rishi (Sanskrit: “seer; one who sees”) — is a word that simply means a sage or a divine seer in general. the great sages of ancient India who, in deep states of meditation (communion with the cosmos), and through spiritual experimentation, discovered the underlying, fundamental truths of the Universe, and whose teachings formed the basis for the spiritual culture of the ancient Vedic civilization. In more specific usage the rishis are divine beings distinct from devas (Gods), asuras (demons) and men who “heard” the Vedic hymns and passed them on down to mankind.
The rishi are the patriarchs and progenitors of mankind. In the ancient texts 10 original rishis are mentioned who then become the source for the Hindu gotra lineages. Seven of these ancient and divine “seers” have been immortalized in the heavens. The sapta rishis, the seven sages, is the Hindu name for the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) in Hindu astronomy. Each star of the Big Dipper is named after one of these rishis.
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