One of the most popular names of both Krishna and Vishnu is my name, Keshava. There are two common explanations of the name: "one who has Keshu", i.e. long hair, and "the killer of Keshi", a demon killed by Krishna. But in this chapter of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, Krishna gives another explanation of the name:

The rays that emanate from the Sun who gives heat to the world, from the blazing fire, and from the Moon, constitute my hair. Hence do foremost of learned Brahmanas call me by the name of Kesava.

Krishna then tells Arjuna a story of someone who benefited from chanting the name Keshava, namely the sage Dirghatamas. For those who don't know, Dirghatamas was the father of Vishnu's incarnation Dhanvantari and the son of Brihaspati's brother Uchathya. As I discuss in this answer, once Brihaspati impregnated Uchathya's wife Mamata. But there was already a child in Mamata's womb, and this unborn child objected to the impregnation. Bribaspati was angered by this and cursed the child to be blind. As a result, Mamata gave birth to two sons, Brihaspati's son Bharadhwaja and Utathya's son Dirghatamas, who was indeed born blind. In any case, Krishna explains how Dirghatamas was cured of his blindness:

Through this curse of that foremost of Rishis. the child of Utathya was born blind, and blind he remained for a long time. It was for this reason that, that the Rishi, in days of yore, came to be known by the name of Dirghatamas. He, however, acquired the four Vedas with their eternal limbs and subsidiary parts. After that he frequently invoked me by this secret name of mine. Indeed, according to the ordinance as laid down, he repeatedly called upon me by the name of Kesava. Through the merit he acquired by uttering this name repeatedly, he became cured of his blindness and then came to be called by the name of Gotama. This name of mine, therefore, O Arjuna is productive of boons unto them that utter it among all the deities and the high-souled Rishis.

Now Dirgahtamas was one of the sages who heard the Vedas during Tapasya. So my question is, does Dirgatamas ever address Vishnu as "Keshava" in the Vedas?

As you can see in the Rig Veda Anukramani in my answer here, Dirghatamas is the seer of hymns 140-164 of the First Mandala of the Rig Veda, and of these, hymns 154-156 are addressed to Vishnu. But I can't seem to find the name Keshava anywhere.

Was Dirghatamas the seer of hymns in any of the other Vedas, and if so is the name Keshava mentioned in those?

  • 1
    Krsna says that he was well acquainted with the four Vedas and their angas while you say that Dirghatamas himself discovered some hymns. So does that mean something like he was one of its contributors? Because the two statements seem contradictory to me.
    – Surya
    Feb 14, 2016 at 17:25
  • @Surya I think he may have acquired the Vedas by divine revelation, not from a guru. Feb 14, 2016 at 17:32
  • @Surya Or perhaps first he was one of the sages who heard certain mantras, and then later either the present Vyasa or a previous Vyasa compiled the Vedas, soliciting mantras from Dirghatamas among others, and then later Dirghatamas learned the compiled Vedas from that Vyasa or one of his disciples. Feb 14, 2016 at 17:35
  • 3
    In a upanyaasam i listen to recently, another construction of the Kesava is given (and said to be the meaning invariant without regard to time/events) - Ka denotes Brahma and Esan denotes Shiva so Kesava denotes one who is encompasser/source/indweller of both Brahma and Shiva. Nov 3, 2017 at 16:15
  • @LakshmiNarayanan Yes, I think that meaning is given in the Puranas. Nov 3, 2017 at 16:46

1 Answer 1


Was Dirghatamas the seer of hymns in any of the other Vedas, and if so is the name Keshava mentioned in those?

This may provide you with an answer to your question in regards to references to (Keshava)in the Vedas:

In the Rg Veda there is a Hymm from Mandala 10:136, to the Kesins: Sanskrit meaning meaning, hair or mane, Kesin without the (s) or with the (s) may be regarded as an obvious (epithet) of Keshava and the story of Dirghatamas of the Mahabharata may begin to make sense.

Below is the Rig Veda, translation, by Ralph T.H. Griffith, (1896), of HYMN CXXXVI in Roman Numerals or (10:136), dedicated to; Kesins.

  1. HE (Keshava) with the long loose locks supports Agni, and moisture, heaven, and earth:He is all sky to look upon: he with long hair is called this light.

2 The Munis, girdled with the wind, wear garments soiled of yellow hue. They, following the wind's swift course go where the Gods have gone before.

3 Transported with our Munihood we have pressed on into the winds: You therefore, mortal men. behold our natural bodies and no more.

4 The Muni, made associate in the holy work of every God, Looking upon all varied forms flies through the region of the air.

5 The Steed of Vāta, Vāyu's friend, the Muni, by the Gods impelled, In both the oceans hath his home, in eastern and in western sea.

6 Treading the path of sylvan beasts, Gandharvas, and Apsarases, He with long locks, who knows the wish, is a sweet most delightful friend

7 Vāyu hath churned for him: for him he poundeth things most hard to bend, When he with long loose locks hath drunk, with Rudra, water from the cup.

(Vishnu Sahasranama)

Keshava: One whose Kesa or hair is long, uncut and beautiful.



  • Nice find but is this verse by Dirghatamas? Jan 6, 2019 at 17:13

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