From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

In the religion, the name Daityas[1] refer to a clan of Asura, as are the Dānavas and Anayavas, and there are other groups of Asuras[2] as well. Daityas were the children of Diti and the sage Ṛṣi Kashyapa. While some scriptures, such as the Mahābhārata[3] and the Śatapatha Brāhmana,[4] mention that the Asuras were the elder brothers of the Devas, some others mention specifically that the Daityas were elder brothers of the Ādityas.[5] They were a race of [[giant[6]|giants]] who fought against the Devas because they were jealous of their Deva half-brothers. The female Daityas are described as wearing jewelry the size of boulders.[7] Manu Smriti[8] classifies Daityas as ones possessing the quality of goodness but places them at a level lower than Gods: "Hermits, ascetics, Brahmanas, the crowds of the Vaimanika deities, the lunar mansions, and the Daityas form the first and lowest rank of the existences caused by Goodness." Sometimes the Daityas are praised,[9] "tava dityas ca Daityas ca bhavantu sukhadah sada."[10]

Political influence of the Daityas

The Bahilkas are in the northwestern part and the Banas are in the southwestern part.
A map of dynasties of ancient India and surrounding areas from 600 BCE - 300 BCE.

It is believed that the Daityas, like the Danavas[11] were originally exiled from heaven in the Kṛta Yuga by the Devas and they had then taken refuge in the Vindhya mountains and by the sea.[12] The Daityas are usually associated with areas around the Vindhyas. Bali's wife's name is Vindhyavali. The Narmada River is by the Vindhyas and this is also where many Daityas had done much penance, especially for obtaining boons.[13]

The most well-known of the Daityas are Hiranyakashipu, Hiranyakṣa, Prahlada, and Bali. The Daityas had originally been given political influence from them having been descended from the great Ṛṣi Kashyapa. Daityas were of particular kingdoms and they normally fought for a particular Daitya kingdom. Their political powers increased as they were granted boons by Brahma or Śiva or when they were performed yajnas[14] such as the Aswamedha, as in the case of Bali[15] and Mahisa. The Daityas were aggressive and wanted power and so in every single case of a war between Daityas and others it was the Daityas who invaded non-Daitya kingdoms.

Areas under direct Daitya control

See also: Seven Chief Asura Realms

Ancient Greek historian Aelianus in De natura animalium depicts Pat(t)ala as a major Indian city. The Greeks had also sometimes written about it as Pattalene and as Pultda.
"Diti bore the glorious sons called the Daityas, my son. Long ago this treasure-laden Earth and all the seas and forests belonged to them." - Agastya to Shri Rama [16]

Daityas had seven main regions which they were firmly in control of. In the Brahma Purāṇa, Nārada says after returning to heaven (Amravati) from the "nether worlds" that they are more pleasant than heaven.[17] The nether worlds Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Mahatala, Sutala, Patala, and Gabhastimata.[18] Pātala in Hindu scriptures is mentioned and associated more than any other place with Daityas, and it was their main capital. In the Vāmana Purāṇa, when Prahlada had left for his spiritual adventures, he left his cousin Andhaka on the throne to govern from Pātala.[19] Multan has been associated with Daityas on some occasions, and it was formerly known as Kashyapapur. It is where Prahlada reigned and built his Prahladapuri Temple dedicated to Vishnu. Its association with the Daityas is do strong that when Jalandhara was slain, his feet were buried in Multan. After Bana lost the city to Samba (Krishna's son) in battle, the city was renamed Sambapur from Kashyapapur. The Daityas, on several occasions, being invaders of the Deva kingdoms, defeated the Devas and became in possession of their main capital Amaravati. Daityadwipa is also a place of refuge amongst the Daityas, and the son of Garuda is called by the name Daityadwipa in the Mahabharata.[20] Chamba district and likely the parts of Rajasthan in and around Sambhar Salt Lake and Sambhar Lake town were ruled by Sambhara until his defeat by King Divodas. Madhuvana was the stronghold was Madhu.[21] There is generally a disagreement over where Mahishamati, the capital city of Mahisasura was, although Mahisa in Gujarat has the same name as the Daitya Mahisasura, and it is where there are temples dedicated to both Brahmā (Shri Brahmaji Temple) and Śiva (Baliya Dev Temple), the gods which granted Mahisa boons.

Some places throughout India are named after the Daityas who had ruled there. For example, the Bahlikas had named two towns in Gujarat as Bhalka and Bilkha. There are also the cities of Malada and Kalusha, which had become the playground for Tataka the Yakshini, the wife of Sunda the Daitya. Ilvala's capital[22] Manimati had become a stronghold of Daityas later.[23] Saubha was a city of King Salva,[23] who was a tyrant that had ransacked Dwaraka, and it was conquered by Pradyumna after he defeated Salva. Nirmochana was another city held captive by Daityas. Pragjyotisha in Assam was the capital of Narakasura. Hiranyapur (Golden City), high up on hills, was always a stronghold of the Daityas, and was associated with Varuna. Tripura were a collective of three adjacent cities ruled by Daitya brothers Tarakaksha, Kamalaksha, and Bidhyanmali. Atalantpuri was another major city ruled by Daityas. Mahendrapur was a city under Asura control.

Ancient dynasties related to the Daityas are of the Kambojas under their first king Chandravarma Kamboja, of Mallas of western India under their first king Aswa (also known as Hardiya.) Madrakara Shaungayani was the teacher of Aupamanyava Kambhoja.[24] The Mallapuram of Tamil Nadu has been associated by Brahmins with Bali. Asura Dandavakta was son of the Karusha Dynasty's Brahmin Prince Vriddha Sharma and Srutadeva.[25] The Sivis and Bahlikas by the Indus River were Daitya dynasties. The dominion of the Bahlikas was known as Bahlika Pradesh (or Bahlika-bhishak.) Hemachandra wrote of them as Takhas. They were also known as the Bahlika-Uttaramadra. The Salvas consisted of Daitya rulers and there were six branches of the dynasty; Bhulingas, and Saradattas, Tilakhalas, Audumbaras, and Yugandharas. There were in medieval times, other dynasties which claimed descent from Daityas, such Bali and Bana, and this includes the Bana Dynasty of Tamil Nadu, and the Jats of Bana gotra from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The royal family of Jaisalmer (in Rajasthan) claim ancestry from Vajra, the son of Usha (Bana's daughter) and Aniruddha (grandson of Krishna.) Balijas of South India were royal patrons within a few kingdoms in the region, as well as leaders within Balija dynasties, and today many of them claim that they are descendants of the King Bali.

Daityas are also connected with the directions in which a particular deity is said to rule. Nirrti Daitya is written to be rule the southwest.[26]

Resolving conflicts with Daityas

Power is a clear motive in the story of Madhu and Kaitaba wherein they would declare, "Give battle now, or say, I am your dasa (slave.)"[27] In some instances, the Daityas are told to abide by the customs of war. For example, Vishnu used the conciliatory method ('sama-purva') and reminded Madhu and Kaitaba that it is not the 'dharma' of heroes to fight with those who are tired, frightened, weaponless, fallen, or too young, recalling a similar set of rules in the Manu Smriti.[27]

Normally, nonviolence (ahimsa) as a method is tried to prevent any wars with the Asuras. When they prove ineffective, war is fought. In one instance, the Devas had said to Brahma, "You should pacify the vighnas by the conciliatory method (saman.) this method is to be applied first, and secondly the offering of gifts (dana), and these (proving futile) one should afterwards create dissension (among enemies) and this too proving unsuccessful, punitive force (danda) should be resorted to (to curb them.)"[28] The aggressive methods of the military tactics of the Daityas made it hard to respond to aggression with pacifism. One common tactic of the Daityas was to abduct the wife of an enemy. This is true in the cases of Hiranyaksha who had kidnapped Bhudevi, Hiranyaksha's son Andhaka who tried to kidnap Parvati, Jalandhara who had tried with Parvati, and Sanghra who tried with Saci. (Some other Asuras such as Ravana had abducted Sita.) Diti was always furious of the influential powers of the Devas and she had taken the vow to annihilate them, the Madanadvadasi-vrata.[29] In one nonviolent method by the Devas however, Sarika (a form of Durga) had blockaded the gates of the Daityas (Patala) to prevent Daityas from leaving to invade another place.[30]

War was always the last solution to making peace. In war, many times the Devas had chosen a Daitya to focus on fighting. "Unmattabhairavi fought with Malada. Laghusyama fought with Kusura. Svapnesi waged war with the leading Daitya named Mangala. Vagvadini clashed with Draghana in the battle. Candakali fought with the wicked Kolata." Another battle between the Daityas and Devas in the Skanda Purana went this way: "Sunda, Upasanda, Tuhunda, and others, Mahisasura, Ulbanas (person of very powerful features), Sumbha, Nisumbha, Dhumraksa, Kalakeya, and other Danavas, the valiant Kalanemi, Daurhrda, Musaka, Yama, Nikumbha, Kumbha, Visastha, the Andhaka, Sankha, Jalandhara, Vatapi, of terrific features and inordinate strength, Sarvajit, Visvahantr, Kamacarin, Halayudha (weilder of a plough as a weapon) - these and many other leading Danavas attended upon the sinless king Bali."[31] Then in the war following the cosmic creation, the Srimad Bhagavatam declares this of the conflict: Text* 28: O King, Maharaja Bali fought with Indra, Karttikeya with Taraka, Varuna with Heti, and Mitra with Praheti. / Yamaraja fought with Kalanabha, Visvakarma with Maya Danava, Tvasṭa with Sambara, and the sun-god with Virocana. / The demigod Aparajita fought with Namuci, and the two Asvini-kumara brothers fought with Vrishaparva. The sun-god fought with the one hundred sons of Maharaja Bali, headed by Bana, and the moon-god fought with Rahu. The demigod controlling air fought with Puloma, and Sumbha and Nisumbha fought the supremely powerful material energy, Durgadevi, who is called Bhadra Kali. / O Maharaja Parikshit, suppressor of enemies [Arindama], Lord Siva fought with Jambha, and Vibhavasu fought with Mahishasura. Ilvala, along with his brother Vatapi, fought the sons of Lord Brahma. Durmarsha fought with Cupid, the demon Utkala with the Matrika demigoddesses, Brihaspati with Sukracarya, and Sanaiscara [Saturn] with Narakasura. The Maruts fought Nivatakavaca, the Vasus fought the Kalakeya demons, the Visvedeva demigods fought the Pauloma demons, and the Rudras fought the Krodhavasa demons, who were victims of anger."[32]

Noble supporters of Daityas

While there were Daityas who fought, (and many had been able to defeat the Devas) but were eventually defeated, they were either slain or they were allowed to be admitted into the Devas' assembly or mainstream politics. For example, Varuna has an Asura named Meghavasas in his assembly,[33] and another named Sunabha[34], and Shiva had Asuraniya (alias Mulakathaya), Sakalasurahara, and Asurahara were in Shiva's army, and Daitya Nirrti was a guardian of the southwest direction.[35] Andhaka after having been defeated by Shiva agreed to work with him and become one of his Ganas, and after Khandoba had defeated Malla and his brother Mani, they accepted his suzerainty (and a statue of crowned Malla can be seen in the Khandoba temple at Jejuri, Maharashtra.)[36] Daityas had also at times, conflicted with other Asuras. For example, Narakasura had captured the daughters of fellow Daityas, and of siddhas and kings.[37] There were also Daityas that were supported by Shiva or Skanda in wars, such as the battle between Bana (son of Bali) and Krishna, and that between both Maya (Daitya) and Namuci (Danava) with Agni wherein Agni spared the former.[38] (Maya then later in the Mahabharata is asked to construct a palace for the Pandavas.) In the Linga Purana, after Varaha had slain Hiranyaksha, Lord Shiva became Sharabha (by avatara) to destroy Varaha, whom is accused together with his sons of having wrecked havoc on the earth. (The Vaishnava version to this story is that because Bhudevi (i.e., Earth) was taken captive by Hiranyaksha, Vishnu through his Varaha avatara killed him, although the Shaiva version is that Varaha was in a dalliance with Bhudevi and so Sharabha slew him.) In one story of Narasimha slaying Hiranyakashipu, Sharabha slays Narasimha after Narasimha slayed Hiranyakashipu. There were also Daityas that had never fought with Devas, such as Nandur Nimba Daitya and Daityasena. Some Daityas, such as the Maruts, were brought to the side of the Devas, wherein Indra had entered the womb of Diti and altered the fetus to produce multiple children from her, that would become his soldiers. The Darukaputra (Son of Daruka) was the charioteer of Pradyumna in the Mahabharata and the conflict between the Yadus and Salvas.

Daitya integration in Indian societies

The Daityas had also mingled amongst non-Daityas and retained their Daitya identity (as did some Danavas, such as Mayasura's daughter marrying Ravana.) There were some Daityas that had married Danavas, and so some persons are referred to both as a 'Daitya' and a 'Danava'. Such is the case of Jalandhara, Mahisa, and others. Virocana married Devamba (of Deva ancestry.) Despite the war between Bana and Krishna, Bana's daughter Usha married Krishna's grandson Aniruddha. Sunda married Tataka the Yakshini. Mayavati (daughter of Brahma) was married to Sambara before being married to Krishna's son Pradyumna. Syama (sister of Srimata) had married a Yaksman Daitya (reincarnation of Karnata.) Further, Shukracharya married Urjjasvati (Priyavrata's daughter) and Indra's daughter Jayanti, and Shukra's daughter Devyani married pious King Yayati, while the Danava Sarmishtha had also later married Yayati.

The Daityas cooperated with other classes of Asuras such as Danavas and Rakshasas. For example, in one Deva-Asura War mentioned in Skanda Purana, both Bali and Vrishparva were fighting in the war. Also, in the Brahmananda Purana, due to Nikhumba's curse, Varanasi was uninhabited except for a Raksasa Ksemaka that lived there.[39] Asura King Dantavakra the Karusha Dynasty had even fought against Krishna to avenge his Asura friend Salva's death.[40] It was however that Daityas refused to make Raji their chief (or their "Indra") because of their loyalty to Prahlada that they had lost a Deva-Asura War, because Brahma had predicted that whichever side has pious King Raji on their side will win, and the Devas had agreed to accept Raji as their Indra after the war is won.

They appear to have had alliances with some Nāgas. (Nāgas also, like the Daityas, had Patala as their capital.) Bali's emblem was a flag with a 7-headed serpent, even when his dynasty was a war with the Devas, whom had the Nāgas as allies.[41] Gajanibhas were charioteers of Ghatotkacha, the son of Pandava Bhima.[42]

Political legacy of the Daityas

Some of the Daityas are commemorated in modern times by Hindus. For example, Bali's generosity towards his subjects in the western coast of India is celebrated in Maharashtra as Balipratipada, in Nepal as Mha Puja amongst the Newars and singing about Bali amongst the Kiratas, in Karnataka as Bali Padyami, and in Kerala as Onam. Prahlada is worshiped in the Temple at Multan in the Punjab region. Talava (Kalvo) is remembered by some people of Talaja town in Gujarat, by lighting a lamp in the cave. Vrinda (daughter of Kalanemi), the wife of Jalandhara is commemorated as the Tulsi plant and the Tulsi Vivah ceremony is performed in the name of Vrinda and Krishna. The Maruts are worshiped in the Rig Veda and later scriptures. (The Mahabharata[43] says that Maruts had helped Indra in his war against the Daitya Paka.[44]) There are some Hindus who are named after Daityas, and popular names include Prahlada. There was even a 16th century army general in the Manikya Dynasty who had brought murtis of Jagannath, Balarama, and Subhadra for the Jagannath Bari temple, named Daitya Narayan.[45]

Religious beliefs of Daityas

Adorned gods

Shiva is outright called the originator of all beings, including classes of Asuras in some Shaiva texts. "Brahma Vishnu Maheshan deva danava rakshasaha Yasmat prajgyire devastam Shambhum pranamamyaham. (I Salute that Lord Shambhu who created the Devas, Danavas and Asuras.) The piousness of many Daityas have been recognized. Madhu and Kaitaba were called "Arya Asuras" and are said to have "never told a lie." Daityas, like most Asuras have normally been described as being devotees of Shiva (who bears the title 'Devasura Guru' or Guru of both the Devas and Asuras.) His other epithets include, 'Devadevasuranamaskrta' (Lord Adored by the Devas and Asuras), 'Devasuramahamitra' (Friend of the Devas and Asuras), 'Devasuramahesvara' (Great Lord of the Devas and the Asuras), 'Devasuramahasraya' (Great Base of the Devas and Asuras), 'Devasureshvara' (Lord of the Devas and Asuras), and 'Asuravyaghra' (Tiger of the Asuras.) The Mahendravarmesvara temple of Kanchipuram established by Prince Mahendra [46] has an inscription which reads, "May Mahesvara, the refuge of all the devas and asuras, who puts and end to time and has made an end of Puru, always (take up) his residence." There are nine classes of lingas according to the Suprabhedamaga, and of those one is called Asura (worshiped by Asuras) and another Sura (worshiped by Suras), and another is the Raksasya (worshiped by Raksasas.)[47] There were even a few known Daityas who were named after Lord Shiva, such as Siva (son of Hlada), Sivi (son of Samhlada) as well as other Asuras such as the incarnation of Guru Brihaspati as an Asura King named Mahesa.[48] Asuras had built temples in many instances. Bali had built a Shiva temple for his Ahir servant Parasna,[49] while Madhu and Kaitaba had built the temples Madhukeshwara of Banavasi and Kaitabeshwara of Kubatur, according to this tradition. It is even believed by the locals of Thrikkakkara (in Kerala) that the Shiva temple there was the one of King Mahabali because Shiva was his 'kuladeivam' (family's God.)[50] It was usually Shiva however, who saved Shaiva Daitya devotees, such as Naraka and Bana. The Daitya guru Shukracharya is also a worshiper of Shiva. Danava Maya was rescued by Shiva's chief attendant Nandikesvara,[51] and similarly Shiva has rescued some of his Daitya devotees. Shiva rescued Andhaka to be spared from being slain by Vishnu.[52] Shiva (and his son Skanda) had taken Bana's side when he had captured Aniruddha, and Krishna, Balarama, and Pradyumna were on Aniruddha's side to defeat Bana.[53] Even after Gaja the Shaiva was defeated, his head was preserved in Kailasa, honoring it.[48] Daksharam is the place where Taraka was slain by Skanda,[54] and so he is honored there. In one instance, Kali Devi had worshiped Shiva at Ambar city (Tamil Nadu) in the Mahakalam for atoning the sin of slaying Amba and Ambasura.[55]

Brahma was also worshiped by many Daityas, and he had granted many Daityas a boon to increase their power. Daitya Virupaksa together with the Daityas and the Vighnas, said these words, "...you who are the first progenitor (grand-father) of the world, to whom the Devas and Daityas owe their origin."[28] Because Brahma had granted so many boons to the Asuras, and this creates problems for the Devas, as the Linga Purana says.[56] Hence, there is a legend that Brahma is not worshiped as God anymore because he granted boons surreptitiously to Asuras.[57]

Vishnu was worshiped by some such Daityas as Prahlada, who was one of the dearest devotees to Vishnu. Prahlada had built the Prahladpuri Temple dedicate to Vishnu. It was renovated by a certain King Pururava of the region. Krishna declares (in the Bhagavad Gita[58]) "Among the Daityas I am the devoted Prahlāda;..." The Srimad Bhagavatam declares that all the devotees of Krishna are called acyutātmā because they follow in the footsteps of Prahlāda Mahārāja. Acyuta refers to the infallible Lord Viṣṇu, whose heart is always infallible. Because the devotees are attached to the infallible, they are called acyutātmā.

Surya and Chandramas are originally said to have been the gods of the Asuras but then they became a part of the Devas.[59] Surya was a major god for the Asuras. The two Daityas Canda and Munda had done penance after defeating Indra, and then they were granted a boon from Surya.[60] The Taittriya Brahmana states, "The Devas and Asuras were fighting. They were disputing about Aditya. [Each party claiming this divinity for itself, so the commentator explains it.] The Devas won him."[61] The Tandya Maha Brahmana states, "The Devas and Asuras disputed about Aditya. The Devas won him."[62] There is even a legend that a person named Suryakunda was made King Devasura (whose name means someone who is a Deva and an Asura.)[63] Rishi Agastya (in Ramayana[64]) said to Ramachandra, "Rama, worship your ancestor the Sun. The Adityahridaya is one of the eldest of all mantras. Worship Surya Deva with it, whom the devas and the asuras both revere, and you will kill Ravana today." The Mahabharata also mentions that all Asuras and other classes of people worship Surya, "For the acquisition of prosperity, I bow down to thee, O Bhaskara (another name of Surya), blazing like unto gold or fire, who is worshiped of the gods and the Pitris and the Yakshas, and who is adored by the Asuras, Nisacharas, and Siddhas."[2] The Rig Veda mentions that's the "asurya" Surya is addressed as purohita (ceremonial priest) of the Devas.[65] (The Yatudhanas amongst the Raksasas were also staunch worshipers of Surya.[3])

Spiritual scholarship and ascetic practices

Madhu, the "father of the Asura race" practiced great penances and possessed very high spiritual values.[66] Dhundhu, his son, was a great "Tapasvi" (mendicant) sage.[66] Tapasya was always highlighted amongst the stories of the Daityas. In Chandogya Upanishad,[67] both Virocana and Indra, in order to go find out the true nature of the Self, go to Prajapati to learn from him. The mistake Virocana makes is that he sees the body as the true Self.

Prahlada is described in multiple scriptures, both Puranic and philosophical ones (i.e., Upanishads.) He has been associated with Rishi Kapila, the founder of the Samkhya philosophy. In the Skanda Purana,[68] a Daitya named Prahlada is said to have gone to Kapila's chief disciple Āsuri for understanding the Samkhya, and after realizing it, Prahlada becomes acharya Pancasikha and from 'Samkhyasiddhanta' (Samkhya teachings), reached Brahman. The Sage Atri had also taught the school of Logic to Prahlada, amongst others,[69] as well as Sage Dattatreya.[70] (It is noteworthy that one of Asuri's chief pupils was also Asurayana, whose chief pupil in turn was Asuravasin.[71]) In the Santi Parva of the Mahabharata, Prahlada explained the Samkhya point of view thus : "He who is acquainted with Purusha."

For the enlargement of their kingdoms, some Daityas performed Aswamedha and other yajnas (ceremonial sacrifices), performed penance, and in many cases obtained boons from Shiva or Brahma.

Priestly associations

Apart from Shukracharya, the Daityas are known to have had a few other priests. Bhargava Brahmins were purohitas (ceremonial priests) to Hiranyakasipu, and Vasistha was his hotr (fire ceremony priest.)[72] (A Bhrigu sage was angry at Vishnu and had struck Vishnu on his chest. Another Bhrigu had cursed Vishnu. Shukra being a Bhargava was a worshiper of Shiva.) When Vamana (Vishnu's avatar) had arrived in Bhargavesa (modern day Somanath Temple) in order to request Bali for a wish, Brahmins in the city that were happy with Bali's rule had told Vamana, "O Vamana, you should always swell in the town of the Daitya chief."[73] The Mahabharata mentions that some Brahmins out of pride became the priests of Danavas.[74] The Mahabharata mentions that a Sakra Rishi had four children, Tashtadhara, Atri, Raudra, and Kurmi, that were priests of Asuras, and that they were devoted Brahma and the welfare of the world.[75] The priestly groups known as the Vrievats and Sandikas (descending from Sanda and Armada) were priests of Asuras.

There were also Brahmins amongst the Daityas, such as Talmegha (just as there are amongst Danavas, such as Namuci and Vritra), and as he was slain for driving out the Devas from their regions of control, by Sesasayi, the latter incurred the sin of brahmahatya.[60] In Devas' war against Kalanemi and his army, after Kalanemi perished, Indra continued executing Kalanemi's soldier's on the battle field, for which Vaishnava Sage Narada had told him to stop killing the "valiant Daityas" or that Indra would incur the sin of brahmahatya (brahminicide.)[76] Rambha, another Asura and grandfather of Mahisa was a Brahmin according to the Vamana Purana. Asura Dandavakta was son of the Karusha Dynasty's Brahmin Prince Vriddha Sharma and Srutadeva.[25] Andhaka is also recognized as a Brahmin because when he was defeated by Shiva by having been pierced by Shiva's trident, Shiva had incurred the sin of brahmahatya (and he along with the gods had tried to wipe Andhaka's blood from trident but it was difficult to get off.[60] Writer F.E. Pargiter is in the opinion that the earliest Brahmins were priests either to the Manvas or the Daityas and Danavas.[77]

Associated temples

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga, Jamnagar, Gujarat

In Nandur Nimba Daitya village, within the Pathardi taluka in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, there is a temple dedicated to the Daitya and Shaiva vibhuti mark are visible on his forehead.

As many Daityas had worshiped Brahma, there is the Brahma Temple in Pushkar, Rajasthan. Of it the Mahabharata says, "It is there that the Devas, Daityas, and Brahmin seers mortified themselves and possessed of great merit, achieved divine yoga...In that same ford swells forever and most joyously the Grandfather by the Devas and Danavas.[78] About Pushkara, the Brahma Purana reads, "There is on Puskaradvipa a banyan tree, the supreme abode of Brahma, where Brahma dwells, being worshiped by gods and asuras."[79] There is another temple nearby in Asotra village in Balotra taluka of Rajasthan's Barmer district, which is known as Kheteshwar Brahmadham Tirtha.

In Kerala, there is a Shiva temple which the locals of Thrikkakkara (in Kerala) claim was the one of King Mahabali because Shiva was his 'kuladeivam' (family's God.)[80] Krittiveseshvar is the name of the linga that was ordered by Shiva (Gajambaradhari) to be placed on the spot where Gaja, who had obtained a boon from Shiva, was slain.[42] Where Vidal and Utpal were slain also became the spot of a linga. Other major linga sites include, Nageshvara Jyotirlinga in Gujarat, commemorating the Daitya Daruka at Amerdak Kshetra.

Shukracharya is also the guru of the Daityas, and his temples can be found in several parts of India, also mostly with the Shaiva vibhuti mark on his forehead.

Mention in non-traditional sources

Some Daityas were so powerful that their stories are mentioned are non-traditional sources.

Jain scriptures mention a number of Daityas. For example, they mention the major historical persons ('Salakapurusas') and identify them as hero (both 'Baladevas', and 'Vasudevas' or 'Narayans') or villain ('Prativasudevas'.) Jain texts such as the Adipurana of Jinasena include in this list in descending order, Asvagriva, Taraka, Naraka, Nisumbha, Madhukatiabha, Prahlada, and Bali all as Prativasudevas. Bali is mentioned in several Jain works. These are the Jnatadharmakatha, where he conflicts with Nandimitra (or Mandana) and Dattadeva (or Purusapundarika), the Jambudvipaprajnapti, Sthananga, and Avasyaka Niryukti wherein also he conflicted against Nandimitra or Mandana, Trisasti-salaka-purusa-charita, which mentions that Bali lusted for King Purusapundarika's wife Laxmivati, Harivamsapurana where Krishna goes into Patala to rescue the infants killed by Kamsa, Mahapurana wherein Bali starts a fire that enveloped Jain monks, and the texts of Brhatkatha-slokasarh-graha, Uttarapuranam, Vasudevahindi, and Vinhuglyaga (or Narayanastuti) wherein Vishnu asked Bali for a three strides of land and covers heaven, earth, and Patala.

Buddhist scriptures also mention Daityas in a few stories. Daityas are mentioned in a story of Aryasura's Jatakamala wherein Indra is on the battlefield in a charriot and his forces are overwhelmed by the Daitya army. Indra is retreating but is faced with the decision to either retreat of turn and save the lives of birds, and he decides the latter, from which, after he turned in the direction of the Daityas, the Daitya army fled.[81]

List of Daityas

Daityas are said to have had many children. Mura had 7000 children.[37] The Mahabharata speak of hostile Mauravas fighters.[78] Andhaka warriors are also mentioned in The Mahabharata. Bali is said to have had 100 children. Daityas are also to have mingled amongst prominent non-Daityas. For example, Anuhrada's daughter Bhadra with Yaksha Rajatanabha (in Vayu Purana).[82]

Some of the notable Daityas mentioned in the Indian mythology include:

List of Known Daityas

Generation Name Parent(s) Region(s) of assoiciation Sampradaya Significance Boon Granted Defeated By
First Aswa Kashyapa That great Asura, son of Diti, known as Aswa (Asva),[83] became on earth the monarch Ashoka of exceeding energy and invincible in battle.[84][85]
First Aswapati Kashyapa Younger brother of Aswa and another son of Diti, was born as Hardikya, the king of the Mallas.
First Bhasmasura Kashyapa Rampur-Lukesvar region (Maharashtra) Shaiva
(had done severe penance)[60]
Mata Mahalasa (form of Vishnu according to Skanda Purana.[86])
First Chandra Kashyapa The foremost among the sons of Diti and handsome as the lord of the stars himself, became on earth noted as Chandra Varmana Kamvoja, the king of the Kamvojas (i.e. Kambojas).[87][4]
First Daityasena Kashyapa Was kidnapped by the Asura Keshi, but in captivity, while her sister Devasena resisted and escaped, Daityasena continued to go with Keshi willingly and married him.
First Hiranyaksha Kashyapa and Diti (eldest son) Shaiva[88]
First Hiranyakashipu Kashyapa and Diti Kratasucha (Barahban, Haryana)[89] Shaiva[90] He was also known as Daityapati. Brahma Narasimha
First Holika (or Sinhika) Kashyapa and Diti (their daughter) From Brahma, that she couldn't perish if she entered a fire alone.[91]
First Maruts Kashyapa and Diti They were in Indra's Deva army.
First Sarabha Kashyapa A great Asura and son of Diti, was born on this earth as royal sage Paurava.
First Sivi Kashyapa A great Asura, known among the sons of Diti, became on earth the famous monarch Druma.
First Vajranga Kashyapa and Diti
Second Andhaka Hiranyaksha[19] (Adopted) From Brahma that obtained hat no ordinary god would be able to kill him.[92] In another story, he was given a boon by Shiva, that no other god but Vishnu can defeat him.[60] When defeated by Shiva, he had agreed to Shiva's offer and became a member of his ganas. Defeated by Shiva, and accepted Shiva's offer to become his Gana soldier.
Second Anuhlada (or Anuhrada) Hiranyakashipu[19] and Kayadhu
Second Bhutasantapana Hiranyaksha
Second Hlada (or Hrada) Hiranyakashipu[19] and Kayadhu Shaiva
Second Kalauabha Hiranyaksha
Second Mahanabha Hiranyaksha
Second Prahlada Hiranyakashipu and Kayadhu Simhachalam Hill,
Multan (especially Prahladpuri Temple),
Second Putana Hiranyaksha
Second Sakuni Hiranyaksha (daughter)
Second Samhlada (or Samhrada) Hiranyakashipu[19] and Kayadhu Mentioned in the Mahabharata as 'Bahlikapumgavah' or Bull of the Bahlikas.[93]
Third Adi Andhaka[19]
Third Ayushman Samhlada (in Vishnu Purana) or of Prahlada (in Vayu Purana)[19]
Third Baka Andhaka[19]
Third Devamba She was the mother of Bali.
Third Gavesti Prahlada[59]
Third Jambha Prahlada[59]
Third Kala Hlada[94]
Third Kalanemi Prahlada[59]
Third Mayavi Hlada[94]
Third Nivatakavachas Prahlada Vaishnava
(had performed great austerities[19])
Third Nisunda Hlada[19]
Third Siva Hlada[94]
Third Sivi Samhlada (in Vishnu Purana) or of Prahlada (in Vayu Purana)[19]
Third Vashkala Samhlada (in Vishnu Purana) or of Prahlada (in Vayu Purana)[19]
Third Virochana Prahlada
Fourth Arista Was a soldier in Bali's army, and was called a Daitya (Brahma Purana 189.46-58.) Krishna
Fourth Bali (or Vairochana) Virochana Patala
(his capital, Gujarat)
Fourth Manthara Virocana Indra[95]
Fourth Sunda Nisunda[19] or Nikumbha[95]
Fourth Upasunda Nisunda[19] or Nikhumbha[95]
Fifth Bana (or Vairochi) Bali[19] and Vindhyavali His capital was Mahatala.
Fifth Ganganapriya Bana Performed severe penance for Brahma, for which he was gifted a silver chariot.[60]
Fifth Maricha Sunda[19] and Tataka
Fifth Subahu Sunda and Tataka
Fifth Taraka (or Kalanabha) Upasunda[19]
Sixth Kamalaksha Taraka Boon of strength from Shiva.
Sixth Vidyunmalin Taraka Boon of strength from Shiva.
Sixth Tarakaksha Taraka Boon of strength from Shiva.
Other Ambarya Yugamarya Dandaka
(King of the region, Madhya Pradesh)
Boon of strength from Brahma. Narasimha[96]
Other Asvatamma From Shiva, that he will become one of the next set of Saptarishis. He had fought in the Kurukshetra War, and was said to have been cursed by Krishna. He was told by Sage Vyasa that if he seeks to get free of it, that he needs to perform worship of Shiva at the Rameshwaram (established by Shri Rama) pilgrimage.
Other Bhimasura Bhimpuri (modern Bhimora, Gujarat) He ruled Bhimpuri with great tyranny.[97]
Other Brhadisu Sudhanus
Other Brahmadatiya Bengal Was a Brahmin that was also a Daitya in Bengal[98] Brahmadaitya Puja is being celebrated on 1st of Magha month every year just after the next day of Deuli Mela on the bank of Ajay River.
Other Dadhmo Talaja
He was slain by Bhavani[99]
Other Daitya[100] Mentioned in the Varaha Purana (16.31.)
Other Daityanayaka[101] Mentioned in the Varaha Purana (16.20.)
Other Diteh putrah[102] Mentioned in the Varaha Purana (16.18.)
Other Hiranya
Other Indra Vahana Slain by Vishnu[103]
Other Jalodbhava[104] Sati Sara Lake
(King of the region, Kashmir)
Would cause darkness. Slain by Varaha.
Other Kaitabha Lola Yogini[105] Madhuvana, Savana (Sivana, Haryana)[106] Boon of a holy from Shiva.[107] His abode is Vanavasi on the Tungabhadra tributary in Uttar Pradesh.[21] Slain by Vishnu as in his normal Narayana form (according to Devi-Bhagavata) or as Hayagriva according to other Puranas.
Other Jalandhara (or Sankhacuda, Tul) After him the Tulsi plant is named, and tulasi (of Tul) it refers to Vrinda. His other form is Jwala Mukhi, with which he fought Vishnu's Narasimha form during a part of a battle.
Other Jambuka[108]
Other Karavira
Other Kartasvara (or Hiranyasura)
Other Kesi
Other Kumbha[95]
Other Madhu Lola Yogini[109] Savana (Sivana, Haryana)[110] His abode is Vanavasi on the Tungabhadra tributary in Uttar Pradesh.[21]
Other Mahalasa (or Mahaala) Kohlapur (Maharashtra) Slain by Laxmi.
Other Lavana Madhu and Khumbhinasi Slain by Rama.
Other Malaka[111] He deserted Vishnu's side, and so Sri (Vishnu's wife) didn't give support (i.e., wealth), resulting in Maraka stealing the golden vessel. Defeated by Laxmi.
Other Mahisa Mahishmati, Vindhya mountains Shaiva Brahma
Other Malla Jejuri (Maharashtra) Shaiva Considered to have come from the body of Madhu. He was a king of the Daityas.[112] (Daityanath in Martand Vijaya 11.26[113]) Brahma Defeated by Khandoba, and converted again to Shaivism from hedonism
Other Mani Jejuri (Maharashtra) Shaiva Considered to have come from the body of Kaitaba Brahma Defeated by Khandoba, and converted again to Shaivism from hedonism.
Other Marutvasura Jalandhara Brahma
Other Maya Mentioned in the Rig Veda. Defeated and spared by Agni (whereas Namuci was instead slain), and agreed to help the Pandavas construct a palace for them.
Other Mridumarrya Haryana Shaiva
(a staunch devotee of Shiva in northern India around Haryana[114])
Other Mura
Other Murdhaja Mushtika Conquered Amravati. Slain by Durga.
Other Namuci Mentioned in the Rig Veda. Slain by Agni.
Other Nandur Nimba Daitya Nandur Nimba Daitya village (King of the village, Maharashtra)
Other Nikumbha[95] He was called a "Daitya-chief."[95]
Other Pancajana
Other Raktabhoja[115] Jyotiba (avatar of Shiva)
Other Ratnasura[116] Jyotiba (avatar of Shiva)
Other Ruru[60] Born from the mouth of peacock of Skanda. Brahma Slain by Skanda.
Other Sambara (or Timidhvaja) Kulitara Mentioned in the Rig Veda. called the "Lord of the Daityas," (Brahma Purana 134.16) and an "Asura",[117] Defeated by King Divodas.
Other Sambhu[118] Mentioned in the Ramayana 7.17.11-12. He had killed Vedavati's father.
Other Sanghra Kashmir Slain by Indra, for trying to kidnap Indra's wife Saci.
Other Sankha Captured Amravati and defeated Indra, plundered the city[119]
Other Surapadman Brahma[40] Skanda
Other Talav (or Kalvo) Talaja
Associated with him is the Sahasralinga Talav. The shrine in the past had 1000 lingas.[120] He was slain by Bhavani.[99]
Other Talmegha He was born in a Brahmin family.[60] Sesasayi
Other Suvidyut[121] Mentioned in the Varaha Purana.
Other Vakasura
Other Vegavan He had fought with Sambha[122]
Other Viradha Captured Amravati and defeated Indra, plundered the city[123] Brahma
Other Vidyut[124] Mentioned in the Varaha Purana.
Other Vrka Vishnu

Daityas in Iranian legends

See also: Zoroastrianism and Hinduism and The spread of Hinduism in the Iranian Plateau

Daityas are also mentioned in ancient Zoroastrian texts as good beings. It is believed that the homeland of the Aryans is located by the Daitya River as said in this Avesta quote, "Airyanem Vaijo vanghuydo daityayo," which Darmesteter translates as "the Airyana Vaejo, by the good (vanghuhi) river Daitya."[125] Though this river has not been identified yet, there are theories of its whereabouts. Kashmir has a river named Diti, which is said to have been an incarnation of Diti herself.[126] This river is also popularly called Chandravati or Arapath (or Harshapatha.)[127]

See also


  1. (Sanskrit: दैत्य, also known as Daiteys and Ditijas.
  2. They are also referred as Raksāsas.
  3. Śānti Parva XXXII; P. 244 Book of the women edited by Johannes Adrianus Bernardus Buitenen, James L. Fitzgerald
  4. The Śatapatha Brāhmana (; P. 63 Studies in proto-history of India Dvārakā Prasāda Miśra
  5. Ādityas were the sons of Diti's sister Aditi and Kashyapa.
  6. As per mythology
  7. [1] Dictionary of ancient deities By Patricia Turner, Charles Russell Coulter
  8. Manusmṛti XII - 48
  9. Ṛg Veda 2.25.16
  10. P. 47 Epic Mythology By Edward Washburn Hopkins
  11. Name = "Hopkins p. 47"
  12. Name = "Hopkins p. 47"
  13. Name = "Narmada" Narmadāparikramā - Circumambulation of the Narmadā River: On the Tradition By Jürgen Neuß
  14. Yajnas means sacrifices.
  15. P. 744 Gazetteers: pt. 1 Surat District By Gujarat (India)
  16. Valmiki Ramayana 15cd-16ab; P. 116 The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India, Volume III: Aranyakāṇḍa - Sheldon I. Pollock
  17. P. 56 Chapter 21, 5cd-6ab; Brahmapurāṇa By Renate Söhnen-Thieme, Renate Söhnen, Peter Schreiner
  18. P. 21 The sacred scriptures of India, Volume 6 By Chidatman (Swami.)
  19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 19.11 19.12 19.13 19.14 19.15 19.16 Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide By Roshen Dalal
  20. P. 228 An Index to the Names in the Mahabharata: With Short Explanations and a Concordance to the Bombay and Calcutta Editions and P. C. Roy's Translation, Volumes 1-7 By Søren Sørensen
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Encyclopaedia of Ancient Indian Geography, Volume 1 By Subodh Kapoor
  22. Mahabharata, "Aranyaparva", 94.4
  23. 23.0 23.1 The Book of Demons By Nanditha Krishna
  24. Vamsa Brahmana 1 of Sama Veda; Ancient History of Central Asia: Yuezhi-Gurjar History, Article No 01 By Adesh Katariya
  25. 25.0 25.1 P. 437 Oriental Translation Fund, Volume 52 The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition By H.H. Wilson
  26. P. 93 The Hindu Temple, Volume 1 By Stella Kramrisch, Raymond Burnier
  27. 27.0 27.1 P. 90 The Triumph of the Goddess: The Canonical Models and Theological Visions of By C. Mackenzie Brown
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  29. P. 42 Studies in the Puranic Records on Hindu Rites and Customs By Rajendra Chandra Hazra
  30. P. 148 Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Volume 68, Parts 1-2 By Asiatic Society, 1900 - Asia
  31. P. 248 Ancient Indian Tradition & Mythology, Volume 60 By Motilal Banarsidass
  32. Srimad Bhagavatam - Chapter 10: The Battle Between the Demigods and the Demons
  33. P. 244 The Penguin Book of Hindu Names By Maneka Gandhi
  34. "O lord, you have said that in the Varuna's Sabha are the Nagas, the chief Daityas, the rivers, and the oceans." - Mahabharata
  35. Siva's Warriors: The Basava Purana of Palkuriki Somanatha
  36. P. 165 Anthropos By Zaunrith'sche Buch-, Kunst- und Steindruckerei
  37. 37.0 37.1 P. 74 Purāṇam, Volume 31 By All-India Kasiraja Trust
  38. P. 48 Epic Mythology By Edward Washburn Hopkins
  39. P. 28 Brahmapurāṇa By Renate Söhnen-Thieme, Renate Söhnen, Peter Schreiner
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  43. Mahabharata 12.34:25-34
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  54. P. 50 The aalayas of Andhra Pradesh: a sixteen-flower-garland By K. K. Moorthy
  55. P. 22 Hindu Vishva, Volume 27, Issues 4-11
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  57. P. Hindu gods and goddesses By M. Gupta
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  83. same as Aswaka/Asvaka.
  84. cf: "King Asoka was the incarnation of Asura or demon Asva" (Epic Mythology, 1968, p 62, Edward Washburn Hopkins - Religion).
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  112. Mallari Mahatmya 9.33 and 13.49; P. 165 Anthropos By Zaunrith'sche Buch-, Kunst- und Steindruckerei
  113. P. 239 South Asian Studies, Issue 15 By South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Delhi Branch
  114. P. 45 Fairs and Festivals of India: Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh By Dr. Krishna Gopal, Phal S. Girota
  115. P. 114 Offbeat Tracks in Maharashtra By Milind Gunaji
  116. P. 114 Offbeat Tracks in Maharashtra By Milind Gunaji
  117. P. 242 Religion and Society in the Brahma Purana By Surabhi Sheth
  118. Ramayana 7.17.11-12
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  120. P. 217 India Guide Gujarat edited by Anjali H. Desai
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  127. P. 279 Prabuddha Bharata: Or Awakened India, Volume 110 By Vivekananda (Swami), Advaita Ashrama

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