Rishi Kashyapa, also known as Kashyap rishi, is an ancient Vedic sage. He is one of the most respected and well-known Hindu sages. That’s why he belongs to the group of seven greatest sages called Saptarishi. Some post-Vedic texts state that some of the Saptarishis are the mind-born sons (Manasputra) of Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe.
Besides Rishi Kashyapa, other saptarishis were Gautama, Atri, Bharadwaja, Vishvamitra, Vashistha, and Jamadagni. Sage Kashyapa plays a vital role in many Vedic texts, literature, scripture, and epics. It includes Vedas, Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and Upanishads.
All the living creatures like demigods, asuras, humans, rakshas, birds, reptiles, and animals, are the offspring of Maharishi Kashyap himself. In Vedic astrology, Sage Kashyapa is a star part of the Ursa Major constellation along with the other six saptarishis.
In Sanskrit, the meaning of Kashyap means turtle or tortoise. Some ancient texts mentioned that Rishi Kashyap was the son of Kala and Maharishi Marichi, one of the mind-born sons (Manasaputras) of Lord Brahma. Another mind-born son of Brahma, Daksha Prajapati, married his 13 daughters to the Kashyapa Rishi.
Here is the list of Kashyapa’s sons from different wives:
- Aditi: From her, all the devtas or Devas, also known as Adityas, were born. Surya, Indra, Aryaman, Tvashta, Savitr, Dhata, Varuna, Bhaga, Amsa, Mitra, Pushan, and Vamana (Lord Vishnu’s fifth avatar).
- Diti: She was the mother of daityas or Asuras like Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakashipu and Sinhika (Holika).
- Danu was the mother of all 100 Danavas. They were neither evil nor good. Mayasura (architect) is one of the Danavas. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva.
- Arishtas is the mother of Gandharvas. They are the musicians and dancers of heaven (swarga lok).
- Surasa is the mother of nagas (snakes).
- Khasa is the mother of demigods – a mixture of gods and rakshas. Kubera Dev, the lord of wealth, is half god and half rakshas.
- Surabhi is the mother of cattle like cows and buffaloes.
- Vinata is the mother of Aruna and Garuda (lord of all birds).
- Tarama is the mother of six daughters from whom donkeys, camels, crows, and owls originated.
- Krodhavasha is the mother of 14 thousand asuras.
- Ila gave birth to trees, plants, flowers, and herbs.
- Kadru gave birth to powerful nagas like Shesha, Vasuki, Takshak, and Nahusha.
- Muni is the mother of all Apsaras of heaven.
It is believed that the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu, Vamana, was born to Kashyapa rishi and Devi Aditi.
Some ancient Puranas mention that the vast valley of Kashmir got its name from the Saptarishi Kashyapa. There was a lake in the valley of Kashmir in the past that the sage (Rishi Kashyapa) had drained. After which, a beautiful valley of Kashmir emerged.
Other texts mention that after Lord Pashuram conquered the entire world, he organized an Ashwamedh Yagya. Then, as a donation, Lord Pashuram gave the entire earth to rishi Kashyapa.
Maharishi Kashyap can be found in many ancient historical works of medieval period scholars of different religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. For example, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad’s verse 2.2.4 indicates rishi Kashyap along with other saptarishi. Other mentions include the Vedas and ancient texts such as Atharvaveda, Book XIX, hymns from 51 to 53.
In Buddhism scripture, Digha Nikaya narrates when Lord Buddha discussed with the ten sages of his time. Among them was Kassapa (In Pali language).
Some texts indicate Rishi Kashyap was the cause that Lord Ganesh had to lose his head and had to have an elephant head instead. It tells how Surya Dev was getting arrogant. So, to destroy his arrogance Lord Shiva killed the Surya with his Trishul (trident). After seeing this incident, great sage Kashyap cursed Mahadev that he had to behead his son.
Rishi Kashyapa Family Tree
Kashyap gotra is one of the eight gotras in the Hindu Brahmins community. Some of the Nepali cast that belongs to Kashyapa gotra are;
- Shah Thakuri
- Tiwari and Rayamajhi.
Similarly, the Indian clans related to Kashyapa gotra are;
- Nishad, Batham, Bhar, Dhiman, Dewar, Gariya, Gaur, Godia, Guria, Jhimar, Jhir, and Jhinwar.
- Kahar, Kewat, Kharwar, Khairwar, Machua, Majhi, Majhwar, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Tura, Tamta, Kureha.
Rishi Kashyapa Literary Works
Some of the literary works from medieval periods that are attributed to Kashyapa rishi are:
- Kashyapa Samhita or Vriddha Jivakiya Tantra. It has 200 sections or chapters and dates around the 6th century BCE. It is a discourse that focuses on Ayurveda – an ancient Vedic medicine system. To be specific, this paperwork provides information related to pediatrics, gynecology, and obstetrics. Besides the Sanskrit language, it is available in the Chinese language too.
- Kashyapa Jnanakandah is a 9th-century book of wisdom that follows Vaishnavism tradition.
- Kasyapa Dharmasutra is the ancient lost treatise about dharma. Its references are in several medieval Indian sages’ works.
- Kasyapa Sangita is an ancient lost treatise related to music and songs that follow the Shaivism tradition.
- Kasyapa Silpa is an old text of Kashyap based on architecture, iconography, and artistic decoration. Other names for it are Amsumad Agama and Silpa Shastra of Rishi Kashyapa.
- Maharishi Kashyapa has written several hymns in the Mandala IX of Rigveda.
- Along with his lineage students, sage Kashyap had composed Soma Pavamana’s hymns.
Rishi Kashyapa Mantra
“Om Mohan Gotrapramukh Saptrishi Kashyapaye Namah”
It is a mantra for all the descendants of the Mohan or Mohyal clan to worship their gotra head Rishi Kashyapa.