Prostrations to Sage Vasiṣṭha, one who has ‘Jaṭā’ (long hair), who is a noble soul, who is the embodiment of Dharma, who is verily the truth (Brahman) and who always brings good to the world!
Sage Vasiṣṭha was one of the greatest among the Ṛṣis (seers), and he was the Supreme Guru of the Sūrya Vaṁśa (the Solar dynasty). He was an embodiment of peace, compassion and forgiveness, and he possessed all divine powers to liberate the beings who wished to realize the Supreme Truth. The enlightened sage had complete knowledge of the cosmos and the Vedas. He was a Brahmaṛṣi (one who possessed the knowledge about the Brahman) who had conquered his mind and senses after practising years of penance. He was also the preceptor of Harishchandra, the king of Ayodhya, who was known for his practice of truthfulness. By the power of his penance, the sage obtained Kāmadhenu and Nandini, the divine cow and her calf, who could fulfil any wish of those who owned and worshipped them.
The wise sage revealed Mandala (part) 7 of the Ṛg Veda, and he dedicated his entire life to the welfare of the beings in the world. Some of the verses in the Ṛg Veda glorify the sage and his wife Arundhatī, who is known for her virtue, chastity and extreme devotion to the sage. The marital relationship between Sage Vasiṣṭha and Arundhatī is a prominent one, for they both are regarded as an ideal couple in the Vedic tradition, who fulfilled all requirements of a harmonious married life.
The ascetic couple lived on the banks of River Saraswati and did penance there. In fact, one of the episodes in the Mahābhārata extols the power of Arundhatī’s penance, for it was with her penance that she pleased Lord Shiva to bless the earth with rains, as there was no rain for 12 years, and the Ṛṣis had no fruits or roots to consume.
As a family preceptor of the Solar dynasty, Sage Vasiṣṭha helped King Daśaratha make important decisions for the welfare of his kingdom. The famous Yoga-Vāsiṣṭha, which was written by the revered sage Valmiki, consists of the teachings of Sage Vasiṣṭha on Self-realization. Narrated as a discourse between Lord Rama and Sage Vasiṣṭha, it talks about Jñānayoga (the path of knowledge), one of the various paths that will lead one to enlightenment. Sage Vasiṣṭha imparted this divine wisdom to Rama when the latter developed a sense of dispassion for the worldly pursuits that really concerned King Daśaratha. He consoled the king that it was all a sign that Rama was ready to obtain the enlightenment. He then summoned Rama in the court of Daśaratha and began his discourse with him that answered all his queries about life. The great sage imparted not only the esoteric secrets of statecraft to Rama but also the greatest essence of the Upaniṣads, known as the Yoga-Vāsiṣṭha.
Along with Arundhatī, the revered sage set up a hermitage on the banks of River Saraswati and imparted Vedic wisdom to his disciples. Thousands of visitors thronged the hermitage to listen to his spiritual discourses. The entire hermitage shone with the brilliance of the sage, which he had acquired by the practice of penance for thousands of years. There, many sages performed holy rituals and were engaged in austerities for the good of the world. The sage won the hearts of millions of disciples who worshipped him and addressed him as the chief preceptor. Not only did he impart spiritual wisdom to his guests but he also entertained them with big feasts. Pleased by his hospitality, Lord Indra offered his holy cow Kāmadhenu and her calf to him. The divine cows helped the sage feed his guests with varieties of dishes.
Sage Vasiṣṭha is known for the conflict which Sage Viśvāmitra had with him. In fact, he helped Sage Viśvāmitra conquer his anger and attain the status of a Brahmaṛṣi. The conflict is a prominent one. In order to possess the divine cow Nandini, Sage Viśvāmitra, who was earlier a king, entered into a combat with Sage Vasiṣṭha with all his forces; nevertheless, Sage Vasiṣṭha destroyed his forces with his divine powers that he had acquired through penance. The conflict ended when Viśvāmitra had given up on his anger and pride, and became eligible to attain the title of a Brahmaṛṣi. He approached Sage Vasiṣṭha who embraced him and conferred the title to him. Sage Vasiṣṭha was thus a compassionate being, for he never resented Sage Viśvāmitra for whatever he did. He did use his force to conquer Viśvāmitra, but it was necessary at that moment to uphold the Dharma (righteousness).