Kas´yapa-Prajâpati has a major role in creation. However, there were variations concerning his birth and his status. In the Mahâbhârata Kas´yapa was only the son of Marîci, who was one of the six mind-born sons (mânasâ-putras) of Brahmâ.
The Vâlmîki Râmâyana added Kas´yapa as the seventh and youngest sons of Brâhma and thus a brother of Marîci. Thus, Kas´yapa was either the son or grandson of Brahmâ. As chief of the prajâpatis, Kas´yapa was the primary progenitor of this creation.
Kas´yapa married twenty-one daughters of Daksha (See entry on Daksha to see how the mythmakers saw Daksha as an âditya, thus a son of Kas´yapa, or born from the thumb of Brahmâ.) Kas´yapa was the father of both the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons).
His more important wives were Aditi, whose children were the âdityas (gods, devas), and Ditî, whose children were the daityas (demons, asuras). His main daitya children were Hiranyakas´ipu, Hiranyâksha, and Simhikâ. Kas´yapa’s wife Danu gave birth to the Dânavas: Kapila, S´ankara, and Târaka were among those who gained fame. Surabhî gave him another order of children including Rudra (a storm god) and Tvashthri (the divine architect).
Vinatâ gave birth to Garuda (king of the birds) and the bird kingdom, while Kadrû became mother of the Nâgas, the serpent kingdom. There were an astonishing number of appearances and roles that Kas´yapa was given in late myths. These are distributed over three rebirths. In the Câkshusha Manvantara he was the sage Sutapas and married to Prishnî.
After twelve thousand years of austerities he won Lord Vishnu’s promise that Vishnu would be born as his son. In the next Manvantara of Vaivasvata Manu, Sutapas and Prishnî were reborn as Kas´yapa and Aditi, and Lord Vishnu was their son as Vâmana-deva. Surasâ was one of Kas´yapa’s wives in that lifetime and was reborn with him in his next rebirth.
Then in the next lifetime these three— Kas´yapa, Aditi, and Surasâ—became Vasudeva and his two wives, Devakî and Rohinî.