His contributions to ancient Indian literature, specifically the Rig Veda, provide significant insight into ancient Indian society. He and his family of students were the authors of the sixth book of the Rigveda. In the epic Mahabharata, Bharadwaja was the father of the teacher (Guru) Droc?rya, the instructor to Pandava and Kaurava princes. Bharadwaja is also mentioned in Charaka Samhita, an authoritative ancient Indian medical text.
His full name in Vedic texts is Bharadvaja Barhaspatya, the last name referring to his father and Vedic deity-sage Brihaspati. His mother was Mamata, wife of Utathya Rishi who was the elder brother of Barhaspati. He is one of the seven rishis mentioned four times in the Rigveda as well as in the Shatapatha Brahmana, thereafter revered in the Mahabharata and the Puranas. In some later Puranic legends, he is stated to be the son of Vedic sage Atri.
In Buddhist Pali canonical texts such as Digha Nikaya, Tevijja Sutta describes a discussion between the Buddha and Vedic scholars of his time. The Buddha names ten rishis, calls them "early sages" and makers of ancient verses that have been collected and chanted in his era, and among those ten rishis is Bharadvaja.[note 1]
The ancient Hindu medical treatise Charaka Samhita attributes Bharadvaja learning medical sciences from god Indra, after pleading that "poor health was disrupting the ability of human beings from pursuing their spiritual journey", and then Indra provides both the method and specifics of medical knowledge.
The word Bharadvaja is a compound Sanskrit from "bhara(d) and vaja(m)", which together mean "bringing about nourishment".
Bharadvaja is considered to be the initiator of the Bharadv?jagotra of the Brahmin, Kayastha and Bhumihar caste.Bharadvaja is the third in the row of the Pravara Rishis (Aangirasa, Barhaspatya, Bharadvaja) and is the first in the Bharadvaja Gotris, with the other two rishis also being initiators of Gotras with their respective names.
Bharadvaja and his family of students are 55. Bharadvaja and his family of students were the traditional poets of king Marutta of the Vedic era, in the Hindu texts.
Bharadvaja is a revered sage in the Hindu traditions, and like other revered sages, numerous treatises composed in the ancient and medieval eras are reverentially named after him. Some treatises named after him or attributed to him include:
Dhanur-veda, credited to Bharadvaja in chapter 12.203 of the Mahabharata, is an Upaveda treatise on archery.
Bharadvaja srautasutra and grhyasutra, a ritual and rites of passage text from 1st millennium BCE. After the Kalpasutra by Baudhayana, these Bharadvaja texts are among the oldest srauta and grhya sutras known.
Sections in Ayurveda. Bharadvaja theories on medicine and causal phenomenon is described in Charaka Samhita. Bharadvaja states, for example, that an embryo is not caused by wish, prayers, urging of mind or mystical causes, but it is produced from the union of a man's sperm and menstrual blood of a woman at the right time of her menstrual cycle, in her womb. According to Gerrit Jan Meulenbeld, Bharadvaja is credited with many theories and practical ideas in ancient Indian medicine.
Niti sastra, a treatise on ethics and practical conduct.
Bharadvaja-siksa, is one of many ancient Sanskrit treatises on phonetics.
According to one legend, Bharadvaja married Susheela and had a son named Garga and a daughter named Devavarshini. According to some other legends, Bharadvaja had two daughters named Ilavida and Katyayani, who married Vishrava and Yajnavalkya respectively. According to Vishnu Purana, Bharadwaja had a brief liaison with an apsara named Ghritachi, and together they had a child who grew up into a warrior-Brahmin named Droc?rya. While in Mahabharata, Drona is born when Bharadwaja ejaculated his semen in a pot. Bharadwaja is therefore directly linked to two important characters of the epic Mahabharata -- Dronacharya and A?vatth?ma, the son of Dronacharya. According to the Mahabharata, Bharadvaja trained Drona in the use of weapons. Bharadwaja had two disciples: Agnivesa and Drupada. Agnivesa taught Drona the mastery of the weapon Agneya, while Drupad became the king of Panchala kingdom.
In the epic Ramayana, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana meet Bharadvaja at his asrama (hermitage) at the start of their fourteen-year exile. The sage asks them to stay with him through the exile, but they insist on going deeper into the forest to Chitrakuta which is three kosa away from the ashram. Bharadvaja gives them directions. Also, Bharatha along with Sumanth received at Ashram by Bharadvaja while Bharath went on to the forest in search of Lord Ram for a re-union and to bring Lord Rama, Sita and Laxmana back to Ayodhya. He reappears at various times in the epic. According to James Lochtefeld, the Bharadvaja in the Ramayana is different from the Vedic sage mentioned in Panini's Ashtadhyayi.
^The Buddha names the following as "early sages" of Vedic verses, "Atthaka (either Ashtavakra or Atri), Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta (Visvamitra), Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha (Vashistha), Kassapa (Kashyapa) and Bhagu (Bhrigu)".