Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Maruts included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Maruts

In the Purāṇas there are references to 49 gods who are known as "Maruts". All of them are the sons of Kaśyapa. The story of how the child in Diti’s womb was cut into 49 pieces which became 49 Maruts. is given in Chapter 71 of Vāmana Purāṇa as follows:

Kaśyapa’s first wife Aditi became the mother of Devas and his second wife Diti became the mother of Daityas. The chief of the Devas was Indra and the chiefs of Daityas were Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu. At the request of Indra, Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaśipu were slain by Mahāviṣṇu. Diti who was grieved at the death of her sons, approached Kaśyapa and requested him to give her a son who would be strong enough to kill Indra. Kaśyapa told her that if she could perform tapas for 10,000 Divyavarṣas with due observances, she would get a son who would be able to kill Indra and conquer the three worlds. He gave her a long list of conditions to be observed during the tapas, some of which were as follows:—Do not injure any creature; do not curse; do not tell lies; do not cut nails or hair; do not touch any unclean object; do not get angry, do not speak to wicked people; do not wear soiled clothes; do not wear garlands used by others; do not eat what is left over by another; do not eat meat touched by a Śūdra woman. Putting on clean, white dress, carrying auspicious substances, everyday before breakfast, cows, Brāhmaṇas, goddess Lakṣmī and Kaśyapa himself should be worshipped." This observance is known as "Puṃsavana." He said that if she performed the tapas with this austere observance, a son capable of killing Indra would be born to her.

Diti started the observance as advised by her husband. Kaśyapa left for Udaya mountain. After his departure, Indra came to the Āśrama and pretending friendship offered to serve Diti as an attendant. Diti accepted his offer and allowed him to serve her. One day Diti who was utterly tired fell asleep and Indra took advantage of this opportunity and gained entrance into her womb through her nostrils. He cut the child in Diti’s womb with his weapon Vajra into seven pieces. At that time the child cried aloud and Indra said to it "Mā ruda" which means "Do not cry". He cut each of the seven pieces again into seven pieces and thus 49 Maruts were born out of the 49 pieces. Since Indra said "Mā ruda", they came to be known as "Maruts". All these Maruts subsequently became Indra’s servants.

After this, Indra with his weapon came out of Diti’s body. With joined palms he begged Diti’s pardon and explained to her that he destroyed the child in her womb since he was destined to be his (Indra's) enemy.

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