By Swami Harshananda
Daityas literally means ‘sons of Diti’.
The Puranas are replete with the stories of constant wars and conflicts between the suras and the asuras, the devas and the dānavas. These stories project sage Kaśyapa as the progenitor of all the living beings. He had thirteen wives, all of whom were the daughters of Dakṣa-prajāpati. Among these, Aditi, Diti and Danu were more well-known.
The sons of Aditi were ādityas or āditeyas (same as devas or suras or gods). The sons of Diti were the daityas. The sons of Danu were the dānavas. Sometimes the asuras, the daityas and the dānavas (as also the rākṣasas) are bracketed together. They seem to be the archetypes of violent, greedy and sinful beings. However, even from among them great persons like Prahlāda, Bali and Bāṇa had been born and their lives as men of virtue and devotees of God had been exemplary.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore