Vashishta and His Legacy

Vashishta, one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages), is a manasputra of God Brahma. He possessed the divine cow Kamadhenu and her child Nandini, capable of granting anything to their owners. Arundhati is the name of Vashista's wife. Vashista, one of the 9 Prajapatis, is credited as the chief author of Mandala 7 of the Rigveda. He and his family are glorified in RV 7.33, praising their role in the Battle of the Ten Kings, making him the only mortal besides Bhava to have a Rigvedic hymn dedicated to him.

Another treatise attributed to him is the "Vashista Samhita," a book on the Vedic system of electional astrology. Vashista is featured in various tales and folklore. In the Ramayana, Vashista appears as the court sage of King Dasharatha. Vashista, Ram's guru and the Rajpurohit of the Ikshwaku dynasty, was a peace-loving, selfless, and intelligent Rishi. He established a Gurukula on the banks of the river Beas, where he and his wife Arundhati cared for thousands of students. Vashista was the Sadguru of his time, possessing 20 "kala's" (divine arts) and complete knowledge of the cosmos and gods. Many of his Shlokas are found in the Vedas.

Vashista possessed a cow named Nandini, the daughter of Kamadhenu, who could produce food instantly for a whole army. King Kaushika (later called Vishwamitra) tried to forcefully take the cow from Vashista but failed due to Kamadhenu/Nandini's spiritual power. Vishwamitra, unable to conquer Nandini, decided to acquire power through penance like Vashista. After gaining power and divine weapons from Shiva, he attempted once again to conquer Nandini but failed. Vishwamitra then renounced his possessions and led the life of a simple forest ascetic.

Vashista had an Ashram in Ayodhya spread over 40 acres, but only a small ashram remains today. The ashram has a well believed to be the source of the river Saryu. Vashista was the Guru of the Suryavamsha, and it is said that the river Saryu began to flow from the well after a special prayer by Vashista. Many spiritual people find enormous spiritual energy around this well, considering it a significant spiritual tirtha in Bharat (India). Another ashram, Vashistha Guha Ashram, is located past Rishikesh on the way to Kaudiyal on the Devprayag route. The ashram, situated on the banks of the River Ganges, has a cave with a Shiv Ling and is known for its serene beauty.

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