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      Diti vows to kill Indra.



     Bhrigu, the son of Lord Brahma, again took birth from the womb of Charsani, the wife of Aditi’s ninth son, Varuna. By the semen of Varuna, the great rishi, Valmiki, took birth from an anthill. Once, upon seeing the Apsara, Urvashi- Varuna and Mitra (Aditi’s tenth son) discharged semen, which they preserved in a clay pot and thus Agastya and Vasishtha were born. Indra, the eleventh son of Aditi, begot three sons in the womb of his wife, Paulomi- named Jayanta, Rishabha, and Midhusa. By His Own internal potency, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared in the form of a dwarf, named Urukrama as the twelfth son of Aditi, and in the womb of His wife, Kirti, He begot one son, Brihatshloka.

     Diti gave birth to Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Through his wife, Kayadhu, the daughter of Jambhu, in the line of Dhanu, Hiranyakashipu begot four sons- Samhlada, Anuhlada, Hlada, and Prahlada, as well as a daughter named Simhika, who married the demon, Viprachitti. Through his wife, Dhamani, Hlada begot Vatapa and Ilvala, and Prahlada’s only son was Virochana. Diti also gave birth to the 49 Maruts, who were awarded positions as demigods. When Maharaja Parikshit inquired about how these Daityas were converted into demigods, Shukadeva Gosvami narrated the story as follows.

     For the sake of Indra, Lord Vishnu had killed Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu and thus Diti became overwhelmed with grief. In great anger, she contemplated as follows: “Indra, who is very fond of sense gratification, has induced Lord Vishnu to kill my two sons, and thus he is very sinful and hardhearted. When will I be able to take revenge, by killing Indra, and thus pacify my tormented mind? No matter how great one may be, after death, his body becomes transformed into worms, stool or ashes. If one enviously kills another person simply for the protection of such a body, he must be ignorant of life’s true purpose and will certainly go to hell. Because Indra has become completely unrestrained, due to considering his body to be eternal, I wish to beget a son who will relieve him of his madness.”

     While thinking in this way, Diti acted very carefully, so that she could gratify her husband, Kashyapa by her pleasing behavior. She always carried out his order very painstakingly- with great love, humility, and self-control. Thus, by her service, as well as her sweet words, amiable smiles and glances, Diti was able to attract her husband’s mind and bring it under her control. Although Kashyapa was a very learned scholar, he became captivated by his wife’s artificial behavior, and thus he became eager to please her in all respects.

     In the beginning of creation, Lord Brahma saw that all of the living entities were unattached. To increase the population, he created woman from the better half of a man’s body, for her behavior carries away a man’s mind. Being extremely pleased with Diti’s mild behavior, Kashyapa smiled and said, “O beautiful and irreproachable lady, since I am very pleased with your conduct, you may ask me for any benediction to your heart’s content. If a husband is pleased, then what desires are difficult for his wife to obtain, either in this life or in the next?”

“My dear gentle wife, whose body is so beautiful, because you are very chaste and have worshiped me with great devotion, considering me to be a representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I shall reward you by fulfilling all your desires.”

     Diti replied, “My dear husband, great soul, I have lost my sons. If you wish to give me a benediction, then I want to have an immortal son who is capable of killing Indra.”

     Upon hearing Diti’s request, Kashyapa became very aggrieved at the prospect of becoming implicated in the sinful killing of Indra. While condemning himself, Kashyapa thought, “I have become too attached to material enjoyment and thus my mind has come under the control of a woman. My wife cannot be blamed, for she has adopted a means that is according to her nature. But, I am a man. Being most wretched, I will certainly glide down towards hell.”

     “A woman’s face is as beautiful as a blossoming lotus flower in autumn, and her sweet words give great pleasure to the ear. However, if one studies a woman’s heart, he can understand that it is as sharp as a razor. Considering this, who can understand the dealings of women? To satisfy their own interests, women deal with men as if they are most dear, but in reality, no one is dear to them. Women are supposed to be very saintly, but for their own interest they can kill their husband, son or brother- or else cause them to be killed by others. I cannot go back on my promise, but on the other hand, Indra does not deserve to be killed.”

     After thinking like this, Kashyapa decided to train his wife in Vaishnava behavior so that her unclean heart would become purified, and she would thus give up the desire to kill Indra. For this purpose, he said,  “My dear wife, if you follow my instructions regarding a particular vow for one year, then you will surely receive a son who is able to kill Indra. However, if you deviate from this vow, you will get a son who is favorable to Indra.”

     Diti replied, “My dear brahmana, I will certainly act according to your direction. Now, please describe what I must do, what is forbidden, and what activities can be performed that will not break the vow.”

     Although women are inherently grossly selfish, another side of their psychology is that they are by nature a follower of a man and thus can be trained for good purposes. Taking advantage of this, Kashyapa instructed Diti as follows: “My dear wife, to follow this vow, you must become completely nonviolent and thus cause no harm to others. You must not curse anyone, nor speak lies, or in other words, you must always remain non-envious.”

     “Do not cut your hair or nails; and do not touch impure things, like skulls and bones. You must never become angry, and do not speak to or associate with wicked persons. Never wear clothes that have not been properly washed, and do not put on a flower garland that has been already worn. Never eat leftovers, food which is brought or touched by a shudra, or which has been seen by a woman during her period. Do not eat any fish, flesh, or the prasada of Goddess Kali.”

“You must not drink water by joining your palms, and after eating, you must wash your hands, mouth and feet before going out from the house. You should never go outside in the evening, however, or with your hair loose, or without being properly decorated with ornaments. Indeed, you should not leave the house unless you are very grave and sufficiently covered.”

     “You should not lay down without having washed your feet, nor with wet feet, nor with your head facing the north or west. Before breakfast, you should put on clean cloth, decorate yourself with tumeric, Sandalwood paste, and other auspicious substances, and then worship the cows, brahmanas, the goddess of fortune, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

“With offerings of flower garlands, Sandalwood paste, ornaments and other paraphernalia, a woman who follows this vow should worship women whose husbands are living and who possess sons. The pregnant wife should worship her husband, offer him prayers, and meditate upon him, thinking that he is situated within her womb.”

     Kashyapa concluded, “My dear wife, if you perform this pumsavana ceremony, while adhering to the vow faithfully for at least one year, you will give birth to a son who is destined to kill Indra. However, if there is any discrepancy in your vow, your son will become a friend of Indra.”  

     Diti assured Kashyapa that she would do everything according to his instructions, and thereafter, she became pregnant upon jubilantly receiving his semen. As Diti began faithfully discharging her vows, Indra could understand her purpose and so he decided to disguise himself and engage in her service. Following the logic that self-preservation is the first law of nature, Indra daily collected fruit, flowers, roots, firewood, kusha grass, leaves, sprouts and water from the forest and then presented them to Diti at the proper time.

      Just as a hunter of deer sometimes covers himself with deerskin to facilitate killing them, Indra became outwardly friendly to Diti and served her very faithfully. But, his real purpose was to cheat her as soon as he could find some fault in the way in which she was executing her vows.

When a long time passed and Indra could not find even the slightest fault in Diti’s behavior, he became filled with anxiety and thought, “How will I ever be able to achieve good fortune?”

     Then, one day, Diti, who had grown very weak and thin because of her austerities, neglected to wash her hands, mouth and feet after eating, and then lay down to rest during the time of evening twilight. Indra immediately detected this fault and with the use of the mystic power known as anima-siddhi, he entered Diti’s womb while she remained fast asleep. By means of his thunderbolt, Indra cut Diti’s glowing, golden embryo into seven pieces, and yet miraculously, each one became an individual living being and began to cry.

Indra told them, “Do not cry” and then cut each one into seven pieces, and yet surprisingly, instead of dying, there were now 49 living beings. With folded hands, these aggrieved living entities pleaded, “Dear Indra, we are your brothers, the Maruts. Why are you trying to kill us?”

     When Indra saw that Diti’s sons were his devoted followers, he replied, “Since you are all my brothers, you can rest assured that you have nothing to fear from me.”

     Shukadeva Gosvami then said, “My dear King Parikshit, just as you were saved from Ashvattama’s brahmastra while within your mother’s womb, the one embryo of Diti, although cut into 49 pieces, was saved by the mercy of the Supreme Lord.”

“If one worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead even once, he can receive the benefit of being promoted to the spiritual world, and possess the same bodily features as Lord Vishnu. Diti worshiped Lord Vishnu for almost one year, and so what is astonishing about the fact that the Maruts, although born from her womb, became elevated to the status of demigods by His mercy?”

     Because of having worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Diti became completely purified at heart. Therefore, when she awoke, she was pleased to see that her 49 sons, who were brilliant like fire, were dealing with Indra in a friendly relationship. She told Indra, “My dear son, I had adhered to this difficult vow, just to get a child who would be able to kill you twelve Adityas. I had prayed for one son, but now I see that there are 49. How did this happen? My dear Indra, if you know the reason, please tell me truthfully, without speaking lies.”

     Indra replied, “My dear mother, being blinded by my own self-interest, I lost sight of religious principles and thus tried to find some fault in your vows. When I found such a lapse, I entered your womb and cut the embryo into seven pieces. Then, when each piece became a separate child, I cut them into seven pieces, but by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, none died. Upon seeing 49 living children, I became astonished and concluded that this must be a secondary result of your having engaged in the devotional service of the Lord. Although pure devotees worship the Supreme Lord without asking for anything in return, the Lord still fulfills all of their desires. My dear mother, I am a great fool, and so kindly excuse me for the offenses that I have committed.”

        Diti became extremely satisfied by Indra’s good behavior and his sincere plea for forgiveness. Indra offered repeated obeisances to his aunt, and then after receiving her permission, he departed for his own abode, taking his brothers, the Maruts, with him.

     Maharaja Parikshit inquired, “My dear Lord, I now wish to hear about the pumsavana vow in detail, for I understand that by observing it one can please the Supreme Lord, Vishnu.”

     In reply, Shukadeva Gosvami explained the vow as follows. On the first day of the bright fortnight in the month of Margashira (November-December), a woman should begin this vow under the direction of her husband. First of all, she should hear about the birth of the Maruts. Then, after bathing and dressing in white garments, she should engage in the worship of Lakshmi-Narayana under the direction of qualified brahmanas, before taking her morning meal.

      While worshiping the Lord, she should offer the following prayer: “My dear Lord, although You are full of all opulence, I do not wish to beg for any of it. I simply offer my respectful obeisances unto You, Who are the husband of the goddess of fortune, and the master of all living entities.”

     After offering profuse obeisances to Lord Vishnu, the devotee should offer respectful obeisances to Mother Lakshmi and pray as follows: “O wife of Lord Vishnu, O internal energy of the Lord, you are as good as Lord Vishnu Himself, for you have all of His qualities and opulence. O Goddess of Fortune, please be kind unto me. I offer my respectful obeisances unto you.”

     Next, one should chant the following very important mantra: “My dear Lord Vishnu, Who is full of six opulences, You are the best of all enjoyers and the most powerful. O husband of Mother Lakshmi, I offer my obeisances unto You, Who are always accompanied by Your associates, such as Vishvaksena. I now offer all of the paraphernalia for Your worship.”

     One should chant this mantra daily, while worshiping Lord Vishnu with these items- water for washing His feet, hands and mouth, as well as water for bathing; garments; a sacred thread; ornaments; scents; flowers; incense; and lamps.

     After offering the above-mentioned articles, one should chant the mantra, “om namo bhagavate maha-purushaya mahavibhuti-pataye svaha” while offering twelve oblations of ghee into the sacrificial fire.

     Lakshmi-Narayana is the bestower of all benedictions and the sources of all good fortune. Therefore, it is the duty of everyone to worship Them. While falling on the ground like a rod to offer obeisances, one should chant the above-mentioned mantra ten times, and then offer the following prayer: “My dear Lord Vishnu and Mother Lakshmi, You are the proprietors of the entire creation. Although Mother Lakshmi is represented in the material world as the external energy, in actuality she is the internal potency of the Lord.”

     “My dear Lord, since You are the master of all energy, You are the Supreme Person; and Lakshmi, the embodiment of spiritual activities, is the original form of worship offered to You. Mother Lakshmi is the reservoir of all spiritual qualities, whereas You manifest and enjoy all of these qualities. Because You are both the supreme rulers and benefactors of the three worlds, may my ambitions be fulfilled by Your grace.”

     After worshiping Lord Vishnu, one should remove all of the paraphernalia that was offered and then provide Him with water for washing  His hands and mouth. Thereafter, while considering her husband to be the representative of the Supreme Lord, a wife should worship him by offering him prasada. The husband can execute this vow, if the wife is unable to do so, and in either case, both will enjoy the result.

     This worship of Lord Vishnu must be performed continuously for one full year. Then, on the full-moon day in the month of Karttika (October-November), the wife should fast. The next morning, after bathing and worshiping the Lord, she should cook for a festival, according to the direction of the Grihya-sutra. Sweet-rice should be cooked with ghee, and the husband should offer it as an oblation twelve times into the sacrificial fire. Then, after offering his respectful obeisances unto the brahmanas, and receiving their blessings in return, he should comfortably seat the acharya and offer him prasada. After this, when the wife eats the sweet-rice prasada, she becomes assured of obtaining a learned and devoted son.

     In addition, a wife who performs this ritualistic ceremony will surely receive good fortune, opulence, a husband with a long duration of life, good reputation, and a good home. If an unmarried girl observes this vrata, she will be able to get a very good husband. If a woman is avira (with no husband or son), she can be promoted to the spiritual world. A woman whose children have died after birth, can get a child with a long duration of life; and an ugly woman can become beautiful. In any case, by performing this pumsavana ritualistic ceremony, Lord Vishnu and His wife, Mother Lakshmi, become very pleased.