Goddess Aditi: the mother of all Gods
Goddess Aditi : Have you ever wondered why the Vedas are considered to be the sacred text of the Hindus? Well, there are many Vedas, some of which have been found and some of which have been not, but they have been mentioned in the ones that have been found. Now these Vedas they talk about the way of life of the settlers of the Aryan community. It talks about mainly the belief system that was prevalent then, and hence, we find the mention of a number of Gods and Goddesses. Thus, the Vedas have been accepted as a sacred text, and most of the Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon have over the time developed from the ones mentioned in the Vedas.
Aditi is one of the Goddesses, who have frequently been mentioned in the Vedas. Though there is hardly any practice of worshipping this goddess anymore as a mainstream deity, her role in cosmic creation, as mentioned in the Vedas, happens to be the most important one.
The story of Goddess Aditi
Aditi means the one who is unbound and limitless. Aditi is mentioned to be the creator of the universe in the Rig Veda and the progenitor of all the gods and goddesses, even the most important ones like God Indra. Sometimes Aditi has been equated as the female version of Lord Brahma. She is thought to be the creator of the cosmic order. She is also the one, who maintains the cosmic order and helps in maintaining the balance of life and death. A particular hymn of the Rig Veda mentions that Aditi is the progenitor of Daksha, and she is the daughter of Daksha as well. It talks about coming out of bhu or earth, and then, again going back to it, signalling the cycle of life and death and the fact that matter is cycled again and again (We shall very clearly state the story of the birth of the gods… Before the birth of the gods, being came into existence from non-being…. From the creation-tree (uttanapada), came forth the earth (bhu), and the upper worlds (bhuvah) came forth from desire. Aditi gave birth to Daksa, and Aditi was born of Daksa again, O Daksa! Aditi is your daughter! All the Gods took birth later.’- The Rig Veda (10.72.3-5))
The identity of Aditi, however, does not stop at this only. According to a hymn in the Katha Upanishad, which comes later in time than the Rig Veda, Aditi is also identified with human consciousness. She is said to be the inner energy and understanding that resides within us, which helps us in understanding reality and experience.
Thus, as we can see Aditi is identified as the creator of all Gods, and hence, the oldest or the earliest of all the others Gods in the Hindu pantheon.
Other identities of Goddess Aditi
Aditi has a few other identities as well. She is often identified as the mother of the Sun God and the Moon God, Mitra, and Varuna respectively. Later, she was also identified as the mother of twelve children, namely- Aryamah, Vivasvan, Pushah, Savita, Tvashta, Bhaga, Vidhata, Dhata, Mitra, Varuna, Urukrama and Shakra. Vedic hymns mention that one who wishes to gain control or knowledge over the planet should worship the sons of Aditi. With time, her identity also changed. She is sometimes seen as the consort of Brahma and sometimes as the mother of Indra. She is also seen as the past and future, thus representing time.
She is also very closely associated with the fertility cult since she is identified as the mother of all Gods and Goddesses. Hymns in the Vedas suggest that she was often worshipped by the people since she was looked at as a mediator between the Gods and the human beings. People also prayed to her for cattle (cattle being a sign of wealth and prosperity) and fertility. Lajja Gauri, the Goddess of Fertility, who has been worshipped in the Deccan region, is also sometimes considered to be another form of Goddess Aditi.
So, as you can see, various roles have been accorded to this ancient Goddess from time to time, thus signifying that this Goddess more or less captures the entire cosmic order and pantheon of Gods and Goddesses within her fold.
Worship of Goddess Aditi
She is seen to be the creator of the universe, and also, one who is associated with fertility, and hence, she used to be worshipped for these things in the Vedic times. As we already know, people prayed to her whenever there was a disruption in the cosmic order, like suppose a natural disaster and she was asked to ask the other Gods, her sons and daughters, to shower mercy and bounty on the people of the earth. Since she is often equated to being the sky or limitless, she is also worshipped when a person wants to gain more freedom in his or her life.
However, Goddess Aditi is not worshipped much anymore. In fact, it is very difficult to find any specific temples that are dedicated to her. The closest that one can get to finding the worship of Goddess Aditi is the worship of Lajja Gauri, which is mainly carried out, that too very rarely, in the southern part of India.
Thus, it is clear that with time, the worship of Goddess Aditi faded little by little. Though today she is identified as a very common name for girls, hardly many know about the one, who is considered to be the progenitor of all the Gods and Goddesses. How and why, the worship faded away is not very clearly known, but it is also true that Aditi has found a place in many other forms, having bits and pieces of her features scattered within other Goddesses, who are worshipped today. Thus, it is difficult to come across any mantra that is meant for the worship of this deity. She is also sometimes equated with a cow, the cow being a symbol of fertility and wealth.
Power, creativity and fertility, Goddess Aditi thus stands as a symbol of the cosmic creation as well the cosmic order itself.