Aditi

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Aditi (devanāgarī: अदिति) is a Sanskrit word that means limitless (from a "without" and diti "bound"). In the Vedas Aditi is mother of the gods (devamatri) from whose cosmic matrix the heavenly bodies were born. Aditi is associated with the primal substance (mulaprakriti) in Vedanta. As celestial mother of every existing form and being, the synthesis of all things, she is associated with space (akasa) and with mystic speech (Vāc). She may be seen as a female aspect of Brahmā.

In Hinduism

Aditi is a goddess, personification of the infinite and universal expanse. She is the supporter of the sky, the sustainer of existence, and the nourisher of the earth, often represented as a cow.[1] Aditi is called Deva-mātri, the "mother of the gods".

According to an allegory found in the Rig-Veda, eight sons were born from her body; she approached the gods with seven but cast away the eighth, Mārttānda (the sun). These seven were the Ādityas.[2] The names of these sons given in different parts of the Vedas do not agree with each other and it is difficult to know who were originally regarded as Ādityas. In the Purānas the number of the Ādityas is increased to twelve.

Blavatsky's interpretation

In Stanza IV.5 of The Secret Doctrine it is said: "Then come the sons, the seven fighters, the one, the eighth left out, and his breath which is the light-maker (bhâskara)".

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky explains this sloka with an astronomical key using the Hindu allegory of Aditi and her eight sons:

The “One Rejected” is the Sun of our system. The exoteric version may be found in the oldest Sanskrit Scriptures. In the Rig Veda, Aditi, “The Boundless” or infinite Space, translated by Mr. Max Müller, “the visible infinite, visible by the naked eye (!!); the endless expanse beyond the Earth, beyond the clouds, beyond the sky,” is the equivalent of “Mother-Space” coeval with “Darkness.” She is very properly called “The Mother of the Gods,” DEVA-MATRI, as it is from her Cosmic matrix that all the heavenly bodies of our system were born—Sun and Planets. Thus she is described, allegorically, in this wise: “Eight Sons were born from the body of Aditi; she approached the gods with seven, but cast away the eighth, Mârttânda,” our sun. The seven sons called the Aditya are, cosmically or astronomically, the seven planets; and the Sun being excluded from their number shows plainly that the Hindus may have known, and in fact knew of a seventh planet, without calling it Uranus. But esoterically and theologically, so to say, the Adityas are, in their primitive most ancient meanings, the eight, and the twelve great gods of the Hindu Pantheon. “The Seven allow the mortals to see their dwellings, but show themselves only to the Arhats,” says an old proverb, “their dwellings” standing here for planets.[3]

In Theosophy

H. P. Blavatsky writes that Aditi is the abstract aspect of Parabrahman, called mulaprakriti, which is both unmanifested and unknowable.[4] In the Proem of the The Secret Doctrine it is said:

A disc with a point in it [represents] the first differentiation in the periodical manifestations of the ever-eternal nature, sexless and infinite “Aditi in THAT” (Rig Veda), the point in the disc, or potential Space within abstract Space.[5]

In this case, the circle would represent the abstract space (an aspect of the Absolute) and the point within it, Aditi (potential space). This principle, however, can be related to space in its different aspects or stages of differentiation. For example, it is frequently identified with Akasha.[6]

Aditi is also related to the female aspect of the divine. It is said that in its third aspect or differentiation it becomes Vâch,[7] Aditi-Vâch being the female Logos, or the “word,” Verbum.[8]

Aditi is the ever-equilibrizing mother-nature on the purely spiritual and subjective plane. She is the Sakti, the female power or potency of the fecundating spirit; and it is for her to regulate the behaviour of sons born in her bosom. The Vedic allegory is very suggestive.[9]

In Hinduism Aditi is regarded as the mother of the gods, and of the sun. According to Mme. Blavatsky, when regarded in connection with the solar system, Aditi is the female aspect of the highest principle:

Akâsa is Aditi in the allegory, and the mother of Mârttânda (the sun), the Deva-matri—“Mother of the gods.” In the solar system, the sun is her Buddhi and Vahan, the Vehicle, hence the 6th principle. . .[10]

Notes

  1. Benjamin Walker, The Hindu World, (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1968), 2.
  2. John Dowson, A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology, (London, Routedge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1968), 3.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 99-100.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 7.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 4.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 332.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 430.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 431.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 402.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 527, fn.

Further reading