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For the village in Iran, see Kadru, Iran.

In Hindu mythology, according to the Mahabharata (Adi Parva), Kadru (Kadrū, Sanskrit: कद्रू), is usually the daughter of Daksha,[1][2] Kashyapa married Kadru and other eleven daughters of Daksha Prajapati; Maharishi Kashyapa was the son of Marichi, who was the mind-born (spiritual) son of Bramha. Kadru was the mother of 1,000 Nagas. Her antecedent is also linked to Vishnu expressed as Visnu Brahma Dak sa Kadru.[1]

Birth and children[edit]

Generally, Kadru is described as the daughter of Daksha and the wife of Sage Kashyapa. The Hindu epic Mahabharata, which gives a detailed tale about her, recognizes as one of the Kashyapa's many wives.

There is also a view that she was the daughter of Kashyapa but it has not been established from the Puranic literature. In the Aranyakanda of Valmiki Ramayana it is mentioned that Daksaprajapati had sixty daughters of whom he married off Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kalika, Tamra, Krodhavasa, Muni and Surasa to Kashyapa. Krodhavasa had eight daughters of whom Kadru was one. Thus, Kadru may alternatively be considered the granddaughter of Daksha. Vinata is another wife of Kashayapa.[3][2]

According to Sabha Parva of Mahabharta, Kadru is a resident in Brahmaloka.[1]

In the Vanaparva of Mahabharata it is stated that to destroy the embryo in women Kadru enters their womb by assuming a very tiny form called "Skanda graha".[1]


Kadru and Vinata are blessed by Kashyapa when they lived with him and attended to all his comforts: He grants each of them a boon. Kadru asks for 1,000 naga or serpent sons who should be valiant. Prompted by her sisters demand for sons Vinata asks for only two sons who should be more powerful and bright than Kadru's children. Kashaya grants them their wish and after his wives became pregnant, he advices them to look after the children and then leaves for his penance in the forest.[1]

After a long time Kadru gives birth to 1,000 eggs and Vinata gives birth to two eggs. The eggs are carefully incubated in containers with hot water [2] or in jars kept warm.[1] After a lapse of 500 years, eggs laid by Kadru hatched and her sons came to life;[2] of these thousand naga sons, the most prominent ones were Sesha, Vasuki and Takshaka. [4] All the serpents born in this world are the procreations of these 1,000 sons.[1] Vinata became jealous as her eggs had not hatched. In a moment of haste, she broke open one of the eggs when a half born son was born. The son was enraged by his status and cursed his mother for her hasty act. He cursed her that his mother saying that she would be a slave to Kadru for 500 years till the son born to her second egg relives her of the indentured status as a slave of Kadru.[1] He became a charioteer heralder for the sun god and the creator of the early morning (dawn) red sky and is therefore named as Aruna.[2] Eventually after 500 years Vinata's second son was born in the form of huge bird with immense power. As soon as he was born he flew away with grace seeking his food.[5]

According to the Brhamapurana, Kashyapa, who is also known as Prajapati Kashayapa was approached by Valakhilyas with the offering of half of their ascetic powers, requesting him to beget a son who could take revenge on Indra who had insulted them. He then had one son from each of his two wives, Kadru the mother of snakes and Suparna. Kashyapa while going on an errand instructed his wives not to go out of the house as they would create mischief and do evil acts and as a result they would come to grief. In-spite of these instructions they went out to the banks of the Ganga where enlightened sages were performing sattra rites and started disturbing the rites. Infuriated by their act the sages cursed them to become rivers. When Kashyapa returned home he found his wives missing and the sages narrated the incident. When asked for a solution to retrieve his wives, the sages advised him to do penance to Shiva at Gautami Ganga. Kashyapa prayed to Shiva by reciting a hymn that praised him in the role of a triad, his role in the three worlds, and his three gunas (qualities of virtue, merit, excellence), and the three types of unpleasantness Pleased with Kashyapa’s hymn Shiva restored him his wives and blessed that his wives would beget children again by the grace of Ganga. Kashyapa invited the sages to participate in the 4-6th month ceremony of hair parting of his wives who were pregnant. After the sages were fed, when Kashyapa respectfully stood before them with his wife to thank them, Kadru standing next to him, looking at the sages gave a sly smile with one eye. The sages were annoyed and cursed Kadru to loose that eye. Thus, Kadru, the snake became one eyed.[6]

Once Uccaissravas, the white divine horse, which emanated when the ocean was churned by the devas and asuras to generate nectar, appeared before Kadru. Kadru then called Vinata asked her to tell her the colour of the horse. Without any guile Vinata said that its was pure white. Kadru contradcited her and said that the tail was in black colour. As the arguments proceed Kadru challenged Vinata with a bet saying that if her statement came out true then Vinata will loose the bet and then she will become her servant, and that they would test the colour in the morning of the next day. Kadru's intention was to cheat Vinata. Then Kadru called her thousand sons to nicely coil the tail so that it appears black in colour. However, some of her sons refused to oblige while other obeyed her instructions. Those who disobeyed her instructions were cursed by Kadru by prophesising that that they would be charred alive in the Sarpasatra Yagana that would be performed by King Janamejaya of Ayodhya. Kasyapa was upset with this curse but Brahma who happened to be there told him such a curse was essential as serpents had become very dangerous. Brahma then gave Kashyapa the antidote for snake poisoning.[1] Eventually Kadru won the bet the next morning as some of her sons had wound round the tail of the horse giving it black shade. Vinata thus became the salve of Kadru.[1]

Garuda was distressed to know that he had become a slave to Kadru and her 1000 sons. When he questioned his mother Vinata, she narrated the incident where she lost a bet with Kadru, and as per the agreement she was bound to serve Kadru as a slave. Her loss was due to a deceit perpetrated by Kadru on her. As he was her son he was also a slave to Kadru. Kadru then suggested to Vinata to take her and her children to the abode of snakes to a cool lake,[7] in the island of Ramanlyaka in the middle of the ocean.[1] Garuda did as directed. After reaching the destination she asked Garudha to take her sons to the abode of the sun to pay their respectul onesiance. Garuda then carried the naga sons of Kadru on his back and approach the sun . As he flew closer to the sun with the nagas on his back, the nagas could not withstand the heat and started falling off in faint to the ground, in the island of Virana. Hearing the cries of her children, Kadru was deeply distressed and blamed Garuda for all the happenings to her children. Vinata was also distressed by her sun's plight and as suggested by Kadru asked Garuda to bring Ganga waters from the nether world. Garuda obeyed and brought Ganga waters to the southern bank of the Gautami river and sprinkled it on the snakes, which were then revived. The location where this incident occurred is called Nagalaya, the abode of the snakes.[7] In another version in Adi Parva of Valamiki Ramayana it is said that when nagas fainted and fell on the ground due to intense heat of the sun, Kadru offered prayers to Indra to come to her children's rescue. Indra promptly created rain showers to fall on the nagas and they were restored from their charred status. They then lived in the island of Ramaniyaka.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mani 1975, p. 364-65.
  2. ^ a b c d e K 2012, p. 173.
  3. ^ Mani 1975, pp. 363-4.
  4. ^ Söhnen & Schreiner 1989, p. 7.
  5. ^ K 2012, p. 174.
  6. ^ Söhnen & Schreiner 1989, p. 164-65.
  7. ^ a b Söhnen & Schreiner 1989, p. 253.