Since the Vedic period, thousands of great sages have contributed incomparably to literature, medicine, yoga, meditation, chemistry, physics, metaphysical, Dharma, Karma, liberation, and more. Among them is Gautama Maharishi.
According to Shatapatha Brahmana, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, and Krishna Yajurveda, he is one of the Saptarishis (a group of seven greatest sages). He created numerous mantras and hymns in Sanskrit dedicated to various deities. That’s why Sage Gautama is also called Mantra-Drastra.
The Vedas like Rig Veda and Sama Veda mentioned sage Gautama in hymns.
Maharishi Gautama is the son of sage Dirghatamas or Rahugana and belongs to the great Angirasa lineage. Maharishi Angirasa was one of the manasputras (mind-born sons) of Lord Brahma. Another prominent sage of ancient India, Rishi Bharadvaja, also belongs to the same family line.
Maharishi Gautama got married to one of the most beautiful women in the entire universe, Ahalya. She is the only one not born from a woman. According to Puranas, Lord Brahma himself crafted her as the most beautiful woman in the entire cosmos. Besides that, she belongs to the group of five virgins (Panchakanyas).
In Ramayana, sage gautama and Ahalya had a son named Satananda. However, Mahabharata mentioned they had two sons, Saradvan and Cirakari. Saradvan also known as Gautama, named his son and daughter, Kripa, and Kripi as Gautama and Gautami.
Another story from Shava Parva highlights that Gautama Rishi and Aushinara (King Ushinara’s daughter) had three daughters. As mentioned in the Vamana Purana, they were Jayanti, Jaya, and Aparajita.
The river Godavari, or the southern Ganga, is one of the most sacred rivers in India. The river has equal religious status as the Ganges. On the banks of the Godavari river, several great sages meditate, create hymns, and perform rituals. Sage Gautama lived in the village of Govuru, Brahmagiri hills, Triambakeshwar, with his wife, Ahalya.
In Satya Yuga, there was a drought in Maharishi village. So, he did harsh penance. As a result, the god of water, Varuna, blessed him with rainfall in his ashram. That’s why, at the ashram, he used to conduct food donations to starving people. For that purpose, he cultivated varieties of crops.
Once, the malicious sages sent a deceptive cow to destroy the field. The cow died soon after Maharishi touched it. Everyone in the village blamed him for committing such an unforgivable sin. Regretting his sin, the sage did austerity for a thousand years to please Lord Shiva so that Goddess Ganga could come to Earth to flow over the dead cow. Pleased with Maharishi’s penance, Lord Shiva unlocked Ganga from one of his Jata (locked hairs). Finally, the cow got revived with the touch of the holy Ganga River.
In Valmiki’s Ramayana first book Bala Kanda, Lord Rama and his brother Lakshamana once traveled to Mithila with their guru sage Vishwamitra. When they arrived near the sage Gautama’s ashram, Sage Vishwamitra remembered Ahalya’s curse. So, he said the entire incident to Rama and his brother.
He said Devi Ahalya was so beautiful that the lord of gods, Indra, lusted over her. So, Indra impersonates Rishi’s appearance and enters the hermitage when her husband goes to the river for a bath. When the sage returned to the ashram, he saw Indra coming out, resembling his appearance.
The Rishi, in a rage, cursed Indra to lose his testicles and would have thousands of female genitalia (sahasrayoni). As for his wife Ahalya, he cursed her to become a rock. After that, he said only the touch of Lord Rama’s feet would liberate her from the curse. In doing so, Maharishi lost all the spiritual powers and knowledge he gained from a thousand years of penance. Therefore, he went to the mountains to perform austerity to regain his lost powers.
After Bhishma Pitamah left his body in the battleground of Kurukshetra, Guru Dronacharya became chief commander of Kauravas. With his vast warfare knowledge and powerful celestial weapons, he killed millions of Pandavas’ army. The battlefield was filled with blood, dead bodies, and the sound of crying.
At that time, Maharishi Gautama, who was exploring the world to spread the Dharma, noticed these terrifying views. He then went to Dronacharya and said he went against his Dharma by killing innocent lives. Therefore, he must put down his weapon and embrace his death. After realizing his sins, Dronacharya accepted his death and went to heaven through Yog-Vidya.
Throughout Gautama Maharishi’s lifetime, he had written several texts. Among them, Dharmasutra is his most remarkable work. It is one of the oldest Dharmasutra in Sanskrit, dating around 600-400 BCE.
The text follows the concise style, with 28 chapters with about 973 verses. The subject of the Dharmasutra includes;
Origin of the Dharma: It talks about the genuine source of law.
Brahmacharya: It discusses the student’s law of conduct, general rules and regulation, and behaviors towards teachers.
- the life of a student, hermit, and monk
- household, marriage, and social life
- interaction among four social classes and their jobs
- tax rates and collecting taxes
- property rights
- King’s duties and judicial processes
- categories separated from civilians and criminals
- judgment trials and witnesses
- the concept of penalizing
- House purification
- Rituals for the ancestors
- Self-reciting Vedic chants
- Marriage, divorce, and child custody rules
Punishment and Atonement
- Search and Seizure
- The penalty for involving in butchering animals,
- Infidelity, prostitution, and various types of atonement
Legacy and Disputes within the law
- It discusses heritages from father and mother to their children
- Property division
- Solving conflicts and misunderstandings under the law
Another work of Gautama Maharishi is Nyaya sutras. It states that every knowledge is not rational unless verified. Following that, the truth will exist forever, even if humans are aware of it or not. Furthermore, it states one has to struggle to obtain knowledge as knowledge does not self-reveal.
Teachings of Maharishi Gautama
In the Nyaya sutra, Gautama Maharishi taught how to gain knowledge through logic. There are four steps which are;
- Pratyaksha – Realizing through the senses is the only way to gain actual knowledge. The knowledge is valid unless the senses validate it.
- Anumana – Obtain true knowledge through the means of presumption.
- Upamana – One can gain the ultimate knowledge through similarity and comparison.
- Shabda – It means words. So, evidence of Shabda is accepted as a method to validate true knowledge.