Story of Kadru and Venata
Kadru is the wife of Kashyapa and the mother of all serpants while her co-wife Surasa was a mother to other variant of serpants. Kadru is the mother of Naagas or multi-headed serpents like Ananta Shesha, while Surasa is the mother of Sarpas or single-headed serpents. The single headed Vasuki is Surasa’s son. In Treta Yuga, this same Surasa obstructed the path of Hanuman, while he was flying over the ocean, in search of Sita devi. Her name is mentioned in the Sundar Kaand of Ramacharitmanas as well. Lord Narayana says that among Nagaas He is Anata Shesha and among Sarpas He is Vasuki.
In Kashypa’s family all rivals live together. The predators and preys branch from the same family tree. Though, demons and devatas have a common father, their mothers, (Diti and Aditi) have contrasting views owing to the opposition prevalent amidst their offspring. Similarly, Garuda’s tiff with his step-brothers, the Naga serpents reached the peak when the enmity between their mothers, Venata and Kadru hit the roof.
Once, the two women sighted the auspicious horse, Uchchaihshravas which was obtained after the hardships endured by the Devatas and Asuras during the Samudra Mathan. Both, struck a bet. Though the horse was white in reality and Venata accepted this fact, her co-wife refused and insisted to inspect the horse tail herself. She said: “The horse-tail is black and not white!” The two finally decided that if one wins, the other would accept defeat and become a slave of the winner. After striking this deal, Kadru, asked her serpent children to wrap around the tail of the horse, making it appear black. Venata, unware of the cheating she was subjected to, was left awe-struck when she saw the unusual black colored tail of the horse. As a result, her co-wife enslaved her and she accepted defeat. But, Venata’s son, Garuda could no longer see her serve his step-mother and seethed with anger. He swore to avenge this insult by terrorizing the lives of the naga brothers, for the took part in the deceit. However, he approached his step-mother who assured to grant Venata freedom from slavery only if she was gifted with the pot of nectar that emerged from the churning of the ocean. Garuda took a flight and returned with the pot full of nectar, handing it over to Kadru. Venata was instantly released from slavery and though she held no grudges against Kadru, the seeds of vengeance seeped into their children. Thus, Garuda possesses a menacing attitude towards the Naga brothers.
Diti Devi observes a Ritual to destroy the Devatas
In one fight that broke between the Devatas and Asuras, Devi Aditi approached her husband Kashypa and asked him to bless her sons, Indra and other Devatas with victory. Overpowered by dissatisfaction that came about by the defeat of the Asuras in major battles that ensued between the two parties, Diti Devi sought a boon of bearing an invincible son from her husband. She desired for a powerful son who would support her other Asura sons and help them overthrow Indra. Thus, she was blessed by her husband with a potential son who could dethrone Indra from Swarga.
To accomplish this, She was asked to follow a ritual with stringent rules for a 100 years. The rules included, maintaining purity of words, deeds, habits, observing auspicious fasts, engaging in pious activities, avoid associating with strangers, controlling anger and the other six-vices. With her husband’s blessings, Diti devi, soon became pregnant. Day and night for a 99 years she observed the ritual, until the Devatas learned about her dreadful intentions. Fear clouded Indra’s mind as he awaited a golden chance to siphon the potency of the ritual observed by Diti. He kept his vision fixed on her actions and waited for her to err.
It is said that before going abed, one must wash one’s feet, but not sleep until the feet dries up. This was one of the activities, Diti devi was asked to follow but one night, she forgot to wash her feet and with her dusty feet, she fell asleep. Suddenly, she woke up, late at night, and realized that she had forgotten the water pot outside the hut.
Her husband inquired: “What happened devi.” To this she replied: “I forgot the water pot outside the hut, what if somebody takes it. Let me go and bring it inside the hut.” Kashyapa asked: “Is there water in the pot.”
“What difference does that make?”
“If not, then go to sleep, the thieves will not take it.”
She was confused on hearing this unusual logic set forth by Kashyapa, but after his assurance, she went back to bad.
Kashyapa followed the Vedic injunctions as it is. His logic had its roots in the Shastras. It is said that before touching the water pot, one must sanctify one’s hands from water present in the water pot. In ancient days, everybody followed rules. Kashyapa asked his wife to sleep as he very well knew that thieves will not steal the pot until they washed their hands. And as the pot is empty, they will drop the idea of stealing it as they would never take the pains to wash their hands from elsewhere, due to their laziness.
Story of the 49 Maruts
Indra took a call as soon as Diti committed that error and entered her womb to destroy his enemy. He exerted his Vajra (weapon) on the child and split it into 7 halves, creating seven individual living entities. The seven children now began crying in chorus as they were brutally beaten by Indra. Hearing their piercing voice, Indra grew frustrated and tried to quieten the children by uttering (Ma-Don’t and Ruda-Cry), which means don’t cry. But they paid no heed to the consolation and their shrilling cries enraged Indra. He split the 7 children into 49. Thus, the 49 Maruts or 49 forms of Wind came into being and derived their name from the word Maruda which was uttered by Indra to console the enemy brothers. But, as they were housed in the womb of Diti devi along with a Devata (Indra) they become brothers of Indra. This consequence, terribly failed the mission of Diti Devi as the Maruts befriended the Devatas. They are fierce and powerful forms of wind, like storms. Instead of giving rise to the downfall of the Devatas, Diti devi gave birth to the 49 Maruts who became attendants of Indra and assisted him in his battle against the Asuras. Lord Hanuman, the son of Wind (Marut) God is named Maruti.