Vasistha in Hindu dharma is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, i.e the present Manvantara, and the Rajpurohit / Rajguru of the Suryavansha or Solar Dynasty. He was the mānasaputra (“mind son”) of Brahma. He had in his possession the divine cow Kamadhenu, and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners.
Arundhati is the name of the wife of Vasistha. The star Mizar of the stellar constellation Ursa Major is thought of as Vasistha and the small one beside it, Alcor, as Arundhati.
The tale of Vasistha
Sage Vasistha was Ram’s guru and the Rajpurohit of “Ikshawaku” dynasty. He was a peace loving, selfless, intelligent and great Rishi. He had established Gurukula (residential college) on the banks of river “Saraswati”, where he and his wife “Arundhati” were taking care of thousands of students stayed there and studied there and Vasistha Rishi was the chief principal.
Vasistha 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.
This tale tells of how Vasistha possessed a cow named Kamadhenu who could produce enough food for a whole army of troops instantly. The king Kaushika(later called as Vishwamitra), who visited Vasistha’s hermitage, was very impressed with the cow and tried to take it away from Vasistha by force, but Kamadhenu/Nandini’s spiritual power was too great for him. After being unable to conquer Kamadhenu/Nandini, Vishwamitra decided to acquire power himself through penance like Vasistha. He gained much power and many divine weapons from Lord Shiva. And once again he attempted to conquer Kamadhenu/Nandini. But even the divine weapons he acquired could not defeat the power of Kamadhenu/Nandini. Vishwamitra finally decided to become a Brahmarishi himself, and he renounced all his possessions and luxury and led the life of a simple forest ascetic.
Brahmrishi Vashisht had an Ashram in Ayodhya that was spread over 40 acres 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. Brahmrishi Vashisht was the Guru of the Solar Dynasty. 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 Vashisht telling him that the land had no water and requested him to do something to let the Kingdom have adequate water. Sage Vashisht performed a special prayer and the river Saryu is said to have started flowing from this well. Saryu is also known as Ishvaki and Vashishti. 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 Kaudiyal on the Devprayag route that is known as Vashisht 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 Chetananda. There is also another small cave to the side facing the river.