In the Vedas, Aditi (Sanskrit: अदिति "limitless") is a sky goddess and mother of the gods (devamatr) from whose cosmic matrix the heavenly bodies were born. As celestial mother of every existing form and being, the synthesis of all things, she is associated with space (akasa) and with mystic speech (Vāc). She may be seen as a feminized form of Brahma and associated with the primal substance (mulaprakriti) in Vedanta. She is mentioned nearly 80 times in the Rigveda: the verse "Daksha sprang from Aditi and Aditi from Daksha" is seen by Theosophists as a reference to "the eternal cyclic re-birth of the same divine Essence" and divine wisdom. In contrast, the puranas, such as the shiva purana and the bhagavata purana, suggest that Aditi is wife of sage Kashyap and gave birth to the adityas such as Indra, Surya, and also vamana.
Aditi is said to be the mother of the great god Indra, the mother of kings (Mandala 2.27) and the mother of gods (Mandala 1.113.19). In the Vedas, Aditi is Devamatri (mother of the celestial gods) as from and in her cosmic matrix all the heavenly bodies were born. She is preeminently the mother of 12 Adityas whose names include Vivasvān, Aryamā, Pūṣā, Tvaṣṭā, Savitā, Bhaga, Dhātā, Vidhātā, Varuṇa, Mitra, Śatru, and Urukrama (Vishnu was born as Urukrama, the son of Nabhi and Meru.) She is also is the mother of the Vamana avatar of Vishnu. Accordingly, Vishnu was born as the son of Aditi in the month of Shravana (fifth month of the Hindu Calendar, also called Avani) under the star Shravana. Many auspicious signs appeared in the heavens, foretelling the good fortune of this child.
In the Rigveda, Aditi is one of most important figures of all. As a mothering presence, Aditi is often asked to guard the one who petitions her (Mandala 1.106.7; Mandala 8.18.6) or to provide him or her with wealth, safety, and abundance (Mandala 10.100; 1.94.15).
Aditi is sometimes associated with or identified as a cow. As such she provides nourishment and as the cosmic cow, her milk is identified with the redemptive, invigorating drink Soma (Mandala 1.153.3). As the womb of space she is a feminized form of Brahma. The line in the Rigveda, "Daksha sprang from Aditi and Aditi from Daksha" (Mandala 10.72.4) has reference to "the eternal cyclic re-birth of the same divine essence". Aditi is also called widely expanded (Mandala 5.46.6) and extensive, the mistress of wide stalls (Mandala 8.67.12).
Aditi is usually mentioned in the Rigveda along with other gods and goddesses. There is no one hymn addressed exclusively to her, unlike other Vedic gods. She is perhaps not related to a particular natural phenomenon like other gods. Compared to Usha and Prithvi, Aditi can be defined as the cosmic creatrix, the creativity of the all-creating.
The name Aditi includes the root "da" (to bind or fetter) and suggests another attribute of her character. As A-diti, she is un-bound, free one, and it is evident in the hymns to her that she is often called to free the petitioner from different hindrances, especially sin and sickness. (Mandala 2.27.14). In one hymn, she is asked to free a petitioner who has been tied up like a thief (Mandala 8.67.14). As one who unbinds, her role is similar to her son Varuna's as guardian of Rta, cosmic moral order. She is called the supporter of creatures (Mandala 1.136). It also means THE ONE OF ITS KIND or UNIQUE.
Aditi challenges the modern idea that the Vedic peoples were patriarchal. Aditi was regarded as both the sky goddess, and earth goddess, which is very rare for a prehistoric civilization. Most prehistoric civilizations venerated a dual principle, Sky Father and Earth Mother, which appears to be borrowed from the concept of Prithivi and Dyaus Pita. Aditi was attributed the status of first deity by the Vedic culture, although she is not the only one attributed this status in the Vedas. She is addressed, in the Rigveda as "Mighty".
"Aditi" hasn't always been a very popular name. However it has, of late, grown in popularity partly owing to its use in Bollywood movies such as 'Monsoon Wedding' and 'Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na' the latter of which also features the song "Kabhi Kabhi Aditi...". It is also the third most popular girl name for Indians in the USA.
Correspondence in Greek and Egyptian Mythology
Aditi has correspondences in many ancient mythology: the highest Sephirah in the Zohar; the Gnostic Sophia-Achamoth; Rhea, mother of the original 6 Greek Olympians (Hestia, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Hera, and Zeus) who was married to Cronus, and later banished to the Underworld, in Tartarus; Bythos or the great Deep; Amba; Surarani; Chaos; Waters of Space; Primordial Light; and the source of the Egyptian seven heavens. Sometimes she is linked with the Greek Gaia, goddess of earth, to denote dual nature or the mother of both the spiritual and physical: Aditi, cosmic expanse or space being the mother of all things; and Gaia, mother of earth and, on the larger scale, of all objective nature (cf SD 2:65, 269).
- From a- (privative a) and diti "bound," which is from the Proto Indo-European root *da- "to bind."
- The Secret Doctrine 2:247n
- "Adi-Ag: Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary". Theosociety.org. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- Oberlies (1998:155) gives an estimate of 1100 BC for the youngest hymns in book 10. Estimates for a terminus post quem of the earliest hymns are more uncertain. Oberlies (p. 158) based on 'cumulative evidence' sets wide range of 1700–1100
- "Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 6 Chapter 6 Verses 38-39". Vedabase.net. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Most Popular Indian Baby Names | Bloggermoms:". Retrieved 8 October 2011.
- Kinsley, David. Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions, Motilal Banarsidass Publications, 1998. ISBN 978-81-208-0394-7