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Paintings > Tantra > The Seven Seers (Sapta-Rishis)
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The Seven Seers (Sapta-Rishis)

The Seven Seers (Sapta-Rishis)

The Seven Seers (Sapta-Rishis)

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Miniature Painting On Paper

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The Seven Seers (Sapta-Rishis)

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The seers are mysterious beings related to the origin of both man and knowledge. Often represented as 'human' sages, they nevertheless are conceived as eternal powers, symbolizing the primordial energies responsible for all manifest creation. They are 'seers' by virtue of being able to see the divine law which governs all creation, and indeed sustains it.

The most important seers are believed to be seven in number, and said reside in the sky as the seven stars of the Great Bear. According to the Shatapatha Brahmana, these seven are the 'authors' of the Vedic hymns. Their names are, Gautama, Bharadvaja, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Vashishtha, Kashyapa, and Atri. Here inscribed in the 'takri' script as the 'sons of Brahma,' are these very names. They sit surrounding a small pile of smoldering ash, much in the tradition of Shaivite saints.

At the center in the top row sits Jamadagni, with his head thrown back, and his hair reaching his thighs. With the right hand he holds a long rosary.

Next to him in the clockwise direction is Gautama, clad only in a loin-cloth, with prodigiously long nails, and similarly long hair under his armpits. He holds his hands above his head, in a tight, clasping posture.

Vashishtha is next, holding in his extended right hand a ceremonial water vessel, his left hand resting on his right knee. He is adorned all over with tulsi beads, including his chest, wrists, upper-arms, and the crown on his head. He sits on a small white prayer mat.

Following Vashishtha is Atri. He tells upon beads held in his right hand that is enclosed in a gomukha-glove, and at the same time also holds a small rosary in his other hand.

Bhardavaja stands on his head, performing a yogic asana, with his two hands supporting his mortal frame.

Kashyapa hods a coconut shell in his left hand, which holds ritual ashes which he has applied all over his body, and continues to do so on his forehead. He is bare except for a leopard skin covering his genitals.

Last is Vishvamitra, rendered the most elaborate of all. Seated on an antelope skin, he holds in his hands various sacred texts, which also lie by his side. His mouth is bound with a cloth. This probably refers to a long vow of silence this seer is believed to have undertaken.

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