in Mahaabhaarata. He and his nephew, Aswathaama are regarded as one of the seven eternal beings ?Chiram jeevis?. One of the sons of Goutama was Saradwaan, a great Tapasvi. He had two progenies, a son and a daughter. The son was ?Kripa? who became known later on as ?Kripaachaarya?- one of the preceptors of PaaNDavas and Kouravas. Sardwaan?s daughter Kripee married the famous DrONaachaarya and begot Aswathaama. Thus, whole generations of famous heroes were born in the Goutama GOtram.

A trio of brothers was also born in Goutama GOtram. They were known as Ekadan, Dvidan And Tridan. All of them were equally great Tapasvis. After their father?s time, they enjoyed royal patronage. But, out of the three, it was Tridan who commanded greater respect than the other two.

Tridan wanted to do a ?SOma Yaaga?. The brothers gathered cows, money etc needed for the Yaaga under the leadership of Tridan. Ekadan and Dvidan were jealous of Tridan?s popularity and were biding for the right time to wreak vengeance on him and planned to carry away the cows and the booty. Tridan was leading and the others were following him.

They traversed long distances in the search for the provisions for the Yaaga and at the time of late night one day, they reached vicinity of the river Saraswati, The brothers who followed deliberately slowed their pace and Tridan was far ahead of them. He was shocked to see suddenly a fox face to face howling at him threateningly. In his predicament, he slipped and fell into a deep well (Paazhum kiNau). He called his brothers aloud for long for help. But, they coolly walked away without coming to his rescue, thinking that if he were to die, it was good for them. And, if he happened to get out of the well alive, he would in any case be able to gather the materials again due to his popularity.

Tridan was not afraid of death. He knew death was inevitable. His concern was different. After having prepared everything, to die without performing the Yaaga, without drinking the sacrificial Soma juice was not acceptable to him. Suddenly, he ogled a creeper hanging inside the wall of the well. Luckily, it was the Soma creeper that he was searching for. He took what little water was in the dry well, crushed the Soma creeper, and took out the juice. Mentally conjuring up the ?YaagavEdhi? and ?TrEtaagnis? he started reciting loudly the appropriate Veda mantras. His voice reached the Heavens. Indra came down to the well site with the band of celestials and accepted the ?SOma rasa?. He ordered the nearby Saraswati river waters to swell. The surging waters lifted up Tridan and he came out unscathed. He got a boon from the Devas that anyone taking bath in the waters of this well should reap the benefits of performing Soma Yaaga. Such was the glory of Trida Goutama. When he came to know of the treachery of his brothers, he cursed them to be born as monkeys and bears. But, this is a different story.

Goutami is the name of a Brahmin lady. It is not known whether she was the wife, sister or daughter of one born in the Goutama GOTram. In accordance with the tradition of this Vamsam, she is known by the Gotra Pravartakar of this GOtram. Mahaabhaarata takes a significant turn on account of her life.  Anusaasana Parva commences with a reference to her.

The great KurukshEtra war was over. Bheeshma Pitaamaha was lying on the bed of arrows awaiting the now famous as ?Bheeshma Ekaadasi?. YudishTira was pestering him with lot of questions and clarifications and Bheeshma was answering him about Dharma with utmost patience. The great Chapter of ?Saanthi Parva? was coming to a close. YudishTira could not avoid thinking of the events in the war in which the heroic acts of the warriors on the one hand as well as the treachery and deceit ruthlessly adopted with the blessings of Lord KrishNa Himself on the other - were passing in his mind like an endless procession of remembrance (yaadOn ki bhaaraat?). Totally confused, YudishTira asked Bheeshma why even after listening to the Saanthi Parva, his mind was still agitated. It was then that Bheeshma narrated the anecdote connected with Goutami.

A poisonous snake bit the only son of Goutami and caused his instant death. A hunter by name, Arjunagan saw this and caught the snake, tied it tightly with ropes and dropped it in front of Goutami and asked her how she wished the snake to be killed whether by burning or by cutting it into pieces.

Goutami would not have it killed saying that killing it would not bring her son back but would result in their rotting in hell endlessly. Here is her SlOkam:

Hatvaa cha yEnamruta: syaad ayam mE jeevati asmin kOtyaya: syaad ayam tEAsyOtsargE praaNa yuktasya jantO: mrityOr lOkam kO nu gachEd anantamBecause, as one belonging to the Goutama Vamsa, she knew the subtleties of Dharma, she would not be a party to the killing.

When the hunter insisted on meting out capital punishment to the snake for the crime of murdering the young boy, she replied that it was because the life period of her son had come to a close that he had died and that the snake was not to blame. The snake suddenly started to talk in the tongue of humans and said: ?Oh! Hunter! I am not at fault. I was ordered by the Lord of death to bite the boy. I have nothing to gain by killing the boy?

KOnvarjunaga! DOsha atra vidyatE mayi baalisa/
Aswatantram hi maam mrityu vivasam yadasoosutath //
Tasyaayam vachanaadhashTO na kOPEna na kaamyayaa/
Tasya tatbi kilbisham lubda! VidyatE yadi kilbisham //
(MB 13.1.35, 36)

The dispute between the hunter and the snake went on unabated. Lord of death appeared before them and said; ? Neither the snake nor myself is responsible for the boy?s death. I am also bound by the inexorable laws of Dharma and none of us act on one?s own volition? His SlOKam is:

Nahi aham, naapi ayam mrityu: naayam lubdhaka pannaga: /
Kilbishee jantu maraNE na vayam hi prayOjakaa: //
AkarOd yad ayam karma tannOrjunaka chOdakam /
Vinaasa hEtur nanyOsya vidhyatE ayam svakarmaNaa //
(MB 13.1.70 & 71)

The purport of the slOkam is that it is the inevitable result of the boy?s own actions ?Karma? that was responsible for his death and none else could be blamed. The Lord of death, otherwise known as ?Dharma devata? explained clearly the action- reaction phenomenon that worked inexorably in everyone?s life.

Goutami who already was clear in her mind became clearer still and experienced great mental peace. She consoled herself saying:? Neither Yama, nor the snake was at fault. He died because he was destined to die at the specific moment in a specific manner. I have also committed sins to deserve this trauma. So, every one of you may go to your respective abodes after releasing the snake? Here is her slOkam:

naiva kaalO na bhujagO na mrityu: iha kaaraNam /
sva karmabhir Ayam baala: kaalEna nidhanam gata: //
mayaa cha that kritam karma yEna ayam mE mritah sutah /
yaa tu kaalas tathaa mrityu: muncha arjunaka! Pannagam //
(MB 13.1.78 & 79)

Thus, Bheeshma gave the example of a mother who never became despondent in the face of the death of her dear son, to show that all that happened in the war were exactly in response to the karma of the respective characters. Listening to this profound truth, YudishTira felt great relief and attained peace of mind.

Iti yEtad vachanam srutvaa babhoova vigata jvarah /
YudishTirO mahaa tEja: paprachEdam cha Dharmavith //
(MB 13/1/83)

Male or female, every one of the descendents of Goutama GOtram were reputed for strict rectitude in conduct and perfect comprehension of the philosophy underlying such rectitude. Though each may have had a personal name, they took pride in calling themselves after the gOtra pravartaka, the great Goutama Maharishi.

14 to come

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and  ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
Besides the above the following authorities were also consulted for this posting:
1.      C.R. Srinivasa Iyengar Swami?s Notes on Valmiki Ramayanam
2.      Monier Williams Sanskrit- English Dictionary.
3.      A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and religion by John Dawson, heritage Publishers, New Delhi
4.      ?Who is who in the Mahabharata? by Subash Mazumdar, published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay
5.      ?Life and works of Sri Nigamantha Mahadesikan?- by Prof Sri A. Srinivasaraghavan.
The Pravartaka of this Gotram is ?Kaasyapa Maharishi?, a Vedic sage to whom some hymns are attributed. He is mentioned in the Vedas, Puranas e.g. Vishnu Purana (iii.12.41), Itihaasas (Srimad RamayaNa, Mahaa Bhaarata, Harivamsa etc) and in fact, the entire gamut of our holy scriptures.

He is associated with the work of creation of all living beings. He is found associated with Kurma, Vaamana, Parasuraama and Raama Avataaras. It is mind boggling to comprehend his ubiquitous presence spanning over several Kalpas.

The Atharva Veda says, ?The self-born Kaasyapa sprang from time?. And, Time is identical with VishNu. Thus, he is identified with LORD VISHNU HIMSELF.

The Satapatha BraahmaNa gives a different account of his origin thus:
?Having assumed the form of a tortoise, Prajaapati created offspring. That which he created, he made (akarOt). Hence, the word ?Kurma? (tortoise). Kasyapa? means ?tortoise?.  The Satapata BraahmaNa holds that ?All creatures are descendents of Kaasyapa? or ?Kachchapa?. Thus, he is associated with ?KURMA AVATAARA?

According to Mahaabhaarata, he married Aditi and 12 other daughters of Daksha. Upon Aditi, he begot the Adityas, headed by Indra and also Vivaswat and ?to Viwaswat was born the wise and mighty Manu?.

Srimad Ramayana and VishNu PuraaNa also state that ?VishNu was born as a dwarf, the son of Aditi and Kaasyapa? and thus he is associated with VAAMANA AVATAARA.

Mahaa Bhaarata also mentions that Parasuraama, after the destruction of the Kshatriya race and performance of Aswamedha sacrifice, is said to have presented the sovereignty of the earth to Sage Kaasyapa who was his priest
(MB viii.3164). Thus, he is associated with PARASURAAMA AVATAARA.

And, he is considered to be one of the priests of Sri Rama also, next only to Sage VasishTa. Thus, he was associated with RAMA AVATAARA.

He is one of the seven great Rishis (Sapta Rishis)

By his other 12 wives, he had  numerous and very diversified offspring: demons, naagas, reptiles, birds, and all kinds of living beings. He was thus, the father of all, a prolific procreator and as such is sometimes called ?Prajaapati?. Among his wives were: Aditi, ArishTa, Danu, Diti, Kadru, Puloma, Surabhi, Vinata etc who were equally responsible for the proliferation of life on earth. Thus, a peep into the stories of his wives would be interesting to understand what a prodigious personage Kaasyapa was. More about this later.

It is debated among scholars that the name ?Kaasyapa? may be generic and many Sages took pride in calling themselves as ?Kaasyapas?.

Many subdivisions of Kaasyapa families are known through the ages (e.g.) Urubilva Kaasyapa, Gayaa Kaasyapa, Dasabala Kaasyapa, NaaDi Kaasyapa, Mahaa Kaasyapa, and Hasti Kaasyapa etc.

The other Pravaras of Kasyapa Gotra are
(1) Kaasyapa: Kaasyapa, Aavatsara, Daivala
(2) Naidruva-Kaasyapa: Kaasyapa, Aavatsara, Naidruva
(3) SaaNdilya:
(a) Kaasyapa, Aavatsara, SaaNDilya
(b) Kaasyapa, Aavatsara, Naidruva, Repa or Raipa, SaNdilya

Swami Desika alludes to how Vaalakalyas came to offer their obeisance to Sage Kaasyapa and having been slighted by Indra on their way, cursed Indra that the son of Kaasyapa would defeat him. This son is none other than our revered Pakshiraaja, GaruDa, the eagle mount of the Lord.?Vaalakhilaya- pratijnaa- avateerna!? GaruDa, who was born by the vow of Vaalakhalya ?Sages?.

{Vaalakhilayas were a group of sages who were extremely dwarfish in bodies, but were great by their penance. When they were coming to attend the sacrifice performed by Sage-Kaasyapa, they were not able to cross a small pit with a handful of water because of the smallness of their bodies. Indra who was coming on his elephant saw them and made fun of them. They became angry and cursed him that he would be defeated in a fight by a son of Kasyapa. When GaruDa went to Svarga to take the Amrita, Indra with his army came to fight hard and was defeated by GaruDa (who was the son of Sage Kaasyapa). [From the Life and works of Sri Nigamantha Mahadesikan- by Prof Sri A. Srinivasaraghavan]}

It is said that when Bharata went to request Sri Rama to return to AyOdhya, Sri Rama declined saying he could not transgress the command of his father.

When during the conversation between them (celebrated as "RAMAGITA"), Bharata admired Sri Rama for his devotion to their father. Sri Rama is reported to have referred to Kaasyapa Rishi (of Naidruva Kaasyapa Gotram fame).

Kaasyapa's mother was too old to even stand but wanted to be taken for a pilgrimage. Kaasyapa put her comfortably on a hammock and carried her all along to fulfill her wish. Sri Rama referred to him as "one who adorned his mother" (Matru bhooshaNam) and that he himself was no bhooshaNam to his father (quite unlike Kaasyapa), since he could not even perform the last rites of his father.

This word "Maatru bhooshaNam" in course of time got corrupted into "MaaDa bhoosi". (I understand that all "MaaDa bhoosis" belong to "Naidrava Kaasyapa GOtram ?Authority: heard in KAlakshepam and it is said that because of this "Maatru Sisroosha", Kaasyapa attained Svarga and became Prajaapathi subsequently - ibid. VR. Notes on AyOdhyA khANDam (p19)

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and  ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)

Besides the above the following authorities were also consulted for this posting:
1.      C.R. Srinivasa Iyengar Swami?s Notes on Valmiki Ramayanam
2.      Monier Williams Sanskrit- English Dictionary.
3.      A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and religion by John Dawson, heritage Publishers, New Delhi
4.      ?Who is who in the Mahabharata? by Subash Mazumdar, published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay
5.      ?Life and works of Sri Nigamantha Mahadesikan?- by Prof Sri A. Srinivasaraghavan.
We mentioned in the previous posting that Sage Kaasyapa?s glory is enhanced by the life stories of his 13 wives. Let us allude to a few of them:

Aditi literally means boundless, unbroken, entire, unimpaired, happy, immense, abundant, creative power mentioned in Rig Veda as daughter of Daksha and wife of Kaasyapa and mother of the Adityas.  According to Max Muller, ?the visible infinite, visible to the naked eye; the endless expanse beyond the earth, beyond the clouds, beyond the sky?

In the Rig Veda, she is frequently implored ?for blessings on children and cattle, for protection and forgiveness? She is called ?Deva Maatri?, mother of the Gods. She is represented as the daughter of Daksha.

In the Yajur Veda, Aditi is addressed as ?Supporter of the sky, the sustainer of the earth, sovereign of this world, and wife of VishNu?. But, in Mahaabhaarata, Ramayana and the Puranas, Vishnu is called the son of Aditi.

According to Matsya PuraNa, a pair of earrings was produced at the churning of the milky ocean, which Indra gave to Aditi

Devaki, the mother of KrishNa, is represented as being a new birth manifestation of Aditi. (Rig Veda i.230, Muir?s texts iv.11.v.35).

Wife of Kaasyapa, She is considered to be the very personification of the Vedas. She was the mother of the Daityas. Maruts are also are described as her progeny or derived from the embryo in her womb divided into pieces by Indra. The VishNu puraNa relates that having lost her children, she begged of Kaasyapa, a son of irresistible prowess, who could destroy Indra. The boon was granted, but with the condition: ?If with thoughts wholly pious and person entirely pure, you carefully carry the babe in your womb for a hundred years?. She assiduously observed the condition. Indra came to know of this. So, he went to Diti, her rival and attended upon her with utmost humility, watching his opportunity. In the last year of the century, Diti retired without washing her feet. Indra then with his thunderbolt divided the embryo in her womb into seven portions. Thus mutilated, the child cried bitterly, and Indra being unable to pacify it, became angry, and divided each of the seven portions into seven, thus forming the swift moving deities called ?maruts? from the words, ?maa rOdih?, ?weep not?, which Indra used to quiet them.

She was another wife of Sage Kaasyapa. Her descendents were called ?Daanavas? who were giants in size and constantly at war with the gods and created obstacles in the way of Brahmins performing Yagjnas and prevented them from carrying out their religious rituals. Among them were Hayagriva, PulOma, Shambara, Suarabhanu, Vasihvaanara, Viprachithi, Virupaaksha, Vrishaparva etc. (MB 1/65, Harivamsa iii.20).

She was one of the many wives of Sage Kaasyapa. Her son was ArishTanEmi. King Parpuranjaya by mistake killed ArishTanEmi?s son But, ArishTanEmi revived his son and absolved the king of all sins for having killed a Brahmana because the king had gone to him in sincere repentance. MarkandEya Rishi related this incident to the Pandavas to illustrate the powers acquired by great Rishis of Kasyapa lineage. (Vide MB 3/184)

Literally ?sweet smelling? fragrant, Charming, pleasing, lovely.She was yet another wife of Sage Kaasyapa and mother of cattle and of Rudras, sometimes considered as one of the ?matris? or as the cow of plenty. Amongst her many children was VasishTa?s divine cow, KaamadhEnu (aka) Nandini that could fulfill man?s all wishes. She once went to Indra in sorrowful tears to complain that one of her children was being beaten by a farmer and forced to pull very heavy loads. Indra asked her as to why she was so particular about this one son when all her other children were also being similarly ill-treated. Surabhi then replied that while she loved all her children equally, she had as special fondness for this one who was weak, meek and less privileged than the others.

Accepting this line of reasoning, Indra caused heavy rains to fall on the farmer?s field so that he was obliged to release the bull from his heavy duties. Vyaasa related this to DritaraashTra to get him to be more considerate towards the PaaNDavas who had lost not only their father but also their kingdom, their wealth and everything else. (MB 3/9)

She was one of the daughters of Daksha whom married Sage Kaasyapa. But, MB describes her as the daughter of demon Vaiswanara and states that PulOma, also a demon loved her but she became the wife of Kaasyapa.

She is said to have pleased Brahma by her severe penances and obtained from him the city of HiraNyapura for the benefit of her sons. This city could not be destroyed either by Devas or by Gandharvas or by demons. But, Brahma knew that humans could destroy it and it thus came to pass that Arjuna destroyed it in accordance with the wishes of Indra. (MB 1.4 and 3.173)

Literally meaning tawny, brown, reddish brown. She was one of the 13 daughters of Daksha whom Sage Kaasyapa married. She was mother of  ?a thousand powerful many-headed serpents, the chief amongst whom were SEsha, Vaasuki and many other fierce and venomous serpents?. VishNu PuraNa from which this is taken, names twelve, the Vayu PuraNa forty. Her offspring bear the metronymic ?KaadravEyaa? (MB 1.16)

She was the most beloved wife of Kaasyapa. He was the mother of SuparNa, AruNa and ?GaruDa?, the eagle mount of Lord VishNu. That is why he is otherwise known as ?VainatEya? Vayu PuraNa describes the meters of Veda as her daughters and VainatEya himself as ?Vedaatma VihagEswara?- the very personification of the Vedas. His elder brother is AruNan, who rises before Sunrise. He has two wives named Rudraa and Sukeerthi

Once Vinatha and Kadru argued over the color of the tail of a horse. Vinata said it was white and so it was. But, Kadru insisted that it was black. They decided to settle the issue by inspecting the horse. But not before they entered into a wager. If it were white, Kadru would be Vinata?s slave. If black, Vinata should serve as a slave of Kadru.

Kadru surreptitiously asked her sons, the black serpents to wind themselves around the tail of the horse to make it appear black. When the two rivals visited to inspect the horse, the tail looked black. As per the wager Vinata had to become Kadru?s slave. The only way to get her released from serfdom was that Vinata?s son should bring the divine nectar (amrutam) from the mansion of Indra. GaruDa dutifully set forth on the venture. At that time, Vinata blessed him with a sloka as follows:
Pakshou tE maaruta: paatu chandra: prushTam cha putraka /
Siras tu paatu tE Vahni: Bhaaskara: sarvamEva avatu/
VishNu: sarva gata: sarvaaNi angaani tava chaiva hi //

It is said that if one set out on a long journey recites this sloka will not encounter any difficulties on the way but would safely and successfully conclude the journey. It is with this Sloka that Kousalya blessed Sri Rama when he was proceeding on exile to the forest. Such is the glory of the descendents of Sage Kaasyapa.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsaankaachaar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and  ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
The GOTra Pravartaka of this GOtram is Sage Aangeeras. Just like Brighu Vamsam, the lineage of Aangeeras is also famous for the brilliance of its Rishis, This lineage has 3 main branches that expands to no less than 20 sub branches. All of them are together known as ?Aangeerasa GaNam?.  ?GaNam? means a great crowd. Thousands of adherents to this ?GaNam? have been adorning the earth from time immemorial down the ages. Sage Aangeeras is also known as ?angiraah? and ?aangirasah?. We will see why later.

Aangeeras is said to be the ?maanaseeka putra? of the original creator, the four faced Brahma. May be because, he appeared the very moment Brahma thought of creating him, he is considered so. He is also said to have emanated from the face of Brahma. Since the fire-god, Agni was also born from the face of Brahma, both Aangeeras and Agni become brothers.

In the Vedas, the word ?Aangeeras? is mentioned as a substitute name for ?Agni? ?nEdeeyO yagjnam aangeerah? (Taittriya Samhita 2.6.11) Sometimes the suffix ?tamah? is added to the word ?Aangeeras? for referring to ?Agni? Tubhyantaa angirastamah? (Taittriya Samhita 1.3.14). Thus ?agnir? and ?angir? were deemed to be equivalent terms (paryaaya padas).

The AitarEya BraahmaNam 3.34 also confirms this. In fact, live coal (TaNal) is called ?angaara?. In any fire- based karma (agni-kaaryam), the word ?angaara? is used to denote live coal Vide- ?angaaran Niroohya?. When we come across a person with a blinding brilliance, it is customary to call him as shining like burning coal ? one whose Brahmavarchas shines through one?s face.

ChandhOkhya Upanishad belonging to Saama Veda, however, gives another interpretation. It says:
?Tamhaangiraa udgeethamupaasam chakrE, yETamu yEva anggirasam manyantE/
angaanaam yad urasah // (ChandhOkhya Upanishad 1.2.10)

This statement is made in the context of describing the first part of Saama Veda called ?Udgeetam?.  It says that Sage Aangeeras meditated so much on  ?Omkaaram? as ?Mukhya praaNan? that he came to be identified with the very breath. ?Angam? means ?limb? We know what is ?Rasam? ? the very essence. What is the essence of limb? In other words, what makes the limbs function? It is the ?mukhya praaNan?  - the very essence of breath. The limbs function only so long as there is breathing. When the breath finally goes out without returning, the limbs become inactive and the body becomes a dead body. This way, the Sage ?Aangeerasa? is also deemed to the very life breath, says Saama Veda BraahmaNam.

Thus, ?aangeeras? is at once the brilliance of fire and the essence of life breath that are the basis of all life on earth.

When he created life on earth, Brahma created also Yagjnas (sacrifices).
Brahma himself says:
?Oh! Creatures of the Universe! You will have lot of desires to get fulfilled.  To help you succeed in this, I have created sacrifices. If you perform these sacrifices properly, you can get all you want?

The same fact is echoed in Bhagavad Gita: (3.10)
Saha yagjnaa: prajaa: srushTvaa purOvaacha prajaapatih /
AnEna prasavishyadhvam yEsah vOsthvishTa kaamadhuk //

Sage Aangeeras is the pioneer in demonstrating how to perform sacrifices properly as laid down in the Saastras without any blemish. This fact is attested in all the four Vedas. (e.g.) Taittriya Samhita 5.5.6 says:

?YO vaa ishTakaanaam pratishTaam vEda pratyEva tishTati, tayaa dEvatayaa
aangeerasvad dhruvaa seedEti aahaishaa vaa ishTakaanaam pratishTaa ya yEvam vEda pratyEva tishTati//?

Here the specialty of the glory of Sage Aangeeras is referred to.
Let us see how.In the olden days, people used to show great enthusiasm and devotion to the performance of Yagjnas that they continued to do lifelong by preserving and nurturing the fire as a matter of prime duty. For this, they used to construct ?Homa kunTas? (fire urns) in special architectural designs so that the fire would never get extinguished but glow incessantly for years on end.

The art of constructing such urns is known as ?agnisayanam?. Clods of mud of varying sizes and consistency were hand picked and arranged with special care. These clods are called ?IshTikais?. The way they were juxtaposed is called ?PratishTai of IshTikais?. Though it is said so easily, in practice, it entailed great effort and clear knowledge of the art. Vedam avers: ?one who knows this art of constructing a stable ?homa kunTam? will remain stable in life?.

It is not only the art of juxtapositioning that matters. The practitioner has also to offer prayers to ?IshTkais? in the following manner:
Oh! IshTikai! Please be as firm and stable with me as you were with Sage Aangiras?

One thing is clear from this. Sage Aangeeras did ?agnisayanam?. When he arranged the clods, they automatically juxtaposed themselves without any disheveling, firm and beautiful to behold and stood like rock. The Yajamaana refers to this incident and seeks the mercy of IshTkais to help him similarly. Vedas prescribe that every time the clods are arranged, it has to done uttering the mantra ?angirasvad dhruvaaa seeda?. This string of utterance has to be scrupulously remembered and uttered without fail or forgetting. Those who have done ?Veda Adhyayanam? can appreciate this fact better.

Ever since the appearance of mankind on earth, numerous Rishis, Kings and commoners have performed ?agnisayanam?. Vedas have not mentioned any of them but has reserved its special praise to sage Aangeeras as a model performer. That this mantra relating to Sage Aangeeras has been made compulsory while constructing the ?YaagavEdi? on all those who seek to perform yagjnas speaks volumes of the glory of this Sage and how mankind stands inextricably connected with him.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
There is great Mantram that a Brahmachari is required to utter at the time of receiving the investiture of the sacred thread (Upanayanam). It goes like this:
mEdhaam mahyam angeerasah mEDhaam saptarshayO daduh /
mEdhaam mahyam prajaapatih mEdhaam agnir dadaatu mE //
(Mantra Prasnam 2.4.6)

?Oh! Aangeeras! Grant me wisdom; Oh! Saptarishis! Grant me wisdom;
Oh! Prajaapati! Grant me wisdom; Oh! Agni (Firegod)! Grant me wisdom?
It is only by uttering this Mantram that the boy should offer Homam in the sacrificial fire.

Study of the Vedas that the boy is about to embark upon is no small affair. It requires a steady mind to assimilate the wisdom contained therein. Only if the boy is endowed with this wisdom can his efforts bear fruit. That is why he is made to pray to these entities renowned for such wisdom. It may be noticed that of all of them, it is Sage Aangeerasa who leads them all. It appears that Sage Aangeerasa is the one whose blessings are of prime importance for all those who wish to learn the Vedas.

The Sage was born out of the four faces of Brahma who constantly recited the Vedas. No wonder, this child so born, was born as a child prodigy even at birth. He is said to have mastered all the Vedas even as a child, all by himself without any guidance from any preceptors. Even elderly scholars who witnessed his precociousness rushed to him to receive instructions on the Vedas. It is said that this child used to call the elders? Oh! Children! Come for doing Adhyayanam?!
The one who grants wisdom is regarded as the father figure irrespective of age.
This is attested by Manu in his Dharma Saastra thus:
?adhyaapayaamaasa pitroon sisur aangeerah kavi /
putrakaa iti hOvaacha jnaanEna parigrihya taan //
(Manu Smriti 2/151)

Mahaakavi KaaLidaasa describes the lineage of Sage Aangeerasa in his famous ?Raghu Vamsam?. Do you know who the progenitor of this Vamsam is? It is none other than Sage Aangeerasa. Sri Rama?s GOtra- Pravara recital makes this clear. It says ?Aangeerasa- Ambareesha- Youvanasva?. It is Aangeerasa in whose glorious lineage that we find Sri Rama. This lineage accounts for great heroes like Dasaratha and his forefathers who were so renowned that the Lord decided to take birth in that lineage. All this is mentioned by Sage VasishTa while narrating the lineage on the occasion of Sri Rama?s wedding with Sri Sita. He recounts ?Yuvanaasva?s son was Maandaata; Maandaata?s son was Ambareesha ? all of them were descendents of Sage Aangeerasa.

Yuvanaasva?s life is very interesting. He had no issues for long. So, he performed a Yagjna with the help of great Sages. But, because, there was a faux pas committed by him, the whole dynasty was about to be decimated. Luckily, thanks to the intervention of Aswini dEvas, the impending tragedy was averted. Yuvanaasva became pregnant! May be, this was the first instance of a male pregnancy. Let us see how this happened in the next posting.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
In the Yaaga performed by Yuvanaasva for begetting progeny, the Munis who were acting as priests, decided to empower a pot full of water with appropriate mantras. They kept the pot aside in a safe place to be given to Yuvanaasva?s wife the next morning and went to sleep.

It was midnight. Yuvanaasva woke up and was feeling thirsty. He entered the Yaagasaala. Half asleep and tormented by intense thirst, he drank fully the waters contained in the pot. And went to sleep again.

Next morning, when the priests who sought to use the waters were shocked to find the pot totally empty. ?Who drank this water?? was the question on everyone?s lips. Yuvanaasva admitted that without knowing what he was doing, he drank the waters.

The priests were flabbergasted because the one who drank the holy waters would become pregnant and this event could not be averted. They were sure that not only the baby would not be born normally but in the process Yuvanaasva himself would die. The ?Purusha Garbham? grew by the day and reached the stage of delivery. All were perplexed.

Thanks to the intervention of Aswini dEvas who did a miraculous surgery (a caesarian?), they took out the baby safe without any injury to the king. Yuvanaasva became the father and mother for the child all at once! But, the unfortunate child could not enjoy breastfeeding and this created a further complication.

In this predicament, Lord Indra appeared and since the Yaaga was addressed to him, he undertook to feed the baby. He put his finger into the mouth of the newborn. Milk started flowing and the baby got his fill and grew. To commemorate this event the child was named ?Maandaataa?.

It is said that this ?Maandaataa? ruled the entire world.
This is attested by the SlOkam in Agni PuraaNa:

yaavat soorya udEti sma yaavat cha pratitishTati /
Sarvam tad youvanaasvasya maandaatuh KsEtram uchyatE //

Meaning ?Maandaata, the son of Yuvanaasva ruled the entire world wherever there was sunshine, and at all times whether day or night?

This Maandaataa who was born out of divine intervention and the blessings of Sages came to be recognized and proudly recited in the Pravara of the Aangeeras Gotra.

Ambareesha was the son of this Maandaata. He had two brothers named Purukutsar and Muchukundar. Purukutsa?s son was Trasatasyu. His descendents are said to belong to ?ShaDamarshNa Gotram?.

Aangeerasa was the progenitor not only of the famous ?Raghu Vamsam? but also of the great DrONaachaarya, who is one of the central figures in Mahaa bhaarata which attests to this fact: ?DrONamangeerasaam varam; angeerasaam varishTa: Aswataamaa?. His wife was ?Sraddhaa Devi?, daughter of Kardama Prajaapati. The divine priest Brihaspati and his elder brother Usathyar were his sons. His daughters were Suneevaali, Guhu, Raaga and Anumati. Vedas, Itihasas and PuraNas, glorify Sage Aangeerasa frequently.
We will allude to some of these  in our next posting.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
Sage NaabhaanEdishTa, the son of Manu, praises the Aangeerasa lineage mentioning their names specifically in numerous mantras of  Rig-Veda.

Who is this NaabhaanEdishTa? Why should he praise Aangeerasa so much?

The answer can be gleaned from Yajur Veda, Taittriya Samhita 3rd KhaaNDam,
1st   Prasnam, 9th Anuvaakam. There is a story behind this.

NaabhaanEdishTa (we will call him, Naabha, for short). His father Manu divided his entire property and gave them away to all his other sons. He forgot to retain a portion for him because Naabhaa, the youngest of the lot, was away studying Vedas in the Gurukulam.
Manu: putRbhyO daayam vyabhaajata,
sa naabhaanEdishTam brahmacharyam vasantam nirabhajat/
(Taittriya Samhita 3.1.9)

Naabhaa came home after completing his studies. He came to know that he was denied a share in the properties of his father. He enquired why he was denied a share. Manu admitted that he forgot about him but assuaged him saying that he would make alternate arrangements for Naabhaa to acquire property. What was that?

Sa agachhat, sObhraveeth, kathaa maa nirabhaaga iti?
Na tvaa nirabhaaksham iti abraveeth
Angeerasa imE satramaasatE, tE suvargam lOkam na prajaananti
tEbhya idam braahmaNam broohi,
tE suvarga lOkam yabtO ya yEshaam pasavastaam tE daasyanti iti/

?Your brothers are performing Satra yaaga seeking Suvargam. But, they do not know the secret mantra (braahmaNam) that will take them there. I will teach you the same. Go to their Yaaga saala and initiate them. They will go to MOksha. When they go, they will leave all their cows (properties) to you?

Naabhaa did accordingly and his brothers bequeathed all their belongings to Naabhaa. No wonder Naabhaa showered profuse praise on them. From this incident, it is clear that Naabhaa became the pioneer in showing to posterity the way to mOKsha through this braahmaNa.

We all know that taking bath in the holy waters of Ganga is said to cleanse us of all our sins. Even today, we see that those who are not able to travel to the river, arrange to secure pots full of ?Gangajal? and sprinkle on themselves especially on DeepavaLi. And, people greet each other on that day asking ?Ganga snaanam aachaa?? meaning ?Have you taken bath in the waters of Ganga??

It is worth noting that the titles ?Gangai koNDa sOzhan?, ?Gangai koNDaan mantapam? etc. refer to this practice in the olden days.

(It is another matter that even when one takes bath in pipe water, this greeting is invariably employed and that Ganges water (?) is often sold nowadays in beer bottles!)

Such substitute water is really no substitute at all, to taking bath physically in the flowing waters of Ganga. Not only the waters, but also in the waterfronts (Turai in Tamil) Rishis and Munis used to improvise hermitages (Asramams) on the entire course of the river to take bath and purify themselves. So, these spots where they took bath were also regarded as sacred (e.g.) Atri Theertham, Brigu Theertham, Raama theertham etc.

This Sampradayam of taking bath in holy rivers was started by Aangeerasa.
How did this happen?

An important part of any Yaaga is to get first initiated into what is known as ?Dheekshai?, as a prerequisite for the performance of any Yaaga to be effective. Nowadays, people mistakenly think that ?Deekshai? means growing hair without haircut face shave etc.

The word ?Deekshai? means much more than this. It refers to strictest observance of certain rigorous disciplines. For example, smearing butter on the entire body, never scratching with finger nails while performing the Yaaga. Should there be any itching, deer horn would have to be used to relieve itching and many more such conditions.

When the Aangeerasa brothers ascended to heavens as aforesaid, they are reported to have left the power of their ?Dheekshai? in the waters of the Ganges. That is why, taking bath in the flowing river waters of Ganga is considered to purify our bodies and cleanse us of our sins for becoming eligible to enter the kingdom of God.

This is mentioned in Taittriya Samhita and 6.1.1.
?yEtat khalu vaava tapa ityaahuh, ya: svam dadaatee iti?
and in Soma Yaaga prakaraNa thus:
?aangeerasas suvarga lOKam yaantO aPsu dheekshaa tapasee praavEsyan apsu
snaati, saakshaadEva dheekshaa tapasee avarudhE, theerthE snaati, theerthE
hi tE taam praavEsayan, theerthE snaati, theerthamEva samaanaanaam bhavati//?

?Those who take bath in the Ganga waters obtain the fruits of the Dheeksha and Tapas, left behind in the waters of Ganga and they will be deemed as pure as the Aangeerasa Maharshis themselves?

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsanka chariar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
There are several Yaagas named after Rishis like Atri Chatur-raatram, Jamadagni Chatur-raatram etc. But the one associated with Aangeerasas is called ?Aangeerasa Dviraatram?. But, what is the big deal about this?

Taittriya Samhita 7th KhaaNDam, 1st Prasnam, 4th Anuvaakam answers this question. The descendents of Aangeerasa performed Satra Yaagam and attained Svargam.
?aangeerasO vai satramaasata, tE suvargam lOkamaayatan?.

But, two of them remained on earth for some reason. They were called ?Havishmaan? and ?Haviskruth?.
?tEshaam havishmaan cha havishkrithchaaheeyEtaam?.

They also desired to reach heaven like the others.
?taavakaamayEtaam suvargam lOKamiyaavEti?

They devised a new type of Yaaga called ?Dviraatram? and scrupulously observed the procedure for performing it.
?tatO vai tou suvargam lOkamaitaam?

As a result of this, both attained Suvarga.
?ya eVam vidwaan dviraatrENa yajatE suvargamEva lOKamEti?

It was thenceforth decreed that those who observed this Dviraatram? could attain Suvargam easily.
?Havishmaan agni dhanam poorvam ahar bhavati,
Havishkrith nidhanam uttaram pratishTityai?

In the Saama hymns to be recited in this Yaaga, it should begin with the name of ?Havishmaan? and conclude with the name of ?Havishkrith?, if the yaaga should be effective.

To this day, those who engage in performing this Dvi- raatram, begin with a Sankalpam ?angeerasaam dvi-raatrENa yakshyE?.

This is what the Veda Vakhyas prescribe. This goes to prove the eternal fame of the Aangeeras maharishis who devised the ?easy way to heavens?.

We all know that when we do TarpaNams (at least on Upaakarma Occasions) we offer waters to Devas, Rishis and Pitrus. Unlike others, the Aangeerasas take the pride of place in all the three groups. Let us consider the Pitru TarpaNam with which we are more familiar than the other groups. Taittriya Samhita 2.6.12 again mentions several mantras to validate this. One of them is what we recite on Amaavaasya and other TarpaNams viz,

?angeerasO nah pitarO navagvaa atharvaaNo brigavas sOmyaasah? meaning?Let us be in the good books of our great forefathers called Aangeerasas, Atarvaas. Brigus etc. who are fit to be pleased through Yaagas?.

It will be seen that ?Aangeerasa? lead the list. This shows how the Aangeerasas stand uniquely prominent among all those who should be revered in the entire world.

The never ending feud between celestial and the demoniac forces was raging fiercely. Both sides met with heavy casualty. But, the demoniac forces seemed to come alive instantly while the Celestials dwindled and were decimated. The Celestials formed an enquiry commission to investigate the reasons for their discomfiture.

And finally, emerged the cause that pointed to Sukracharya, the Preceptor of the Asuras who could bring back to life his wards who were ?killed in the line of duty?. This, he could accomplish by using a special technique called ?Sanjeevani Vidya? which only he knew. The Deva Guru Brihaspati did not master this technique. This was the reason for the rout in his camp. How to fix this problem?
The only way to solve the problem was to learn the secret from Sukracharya himself. But, how?

Both the preceptors were of equal rank and station. It would be demeaning for one to seek instruction from the other. Brihaspati agreed to depute his son, Kacha to approach Sukrachaarya as a sishya to beg to be initiated in the secret vidya. Kacha dutifully went to Sukracharya and begged to be admitted as his student. Let us see how he introduced himself to the Asura Guru.

?RishOraangeerasa: poutram putram saakshaad brihaspatE: /
naamnaa kacha iti khyaatam sishyam grihNaatu maam bhavaan //
(MB 1.71.17)
?I am the grandson of Aangeerasa Maharishi, and verily the son of the world renowned Deva guru, Brihaspati. I have come to you to beg for knowledge.
Kindly accept me?

What greater honor could a preceptor hope for than to be the Guru of a scion of his arch enemy? And, he was moved by the supplication when Kacha said:

? yasyaangeeraaa vriddhatama: pitaamahO brihaspatischaapi pita tapOdhana:?

Both Kacha and Sukracharya were aware of the fact that begging for knowledge from an Acharya of the opposite camp was degrading to the dignity of the lineage of the supplicant. Yet, Kacha did not mind it. The asuras knew that this was going to spell doom for their side. They killed Kacha, pulverized the remains, mixed with a drink that Sukracharya drank unsuspectingly.

Sukrachaarya came to know of this and brought Kacha back to life by using this ?Sanjeevani Vidya mantra?. But, Kacha could come out of the body of Sukracharya only be bursting out from his tummy. This entailed the Guru?s death. Now that Kacha had learned the mantra, he used it again to bring back to life his Guru. Thus, both became ?survivors?.

It is said the DEvayaani, the daughter of Sukracharya fell in love with Kacha. But the latter declined to marry her saying that as both of them emanated from the same Sukracharya, they had become siblings forbidden to intermarry!

Kacha returned to the camp of the celestials having enriched himself with the newfound knowledge of the secret formula that helped in making the scores even as between the warring entities.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsanka chariar Swami, now Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and ?MaharishigaL Charitram? by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami)
Throughout the Vedas, the names of Brighu and Angeeras are mentioned together (e.g) BrighooNaam aangeerasaam tapasaa tapyatvam? (Taittriya Samhita This is because they were brothers. Brighu emerged out of the  flames. The very flames became Brighu. The flame when cooled down became glistening cinders. This glowing, burning coal became Aangeeras. In fact, we saw that this burning coal is known as Angaara. There were two others who became their brothers. Who are they? AitarEya BraahmaNa explains this through a short story.

When the creator of the world, Prajapati offered his vitality (veeryam) into the fire, a flame arose and this flame transformed itself into a Maharishi. This was Brighu. When the flames subsided, the live embers of burning coal transformed itself into another Maharishi. This was Aangeeras. We saw this already.

Those who were witnessing this phenomenon spotted one more Rishi emerging out of the cinders of the burnt down coal. The words mentioned in this connection ?Here is a third one? (atra triteeyOpi asti). This word itself became the name of the third Rishi. This was ?Atri?.

They exclaimed ?it does not stop with three? meaning there was a fourth also   (a-tri also means ?Not three) which meant four. Who is this fourth person?
They dug the coals and there came out one whose name means ?One who was dug out? (vikanas). What was dug out? It is the cooled down cinders (KarikkaTTi). He was ?Vikaanasa? the originator of ?Vaikhaansa Aagama?.

We find in the Vedas that though all the four were brothers, there was special bonding between Brighu and Aangeeras and between Atri and Vikhaanas.
(cf Rama and LakshmaNa on the one hand and Bharata and Satrugna on the other)

How the name ?Angaara? came into being? When embers of burning coal are kept in a place, it would scar and leave a mark at the spot. That which makes a mark is itself called ?Angaara?.

Aangeerasa Maharishi had a son ?GhOra:? ChaandOKhya Upanishad of Saama Veda mentions a special Upaasana called ?Purusha Vidya?. It also says that it is this ?GhOra;? who instructed Lord KrishNa himself in this ?Purusha Vidya?.
>From this, it appears that he was a contemporary of Lord KrishNa.
Tadvaitad ghOra aangreerasa: krisNaaya dEvakee putraaya uktvOvaacha/
apipaasa eva sa bhaboova/ sOntavElaayaam etat trayam pratipadyEta,
akshitamasi, achyutamasi, praaNa samsitamasi, iti?
(ChaandhOKhya Upanishad 3.17)

The name of this ?GhOra:? is mentioned in several other contexts in the Vedas, Kalpa sootras etc. The word has several meanings, one of them being ?One who is fit to be revered?. If a Maharishi could instruct Gitachaarya himself a vidya, it goes to show how venerable this ?Aangeerasa putra? should have been.

What is this ?Purusha Vidya?? It is an Upaasana in which the various limbs of a person (purusha) are deemed to be the sacrificial offerings. This Vidya has been glorified in the later part of Taittriya Upanishad of KrishNa Yajurveda and in the 3rd Adhyaaya of Brahma Sutra in a separate AddhikaraNa.

We see several references in our Puranas about ?Coming back to life? of persons who have died. One relates to how Lord Sri KrishNa accompanied by Arjuna brought back to life the still born children of a Brahmin; another relates to how Lord Sri Rama brought back to life the son of another Brahmin who blamed it on the lawlessness in the very ?Ram Rajya?!

In the same way, Rishi Aangeeras, accompanied by Sage Narada, is known to have brought back to life the son of a king. But, lo and behold! The son refused to live in the mortal coil that he had given up earlier and returned to the kingdom of death. This strange story is mentioned in Sri Bhaagavata PuraaNa.
We will see this story in our next posting.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
(Based on Monograph of MahaamahOpaadhyaaya Sri Srivatsanka chariar Swami, Retd Head of Dept. French Indolgical Research Institute, Pondicherry and "MaharishigaL Charitram" by Mimamsa SirOmaNi Mimamsa Vidvan Mimamsa Kovida, Ubhaya Mimamsa Saaragjna, Veda Vedanta ChooDaamaNi Sri N.S. Devanathachariar referred by Sri Srivatsankachariar Swami.

Once upon a time, there was a king named Chitraketu of SoorasEna desa on the banks of River Yamuna. He was in fact, a monarch ruling over the entire earth. Under his virtuous rule, the land was prosperous, people happy and contented, with Mother Earth showering plenty like the proverbial KaamadhEnu. He had thousands of beautiful damsels as his wives and he was immersed in happiness that could be termed only as the ultimate. One day, Bhagavaan Aaangeerasa Maharishi came to see him. Sukha Brahmam hails the Rishi as "angiraa bhagavaan rishih". The King received him with royal honors and they were closeted for long exchanging courtesies and enjoying each other's company.

During the course of these exchanges, the King expressed his one and only cause for grief. In spite of his being a Chakravarti and in spite of his having all the luxuries one could hope for and in spite of having innumerable beauties as his wives, what tormented him was that he had no issues to perpetuate his lineage. Angeeras was moved by the pathetic plight of the King. He asked the king to perform a sacrifice, the deity  "dEvata" of which was TvashTa. He advised the king to give the remnants of the "havis" to his senior most and most beloved wife, Krityuti saying that soon she would give birth to a baby boy who will bring him joy and sorrow and left the palace. The King's joy knew no bounds. In his excitement, the latter part of the Rishi's words did not register in his mind.

Krityuti gave birth in due course to a darling baby boy who was a cynosure for all who beheld it. He gave away valuable gifts to all and sundry. The rituals of "NaamakaraNam" and "JaatakaraNam" etc were duly done. All were happy as never before. The popularity ratings of Krityuti skyrocketed ever since the birth of the prince charming.

In fact, the other queens of the harem were literally ignored even by the servants, let alone  by the king. They were already jealous of the PaTTamhishi, Krityuti. The green monster turned their attention pointedly to the child, who they thought, was instrumental in their downfall. Mutual consultation among them led to a conspiracy to do away with the child. They administered poison surreptitiously as a result of which the baby expired. The moment the King and Queen and indeed all in the palace came to know of the death of the baby, a pall of grief enveloped the whole country. Even the perpetrators of the crime joined in the wailing as if they were also genuinely in grief over the demise of the baby.

Krityuti was the most affected. The child was born as a result of the great Yagna and after so long and with the blessings of great Maharishi Angeeras. How could this happen? That was the question on everyone's mind. The King swooned and it was feared whether he would survive.

Angeeras Rishi could sense what had happened through his eye of knowledge (Jnaana drishTi). Accompanied by Sage Narada, he hastened to the King's place as gipsy mendicants. Chitraketu who was so dazed and beside with grief, yet gathered himself up to ask them who they were.

Angeeras revealed his identity and said that he was the one who had granted him the boon of a son through the PutrakaamEshti sacrifice and reminded the King about the latter part of his statement that the King had forgotten saying "Your period of enjoyment is over and now is your turn to bemoan in bereavement". The Kind would not be consoled. The two sages concluded that the King would be convinced only if the dead son came alive and explained the truth.

Sage Narada invoked the boy's soul saying: "Oh! Soul that exited from the body of the prince! See! How the parents, his friends and relatives are going through excruciating pain on your leaving the body. May you re-enter the body of the prince and explain to the King the truth. Then and then only would he have peace of mind"

Jeevaatman pasya bhadram tE maataram pitaram cha tE/

suhridO bhaandavaas taptaa: suchaa tvat krutayaa brisam //

kalEvaram samaavisya sEshamaayuh suhrid vruta: /

bunkshva bhOgaan pitru prattaanadhitishTa nripaasanam //

(Sri Bhaagavatam 6.16.2 and 3)

The soul of the dead prince entered the dead body and the prince came alive and started to speak!

Bandhu gjnaathi ari madhyasttha mitra udaaseena vidvisha: /

Sarva yEva hi sarvEshaam bhavanti kramasO mitha: /

Na hi syaat atipriyas: kaschit naapriya: sva: parOpi vaa//

(Sri Bhaagavatam

"It is not correct to differentiate people as relatives, coparceners (Gjnaati), enemies, impartial ones, friends, indifferent ones etc. That they change their stances from one to the other and that so frequently is a phenomenon that we see constantly. This is not only within this one lifetime but over as many lives that we take from time to time. All the relationships turn topsy turvy either in this life itself or in subsequent reincarnations. There are neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies. So, whether one is born or whether one dies should not be an occasion for joy or grief. Everything happens as per one's "karma". It is out of ignorance that we call each others as friends or foes. Different grains of sands on the river bed come together for a while and in the flow of waters they get separated from each other. Discreet folks would not feel for these coming together or separation. This body that stinks is not a fit place for me to occupy again. So, I am leaving it for good".

So saying the soul escaped from the body of the prince. The Royal couple got relieved and regained their balance.

Those who administered poison to the child admitted their faults and did Praayschittam (atonement). Leaving ChitrakEtu saner and sober and as a man of wisdom, the sages went back to their BrhmalOkam.

Thus, Angeeras Rishi accomplished the impossible feat of bringing back to life a dead person. And made him speak also! Such was the greatness of Sage Angeeras.

        (Anbil Ramaswamy)
(The previous Part 23 appeared in Vol.5.19 d/ 15th May 2004)

Those who are familiar with Puranic lores would have known about the greatness of this Munivar. They will know how Vritra, son of TvashTa started on a rampage to devastate the whole earth and Indra had to kill him with his Vajraayuda. Though Vajraayuda was a potent weapon, it was not powerful enough to deal with Vritra. The celestials deliberated on the strategy to eliminate him. Suddenly an idea flashed. They identified that the only person who could help was this Dadeechi Munivar. This sage had been doing penance for long and had preserved the accumulated power of penance in his backbone. If this backbone could be conjoined with Vajraayudam and used, Vritra was sure to fall. How is this possible, unless the Munivar himself was killed in the first place? Who can do this? Will it not amount to Brahmahatya?

There was only one way to do this. If the Munivar were to be persuaded to give up his life voluntarily, his backbone would become available to Indra without entailing the sin of Brahmahatya.  When approached, the Munivar readily agreed in the interests of the welfare of the world.

Do you know who this Dadeechi Munivar was?
He was the son of ?Atharva?.
Who was this ?Atharva??
He was none other than the famous ?Aangeerasa?
The entire lineage of Aangeeras was known for sacrificing themselves for the sake of universal welfare. No wonder, Dadeechi followed the family tradition.

Though he was known as Dadeechi and is being called so by PouraaNikas, his real name was ?Dadhyang?.

The names of Atharva, the father of Dadhyang and Angeeras, his grandfather appear in several contexts in the Vedas.

?tvaamagnE angeerasOguhaahitamanvavindan?
Taittriya Samhita 4.4.4
?Oh! Agni! When you were remaining in cognito, it was Angeeras who brought you out by means of friction of pieces of wood called ?AraNi? That this same Angeeras is also known as Atharva is gleaned from another Mantra thus:

atharvaa tvaa prathamO niramandhya agnEh/
tvaam agnEh pushkaraaddhyatharvaa niramndhata//
(Taittriya Samhita 4.1.3)
?Oh! Agni! It was Atharva who first found you by friction of pieces of wood of AraNi. Actually, he brought you out from the lotus leaf?

Thus, both attribute the discovery of fire to Atharva and Angeeras. Scholars conclude that both refer to the same person, who was the son of Brahma.

It is interesting to note that the names of Angeerasa and Atharva are also applied to fire itself! Possibly, this is due to the fact that it was Atharva was the pioneer in showing to the world the entity of fire and how to do Soma yaga into fire.

In Mundakopanishad, there are several contexts linking Angeeras and Atharva.
1.1.1.  commences with the saying that Brahma taught the Brahma Vidya first to his son, Atharva.
1.1.2.  says that Atharva initiated his son, Angeerasa and the latter initiated Satyavaha (of Bharadwaja Gotram) into it.
1.1.3.  says that Sounaka learned the Vidya from Angeerasa.
This leads to some confusion. The one who received the Akshara Vidya in the first place was Atharva. If he is taken as Atharva 1, Angeerasa who came after may be Atharvaa 2 a.k.a. Angeerasa 2

How Satyavahar, son of Bharadwaja comes into the picture? Satyvahar is the son of Bharadwaja who himself belongs to the vamsam of Brihaspati and Brihaspati was the son of Angeeras. How could Satyavahar teach Angeeras?

The answer is that it is this Angeerasa 2 who instructed Satyavahar and Satyavahar passed it on to Angeerasa 3. It is from this Angeeras 3 that Sounkaka learned Brahma Vidya.

Be that as it may, it is clear that Brahma Vidya has been the ancestral property handed over from generation to generation of the Angeerasa lineage.

        (Anbil Ramaswamy)

The Mantras cited above mention Atharva as the one who first discovered Agni and also acted as the pioneer in establishing the rules of observing the ?Soma Yaga? and other sacrifices through agni. Another Veda vaakhya credits these to Angeeras.  Therefore, it appears that both Atharva and Angeeras refer to the same person.

What are required for performing Agnihotra?
Of course, the foremost is agni. We have seen that Atharva alias Angeeras is the one who discovered this and brought it to use.

But, for offering in the Agni, milk, yogurt etc. are also needed. They have necessarily to be got from the cow. The cow would need green grass to eat and survive and yield its products. Rain is needed for the grass to grow. Again, only the cow that has given birth to its calf would be able to yield an udder full of milk. You cannot allow the calf to consume all the milk of mother cow. A delicate balance has to be worked out to determine how much is good enough for the calf and when to wean it away. This weaning away should not be resorted to during the first 10 days of birth of the calf. Atharva alias Angeeras was so thoughtful about all these that he enunciated the needed disciplines for all this and laid down the methodology for the guidance of posterity. Taitriya Braahmanam vouches to this.

angeersaO vai satramaasata/ tEshaamprusnidharmadhug
aaseet/sjershENaaa jeevat/  (Taittriya BraahmaNam 2.1.1)

Angeerasas performed Satra yaaga. A multicolored cow gave milk for the Yaaga. But, there was no a blade of grass for the cow to feed on due to prolonged drought. They extracted juice from the plant called ?Soma? and threw away the wastes. The cow survived on his waste.

tE abhruvan? Kasmai nu satram aasatE/ yesyaa Oshadhir na janayaama iti /
(Taittriya BraahmaNa 2.1.1)

They said: ?What is the use of our doing Satra yaagam when we are unable to provide fodder for the cow??

tE divO vrishTimasrujanta / yaavanta: stOkaa avaapadhyanta /taavateer OshadhayOjaayanta /
They brought rains from the clouds. Earth gave out as many edible plants required as the number of raindrops that fell on it.

Taa jaataa: pitarO vishENaa limpan/taasaamjagdhvaarupyantyait/

A genre of ?GaNas? called ?pitrus? mixed poison with the plants that made the cow fall sick

tE abhruvan/ka idamiththama keiti/
They asked: ?Who did this?
Vayam bhaagadEyam ichchamaanaa iti pitarO abhruvan /
?We only did this? replied the ?Pitrus? ?because we want a share in the yaaga?

Angeerasas asked:
?Kim vO bhaagadhEyam iti??
?Which portion of the yaaga do you want??

Pitrus replied:
agnihOtra Eva?
?We need apart in the AgnihOtram only?

tEbhya yEtad bhaagadhEyam praayachchan/yaddhutvaanimaarshTi/
taO vai ta Oshadheerasvadayan /

They were offered the part desired by them. That is why, after the completion of Satra yaagam, it was made mandatory to pour the Homa dravyas on the southern side of the Yaaga KuNdam that belonged to the pitrus.

Having got their share, the pitrus removed the poison and made it possible for the cow to enjoy the delicious food with relish.
tE vatsamupaavaasrujan/ idam nO havyam pradaapayEti/

Angeerasas then unleashed the calf.
sObhraveet varam vruNai / dasamaa raatreerjaatam na dOhan/
aasangavam maatraa saha charaaNEti /

The calf now petitioned:
?For the first 10 days after my birth, I should have the exclusive right to drink my mother?s milk. Till then, you should not take any milk from my mother?. I should be allowed to stay with my mother from sunrise to what is known as ?Sangava kaalam? (i.e.) 7 ½ to 12 naazhigais) Then only, you can make me part from my mother.
Tasmaad vatsam jaatam dasaraateer na duhanti /
aasangavam maatraa saha charati / vaarE vrutaim hyaasya/

?Access granted? from then on till today, this practice is being observed meticulously by SishTas.

Tasmaad vatsai saim srushTdhyaim rudrO ghaatuka: / ati hi sndhaam dhayati??
If breaching this arrangement, the calf were to imbibe milk, Rudra would kill it.

It is clear from the above that the various norms for the world?s welfare were devised by Angeeras.

The mantra that praises the glory of all the Vedas also identifies Atharva Veda as Angeerasa Veda. While allotting the four directions to the four Vedas It specifically says:
rucha praachee mahatee dig uchyatE/
dakshiNaamaahuh yajushaamapaaraam/
atyharvaNaangeerasaam prateechee/ Saamnaam udeechee mahatee dig uchchyatE//

when referring to the Western direction, it says that it belongs to Angeeras.

Those who help the ?Yajamaana? in Sacrifices are called ?Ritviks?. The Yajamaana is required to offer them something in return for their services. This is called ?DakshiNa?. Even here, the form and manner in which it should be given are all regulated by the Do?s and Don?ts in the Vedas. Those who are receiving the DakshiNa can accept them only by uttering a prescribed mantra. This mantra names ?Angeeras?. The Vedas stipulate that anyone receiving DakshiNa should invariably utter the name of Angeeras enshrined in this mantra.

Ka idam kasmaa aadaat/ kaamah kaamaaya/ kaamO daataa/ kaamah pratigriheetaa/
kaamam Samudram aavisa/ kaamEna tvaa pratigrihNaami/ kaamaitatE/ yEshaa tE
kaama dakshiNaa/ uththaanasva Aangeerasa: pratigrihNaatu// (Taittriya

?Oh! DakshiNaa! Let Angeerasa receive you.?
Why this is so?
Taking DakshiNa is considered to be a heinous act.

YagjnaValkya?s Dharma Saastra makes it clear that even when one is fit to receive another?s property, one should develop an attitude of renouncing it?

Pratigraha samarthOPi prasangam tatra vaarayEt/
Taitrriya Aaaranyakam 2.16 goes one step further to denounce the recipient as one who demeans himself by accepting Daanam (gifts) for helping in the performance of Yagjna.
Richyata iva vaa yEsah prEva richyatE yO yaajayati prati vaa grihNaati/

The same Vedas that denounce acceptance of gifts also prescribe that no yagjna will be fruitful without offering gifts to the Ritviks!

How can we reconcile these contrary injunctions?
Would the Sage who devised the procedures for performing yagjnas even at the dawn of humanity leave this an open question without an appropriate answer?
His final verdict is this:

?Oh! DakshiNa! Those who accept you should utter this mantra (Indicated above) at the time of acceptance?

How does this solve the problem?

The point is that any stigma attaching to the acceptance of DakshiNa will not affect the recipient, if he accepts uttering this mantra.

Then, where will it go? Will it taint Angeeras?
Yes. It will.

But, before it could reach Angeeras, it will be decimated and incinerated.How?

It is because Angeersa is himself fire (anala) that devours everything. The sin is also consumed by the fire power of Angeeras.
Is this possible? This is a valid doubt.

Let us analyze this with the help of Vedas themselves.

(Anbil Ramaswamy)
The remnant of the Havis in Yaaga that is offered to Brihaspati is called ?Praachitram? There are several references to this ?Praachitram? in the Vedas. It is a potent potion that can play havoc on the person receiving/ consuming it. Taittriya Samhita narrates a story that brings out how Brihaspati came to neutralize its potency by invoking appropriate deities.
That pooshNE paryaharan that Pooshaa praasyatOruNat
tasmaat Pooshaa prapishTabhaagOdantakO hi/
(Taittriya Samhita 2.6.8)

They gave it to the deity named Pooshaa. He was not aware of the potential harm inherent in the ?Praachitram?. He hurriedly put it in his mouth and started biting it. It was so hard that all his teeth hot pulverized. What happened to ?Praachitram?/ Nothing. It stood like a rock. From then on Poosha could not eat anything solid. He had to be offered only soft edibles made out of flour.

Tad BrihaspatayE paryaharan sObibhEt/
Brihaspati: iththam vaa vasya aartimaarishyati iti

They gave it to Brihaspati. The very sight of it instilled fear in the heart of Brihaspati. He was scared that the fate of Pooshaa will befall on himself. So, he was in no hurry to put it in his mouth. Instead, he thought deeply. Is it not true that when a person who leads trips and falls, those who follow him would have to be doubly careful?
The process involved four events in sequence viz., Seeing, Receiving in one?s hand, putting into the mouth and chewing before swallowing it.
Brihaspati recited four mantras invoking four deities who could neutralize the toxic effects of the potion. Here are the four mantras:
1.      Suryasya tvaa chakshusaa pratipasyaami iti abhraveet
        na hi suryasya chakshu: kinchana hinasti?
?Oh! Praachitram! I am viewing through the eyes of Sungod?. Praachitram did no harm. Can anyone harm the eyes of Surya?
2.      dEvasya tvaa savitu: prasavEsvinOR baahubhyaam pooshNO hastaabhyaam pratigruhNaami iti abhraveet /
?Oh! Praachitram! Impelled by the deity called ?Savita?, I am receiving you through the hands of Asvini devas and Pooshaa? Praachitram did not harm Brihaspati in the act of receiving it. Savitaa, Pooshaa and Asvini devas had used their power of mantra and saved him from the evil effects of receiving ?Praachitram?
3.      agnEstvaasyEna paasnaami iti abhraveet nahi agnEraasaya kinchana hinasti/
?Oh! Praachitram! I am eating you through the mouth of Agni? So saying, he put it in his mouth. He experienced no difficulty now in biting it. Can anyone harm the face of fire?
4.      BraahmaNasya udarENE iti abhraveet, na hi braahmanasyO daram kinchana hinasti/
?Oh! Praachitram! Remember that you are going into the tummy of a BraahmaNa?
Praachitram went down into his stomach without any difficulty.

The events narrated in the story may appear routine with nothing exciting or exceptional about it.

Then, what is the big deal about it, is a reasonable question.

The answer is that they are not without significance,

It would appear that Brahmins of those days were so disciplined and rigorous in their habits that whatever entered their tummy got easily digested.
No need for heartburn medication!

Brihaspati was aware of the fact that the eyes, the hands, the mouth and the stomach are governed by the power of various deities act jointly in a sort of Consumer council and protect the consumer from the ill effects of what is ingested.

What has this story to do with Aangeerasas?
This is a valid question. Those who receive DakshiNai in yaagas, if they mediate and chant the name of Rishi Aangeerasas, he would through his powers ward off the ill effects attaching to the act of receiving DakshiNai.

It is with this in mind that Rig Veda mantram proclaims:
yE yagjnEna dakshiNayaa samaktaa:? Angeerasa:  which means that Rishi
Angeeras is there always to protect the person receiving DakshiNai?

We have heard how the messengers of Death, will mercilessly take away the soul of a dying person to take it to the hells. But, if he were to utter the name of ?Narayana?, they will let him go and ascend up to the Kingdom of God. Srimad Bhaagavatam and Naanmugan Tiruvantaadi of Tirumazhiasai Azhwar confirm this. Similarly, when a person receives DakshiNai uttering the name of Angeeras the Paapam attaching to the act will not attach to the recipient.

Is there any other antidote to this Paapam?
Vedas declare the a person who officiates in the performance of a yaaga and receives DakshiNai for the performance will have to fast for 3 days together and recite the entire Vedas ? while the former may be possible, the latter condition is insuperable. May be, it can also be interpreted as saying that this ?Praayschittam? can become effective only if and when the DakshiNai were received invoking Angeeras!

27 &28 to come