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

Kashyapa (Sanskrit: , romanizedIAST: Ka?yapa) 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 Religious books.[4][5] He is the most ancient Rishi listed in the colophon verse in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.[6]

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


K?shyap, alternatively Kashup, means "turtle" in Sanskrit.[9] According to Michael Witzel, it is related to Avestan kasiiapa, Sogdian ky?ph, New Persian ka?af, ka?(a)p which mean "tortoise", after which Kashaf R?d or a river in Turkmenistan and Khorasan is named.[10] Other relations include to Tokarian B kacc?p ("brainpan"), Polish kacap (czerep, "brainpan", "hardliner"),[11] Tokarian A k?ccap ("turtle", "tortoise").[12] Frits Staal agrees that Ka?yapa 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?][]. 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 Pini.[21] His name is very common in the Epic and Purana literature.[5]

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).[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, 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]

Legends and mythologies

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.[25] The Sindh city Multan (now in Pakistan), also called Mulasthana, has been interpreted alternatively as Kashyapapura in some stories after Kashyapa.[26] 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.[27]

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.[28]

Wives and children

The Puranas and the Epics of Indian tradition mention Kashyapa and his genealogy numerous times.[29] 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][30][31] 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.[32] 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.[32]

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.[33] 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.[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:

  • Kashyapa Samhita, also called Vriddajivakiya Tantra or Jivakiya Tantra, is a classical reference book on Ayurvedic pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics.[35] It was revised by Vatsya.[36] 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.[37]
  • Kashyapa Jnanakandah, or Kashyapa's book of wisdom, is a 9th-century text of the Vaishnavism tradition.[38]
  • Ka?yapa 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.[39]
  • Ka?yapa 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).[40][41]
  • Kasyapasilpa, also called Amsumad agama, Kasypiya or Silpasastra of Ka?yapa, is a Sanskrit treatise on architecture, iconography and the decorative arts, probably completed in the 11th century.[42]

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.;[2] Original Sanskrit text: ? ? ? ? ? ? [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 (Rudra),(Vedic Seer)..."
  2. ^ Gudrun Bühnemann (1988). P?j?: A Study in Sm?rta 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). Upani?ads. Oxford University Press. pp. 93-94. ISBN 978-0-19-283576-5.
  7. ^ Premavat? Tiv?r?; J?vaka Komarabhaccha; V?tsya (1996). Kyapa-sa?hit?: Vr?ddhaj?vak?ya? Tantra? V? by Kyapa (Son of Mar?ci). Caukhamb? Vi?vabh?rat?. 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 2019.
  10. ^ Substrate Languages in Old Indo-Aryan: Rgvedic, Middle and Late Vedic, Michael Witzel, page 55
  11. ^ "Polish-English Dictionary". glosbe.com. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ "Tocharian A dictionary - k". www.palaeolexicon.com. Retrieved 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 ash?aka (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). R?gveda 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, Ny?ya, and M?ms?. 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. ^ 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.
  26. ^ Alf Hiltebeitel (2009). Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics. University of Chicago Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-226-34055-5.
  27. ^ M. Th. Houtsma (1993). E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam. BRILL Academic. p. 792. ISBN 90-04-09790-2.
  28. ^ Kashmir: REGION, INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, Encyclopedia Britannica (2008)
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ 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 Ka?yapa were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arisjht?á, Surasá, Surabhi, Vinatá, Támrá, Krodhava?á, Id?á, Khasá, Kadru, and Muni 19; whose progeny I will describe to you...Vish?u, ?akra, Áryaman, Dhútí, Twáshtri, Púshan, Vivaswat, Savitri, Mitra, Varu?a, An?a, and Bhaga
  31. ^ Saklani, Dinesh Prasad (1998). Ancient Communities of Himalayas. Indus Publishing Co, New Delhi. p. 74. ISBN 978-81-7387090-3.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ Account of the several Manus and Manwantaras Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, 1840, Quote:"Vish?u was born of Vikunthi, as Vaikuntha, along with the deities called Vaikunthas. In the present Manwantara, Vish?u was again born as Vámana, the son of Ka?yapa 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 Ka?yapa, at least, did not appear himself until the seventh, Manwantara. (...) The Bráhma P. and Hari Van?a have a rather different list (...)"
  34. ^ Vishnu Purana, HH Wilson (Translator), Chapter 7
  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 r?gas 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 ?l?czka (2007). Temple Consecration Rituals in Ancient India: Text and Archaeology. BRILL Academic. pp. 11-19. ISBN 978-90-04-15843-6.

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