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I came across a text similar to the Smṛtis or Law Books which is called the Harita Samhita.

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He seems to be somebody of significance because his laws are repeated by Ṛṣi Markandeya in the book. The Ṛṣis also refer to him as the son of Bhṛgu:

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This could either imply that he was a direct son of Bhṛgu Ṛṣi or someone who belonged to his lineage. But the only information I could get on him was a vague mention in the Charak Samhita:

Now Punarvasu, out of friendliness, and prompted with compassion for all creatures, bestowed the virtuous Ayurveda upon his six disciples- Agnivesa, Bhela, Jatukarna, Parasara, Harita and Ksarapani. Su1#30-31

So my question is - who exactly is this Ṛṣi Harita?

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    The only Harita that I know of is the ancient solar dynasty king who was magically changed into a Brahmana by Vishnu. His story is described in the bottom of this web page: srimatham.com/lineage.html He was the founder of a Brahmana Gotra called Harita Gotra, which is the Gotra that Ramanujacharya belonged to. (That's why Ramanujacharya was born in Sri Perubudur, because his ancestors had been serving Adi Keshava Perumal.) But people from Harita Gotra are considered adopted descendants of Angiras (a fact mentioned in numerous Puranas), not adopted descendants of Bhrigu. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 13:18
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    Harita (हारीत) was one of the 6 disciplines of Aatreya Punarvasu (आत्रेय पुनर्वसु) who was the son of Rishi Atri(अत्रि) who is the seer (द्रष्टा) of 5th Mandala of Rigveda. According to Charak Samhita (1.18-23), Bhardwaja learnt Ayurveda from Indra and from Bhardwaja, Atreya Punarvasu learnt Ayurveda. Punarvasu taught Ayurveda to six disciplines (1.30-31), Harita was one among them.
    – Pandya
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 13:23
  • @KeshavSrinivasan that is interesting but if he belongs to the Angiras clan then this one must be a different guy. I hope someone would be able to dig up something. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 14:42
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    I just confirmed that the two Haritas are different. Because the Harita I'm talking about was actually the son of Ambarisha; see this chapter of the Vishnu Purana: sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/vp095.htm And in the chapter you quoted, Markandeya is telling Ambarisha about an earlier figure named Harita. Perhaps Ambarisha, after hearing the Harita Samhita, decided to name his son after its author. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 16:10
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    Btw, I also came to know about Harita DharmaSutra & Harita Smriti of which author Harita may be different from the author of Harita Samhita.
    – Pandya
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 17:25

2 Answers 2

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As per Skanda Purana 1:2:51:178, father of Kamatha is the author of Harita Samhita.

178.Your father-will become an author of a Smṛti text (viz. Hārita-Smṛti). He will be adored by Brāhmaṇas. This spot will never perish.

Skanda Purana 1:2:51:25. On hearing this from the guest, Hārīta spoke to his eight year old son Kamaṭha, “Do you understand, dear son, what is spoken of by this Brāhmaṇa?

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  • Thank you for the attempt but it doesnt help with the antecedents of Harita and also raises another question - how was his son a King? Commented May 13, 2021 at 12:31
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal there was a king of Kamboja whose name was Kamatha. It is written that he was from brahmin lineage so I thought that he was the son of Harita. Well I am researching on it. Commented May 14, 2021 at 3:58
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I have been looking for more details about the rishi so have managed to piece together some information about him.

He seems to be one of the rishis in the disciplic succession for the Shukla Yajurveda as mentioned in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:

From Yājñavalkya. Yājñavalkya from Uddālaka. Uddālaka from Aruṇa. Aruṇa from Upaveśi. Upaveśi from Kuśri. Kuśri from Vajaśravas. He from Jihvāvat, the son of Badhyoga. He from Asīta, the son of Varṣagaṇa. He from Harita Kaśyapa. He from Śilpa Kaśyapa. This one from Kaśyapa, the son of Nidhruva. He from Vāc. She from Ambhiṇī. She from the sun. These white Yajuses received from the sun are explained by Yājñavalkya Vājasaneya.

The Kaumarika Khand of Skanda Puran mentions about a group of accomplished brahmins who were extolled by Narad Muni who were led by Harita to even Surya Deva who came down to test them in the form a Brahmin:

Thereafter, an old Brāhmaṇa of great splendour was seen by my Brāhmaṇas. He was wearing matted hair that had become tawny in colour on account of the holy baths thrice a day. Thereupon, those Brāhmaṇas, the chief of whom was Hārīta, became excessively delighted. Their eyes beamed like full-blown lotuses. They rose up from their Vedic sacrificial hall and rushed towards that Brāhmaṇa.

Apparently they were advised to visit Badarikashram by Narad and Harita led them as per the same section:

Without daring, prosperity cannot be obtained at all. Hence, O Nārada, I will go there at your instance. I have under me twenty-six thousand Brāhmaṇas. They are all engaged in the six holy acts (i.e. duties) of Brāhmaṇas (viz. study and teaching of Vedas, performance of sacrifice by oneself or through others, acceptance of gifts and giving religious gifts). They are devoid of greed and arrogance or fraud. I will come along with them. This is excellent in my opinion.”

Skanda Purana Tirtha Mahatmya section mentions about him living near the Saubhāgyakūpikā Tirtha where his wife was once enamored by Kamdeva:

Formerly there was a Brāhmaṇa well-known by the name Hārīta. He performed his penance there in his Vānaprastha stage. He had a chaste lady as his wife. She possessed beauty and other exquisite qualities. Like Lakṣmī, the wife of the enemy of Madhu (Viṣṇu) she was the most beautiful lady in all the three worlds. She was well-known by the name Pūrṇakalā. She had well-developed good qualities......Then on seeing the lady of splendid countenance, Kāmadeva too was hit in his heart by his own flowery arrows.

The rishi's wife forgets to return home listening to the sweet words of Kama so when the sage starts looking for her he finds them talking and in his anger curses them thus:

O sinner, you have afflicted my wife thus with the arrows. She has been an innocent chaste lady devoted loyally to her husband. She has been hit by you and made to stand with face down with excessive bashfulness. Hence you will be overcome with the fell disease of leprosy. You will be unpleasant to see. Even your wives will forsake you. On seeing you, she became enamoured of you. Thereby she transgressed her duty. She shall become senseless resembling a rock.”

The Uttarardha Section of the same Purana mentions him pleasing Surya and asking for the boon to regain his youth so that he could perfom even more penance:

Here at Vārāṇasī formerly an old great sage named Hārīta propitiated the Sun-god for the sake of great abundance of penance. Endowed with firm devotion, he installed the image of the Sun towards the south of Viśālākṣī. The image had all auspicious characteristics and was intended to bestow auspiciousness. Bradhna (the Sun-god), being pleased with him, granted a boon unto that old austere sage. He said, “Do not delay. Request me. What boon should be given by me to you?”

That sage chose the boon from the delighted Sun-god, the jewel of firmament: “If the Lord is pleased, grant me youth once again. Since I have reached old age, I have no capacity to perform penance. Having regained my youth, I shall perform an excellent penance. Thereafter that deity Ādītya who dispels senility is remembered as Vṛddhāditya, because he had been propitiated by the old sage Hārīta.

As corroborated by the Samhita by his name, he is also mentioned as one of the law-givers:

The following are the Law-givers of Dharmaśāstras: Manu, Atri, Viṣṇu, Hārīta, Yājñavalkya, Uśanas, Aṅgiras, Yama, Āpastaṃba, Saṃvarta, Kātyāyana, Bṛhaspati, Parāśara, Vyāsa, Śaṅkha, Likhita, Dakṣa, Gautama, Śātātapa and Vasiṣṭha.

Apparently he has also written on medicine as this discussion on the Charak & Sushruta Samhita states:

Suśruta refers to the six treatises of the great sages on medicine (satṣu kāyacikitsāsu). According to Ḍalhaṇa, these are the saṃhitās of Agniveśa, Bhela, Jātukarṇa, Parāśara, Hārīta and Kṣārapāṇi.

Will keep adding as I find more about him!

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