Traditions of the Seven Rsis


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Ascetics and mystics have played a prominent role in the development of

nearly all religious traditions. The particular importance of such figures

within Hinduism is especially evident in the traditions recounted of the

Seven Rsis–the seven archetypal sages or seers who are depicted as being

more important and powerful than even the gods themselves: indeed, through

their asceticism the Rsis become the progenitors of the gods, as also of

men, demons and all other orders of creation. Traditions of the Seven Rsis

is the first systematic study of these traditions, and consists of two

separate but closely related parts: the first part is a text-historical

examination of how and when different traditions were formulated, while the

second part explores the various activities and ideas associated with the

Seven Rsis. Basing his study on the Sanskrit sources, but making use also

of Tamil, tribal and non-Indian sources, Dr. Mitchiner sets out the main

traditions associated with the Seven Rsis and traces the underlying themes

in those traditiions–particularly that of the creative role of these

ascetic figures. The work encompasses a wealth of original literary

material, much of it previously untranslated, and is both a sourcebook of

the Rsi traditions and a study of the historical development, symbolic

meaning and interconnectedness of those traditions, illustrating above all

the dynamically creative role of the ascetic and mystic within Hinduism.


About the Author(s)

JOHN EDWARD MITCHINER has held appointments as Ambassador to Armenia and as

British Deputy High Commissioner in Calcutta. He has travelled extensively

throughout India; the Middle East and South-East Asia, and is the author of

Studies in the Indus Valley Inscriptions, The Yoga-Purana, and Guru: The

Search for Enlightenment as well as of numerous articles on Indian history

and religion.

Additional information

Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 10 × 11 × 12 cm
Book Author

John E. Mitchiner

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