Wife of Kasyapa and daughter of Prajapati Daksa.
1) Genealogy. Descended from Visnu thus:
Visnu – Brahma – Daksa – #Kadru.
2) Kadru – Wife or daughter of Kasyapa? It’s unclear in the Puranas.
Chapter 65 of Bhasa Bharata states like this.
The six spiritual sons of Brahma are: Marici, Angiras, Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha and Kratu. Marici got a son named Kasyapa and he married the thirteen daughters of Daksa, namely, Aditi, Did, Kala, Danayus, Danu, Sirnhika, Krodha, Pradha, Viva, Vinata, Kapila, Muni and Kadru. So according to this, Kadru was the wife of Kasyapa.
But the 14th Sarga of Aranya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana states:
Daksa got sixty illustrious daughters and of these Kasyapa married – Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kalika, Tamra, Krodhavasa, Muni and Surasa. Krodhavasa gave birth to eight daughters. They were: Mrgi, Mrgamanda, Hari, Bhadramata, Matarigi, Sarduli, Sveta, Surabhi, Surasa and Kadru.
Tamra another wife of Kasyapa gave birth to five daughters, namely, Kraunci, Bhasi, Syeni, Dhrtarastri and Suki. Kraunci gave birth to owls, Bhasi to Bhasas, Syeni to eagles and vultures, Dhrtarastri to swans and Suki to Nata. Nata gave birth to Vinata.
Thus, according to the Ramayana Kadru was the daughter of Kasyapa born of his wife Krodhavasa. Again Vinata who is spoken of as the elder sister of Kadru in Mahabharata is the daughter of the granddaughter of Kagyapa. This means that Kadru’s mother and Vinata’s grand mother’s mother were sisters. But both of them looked after Kasyapa as if they were direct sisters.
3) Kadru, mother of serpents. Kadru and Vinata lived serving Kasyapa. Kasyapa was pleased with them and asked them what boon they wanted. Kadru asked for a thousand serpents to be born of her and Vinata asked for two sons who would be braver and more brilliant than the sons of Kadru. Kasyapa granted them what they asked for and when Kadru and Vinata became pregnant he left for the forest.
After some time Kadru delivered a thousand eggs and Vinata two eggs. Both of them kept the eggs in warm jars and after five hundred years the thousand eggs of Kadru burst letting out a thousand serpents. Vinata became impatient and broke open an egg of hers. Out came from it a half developed being and that was Aruna. #Aruna cursed her for being impatient and said “You let me out half developed because of your overanxiety and you will, therefore, become a servant, of Kadru. Keep the other egg for another five hundred years. Then a very powerful son will come out of it and that son will relieve you of your servitude to Kadru”.
So saying he rose up in the air and became the charioteer of the sun. After five hundred years the other egg of Vinata broke and #Garuda came out.
(Maha-bharata Chapter 16, Adi Parva,)
4) Sons of Kadru. Names of the prominent sons of Kadru are given below:
Sesa, Purananaga, Aryaka, Vasuki, Kapinjara, Ugraka, Airavata, Elaputra, Kalasapotaka, Taksaka, Savama, Sumanas, Karkotaka, Nila, Dadhimukha, Dhananjaya; Anila, Vimala, Kaliya, Kalmasa, Pindaka, Maninaga, gabala, Apta, Sakha, Pindaraka, Hastipinda, Vali, Karavira, Pitharaka, Sikha, Puspadarirstra, Sumukha, Nisthanaka, Vilvaka, Kaunapagana, Hemaguha, Bilvapandura, Kuthara, Nahusa, Mrsnada, Kunjara, Pingala, Sarfikha, Pralbhakara, Balyakarna, Sirapurna, Kumuda, Hastipada, Haridraka, Kumudaksa, Mudgara, Aparajita, Tittiri, Kambala, Jyotika, Halika, Asvatara, Pannaga, Kardama, Kalikaka, Srivaha, Bahumulaka, Vrtta, Kauravya, Karkara, Samvrtta, Dhrtarastra, Arkara, Patta, gariikhapinda, Kundodara, Sarnkhamukha, Subahu, Mahodara. Kusmandaka, Virajas, Ksemaka, Salipinda.
All the serpents in the world have been born from these prominent serpents.
(Maha-bharata Chapter 35, Adi Parva, M.B.).
5) Kadru curses her sons. Once Kadru called Vinata to her side and asked her the colour of Uccaihsravas, the horse of Indra. It was purely a white horse and Vinata told so. But Kadru said its tail was black. Each stood firm in her statement and then Kadru made a bet. She who was defeated in the bet should serve the other as her slave. Vinata agreed. Kadru wanted to cheat Vinata and so asked her sons to remain suspended from the tail of the horse in such an artful way that the tail would look black from a distance. Some of her sons refused to be a party to this deceit and Kadru cursed them saying that they would all be burnt in the Sarpasatra of Kanamejaya. Kasyapa did not like the curse. But Brahma came there and said that the .serpents as a class were injurious to society and as such a curse of that nature was necessary. Brahma then taught him Visasarirharavidya (Treatment of snake-poisoning).
(Maha-bharata Chapter 20, Adi Parva).
6) Kadru and children go to Ramaniyaka. Once Kadru told Vinata. “Vinata, take me to the island of Ramaniyaka in the middle of the ocean. It is a beautiful place to stay. Let your son, Garuda, take my sons to that place.” Vinata took Kadru and Garuda took her children during the journey. Garuda rose high up in the air nearing the sun and the serpents began to feel the heat unbearable and began to get charred. Kadru then prayed to Indra and the latter then sent a heavy downpour of rains. This saved the serpents from being burnt to death and they reached the island of Ramaniyaka safe. (Maha-bharata Chapters 25 and 26, Adi Parva).
7) Other detail.
(i) Kadru lives in the court of Brahma worshipping him. (Chapter 11, Sabha Parva, M.B.).
(ii) Kadru taking the form of Skanda-graha in an infinitely minute size enters the wombs of women and eats the embryo. (Maha-bharata Chapter 230, Vana Parva).
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