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  1. This is a topic of great interest of mine. The Rishis are the Seers of yore, to whom we owe the debt of presenting the Shruti (Transmission) of the Vedas. These mystics, in deep meditation, heard the transmission of the eternal wisdom, which were subsequently formatted into the Vedas. In Hindu tradition, there are three broad categories of knowledge that have been transmitted down from the ages (some modern researchers find astronomical data in the texts pointing to as early as the 15th Millennium BCE). The three being -- Shruti - Heard transmission - these are the Vedas including the Upanishads Smriti - Remembered transmission - these the various Puranas (such as Vishnu Purana, etc) Itihaasa - History (these include the epics Ramayana, Mahabharata). One could argue that the Shruti (heard transmission or the wisdom of the universal Self) is also transmitted via memory. But the status of Shruti is given to the specific texts because the premise is that any seer, who is of a certain level of attainment can access these transmissions (which are always present). These Rishis were very interesting and not much is written about them these days. People know about the Varna system of Hindu India. Interestingly enough, the Rishis came from all varnas (brahmin - scholar kshatriyas - warrior, vaishya - traders and shudra - workers). Not all Rishis were renunciants, neither were all celibates. The Rishis mainly lived in the forests, in hermitages (ashrams), many were married and had children. Some meditated in solitude, while others taught students in their residential schools (gurukulas). The texts like Tripura Rahasya, Yoga Vasishtha have wonderful descriptions of these sages and their capabilities. One category of Rishis were called Brahmarishis and these Rishis were able to create their own Universes via the power of their consciousness. In other words, their will was so strong, and aligned with their awareness, that whatever they willed, came into existence. Quoted below is one such story from The Tripura Rahasya Chapter 12 & 13 --