Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Kaśyapa at Wikipedia or the Urday website.

KASYAPA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] A Vedic sage to whom some hymns are attributed. All authorities agree in assigning to him a large part in the work of creation.

According to the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas, he was the son of Marichi, the son of Brahma, and he was father of Vivaswat, the father of Manu, the progenitor of mankind.

The Satapatha Brahmana gives a different and not very intelligible account of his origin thus: "Having assumed the form of a tortoise, Prajapati created offspring. That which he created he made (akarot); hence the word kurma (tortoise). Kasyapa means tortoise; hence men say, 'All creatures are descendants of Kasyapa.' This tortoise is the same as Aditya."

The Atharvaveda says, "The self-born Kasyapa sprang from Time," and Time is often identical with Vishnu.

The Mahabharata and later authorities agree in representing that Kasyapa married Aditi and twelve other daughters of Daksha. Upon Aditi he begat the Adityas, headed by Indra, and also Vivaswat, and "to Vivaswat was the wise and mighty Manu."

The Ramayana and Vishnu Purana also state that "Vishnu was born as a dwarf, the son of Aditi and Kasyapa."

By his other twelve wives he had a numerous and very diversified offspring: demons, nagas, reptiles, birds, and all kinds of living things.

He was thus the father of all, and as such is sometimes called Prajapati.

He is one of the seven great Rishis, and he appears as the priest of Parasurama and Ramachandra.


Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM