Parashara (IAST: Parāśara) was a Rigvedic Maharishi (seer), and the author of many ancient Indian texts. He is accredited for being the author of the first Purana: Vishnu Purana (before his Son Veda Vyasa wrote it in its present form). He was the grandson of Vashista, the son of Śakti Maharṣi, and the father of Veda Vyasa. There are several texts which give reference to Parashara as an author/speaker. Modern scholars believe that there were many individuals who used this name throughout time whereas others assert that the same Parashara taught these various texts and the time of writing them varied. The actual sage himself never wrote the texts, he was known as a traveling teacher, and the various texts attributed to him are given in reference to Parashara being the speaker to his student. He is the third member of the Ṛṣi Paramparā of the Advaita Guru Paramparā.
According to the Vedas, Brahma created Vashista who with Arundhati had a son named [Shakti-muni] who sired Parashara. With (Satyavati), Parashara fathered [Vyasa]. Vyāsa sired [Dhritarashtra], [Pandu] and [Vidura] through his deceased brother's wives. Vyāsa also sired Śuka through his wife, Jābāli's daughter Pinjalā (Vatikā).Skanda Purāṇa, Nāgara Khanda, ch. 147 Thus Parashara was the great-grandfather of both the warring parties of the Mahābhārata, the Kauravas and the Pāndavas. Parashra is used as a gotra for the ancestors and their offrings thereon.
Parashara was raised by his grandfather, Vashista, because he lost his father at an early age. His father, Śakti Muni, was on a journey and came across an angry Rakshasa (demon) who had once been a king but was turned into a demon feeding on human flesh as a curse from Viśvamitra. The demon devoured Parashara’s father. In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Parashara speaks about his anger from this:
"I had heard that my father had been devoured by a Rākṣasas employed by Viśvamitra: violent anger seized me, and I commenced a sacrifice for the destruction of the Rākṣasas: hundreds of them were reduced to ashes by the rite, when, as they were about to be entirely exterminated, my grandfather Vashista said to me: Enough, my child; let thy wrath be appeased: the Rākṣasas are not culpable: thy father's death was the work of destiny. Anger is the passion of fools; it becometh not a wise man. By whom, it may be asked, is any one killed? Every man reaps the consequences of his own acts. Anger, my son, is the destruction of all that man obtains by arduous exertions, of fame, and of devout austerities; and prevents the attainment of heaven or of emancipation. The chief sages always shun wrath: be not subject to its influence, my child. Let no more of these unoffending spirits of darkness be consumed. Mercy is the might of the righteous.”
Parashara Muni(Sage), at the wish of lord vishnu brahma and mahadev the trio creature of the whole world, on one of his travels across the country, halted for the night in a little hamlet on the banks of the river Yamuna. He was put up in the house of the village chief. When dawn broke, the chief asked his daughter, Satyavati, to ferry the sage to his next destination. When in the ferry, Parashara was offended by the stench of raw fish. He asked Satyavati as to from where the foul stench was emanating. Satyavati was a fisherman's daughter, and pursued the same occupation. It was from her the stench emanated. Realizing this, Parashara gave her the epithet "Matsyagandha", meaning "one with the smell of fish". Satyavati was thoroughly ashamed. Parashara felt sorry for his cruelty, and instantly granted her the boon, that the finest fragrance may emit from her person.
Parashara grew attached to Satyavati, and desired to perform coitus with her. But Satyavati was terrified of him and gave an excuse that there were many people present on either sides of the Yamuna. So Parashara Muni, with his mystic power, created a dense sheet of mist around the boat. He then took her to an island on the Yamuna and in due course, they had a son, by name Vyāsa. But Parashara's wandering ascetic life did not suit Satyavati, and the couple separated. Satyavati returned to her father after this, and in due course, married Śantanu.
Parashara was known as the "limping sage". He had his leg wounded during the attack of his āśrama. When a ṛṣi dies he merges back into an element or an archetype, Sage Jaimini was trampled by wild elephants, Sage Gautama was eaten by Cannibals, etc. When Sage Parashara was walking through a dense forest he and his students were attacked by wolves. He was unable to get away in his old age with a lame leg he left this world merging into the wolves.
In the Ṛgveda, Parashara, son of Śakti Muni (Parashara Śāktya), is the seer of verses 1.65-73 which are all in praise of Agni (the sacred fire), and part of 9.97 (v.31-44) which is in praise of Soma. Below is 1.73.2
devo na yaḥ savitā satyamanmā kratvā nipāti vṛjanāni viṣvā
purupraṣasto amatirna satya ātmeva Sevo didhiṣāyyo bhūt
He who is like the divine Sun, who knows the truth (of things), preserves by his actions (his votaries) in all encounters; like nature, he is unchangeable and, like soul, is the source of all happiness: he is ever to be cherished.
Texts attributed to Parashara
- Author of verses in the Ṛgveda: recorded as the author of RV 1.65-73 and part of RV 9.97.
- Parashara Smṛti (also called Parashara Dharma Saṃhitā): a code of laws which is stated in the text (1.24) to be for Kali Yuga.
- Speaker of Viṣṇu Purana considered by scholars as one of the earliest Purāṇas.
- Speaker of the Bṛhat Parashara Horā Śāstra, also written as BPHS. It is considered a foundational text of astrology. The Sanskrit in which it is composed dates to the 7th or 8th centuries CE
- Speaker of the Vṛkṣāyurveda ("the science of life of trees"), one of the earliest texts on botany. This text was considered to be an ancient botany primer for students of Traditional Indian Medicine.
- Krishi parasaram, a book that dealt with agriculture and weeds.
- Parashara Bhattar, a disciple of Yamunacharya (12th century).
- (Dhimal)Dhimal is a Brahman Cast.(Parashara Gotra)
- Wilson, H. H. The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition.
- Munshi, K.M. "The Book of VedaVyaasa: The Master".
- Rgveda 1.73.2 Translation by H.H.Wilson
- Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism.
- Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.
- Ganguli, Kisari Mohan. "The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa" published between 1883 and 1896, http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12c049.htm
- Monier-Williams, Sanskrit Dictionary (1899).
- Munshi, K.M. "The Book of VedaVyaasa: The Master". Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1971.
- Wilson, H. H. (2006). The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition. Cambridge: Read Country Books. ISBN 1-84664-664-2.
- Translation and commentary Brihat Parashara Hora Sastra