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Who is Aditi?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 23, 2024
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Aditi is a goddess in the Hindu pantheon, mother to the gods of the heavens. She is a part of the pantheon, but at the same time is above and beyond the pantheon, in a similar fashion to the three greater gods. She is sometimes referred to as the womb of space, and in this role can be seen as the female Brahma, creator of all. Aditi is seen in some myth cycles as the consort of Brahma.

Aditi is the virgin of the heavens, and can be seen as the ultimate mother of all beings and all things in the world of forms, from the gods down to the lowliest creature. Personified, she is the goddess of the past and the future, of all space, of fertility, and of consciousness itself. Aditi is also mystically present as a manifestation of the strange loop of infinite rebirth, as stated in the Rig Veda that Daksha sprang forth from Aditi, and Aditi sprang forth from Daksha.

Aditi is somewhat unique in that she is looked at as the ruler of both the earth and the heavens. She is the virgin mother to the gods, the primal goddess from which all beings spring forth alone. This can be contrasted with most myth cycles, which feature a masculine Sky figure and a feminine Earth figure, whose mating brings forth the other gods. From Aditi alone were born the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon, and the Earth and the Heavens are both her dominion.

For all her importance, Aiditi has no hymns addressed explicitly to her and her alone in the Rig Veda, perhaps because of her status above and beyond the gods. Her motherhood is a central theme, however, and her children are the greatest of the Adityas: Tvasta, Savita, Bhaga, Vivasvan, Aryama, Varuna, Mitra, Urukrama, Vidhata, Dhata, Satru, and Indra himself. Aditi is prayed to by those who need safety or assistance in life, called out to as a mother figure to look after her children.

Aditi is also looked upon as the goddess who is unbound by the world, even more so than the other gods and goddesses. She is beyond time and space in many ways, and is unchained by the rules that bind other beings. This is reflected in one interpretation of her name, with the root –da meaning to bind, and A-da meaning unbound. In this form Aditi is often worshiped by those needing to be liberated from some situation in their life, be it literal bondage or something like an ailment or guilt.

Aditi is also very well-known as being the centerpiece in the 20th century text, Aditi’s Vow or Happiness is a Science. This deals with a vow of importance taken by Aditi after her children were driven out of their homes, the various planets and major stars in the sky, by a demon king, Mahabali Maharaja. She takes the vow as a mother, to drive out the demon king and restore her children to their rightful place in the heavens.

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Discussion Comments

By turquoise — On Apr 20, 2014

@fify-- Yes, Aditi is a contemporary female name in India. There is also a male name "Aditya" which literally means "sons of Aditi." Bhagavata Purana (the Old Bhagavat) mentions 12 adityas, one for each month of the year, while the Vedas mention 7. Aditi is considered the mother of them all.

Aditi is different from other mythological deities in the sense that there is no specific phenomenon attributed to her. She is responsible for all cosmic creativity as per Hindu belief. She is not mentioned as often for this reason.

By fify — On Apr 20, 2014

I have a friend named Aditi but I had no idea that Aditi is also a deity. I will ask her about this the next time I see her.

By ZipLine — On Apr 19, 2014

I find Hindu mythology confusing because of the number of deities, their role and relationships with one another. It's very difficult to keep up with.

As far as I know, there are thousands of deities in India, varying from region to region and sect to sect. At the same time, deities are often considered reincarnations of other deities. They have parents, children and partners. And sometimes they share roles. I honestly can't wrap my head around it.

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