Kashyapa, a rishi mentioned in the colophon verse 6.5.3 and the 2.2.4 verse of “Brihadaranyaka Upanishad”, many Sanskrit text and religious books is one of a Vedic sages in Hinduism. “Brihadaranyaka Upanishad” is one of the oldest texts of Upanishads in ancient Indian culture. Kashyapa derives from the language Sanskrit which means a turtle. It is a very common name in ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts which has been related to different personalities. Rishi Kashyapa’s name has appeared in verse 1.2.64 in the ancient Bhashya in Panini’s Patanjali. He has been mentioned several times in epics and Purana literature as well. We will see that as we go along with this article.
Kashyapa along with his students framed the second verse of 10.137 and various hymns in the 8th and 9th Mandala of Rigveda. Along with Rigveda, Kashyapa has also been brought up in other Vedas like Atharvaveda where they are speaking about cosmology which studies the origin and evolution of the universe. The mention of Kashyapa in various Puranas and Hindu epics are considered to be allegorical. There has been inconsistency in those stories in various versions available to the experts. However, we will go through some stories that contain a special contribution of Kashyapa.
Let us start with the stories of his birth and who he descends from. Some people believe that he is the son of Marichi making him a descendant of the solar dynasty. Others believe that he was a descendant of Uttamapada who got married to the daughter of Daksha. There have been texts relating Hiranyakashipu to Kashyapa.
Another story takes us back to the time of Ramayana mentioning him marrying eight daughters of Daksha whereas in Mahabharata and Vishnu Purana he is known to have married the thirteen daughters of King Daksha. The list of the daughters is varied as well. Like mentioned earlier, these might just be instances of various personalities having the same name – Kashyapa. Vishnu Purana and Vayu Purana states that Kashyapa is the father to devas, asuras, yakshas and daityas. He married Aditi and became the father to Vamana avatar of supreme Lord Vishnu. Dharma and Adharma are married to the other daughters of Daksha making them brother in law to Kashyapa.
Kashyapa is related to the Kashmir Valley and it is a very interesting story to tell and read. Some have found a parallel of this legend to the legend of Buddhist Manjushri who drained Nepal and Tibet. Kashyapa aimed at making the Kashmir Valley inhabitable by draining it completely. This has been considered as an allegory by some who believe that draining refers to teaching good values, pure ideas and doctrines. This can be achieved when one removes the water of ignorance. It also leads the way to learning, knowledge, development and creating a civilization in the valley.
Multan, the Sindh city also known as Mulasthana has been referred to as Kashyapapura in various stories after Kashyapa. Yet, like other stories, these legends have been questioned as well. It was called Kashyapapura since he reclaimed that lady from a lake and created his school on that land.
Kashyapa has been mentioned in numerous Hindu treaties. Kashyapa Samhita, a book that speaks of Ayurvedic paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology. It is said to have been written as a tutorial between Kashyapa and Vriddhajivaka, his student on diseases occurring in children and how to take good care of babies. It was later revised by Vatsya. Kashyapa Jnanakandah is the book of wisdom in Vaishnavism tradition. Kasyapa Sangita and Kasyapa Dharmasutra are believed to be lost. Kasyapa Sangita however reflected on Viniyoga of rasa and bhava. Kasyapasilpa is a Sanskrit text shedding light on architecture, decorative arts, and iconography.