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Vashistha (Sanskrit: वशिष्ठ, वसिष्ठ, Thai: Vasit) is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, i.e. the present Manvantara,. Vashista is a manasputra of God Brahma. He had in his possession the divine cow Kamadhenu, and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners. Arundhuti is the name of the wife of Vashista.
Vashistha one of 9 Prajapatis is credited as the chief author of Mandala 7 of the Rigveda. Vashistha and his family are glorified in RV 7.33, extolling 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 by him is "Vashistha Samhita" - a book on Vedic system of electional astrology.
Tales featuring Vashistha 
The tale of Vashistha 
Sage Vashistha was Ram's guru and the Rajpurohit of Ikshwaku dynasty. He was a peace-loving, selfless, intelligent and great Rishi. He had established Gurukula (residential college) on the banks of the river beas, where he and his wife Arundhati were taking care of thousands of students.
Vashistha was the Sadguru of his time, possessing 20 "kala's" (divine arts) and had complete knowledge of the whole cosmos and the god. Many of his Shlokas are found in Vedas as well.
Vashistha possessed a cow named Nandini daughter of Kamadhenu who could instantly produce food enough for a whole army. The king Kaushika (later called Vishwamitra), who visited Vashistha's hermitage, was very impressed with the cow and tried to take it away from Vashistha by force, but Kamadhenu/Nandini's spiritual power was too great for him.
After being unable to conquer Nandini, Vishwamitra decided to acquire power himself through penance like Vashistha. He gained much power and many divine weapons from Shiva. Once again he attempted to conquer Kamadhenu/Nandini. But even the divine weapons he acquired could not defeat the power of Kamadhenu/Nandini.
The tale of King Dileepa 
King Dileepa or Dilip was a king of the Raghuvamsha dynasty. He had a wife named Sudakshina, but they had no children. For this reason, Dileepa visited the sage Vashistha in his ashram, and asked him for his advice. Vashistha replied that they should serve the cow Nandini, child of Kamadhenu, and perhaps if Nandini was happy with their service, she would bless them with a child. So, according to Vashistha, Dileepa served Nandini every day, and attended to her every need for twenty-one days. On the twenty-first day, a lion attacks Nandini. Dileepa immediately draws his bow and tries to shoot the lion. But he finds that his arm is paralysed and cannot move. He reasons that the lion must have some sort of divine power. As if to confirm this, the lion started to speak to him. It said that Dileepa had no chance of saving the cow because the cow was the lion's chosen meal. The lion tells Dileepa to return to Vashistha's ashram. Dileepa replies by asking if the lion would let Nandini go if he offered himself in Nandini's place. The lion agreed and Dileepa sacrificed his life for the cow. But then the lion mysteriously disappeared. Nandini explained that the lion was just an illusion to test Dileepa. Because Dileepa was truly selfless, Nandini granted him a son.
Arundhati and Vashistha pair of stars 
Mizar is known as Vashistha and Alcor is known as Arundhati in traditional Indian astronomy. The pair is considered to symbolize marriage (Vashishtha and Arundhati were a married couple) and, in some Hindu communities, priests conducting a wedding ceremony allude to or point out the constellation as a symbol of the closeness marriage brings to a couple.
Vashistha Ashram 
Brahmrishi Vashistha had an Ashram in Ayodhya that was spread over 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land. Today all that remains of it is a small ashram in about one fourth of an acre of land. The ashram has within it a well that is believed to be the source of the river Saryu. Brahmarishi Vashistha was the Guru of the Suryavamsha. The King at that time was King Ishvaku who was the king of Ayodhya. He was a noble king and thought of the well being of his subjects. He approached Sage Vashistha telling him that the land had no water and requested him to do something to let the kingdom have adequate water. Sage Vashistha performed a special prayer and the river Saryu is said to have started flowing from this well. Sarayu is also known as Ishvaki and Vashisthi. It is said that the well is connected underground with the river. Many spiritual people who visit this ashram find an enormous spiritual energy around this well. Some believe that this is one of the better spiritual tirth's in Bharat (India).
There is also another ashram past Rishikesh on the way to Kaudiyala on the Devprayag route that is known as Vashistha Guha Ashram. The ashram itself is located on the banks of the River Ganges and it is a very beautiful place. It has a cave with a Shiv Ling in it. The head of the ashram there is a monk of South Indian origin by the name of Swami Chaitanyanandji. There is also another small cave to the side facing the river called 'Arundhati's Cave', also known as 'the Jesus Cave', since the 1930's when Papa Ramdasji had mentioned in his book about his vision of Lord Jesus there.
Vashistha In Buddhism 
In the Buddhist Vinaya Pitaka of the Mahavagga (I.245) section the Buddha pays respect to Vashistha by declaring that the Veda in its true form was declared to the Vedic rishis "Atthako, Vâmako, Vâmadevo, Vessâmitto, Yamataggi, Angiraso, Bhâradvâjo, Vâsettho, Kassapo, and Bhagu" and because that true Veda was altered by some priests he refused to pay homage to the altered version.
Vashistha head 
A copper item representing a human head styled in the manner described for the Rigvedic Vashistha has been dated to around 3700 B.C. in three western universities using among other tests carbon 14 tests, spectrographic analysis, X-ray dispersal analysis and metallography. This indicates that some Rigvedic customs were already known at a very early time. The head was not found in an archaeological context, as it was rescued from being melted down in Delhi.
See also 
- Woodroffe, Sir John (1913). "Introduction and Preface". Mahānirvāna Tantra: Tantra of the Great Liberation. London: Luzac & Co. OCLC 6062735.
- V.Chandran. Astronomy Quiz Book. Pustak Mahal, 1993. ISBN 978-81-223-0366-7. "... the seven rishis in the constellation Saptarishi (Ursa Major) ... In Vasishta (Zeta), its tiny companion star is named after Arundhati, the wife of Vasishta ... today known by their Arabic names Dubhe (Kratu), Merak (Pulaha), Phekda (Pulastya), Megrez (Atri), Benetnash (Marichi) and Mizar (Vasishta) ..."
- M.K.V. Narayan. Flipside of Hindu Symbolism: Sociological and Scientific Linkages in Hinduism. Fultus Corporation, 2007. ISBN 978-1-59682-117-0. "... At this time, the pundit shows the couple the Arundhati star in the sky to suggest closeness of the married couple. ... the star Vasishta of the Big Dipper constellation (Saptarishi Mandalam) and it is the star system called Mizar ..."
- P. 494 The Pali-English dictionary By Thomas William Rhys Davids, William Stede
- P. 245 The Vinaya piṭakaṃ: one of the principle Buddhist holy scriptures ..., Volume 1 edited by Hermann Oldenberg
- The Vinaya Pitaka's section Anguttara Nikaya: Panchaka Nipata, P. 44 The legends and theories of the Buddhists, compared with history and science By Robert Spence Hardy
- Hicks and Anderson. Analysis of an Indo-European Vedic Aryan Head - 4500-2500 B.C., in Journal of IE studies 18:425-446. Fall 1990.
- Atreya, B L (1981 (1st ed. 1935)). The Philosophy of the Yoga Vashista. A Comparative Critical and Synthetic Survey of the Philosophical Ideas of Vashista as presented in the Yoga-Vashista Maha-Ramayan. Based on a thesis approved for the degree of Doctor of Letters in the Banaras Hindu University. Moradabad: Darshana Printers. p. 467 pages.
- Atreya, B L (1993). The Vision and the Way of Vashista. Madras: Indian Heritage Trust. p. 583 pages. OCLC 30508760. Selected verses, sorted by subject, in both Sanskrit and English text.
- Vālmīki (1982, 2002). The Essence of Yogavaasishtha. Compiled by Sri Jnanananda Bharati, transl. by Samvid. Chennai: Samata Books. p. 344 pages. Sanskrit and English text.
- Vālmīki (1976). Yoga Vashista Sara: The Essence of Yoga Vashista. trans. Swami Surēśānanda. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam. p. 29 pages. OCLC 10560384. Very short condensation.