(Last Updated on : 22/12/2012)
Gautama Maharishi, also known as Kautaman, was one of the Maharishis from the Vedic period. He is considered to be one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages) of the present Manvantara. It is believed that sage Gautama is discovered Mantras (Mantra Drashtaa) in Sanskrit. There are various hymns or suktas in the Rig Veda that are dedicated to him. The Bhadra hymn in the Sama Veda
is also attributed to Gautama Maharishi. The great sage was the son of Rahugana and was a descendant of Sage Angiras. He was the founder of the Gautama gotra. Gautama Maharishi had two sons named Nodhas and Vamadeva and both of them eventually became discoverers of Mantras. The 4th book of the Rig Veda is that of the Vamadeva Gautama family. Some renowned disciples of the sage were Bharadwaja, Gaargya, Shaandilya and Prachina Yogya.
Legends of Gautama
Gautama Maharishi was married to Ahalya
who was the manasa putri (daughter) of Lord Brahma
. According to legends mentioned in the Puranic texts, Brahma stipulated that whoever goes around earth and returns first will win the hand of her daughter in marriage. The sage fulfilled the condition by walking around the divine cow and was married with her. The couple had a son named Shatananda who became the Purohita or chief priest of King Janaka
. Moreover the Shanti Parva
in the Mahabharata
mentions that the sage performed penance for around sixty years.
There is another legend mentioned in the Narada Purana
. Once there was famine in heaven and earth that lasted for 12 years. There was no food left in heaven or earth. During that period only Gautama Maharishi had the provisions and he helped all the gods and provided them with food. Thus all the gods loved him and adored Gautama.
There is another legend mentioned in Ramayana that is related to Gautama Maharishi. One day the sage went to bathe in the river Ganges. Lord Indra
, the King of Devas, mesmerized with Ahalya, the wife of Gautama. Indra then took the disguise of the Maharishi and became intimate to Ahalya. However, while Gautama was returning to his abode from the river, he caught Indra who was trying to escape. The sage cursed both his wife and Lord Indra. Ahalya was converted to stone and Indra was cursed with one thousand female organs (Sahasrayoni). But later Gautama took pity on Indra and converted the yonis into eyes. Then Lord Indra was known as Sahasraaksha. Gautama Maharishi granted a boon to Ahalya that she would return to human form after touching the feet of Lord Rama. Then Ahalya could reunite with her husband.
Dharma Sutra of Gautama Maharishi
Gautama Maharishi composed the work of Gautama Dharma Sutra
. It is perhaps the earliest known Dharma Sutra. The work includes 1000 aphorisms in 28 chapters. It is considered as the oldest law book as it includes every aspect of the observances of Hindu religion, such as punishments for different offences, rules for food consumption, rules for atonement for sins (Prayaschitta), dharmas of women, rules of succession of property, the forty sanskaras, the four varnas, the four Ashramas and others.