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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Sakalya, ZAkalya, shaakalya

Śākalya as per Bṛhadāranyaka Upaniṣad

The Bṛhadāranyaka Upaniṣad[1] describes in detail, the philosophical disputation between Yājñavalkya and Vidagdha Śākalya in the court of the king Janaka-Vaideha. The discussion centered round the number of devas or gods. Ultimately, Yājñavalkya won and Śākalya lost his life due to the curse of the former. The main reason was that Śākalya was ‘Vidagdha’, vain and arrogant due to his scholarship.

Śākalya as Padapāṭhakāra

Some say that Vidagdha was his name since he was a great scholar whereas the word Śākalya indicated that he was the son of the sage Śakala. The Nirukta[2] mentions one Śākalya as padapāṭhakāra[3] of the Ṛgveda.

Śākalya as per Pāṇini

Another Śākalya is mentioned by Pāṇini[4] four times in his Astādhyāyī. He was probably a grammarian. The well-known sage Kaśyapa was once saved from public ridicule by a teacher named Śākalya who prescribed some special purification rites.


  1. Bṛhadāranyaka Upaniṣad 3.9
  2. Nirukta 6.28
  3. Padapāṭhakāra is an expert in breaking the words of the Vedic Samhitā.
  4. He lived in circa 500 B. C.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore