Kavaṣa Ailusa

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Kavaṣa Ailusa literally means ‘Kavaṣa, the son of Iluṣa’.

One of the characteristics of the scriptures is frankness and directness in all the good or bad aspects. If an idea considered as right was later found to be wrong, it was unceremoniously discarded and replaced with the right one. The story of Kavaṣa Ailuṣa is an illustration for the same.

Kavaṣa, the son of Iluṣa, was born to a śudra woman who was a das. Hence he was castigated by the contemporary society of brāhmaṇa sages. He could neither enter a place of sacrifice nor even have social contacts with the brāhmaṇas. Once, when some sages like the Bhṛgus and the Aṅgirasas were performing a Sattrayāga, they found that Kavaṣa Ailuṣa was also sitting there amongst them.

When they discovered this, they promptly evicted him from there and forcibly banished him to a desert. However, when Kavaṣa was languishing there, by divine grace a Vedic sukta was revealed to him. This is known as the Aponaptrīya hymn.[1] It is used in Somayāgas. It is chanted by the Hotṛ priest. The presiding deities of water were pleased with him. As a result, the river Sarasvatī started circum ambulating him and the place became fertile.

Learning of this miracle, the sages who were performing the Sattrayāga hurriedly came to him, apologized for their arrogance and invited him to participate in their sacrifice as an honored priest.

This story appears in the Aitareya Brāhmana[2] and also in the Kausitaki Brāhmana.[3]

Another Kavaṣa is mentioned in the Ṛgveda.[4] He was over thrown by Indra. He was probably the priest of the tribe named Vaikarṇa’.


  1. Ṛgveda 10.30.1-15
  2. Aitareya Brāhmana 8.19
  3. Kausitaki Brāhmana 12.3
  4. Ṛgveda 7.18.12
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore