Kashyapa (IAST: Kaśyapa) is a revered Vedic sage of Hinduism. He was one of the seven ancient sages (rishi) considered as Saptarishis in Rigveda,[note 1] numerous Sanskrit texts and Indian mythologies. He is the most ancient rishi listed in the colophon verse in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, and called a self-made scholar in the Atharvaveda. He was based in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent, and legends attribute the region of Kashmir to be derived from his name.
Kashyapa statue in Andhra Pradesh, India
|Known for||Rigvedic hymns|
Kaśyapa, alternatively kasiiapa, means "turtle" in Sanskrit. According to Michael Witzel, it is related to Sogdian kyšph, New Persian kašaf, kaš(a)p which mean "tortoise", after which Kashaf Rūd or a river in Turkmenistan and Khorasan is named. Others trace it to Tokarian B kaccāp ("brainpan"), Polish kacap (czerep, "brainpan", "hardliner"),, Tokarian A kāccap ("turtle", "tortoise").
Kashyapa is one of Saptarishi, the seven famed rishis considered to be author of many hymns and verses of the Rigveda (1500-1200 BCE). He and his family of students are, for example, the author of the second verse of 10.137, and numerous hymns in the eighth and ninth mandala of the Rigveda. He is mentioned in verse 2.2.4 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, along with Atri, Vashistha, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gotama. 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.
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.
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).[note 2]
Kashmir, the northern Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent got its name from Kashyapa Rishi. The name Kashmir, states Christopher Snedden, may be a shortened form of "Kashyapa Mir" or the "lake of the sage Kashyapa", or alternatively derived from "Kashyapa Meru" or the sacred mountains of Kashyapa.
In ancient texts of Greece, linked to the expedition of Alexander the Great, this land has been called "Kasperia", possibly a contraction of "Kasyapamira". 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.
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. It was revised by Vatsya. 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.
- Kashyapa Jnanakandah, or Kashyapa's book of wisdom, is a 9th century text of the Vaishnavism tradition.
- Kasyapa 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.
- Kasyapa 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).
- Kasyapasilpa, also called Amsumad agama, Kasypiya or Silpasastra of Kasyapa, is a Sanskrit treatise on architecture, iconography and the decorative arts, probably completed in the 11th century.
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. For example, in the Ramayana he was married to eight daughters of mythical 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. Some texts describe him as son of Marichi and a descendant of the solar dynasty, others as a descendant of Uttamapada who married the Daksha daughters, and yet others relate a Kashyapa as a descendant of Hiranya Kashyapa. These texts may correspond to different characters, all named Kashyapa.
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. The Sindh city Multan (now in Pakistan), also called Mulasthana, has been interpreted alternatively as Kashyapapura in some stories after Kashyapa. 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.
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.
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 tortoise avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. In the Vishnu Purana, Kashyapa marries thirteen daughters of Daksha: Aditi, Diti, Kadru, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Vishva and Muni.
Kashyapa, in the Vishnu Purana and Vayu Purana, is attributed to be the father of the Devas, Asuras Yakhsas dravidas 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. 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.
Kashyapa in SikhismEdit
In the Brahm Avtar composition present in Dasam Granth, Second Scripture of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh mentioned Rishi Kashyapa as the second avatar of Brahma. According to him, Rishi Kashyapa had great knowledge of the Vedas and gave it a satisfactory universal interpretation. He married four wives, Banita, Kadru, Diti and Aditi and had many children. Some of them remained religious (Deities) and others became irreligious (Demons).
- 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.; Original Sanskrit text: ऋषे मन्त्रकृतां स्तोमैः कश्यपोद्वर्धयन्गिरः । सोमं नमस्य राजानं यो जज्ञे वीरुधां पतिरिन्द्रायेन्दो परि स्रव ॥२॥
- 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)".
- 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)..."
- Gudrun Bühnemann (1988). Pūjā: A Study in Smārta Ritual. Brill Academic. p. 220. ISBN 978-3-900271-18-3.
- Rigveda 9.114.2, Wikisource
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- Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith (1896). The Hymns of the Atharvaveda. E. J. Lazarus & Company. pp. 308–311.
- Kashmir: REGION, INDIAN SUBCONTINENT, Encyclopedia Britannica (2008)
- Premavatī Tivārī; Jīvaka Komarabhaccha; Vātsya (1996). Kāśyapa-saṃhitā: Vr̥ddhajīvakīyaṃ Tantraṃ Vā by Kāśyapa (Son of Marīci). Caukhambā Viśvabhāratī. pp. xi–xii.
- Francis Hamilton (1819). Genealogical tables of the deities, princes, heroes, and remarkable personages of the Hindus. Asiatic Society. p. 81.
- Substrate Languages in Old Indo-Aryan: Rgvedic, Middle and Late Vedic, Michael Witzel, page 55
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- Robert Hume, The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Chapter: Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Oxford University Press, page 96 (verse 2.2.4)
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- 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
- Saklani, Dinesh Prasad (1998). Ancient Communities of Himalayas. Indus Publishing Co, New Delhi. p. 74. ISBN 978-81-7387090-3.
- 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 (...)"
- Vishnu Purana, HH Wilson (Translator), Chapter 7
- Dasam Granth, Dr. SS Kapoor
- Line 8, Description of Kashyapa the second incarnation of Brahma, in Bachittar Natak.
- Line 7, Description of Kashyapa the second incarnation of Brahma, in Bachittar Natak.
- The Vedic "Five Tribes", DD Kosambi (1967)