|Children||Marutas, Asuras (Daityas), Hiraṇyākṣa, Hiraṇyakaśipu, Holikā, Siṃhikā|
|Siblings||Aditi, Danāyus, Danu, Kadrū, Kālikā, Kapilā, Krodhā, Muni, Pṛthā, Siṃhikā, Vinatā, Viśvā, etc.|
She is mother of both the Marutas and the Asuras (Daityas) with the sage Kashyapa. She is said to have wanted to have a son who would be more powerful than Indra. He is said to have killed her previous children because they tried to murder him. Diti used black magic to keep herself pregnant for one year. Indra used a thunderbolt to splinter the fetus into many pieces, from which originated the Marutas.
Diti is one among a group of sixty daughters of Dakṣa and Panchajani. Her sisters included Aditi and Satī, among many more. She is one of the thirteen wives of the sage Kashyapa. Her two most famous sons were Hiraṇyakaśipu and Hiraṇyākṣa, who are said to have failed to keep their dharma and were slain by Vishnu in subsequent rebirths until they became the gatekeepers Jaya and Vijaya. Diti also had a daughter named Holikā.
She is usually depicted as being cruel to both her husband Kashyapa and her sister Aditi. She is obsessed with trying to bring the Asuras into power. She is a bitter enemy of Aditi's sons, the gods, and she was instrumental in gaining control and autonomy over them.
Birth of Diti's children
Seeing Kashyapa's co-wives blessed with children, Diti was eager to have a son, so she asked Kashyapa for company.
Though Kashyapa had accepted her request, he had asked her to wait for an hour as it was then the time when Shiva and his Gaṇas moved about, which was considered inauspicious and unsuitable for procreation. Diti, shaken by lust, could not restrain herself and she seized Kashyapa by his garments, which was a sign of immodesty. The impurity of Diti's mind caused her to give birth to two unworthy sons who would violate the ethics of Dharma and follow the path of Adharma.
Diti expressed deep regret, to which Kashyapa responded by consoling her, stating that they would be slain by Vishnu and thus be blessed by his contact. Prahlāda, one of her four grandsons by her first son, would become a great devotee of Vishnu and also the noblest man. Through this family line, Jaya and Vijaya were born as Hiraṇyakaśipu and Hiraṇyākṣa. In Section 67 of the Ādi Parva of the Mahābhārata, it is stated that king Śiśupāla, the powerful ruler of the Chedis, was also an incarnation of Hiraṇyakaśipu.
Besides the great Asura Hiraṇyakaśipu, some other more famous sons of Diti are also mentioned in the Ādi Parva as follows:
- Śibi: A great Asura, known among the sons of Diti, became on earth the famous monarch Druma;
- Aśva: That great Asura, son of Diti, known as Aśva (Aśvaka), became on earth the monarch Ashoka of exceeding energy and invincible in battle.
- Aśvapati: Younger brother of Aśva and another son of Diti, was born as Hārdikya, the king of the Mallas;
- Śarabha: A great Asura and son of Diti, was born on this earth as royal sage Paurava;
- Candra: 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 Archived 28 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- 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.