Prambanan: Saptarishis (Seven Sages)

Bas-relief depicting Saptarishis carved in the Shiva Temple located in Prambanan, Yoogyakarta, Indonesia

Saptarishis bas-relief in the Shiva Temple

Saptarishis bas-relief in the Shiva Temple
The story panel encompassing three frames depicts Saptarishis, seven great sages of ancient India. It is in a wall of the Shiva Temple.

Read more about the bas-reliefs in the Prambanan temples in the Prambanan Bas-Reliefs page.

Here are the names of the rishis (sages) from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:
1. Vishwamitra 2. Vasistha 3. Jamadagni 4. Kashyapa 5. Atri 6. Bharadwaja. 7. Gautama Maharishi
The names are not consistent across Puranic texts. Some Puranas have Agastya as one of the Saptarishis.

Astronomically, the Saptarishis represent seven stars of the constellation of Ursa Major, commonly known as the Big Dipper. The legend of seven great sages exists in many ancient cultures, including the Greek, Chinese, and Egyptian cultures.

The sage at the center is most-likely Vishwamitra. As you can see from the image, Vishwamitra and some of the rishis are holding japamalas with their right hands. A trishula (trident) is behind Vishwamitra with a kamandala (water jug) hung on its prong. It appears they are engaged in a debate.

Related Pages
Prambanan, Prambanan Bas-Reliefs, Borobudur, Bali, Indonesia
Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Banteay Srei, Cambodia

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