In Hinduism, Diti (Sanskrit: दिति) is an earth goddess and mother of the Maruts with Rudra. She is also the mother of the Daityas with the sage Kashyapa. She wanted to have a son who would be more powerful than Indra (who had killed her previous children) and so she practiced magic and kept herself pregnant for one year. Indra used a thunderbolt to splinter the fetus into many pieces, the Maruts. She is also Aditi's sister. Diti is the daughter of Daksha-Prajapati one of the grandfather's of creation, a son of Brahma, the god of ritual skill and a king. Her mother was Veerni. She is one of the sixty daughters of Daksha. She is one of the thirteen wives of Kashyapa, another prajapati and a great sage. She has many demon sons and daughters. Her two most famous sons were the rebirths of Vishnu's gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya who failed to keep their dharma. They were Hiranyaksha who was slain by Vishnu's varaha avatara and Hiranyakashipu who was slain by Vishnu's man-lion, narasimha avatara. She also had a daughter named Holika who was killed by her own powers. Diti is usually mean and cruel to Kashyapa and Aditi. She is always obsessed with trying to raise the power of demons to its peak. She also hates Aditi's sons who are the gods.
Sanskrit Meaning of 'Diti'
In Sanskrit, the word Diti means tej or brilliance or Idea.
Birth of Diti's children
Seeing Aditi's cowives being blessed with children; Diti too was eager to have a son. So, she had asked Kashyapa for company. Though Kashyapa had acceded to her request, He had asked her to wait for an hour as it was then the time when Shiva and his retinue of ghosts and spirits moved about; which was considered inauspicious and unsuited. However; Diti; shaken by the passion of love and lust, couldn't wait and she seized kashyapa by his garments, which was a sign of immodesty. Since Diti's mind was impure; tainted by lust, she would give birth to two unworthy sons who would violate all the ethics (Dharma) and follow the path of Adharma. When Diti felt sorry, Kashyapa consoled her by saying that they would be slain by Lord Vishnu himself and thus be blessed by the Lord's contact in the end. Also; one of her four grandsons by her first son, would be a great devotee of Vishnu and also the noblest man (He is Prahlada). In this way, Jaya and Vijaya were born on this earth to Diti as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. In Section 67, Adi Parava of Mahabharata, it is stated that king Shishupala, the powerful ruler of Chedis, was also an incarnation of Hiranyakasipu, the son of Diti.
Besides great Asura Hiranyakashipu, some other more famous sons of Diti are also mentioned in Adiparava, Mahabharata, as follows:
- Sivi: A great Asura, known among the sons of Diti, became on earth the famous monarch Druma;
- Aswa: That great Asura, son of Diti, known as Aswa (Asva), became on earth the monarch Ashoka of exceeding energy and invincible in battle.
- Aswapati: Younger brother of Aswa and another son of Diti, was born as Hardikya, the king of the Mallas;
- Sarabha: A great Asura and son of Diti, was born on this earth as royal sage Paurava;
- Chandra: The foremost among the sons of Diti and handsome as the lord of the stars himself, became on earth noted as Chandra Varmana Kamvoja, the king of the Kamvojas (i.e. Kambojas). Also see link: .
- Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions (ISBN 81-208-0379-5) by David Kinsley
- Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 6 Chapter 18 Verse 45
- same as Aswaka/Asvaka.
- cf: "King Asoka was the incarnation of Asura or demon Asva" (Epic Mythology, 1968, p 62, Edward Washburn Hopkins - Religion).
- This epic reference to "Aswa/Asva" seems to allude to Mauriya connections with the Asvaka/Asva clan, as supposed by Dr H. C. Seth, Dr H. R. Gupta, Kirpal Singh and others. The Asvakas (from Aswa/Asva = horse, horseman) were expert cavalrymen and followed horse-culture. They lived in Kunar/Swat valleys north of Kabul river, which was the habitat of Kambojas. Scholars like B. M. Barua, J. W. McCrindle etc also connect Mauriyas to north-west Punjab i.e. Taxila/Gandhara or Kamboja region. D.B. Spooner also invests Mauriyas with Iranian affinities (See: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1915, (Pt.II), pp 406, 416-17).
- Epic Mythology, 1968, p 62, Edward Washburn Hopkins - Religion.
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dhallapiccola
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