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Symbolism Of Aditi In Vedas

Aditi is popularly known as the mother of Devas or demigods in Vedas. But there is deep symbolism attached to Aditi. Aditi means the unbound ‘primordial power’ as opposed to diti, the weak. Aditi symbolizes the supreme Shakti from which everything gets manifested. So, in the Vedic and Puranic tradition, Aditi is not only the mother of gods but also Mother Earth, from which sprout all the things through which life is sustained. Aditi also stands for vak (supreme speech) that is manifest as multiplicity of thought and language.

The all-pervasive, unimpaired, inexhaustible essence of all existence is verily mythified through the image of Aditi by the seer poets of Vedas.

A verse of Rig Veda says
Aditi is heaven, Aditi is atmosphere
Aditi is mother, father and son
Aditi is all gods and the five tribes
Aditi, what is born and shall be born (Rig Veda 1.89.10)

Shayanacharya (1320-87 CE), the celebrated commentator on Rig Veda holds that Aditi is depicted in the above verse as the self of the whole universe. This may well be juxtaposed with the delineation of purusha in Rig Veda (X 90.2) which says – purusha is all this, what was and would be.” Vedic poets have celebrated Aditi’s motherhood of the gods.

Aditi may best be regarded as a personification of universal all-embracing Nature or Being, with which she is in fact identified (Origina Sanskrit Texts, Vol V p.35)

Aditi governs rita, the cosmic law in its totality. Moreover, she created for the self-effulgent, Indra, a highly glorious song for the protection of rita –

Divine Adityas, custodians of the Universe

With far-reaching intelligence

Adhering to the cosmic law and protecting life, sustain all, the movable and the immovable world

Again, as if to highlight the interplay of the manifest forms of primordial Nature, Rig Veda says, ‘From Aditi, Daksha was born and from Daksha was born Aditi (V.X72.2)

Aditi is indeed, the boundless energy in all its three aspects of creation, sustenance and annihilation that sums up the continuous process of the cosmic functioning. The post-Samhita interpreters had understood the vision of the Vedic seer, as is reflected in the various etymologies of the word Aditi given in Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Nirukta. Aditi means indestructible or undecaying when the word is traced to the roots ‘do’ (avakhandane), to destroy or ‘din’ (kshaye), to perish, in their negation. So says Yaska, ‘aditiradina devamata’, the unimpaired mother of Gods. Aditi in dual number (Aditi) is a synonym of heaven and earth. Aditi is called vishwarupi, as all manifestation is just her various forms – avimna devyaditirvishvarupi (Taittiriya Samhita I.8.12.2)

Aditii s the one who gives everything and sustains all – the word Aditi is derived from the root da (to give). Imperishable light belongs to Aditi, the extender of rita and she has been invoked to bestow light (Rig Veda IX 25.3; X 36.3). Ushas, the dawn, is like the face of Aditi (Rig Veda I.113.19). Deva, as derived in Nirukta Vedanga, denotes one who is illumined, illuminating, giving and has luminosity as its locus.

Aditi, being the mother of Gods, essentially relates to the principle of Chaitanya or the pure consciousness central to the cosmic creation and its continuation. Aditi is called Vishnupatni, the wife of Vishnu, the God or the divine principle of sustenance. In Taittiriya Bhashya, Aditi is described as the sustainer of all and the foundation of the universe ( Sankara Bhashya compares Aditi with a dhenu (cow) as she grants all the wishes of men (V.4.2.15). She is the queen of the cosmic order who protects everything.

To demonstrate the all-annihilating aspect of Aditi, Shankara Bhashya derives the word from the root ‘ad’ (to eat) and says the Aditi-ness of Aditi is that she eats up everything (X.6.5.5.) The Vedic vision was holistic. Birth and death are two aspects of the cosmic phenomenon; this has been conveyed in varied and numerous ways throughout Vedic literature, Puranas and the philosophical texts. Thus, the poetic myth of Aditi leads one to the concept of the ultimate reality that is manifest in everything and as everything.