Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

The Birth of the Maruts


This story is taken from B.P.. References to it are also found in Devi Bhagavata.

Sage Kashyapa was married to Diti and Aditi, the daughters of Daksha. (He married other daughters of Daksha, as well as other women as well.) The Devas were the sons of Aditi and the Daithya's (Asuras) were the sons of Diti. These sets of half-brothers were always at war. In these battles, the Devas were always victorious and the Asuras were being slain in large numbers.

Seeing these state of affairs, Diti was saddened. She went to her husband and said, "Sir, You have always given the preference to Aditi. Her children are all powerful, while mine have to flee in fear of their lives. Grant me a boon that I might have a son who would be greater than the Gods. Let my son be the slayer of Indra, the chief of the Devas."

Kashyapa did not want to grant the boon, but he could not refuse his wife out-right. He said, "It shall be as you wish. Your son shall exceed all the others in prowess, but you must observe a rigid vow while you are pregnant. You must be pure, and devote your mind to austerities as long as you are carrying the embryo. If you fulfill these conditions, your son shall be the slayer of Indra."

In course of time, Diti became pregnant. Word reached Aditi that her co-wife was carrying a child that would be the cause of the utter destruction of her sons, the Devas. She called her eldest, Indra, and said, "Son, How can you rest while you know that your aunt is carrying your slayer? If that child is born, your half-brothers, the Daityas will gain ascendancy, and all your brothers will have to flee for their lives. As far you, your father has decreed that this child of Diti shall be your death."

Indra was alarmed. He said, "Mother. I did not know about this till now. What can be done to escape this calamity? You, who always have our welfare at heart, should suggest a way out of this predicament."

Aditi said, "Your aunt is currently alone. She has to observe a rigid vow till her son is born. If you can disguise yourself and enter her service, you will be able to find an opportunity when she slips from her penance. You will then be able to abort the fetus and slay your would-be slayer in the womb."

Accordingly, Indra disguised himself as a mendicant and entered the service of his aunt. He completely fooled her, for she felt that no servant could be more devoted than he. Many days passed. She was nearing the end of her pregnancy. At last, the opportunity that Indra was waiting for presented itself. Diti was unusually tired one day, and went to sleep without washing her feet. This violated the conditions of her vow, and she became unclean. Indra shrunk himself to the size of an insect and entered her womb. Once inside, he began slicing up her embryo into seven pieces with his weapon, the Vajra. The fetus began to cry. Indra tried to silence the child by saying "Ma Ruda." (Don't cry), but the baby continued to cry. In anger, Indra sliced the seven pieces into forty-nine parts.

Diti gave birth to the forty-nine Maruts, who were given that name due to the words addressed to them by Indra in their mother's womb. Since her vow had not been fulfilled, they did not slay Indra. Instead, they became his friends and companions.

The Devi Bhagavata says that Diti cursed Indra and Aditi for their act of treachery, for slicing her embryo into forty-nine pieces.


Last Modified At: Wed Oct 20 00:21:26 2004