In Shatpath Brahmin Granth 3/7/3/10, written by Yask Muni it is said, “VIDWANS HI DEVAHA” i.e., he who is learned of Vedas, he is called Dev. Yajurveda mantra 40/3 says, “ASURYA NAAM TE LOKAHA ANDHEN TAMSA VRITAHA_______” means while taking birth a child is called “Manushya” i.e., mankind. If he learns Vedas, does pious deeds and discharges his moral duties well and according to Vedas then he becomes Dev. Otherwise asur i.e., devil (demon), one who kills the pure voice of soul and does sins. In Van Parv of Mahahbharta Yaksh asked question to Yudhistar, “KAH NASTIKAH” i.e., who is called atheist? Yudhishtar answers, he who is against and insults Vedas he is atheist (Manusmriti 2/11 also refers). So there are two kinds of men/women according to Yajurveda mantra quoted above. One, “DEV” and second “DEVIL”. So our birth is to become Dev.
Rigveda mantra 10/181/1 says that in the beginning of the creation God always originates the knowledge of four Vedas in the heart of four Rishis, then the said four Rishis spread it further and uptil now the eternal knowledge of Vedas is being received traditionally. The names of those four Rishis are— Agni, Vaayu, Aditya, Angira, as also mentioned in Rigveda mantra 10/109/1 and Manusmiriti shlok 1/23. This truth is also mentioned in Bhagwat Geeta wherein shlok 3/15 says that Vedas are emanated from Almighty God and in shlok 13/4 Shri Krishna says that the knowledge of soul and body is very well mentioned in four Vedas and the Rishis have described the same by many methods. In Atharvaveda mantra 2/35/1and 4 it is preached that Rishis spread the knowledge of holy Yagya (Yajna) to the people to kill their sorrows and Rishis are those, “MANTRADRISHTA ITI RISHIHI” i.e., those who have studied Vedas and ashtang yog practice and then realized Almighty God and seen Ved mantras in their heart, they are called Rishis. So the knowledge of the Vedas, as per Rigveda mantras quoted above, is given by God Himself. To the Rishis and it is eternal truth and cannot be changed that is why in Yog shastra sutra, Rishi Patanjali says, “SA ESH PURVESAHM API GURUHU” i.e., so next to God is Rishi.
God did not give the knowledge to the present sants. In Vedas, the names of the learned are mentioned as Rishis, Muni, Vipra, Dwij, agni etc., and not sants. To be next to God it is necessary to have full knowledge of Vedas and ashtang yoga, as per the rules quoted above. To know that what is true and what is false, proof is required. Yog shastra in sutra 1/7 says about four proofs within which proof of Vedas to determine the truth is compulsory. However, it makes no difference that if a present sant has learnt four Vedas, done ashtang yoga practice mentioned in Vedas and realized Vedas and God, then he is also next to God. If declares his name Rishi or Brahamchari and does not know Vedas and yoga philosophy, then he is liar and cheating the public. Because in Shantiparv of Mahahbharta also Bhisham Pitamaha says to Yudhistar that there are two kinds of braham (though God is one). First, “Shabad Braham” i.e., knowledge of four Vedas, second “Par braham” the realization of formless God who creates, nurses and destroy the universe. So he who does not know Braham even Sahbad Braham—Vedas. So how he writes himself as brahamrishi, naturally he is cheating the public. Because most of the public does not know about Vedas and the arrogant (the saints who are against Vedas) have spread false knowledge about Vedas, Yajna andyoga philosophy. That is why, Manusmriti 2/168 says that the saint/Guru/dwij who does not know Vedas but studies false books, he in his present life goes downwards i.e., experiences sorrows, sufferings etc., etc., with his followers, i.e., their followers also go down and experiences the said difficulties etc., but nowadays it is also spread that God takes examination of a worshipper but such type of examinations have not been mentioned in Vedas. And Ramayan also says about such false saints—
VARAN DHARAM NAHIN ASHRAMCHARI,SHRUTI VIRODH RAT SABNAR NARI.
Tulsi says that at present men and women here become against the eternal knowledge of Vedas. Again Tulsi says in Uttarkand – DWIJ SHRUTI BECHAK BHOOP PRAJSAN, KAU NAHIN MAN NIGAM ANUSASAN. i.e., at present mostly the people do not accept the knowledge of Vedas, present saints, Gurus have sold the Vedas i.e., they do not know the ABCD about the Vedas. Again inNirukta 7/3, it is said that he who study all knowledge of the same granth it is mentioned that he who has studied Vedas in full and teaches others, he is Rishi.
It is now a fact that ancient Rishis used to live in a lonely place/jungle in Gurukuls/Ashram where the students used to go take Vedas/Yoga knowledge as Shri Krishna, Sudama, Shri Ram and their public used to go. It was the effect of Ved mantras on them and the effect of practicing ashtang yoga philosophy. They used to lead simple way of life without any luxury, etc., whereas nowadays the saints (against the Vedas) mostly live in bigger cities where way of earning is obtained. The Rishis used to bless the people according to Ved mantra to be the richest and having all households in the family etc., whereas now the present saints say that money will do nothing, family will do nothing, house will do nothing, cars and clothes will do nothing and they themselves take lot of money and enjoy luxuries. The Rishis were out of illness/tension etc., and upnishad says about the fact whereas most of the saints are having multifarious diseases, tension etc. The ancient Rishis mostly used to live in Gurukul and used to go to kingdom on invitation (Valmiki Ramayan Bal Kand sarg 7 also refers). But nowadays saints send their disciples door to door to collect money and to arrange maximum gathering/ crowd. The Rishis like Vyas Muni etc., used to go mostly on foot and alone to anywhere (Mahahbharta says) but now the present saints/Gurus go in a fleet of cars/groups with bodyguards etc., etc.
The Rishis were self of simple living without luxury etc., but with their blessings they made people the richest whereas most of the present saints have become the richest with all luxury, gathering money/donation etc., from even poor people and public seems to be poor.
In Brihadarnayk upnishad there is a debate, shastrarth between Bal Brahamcharini Gargi and Rishi Yagvalkya. This debate was organized by kingJanak. The winner of debate was to be given 500 cows with gold plated on horns. When Rishi Yagvalkya ordered his disciples to take the cows then king Janak interrupted and requested the Rishi that these cows are meant to him who will win the debate with my supreme Acharya Gargi. King asked the Rishi that whether he(Rishi) is Brahamrishi Yagvalkya Rishi answered, O! king there is shortage of milk in my Gurukul to my students and that is why I was taking the cows. But if you want to ask something I am ready. There became debate and Rishi won and got cows. This story tells that all Rishis used to ask donation when they needed whereas present saints even being multi-millionaires from donation even they are asking for money.
In upnishad king Janshruti met with Rishi Rakya in lonely place sitting on sand under the shadow of Bullock cart. Whereas present saints meet with highly decorated and valuable throne. Rishi Jardbhart was sitting alone in a jungle on the earth. When he was asked to carry the palanquin (palki) putting one side on his shoulder. Then he immediately became ready without any pride and walked on foot. Mostly now this cannot be repeated.
So there are maximum examples of the ancient Rishis who were Tapsvi, lover of truth and who are adorable.