One of three brothers, the Tebhātika-Jatilas, living at Uruvelā. After initial resistance, all became the Buddha’s followers. He lived on the banks of the Nerañjara with five hundred disciples. Further down the river lived his brothers Nadī-Kassapa with three hundred disciples and Gayā-Kassapa with two hundred.
The Buddha visited Uruvelā-Kassapa and took lodging for the night where the sacred fire was kept, in spite of Kassapa’s warning that the spot was inhabited by a fierce Nāga. The Buddha, by his magical powers, overcame, first this Nāga and then another, both of whom vomited fire and smoke. Kassapa being pleased with this exhibition of iddhi-power, undertook to provide the Buddha with his daily food. Meanwhile the Buddha stayed in a grove near by, waiting for the time when Kassapa should be ready for conversion. Here he was visited by the Four Regent Gods, Sakka, Brahma and others. The Buddha spent the whole rainy season there, performing, in all, three thousand five hundred miracles of various kinds, reading the thoughts of Kassapa, splitting firewood for the ascetics’ sacrifices, heating stoves for them to use after bathing in the cold weather, etc. Still Kassapa pesagested in the thought, “The great ascetic is of great magic power, but he is not an arahant like me.” Finally the Buddha decided to startle him by declaring that he was not an arahant, neither did the way he followed lead to arahantship. Thereupon Kassapa owned defeat and reverently asked for ordination. The Buddha asked him to consult with his pupils, and they cut off their hair and threw it with their sacrificial utensils into the river and were all ordained. Nadī-Kassapa and Gayā-Kassapa came to inquire what had happened, and they, too, were ordained with their pupils. At Gayāsīsa the Buddha preached to them the Fire Sermon, and they all attained arahantship.
From Gayāsīsa the Buddha went to Rājagaha with the Kassapas and their pupils, and in the presence of Bimbisāra and the assembled populace Uruvelā-Kassapa declared his allegiance to the Buddha. Vin.i.24ff.
Later, in the assembly of monks, Uruvelā-Kassapa was declared to be the chief of those who had large followings. AN.i.25 Six verses attributed to him are found in the Theragāthā, Thag.375–380 wherein he reviews his achievement and relates how he was won over by the Buddha.