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Kashyapa (Sanskrit: कश्यप, romanizedIAST: Kaśyapa) is a revered Vedic sage of Hinduism.[1] He is one of the Saptarishis, the seven ancient sages of the Rigveda,[note 1] as well as numerous other Sanskrit texts and Indian mythologies.[4][5] He is the most ancient Rishi listed in the colophon verse in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.[6]

Member of Saptarishi
Statue of Kashyapa in Andhra Pradesh, India
Personal information
SpouseAditi, Diti, Kadru, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Khasa, Muni
ChildrenAdityas & Vasus; Daityas & Maruts; Danavas; Birds; Krodhavasas; Nāgas, Manasa, Iravati; Cows & Bulls; Gandharvas

Kashyapa is a common ancient name, referring to many different personalities in the ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts.[7][8]


Kaśyapa, alternatively kacchapa, means "turtle" in Sanskrit.[9] According to Michael Witzel, it is related to Avestan kasiiapa, Sogdian kyšph, New Persian kašaf, kaš(a)p which mean "tortoise", after which Kashaf Rūd or a river in Turkmenistan and Khorasan is named.[10] Other relations include to Tokarian B kaccāp ("brainpan"), Polish kacap (czerep, "brainpan", "hardliner"),[11] Tokarian A kāccap ("turtle", "tortoise").[12] Frits Staal agrees that Kaśyapa means tortoise but believes that it is a non-Indo-European word.[13]

Kashyapa is one of Saptarishi, the seven famed rishis considered to be author of many hymns and verses of the Rigveda (1500-1200 BCE)[when?][citation needed]. He and his family of students are, for example, the author of the second verse of 10.137,[14] and numerous hymns in the eighth and ninth mandala of the Rigveda.[15][16] He is mentioned in verse 2.2.4 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, along with Atri, Vashistha, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gotama.[17][18] Kashyapa is also mentioned as the earliest rishi in colophon verse 6.5.3 of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the oldest Upanishadic scriptures of Hinduism.[6]

Kashyapa is mentioned in other Vedas and numerous other Vedic texts. For example, in one of several cosmology-related hymns of Atharvaveda (~1000 BCE), Kashyapa is mentioned in the allegory-filled Book XIX:

Undisturbed am I, undisturbed is my soul,
undisturbed mine eye, undisturbed mine ear,
undisturbed is mine in-breathing, undisturbed mine out-breathing,
undisturbed my diffusive breath, undisturbed the whole of me.

Thereafter rose Desire in the beginning, Desire the primal seed and germ of Spirit,
O Kama dwelling with the lofty Kama, give growth of riches to the sacrificer, (...)
Prolific, thousand eyed, and undecaying, a horse with seven reins Time bears us onward,
Sages inspired with holy knowledge mount him, his chariot wheels are all the worlds of creatures.

Kala [Time] created yonder heaven, and Kala made these realms of earth,
By Kala, stirred to motion, both what is and what shall be, expand, (...)
Kala created living things and first of all Prajapati,
From Kala self-made Kasyapa, from Kala Holy Fire was born.

— Atharvaveda, Book XIX, Hymns L51-53[19][20]

His name appears in Patanjali's ancient bhasya on verse 1.2.64 of Pāṇini.[21] His name is very common in the Epic and Purana literature.[5]

Buddhist textsEdit

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 rishi is Kassapa (the Pali spelling of Kashyapa in Sanskrit).[22][note 2]


Despite its etymological origins being uncertain, the contentious territory of Kashmir may have gotten its name from Kashyapa Rishi. According to Christopher Snedden, the name Kashmir could have been a shortened form of "Kashyapa Mir", or the "lake of the sage Kashyapa". Alternatively, it may come from a Kashmiri or Sanskrit term that means "to dry up water". It could also have been derived from the term "Kashyapa Meru", which means the sacred mountains of Kashyapa.[23]

In ancient texts of Greece, linked to the expedition of Alexander the Great, this land has been called "Kasperia",[23] possibly a contraction of "Kasyapamira".[24] The word "Kaspapyros" appears in Greek geographer Hekataois text, and as "Kaspatyros" in Herodotus who states that Skylax the Karyandian began in Kaspatyros to trace the path of Indus river from the mountains to where it drained in the sea. Kaspatyros may be same as Kaspa-pyrus or Kasyapa-pur (city of Kashyapa) in other texts.[24]


Kashyapa is revered in the Hindu tradition, and numerous legends and texts composed in the medieval era are reverentially attributed to him in various Hindu traditions. Some treatises named after him or attributed to him include:

  • Kashyapa Samhita, also called Vriddajivakiya Tantra or Jivakiya Tantra, is a classical reference book on Ayurvedic pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics.[25] It was revised by Vatsya.[26] The treatise is written as a tutorial between the medical sage Kashyapa and his student named Vriddhajivaka, and mostly related to caring for babies and diseases of children.[27]
  • Kashyapa Jnanakandah, or Kashyapa's book of wisdom, is a 9th-century text of the Vaishnavism tradition.[28]
  • Kaśyapa dharmasutra, likely an ancient text, but now believed to be lost. The text's existence is inferred from quotes and citations by medieval Indian scholars.[29]
  • Kaśyapa sangita, likely another ancient text, but now believed to be lost. A treatise on music, it is quoted by Shaivism and Advaita scholar Abhinavagupta, wherein he cites sage Kasyapa explanation on viniyoga of each rasa and bhava. Another Hindu music scholar named Hrdanyangama mentions Kashyapa's contributions to the theory of alankara (musical note decorations).[30][31]
  • Kasyapasilpa, also called Amsumad agama, Kasypiya or Silpasastra of Kaśyapa, is a Sanskrit treatise on architecture, iconography and the decorative arts, probably completed in the 11th century.[32]

Hindu textsEdit

Kashyapa is mentioned in numerous Hindu texts such as the Puranas and the Hindu Epics. These stories are widely inconsistent, and many are considered allegorical.[5][8] For example, in the Ramayana, he is married to the eight daughters of Daksha, while in the Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana he is described as married to thirteen daughters. Some of the names of the thirteen daughters Kashyapa married in the Hindu text Vishnu Purana are different than the list found in Mahabharata.[5] Some texts describe him as son of Marichi and a descendant of the solar dynasty, others as a descendant of Uttamapada who married Daksha's daughters, and yet others relate Kashyapa as a descendant of Hiranya Kashyapa. These texts may correspond to different characters, all named Kashyapa.[8]

In some Puranas, Kashyapa is said to have drained the Kashmir valley to make it inhabitable. Some interpret this legend to parallel the legend of Buddhist Manjushri draining Nepal and Tibet, wherein the "draining" is an allegory for teaching ideas and doctrines, removing stagnant waters of ignorance and extending learning and civilization into the valley.[33] The Sindh city Multan (now in Pakistan), also called Mulasthana, has been interpreted alternatively as Kashyapapura in some stories after Kashyapa.[34] Yet another interpretation has been to associate Kashyapa as River Indus in the Sindh region. However, these interpretations and the links of Multan as Kashyapapura to Kashmir have been questioned.[35]

According to the ancient legends, Kashyapa reclaimed that land from a vast lake, his school was based there, and the land was named after him.[36]

Wives and childrenEdit

The Puranas and the Epics of Indian tradition mention Kashyapa and his genealogy numerous times. These are inconsistent, with allegorical stories exalting him as the father of all gods, men, demons and empirical universe, in some conflated as the Kurma avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu.[37] In the Vishnu Purana, Kashyapa marries thirteen daughters of Daksha: Aditi, Diti, Kadru, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Vishva and Muni.[5][38][39]

Kashyapa, in the Vishnu Purana and Vayu Purana, is attributed to be the father of the Devas, Danavas, Yakshas, Daityas and all living creatures with various daughters of Daksha. He married Aditi, with whom he fathered Surya or alternatively Agni, the Adityas, and in two inconsistent versions Vamana, an avatar of Vishnu, is the child of Aditi and Kashyapa.[40] In these fables, Kashyapa is the brother-in-law of Dharma and Adharma, both of whom are also described as married to other daughters of Daksha.[41]

After the famous Samudra Manthan (the churning of the ocean), when the devas and asuras churned the ocean and got the amrit pan (nectar/pot of immortality), Lord Vishnu’s Mohini Avatar took the pot and made the devas drink the nectar, leaving the asuras empty. Feeling the circumstances to be unfair, Diti, the mother of asuras, asked her husband Sage Kashyapa to bestow her with great sons that will ruin the devas. Sage Kashyapa, as a righteous husband agreed to this and gave Diti two sons, Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. Both sons were mighty and defeated the devas. Hiranyaksha was however killed by Varaha Avatar of Lord Vishnu, because he trapped Bhūmi Devi (Goddess Earth) in the cosmic ocean. Hiranyakashipu took over the world and stopped the worship of gods, and established himself as a god. He was killed by Narsimha Avatar of Lord Vishnu, when he tried to kill his own son, Prahlad, for becoming a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Diti was more furious, but she could not wish to harm Lord Vishnu as he is a member of the Tridev and planned to kill Indra, the king of devas. She went to Sage Kashyapa again and demanded a son that would kill Indra (since he was the one who requested the Tridev to help). Sage Kashyapa impregnated her with a son that would kill Indra, but also told that it is only possible if she does ritualistic ceremonies to Lord Vishnu everyday. Diti did that and she did the rituals everyday. One day, she became tired and fell asleep after the ritual, forgetting to wash her feet before sleeping. This made her womb vulnerable, and Indra took a tiny form and entered her womb, and using his weapons he cut the foetus into 49 pieces. These 49 pieces were later known as the Maruts. Due to the rituals she performed, the evil thought of killing Indra went away and she did rituals daily.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kasyapa is mentioned in RV 9.114.2, Atri in RV 5.78.4, Bharadvaja in RV 6.25.9, Visvamitra in RV 10.167.4, Gautama in RV 1.78.1, Jamadagni in RV 3.62.18, etc.;[2] Original Sanskrit text: ऋषे मन्त्रकृतां स्तोमैः कश्यपोद्वर्धयन्गिरः । सोमं नमस्य राजानं यो जज्ञे वीरुधां पतिरिन्द्रायेन्दो परि स्रव ॥२॥[3]
  2. ^ The Buddha names the following as "early sages" of Vedic verses, "Atthaka (either Astaka or Atri), Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta (Visvamitra), Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha (Vashistha), Kassapa (Kashyapa) and Bhagu (Bhrigu)".[22]


  1. ^ Barbara A. Holdrege (2012). Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture. State University of New York Press. pp. 229–230, 692. ISBN 978-1-4384-0695-4., Quote: "Kasyapa (Vedic Seer)..."
  2. ^ Gudrun Bühnemann (1988). Pūjā: A Study in Smārta Ritual. Brill Academic. p. 220. ISBN 978-3-900271-18-3.
  3. ^ Rigveda 9.114.2, Wikisource
  4. ^ Barbara A. Holdrege (2012). Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture. State University of New York Press. pp. 239–244. ISBN 978-1-4384-0695-4.
  5. ^ a b c d e Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  6. ^ a b Patrick Olivelle (1998). Upaniṣads. Oxford University Press. pp. 93–94. ISBN 978-0-19-283576-5.
  7. ^ Premavatī Tivārī; Jīvaka Komarabhaccha; Vātsya (1996). Kāśyapa-saṃhitā: Vr̥ddhajīvakīyaṃ Tantraṃ Vā by Kāśyapa (Son of Marīci). Caukhambā Viśvabhāratī. pp. xi–xii.
  8. ^ a b c Francis Hamilton (1819). Genealogical tables of the deities, princes, heroes, and remarkable personages of the Hindus. Asiatic Society. p. 81.
  9. ^ Pinault, Georges-Jean; Winter, Werner (2009). Dictionary and Thesaurus of Tocharian A. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 110. ISBN 9783447058148. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  10. ^ Substrate Languages in Old Indo-Aryan: Rgvedic, Middle and Late Vedic, Michael Witzel, page 55
  11. ^ "Polish-English Dictionary". glosbe.com. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Tocharian A dictionary - k". www.palaeolexicon.com. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  13. ^ Frits Staal (2008). Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights. Penguin Books. p. 305. ISBN 978-0-14-309986-4.
  14. ^ Stephanie W. Jamison; Joel P. Brereton (2014). The Rigveda. Oxford University Press. p. 1692. ISBN 978-0-19-937018-4.
  15. ^ Horace Hayman Wilson; Edward Byles Cowell; William Frederick Webster (1888). Rig-Veda-Sanhitá: The sixth and part of the seventh ashṭaka (Mandala VIII). W. H. Allen and co. pp. 33, 194, 224, 273, 289–303, 385, 394, 412–413.
  16. ^ Ralph Griffith (1891). The Hymns of the Rigveda, Vol. III. E.J. Lazarus and Company. pp. 219, 332, 407–412 with footnotes.
  17. ^ Robert Hume, The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Chapter: Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Oxford University Press, page 96 (verse 2.2.4)
  18. ^ Stephanie W. Jamison (2007). R̥gveda entre deux mondes. Collège de France. p. 25. ISBN 978-2-86803-074-0.
  19. ^ Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith (1896). The Hymns of the Atharvaveda. E. J. Lazarus & Company. pp. 308–311.
  20. ^ Stephan Schuhmacher (1994). The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zen. Shambhala Publications. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-87773-980-7.
  21. ^ Peter M. Scharf (1996). The Denotation of Generic Terms in Ancient Indian Philosophy: Grammar, Nyāya, and Mīmāṃsā. American Philosophical Society. pp. 103–104 with footnote 7. ISBN 978-0-87169-863-6.
  22. ^ a b Maurice Walshe (2005). The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Simon and Schuster. pp. 188–189. ISBN 978-0-86171-979-2.
  23. ^ a b Christopher Snedden (2015). Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris. Oxford University Press. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-1-84904-621-3.
  24. ^ a b John Watson McCrindle (1885). Ancient India as Described by Ptolemy. Thacker, Spink, & Company. pp. 108–109.
  25. ^ Malavika Kapur (2013). Sangeetha Menon; Anindya Sinha; B. V. Sreekantan (eds.). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Consciousness and the Self. Springer Science. p. 73. ISBN 978-81-322-1587-5.
  26. ^ Jan Meulenbeld (2010). The Sitapitta Group of Disorders (Urticaria and Similar Syndromes) and Its Development in Ayurvedic Literature from Early Times to the Present Day. Barkhuis. p. 353. ISBN 978-90-77922-76-7.
  27. ^ Anthony Cerulli (2012). Somatic Lessons: Narrating Patienthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature. State University of New York Press. pp. 76–77. ISBN 978-1-4384-4387-4.
  28. ^ Doris Srinivasan (1997). Many Heads, Arms, and Eyes: Origin, Meaning, and Form of Multiplicity in Indian Art. BRILL Academic. pp. 240–247. ISBN 90-04-10758-4.
  29. ^ Maurice Winternitz (1963). History of Indian Literature. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 580–581. ISBN 978-81-208-0056-4.
  30. ^ Richard Widdess (1995). The rāgas of early Indian music: modes, melodies, and musical notations from the Gupta period to c. 1250. Oxford University Press. pp. 62–63, 125–128 with footnotes, 185. ISBN 978-0193154643.
  31. ^ M. Srinivasachariar (1974). History of Classical Sanskrit Literature. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 828–829. ISBN 978-81-208-0284-1.
  32. ^ Anna Aleksandra Ślączka (2007). Temple Consecration Rituals in Ancient India: Text and Archaeology. BRILL Academic. pp. 11–19. ISBN 978-90-04-15843-6.
  33. ^ Samuel Beal (1869). Travels of Fah-Hian and Sung-Yun, Buddhist Pilgrims: From China to India (400 A.D. and 518 A.D.). Trübner. pp. 60 footnote 1.
  34. ^ Alf Hiltebeitel (2009). Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics. University of Chicago Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-226-34055-5.
  35. ^ M. Th. Houtsma (1993). E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam. BRILL Academic. p. 792. ISBN 90-04-09790-2.
  36. ^ Kashmir: REGION, INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, Encyclopedia Britannica (2008)
  37. ^ John E. Mitchiner (2000). Traditions Of The Seven Rsis. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 13–15, 85–93, 106–110, 259–261. ISBN 978-81-208-1324-3.
  38. ^ Vishnu Purana: Book I, Chapter XV The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, 1840. p. 112. The daughters of Daksha who were married to Kaśyapa were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arisjht́á, Surasá, Surabhi, Vinatá, Támrá, Krodhavaśá, Id́á, Khasá, Kadru, and Muni 19; whose progeny I will describe to you...Vishńu, Śakra, Áryaman, Dhútí, Twáshtri, Púshan, Vivaswat, Savitri, Mitra, Varuńa, Anśa, and Bhaga
  39. ^ Saklani, Dinesh Prasad (1998). Ancient Communities of Himalayas. Indus Publishing Co, New Delhi. p. 74. ISBN 978-81-7387090-3.
  40. ^ Account of the several Manus and Manwantaras Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, 1840, Quote:"Vishńu was born of Vikunthi, as Vaikuntha, along with the deities called Vaikunthas. In the present Manwantara, Vishńu was again born as Vámana, the son of Kaśyapa by Adití. With three paces he subdued the worlds, and gave them, freed from all embarrassment, to Purandara.", Footnote 4: "The Váyu describes the Rishis (...) with some inconsistency, for Kaśyapa, at least, did not appear himself until the seventh, Manwantara. (...) The Bráhma P. and Hari Vanśa have a rather different list (...)"
  41. ^ Vishnu Purana, HH Wilson (Translator), Chapter 7

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