Member of Saptarishi
Statue of Kashyapa in Andhra Pradesh, India
Personal information
SpouseAditi, Diti, Kadru, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Yamini, Kastha, Timi, Patangi, Sarama, Vishwa and Muni
ChildrenAdityas, Rudras, Vasus, Daityas, Maruts, Danavas, Nāgas, Manasa, Iravati, Gandharvas, Aruna, Garuda, Apsaras, etc.

Kashyapa (Sanskrit: कश्यप, IAST: Kaśyapa) is a revered Vedic sage of Hinduism.[1] He is one of the Saptarishis, the seven ancient sages of the Rigveda. Kashyapa is the most ancient and venerated rishi, along with the other Saptarishis, listed in the colophon verse in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.[2]

Kashyapa is an ancient name, referring to many different personalities in the ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts.[3][4] The region of Kashmir in India is derived from him,[note 1] as well as numerous other Sanskrit texts and Indian scriptures.[7][8]


Kashyapa means "turtle" in Sanskrit.[9] According to Michael Witzel, it is related to Avestan kasiiapa, Sogdian kyšph, Kurdish kûsî, 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"), Tokarian A kāccap ("turtle", "tortoise").[11] Frits Staal agrees that Kaśyapa means tortoise but believes that it is a non-Indo-European word.[12]


Kashyapa is credited with composing a few hymns in the Rigveda, mainly in Mandala IX. He and his family of students are mainly composers of hymns for Soma Pavamāna ("self-purifying Soma"), which represents a single moment in the Soma sacrifice.[13][14]

He is mentioned in verse 2.2.4 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, along with Atri, Vashistha, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gotama.[15][16] 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.[2]

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[17][18]

His name appears in Patanjali's ancient bhasya on verse 1.2.64 of Pāṇini.[19] His name is very common in the Epic and Purana literature.[20]

Buddhist texts

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).[21][note 2]


According to Christopher Snedden, the name Kashmir is a shortened form of "Kashyapa Mira", 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.[22]

In ancient texts of Greece, linked to the expedition of Alexander, this land has been called "Kasperia",[22] possibly a contraction of "Kasyapamira".[23] 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 Kashyapa-pura (city of Kashyapa) in other texts.[23]

Legends in Hindu Epics and Puranas

Kashyapa is mentioned in numerous Hindu texts such as the Puranas and the Hindu Epics. The stories related to Kashyapa in different texts are widely inconsistent, and many are considered allegorical.[20][4] 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 from the list found in Mahabharata.[20] Some texts describe Kashyapa as the son of Marichi, ancestor of solar dynasty, a contemporary with Uttamapada the second king of Brahmavarta and who married daughters of Daksha Prajapati the son of Brahma, others mention about him marrying daughters of Daksha Prajapati the last king of Brahmavarta, 15 in male descent from Uttamapada. It may be supposed that there have existed several persons named Kashyapa all of whom are usually confounded.[4]

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.[24] The Sindh city Multan (now in Pakistan), also called Mulasthana, has been interpreted alternatively as Kashyapapura in some stories after Kashyap.[25] 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.[26]

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.[27]

Wives and children

The Puranas and the Epics of Indian tradition mention Kashyapa and his genealogy numerous times.[28] In the Vishnu Purana, Kashyap marries thirteen daughters of Daksha: Aditi, Diti, Kadru, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Vishva and Muni,[20][29][30] while in the Mahabharata, the names of these 13 wives are Aditi, Diti, Kala, Danayus, Danu, Simhika, Krodha, Pritha, Visva, Vinata, Kapila, Muni and Kadru.[31] There are various interpretations. Scholar Vettam Mani, after analysing the epics and Puranas, concluded that Kashyapa may have married 21 women (13 of which were Daksha's daughters) — Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasha, Khasha, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Kadru, Muni, Puloma, Kalaka, Nata, Danayus, Simhika, Pradha, Visva and Kapila.[31]

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 the Adityas, and in two inconsistent versions Vamana, an avatar of Vishnu, is the child of Aditi and Kashyapa.[32] In these religious texts, Kashyapa is the brother-in-law of Dharma and Adharma, both of whom are also described as married to other daughters of Daksha.[33]

Kashyapa incarnated as Vasudeva

Kashyapa also incarnated as Vasudeva, the father of Krishna due to a curse that Brahma unleashed upon him. Once, the sage performed a yajna (a Vedic ritual) in his hermitage in order to offer oblations to the Devas for the welfare of the beings in the world. To perform the ritual, Kashyapa required offerings such as milk, ghee etc., for which he sought the help of Varuna. When Varuna manifested before him, Kashyapa requested him for a boon of limitless offerings to perform the yajna successfully. Varuna offered him a holy cow which would provide him with limitless offerings. He then told the sage that the holy cow would be taken back once the yajna was over. The yajna went on for several days, and with the presence of the holy cow, the sage never faced any obstacles.

Realizing the miraculous power of the cow, he was overcome with greed and desired to own the cow forever. He did not return the cow to Varuna even after the yajna was over. Varuna appeared in front of Kashyapa and told him that the cow was given to him as a boon, only for the yajna, and now that the yajna was over, it had to be returned as it belonged to the heaven. Kashyapa refused to part with the cow and told Varuna that whatever is offered to a Brahmana should never be sought back, and whoever does that would turn out to be a sinner.

Hence, Varuna sought the help of Brahma who appeared before the sage and told him to get rid of his greed which is capable of destroying all his virtues. Nevertheless, Kashyapa remained firm in his resolve, which enraged Brahma who cursed him, saying that he would be born on earth again as a cowherd. Kashyapa repented for his mistake and pleaded Brahma to forgive him. Brahma also realized that he had cursed him in a haste, and told him that he would still be born as a cowherd in the Yadava clan, and Vishnu would be born as his son. This was how Kashyapa was born as Vasudeva and became the father of Krishna.[34]


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:

See also


  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.;[5] Original Sanskrit text: ऋषे मन्त्रकृतां स्तोमैः कश्यपोद्वर्धयन्गिरः । सोमं नमस्य राजानं यो जज्ञे वीरुधां पतिरिन्द्रायेन्दो परि स्रव ॥२॥[6]
  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)".[21]


  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 (Rudra),(Vedic Seer)..."
  2. ^ a b Patrick Olivelle (1998). Upaniṣads. Oxford University Press. pp. 93–94. ISBN 978-0-19-283576-5.
  3. ^ Premavatī Tivārī; Jīvaka Komarabhaccha; Vātsya (1996). Kāśyapa-saṃhitā: Vr̥ddhajīvakīyaṃ Tantraṃ Vā by Kāśyapa (Son of Marīci). Caukhambā Viśvabhāratī. pp. xi–xii. ISBN 9788186937679.
  4. ^ a b c Francis Hamilton (1819). Genealogical tables of the deities, princes, heroes, and remarkable personages of the Hindus. Asiatic Society. p. 81.
  5. ^ Gudrun Bühnemann (1988). Pūjā: A Study in Smārta Ritual. Brill Academic. p. 220. ISBN 978-3-900271-18-3.
  6. ^ Rigveda 9.114.2, Wikisource
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  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. ^ "Tocharian A dictionary - k". www.palaeolexicon.com. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  12. ^ Frits Staal (2008). Discovering the Vedas: Origins, Mantras, Rituals, Insights. Penguin Books. p. 305. ISBN 978-0-14-309986-4.
  13. ^ Mahadevan, Thennilapuram P. (2011). "The Ṛṣi index of the Vedic Anukramaṇī system and the Pravara lists: Toward a Pre-history of the Brahmans". Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies. 18: 131. doi:10.11588/ejvs.2011.2.320. ISSN 1084-7561.
  14. ^ Jamison, Stephanie W.; Brereton, Joel P. (2014). The Rigveda: The Earliest Religious Poetry of India. Oxford University Press. p. 1233. ISBN 9780199370184.
  15. ^ Robert Hume, The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Chapter: Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Oxford University Press, page 96 (verse 2.2.4)
  16. ^ Stephanie W. Jamison (2007). R̥gveda entre deux mondes. Collège de France. p. 25. ISBN 978-2-86803-074-0.
  17. ^ Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith (1896). The Hymns of the Atharvaveda. E. J. Lazarus & Company. pp. 308–311.
  18. ^ Stephan Schuhmacher (1994). The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zen. Shambhala Publications. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-87773-980-7.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ a b c d Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ a b Christopher Snedden (2015). Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris. Oxford University Press. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-1-84904-621-3.
  23. ^ a b John Watson McCrindle (1885). Ancient India as Described by Ptolemy. Thacker, Spink, & Company. pp. 108–109.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Alf Hiltebeitel (2009). Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics. University of Chicago Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-226-34055-5.
  26. ^ M. Th. Houtsma (1993). E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam. BRILL Academic. p. 792. ISBN 90-04-09790-2.
  27. ^ Kashmir: REGION, INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, Encyclopædia Britannica (2008)
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ 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
  30. ^ Saklani, Dinesh Prasad (1998). Ancient Communities of Himalayas. Indus Publishing Co, New Delhi. p. 74. ISBN 978-81-7387090-3.
  31. ^ a b Mani, Vettam (1975). Puranic Encyclopaedia: a Comprehensive Dictionary with Special Reference to the Epic and Puranic Literature. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. pp. 3, 396. ISBN 978-0-8426-0822-0.
  32. ^ 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 (...)"
  33. ^ Vishnu Purana, HH Wilson (Translator), Chapter 7
  34. ^ Debroy, Bibek (9 September 2016). Harivamsha. Penguin UK. ISBN 978-93-86057-91-4.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ 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.
  39. ^ Maurice Winternitz (1963). History of Indian Literature. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 580–581. ISBN 978-81-208-0056-4.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ M. Srinivasachariar (1974). History of Classical Sanskrit Literature. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 828–829. ISBN 978-81-208-0284-1.
  42. ^ Anna Aleksandra Ślączka (2007). Temple Consecration Rituals in Ancient India: Text and Archaeology. BRILL Academic. pp. 11–19. ISBN 978-90-04-15843-6.