During the Vedic phase of Hinduism, Aditi was the supreme solar goddess. She was associated with the Sun and her vehice vahana was the phoenix. The phoenix is a mythical creature based on either the rooster or the peacock. My theory is that it is most likely a combination of both.
The peacock is an animal that reveals its glorious feathers during the mating season, only to shed them when the mating season ends. The peacock remains a beloved animal of many due to its great beauty. Even till today, it is common to see shrines, temples and altars decorated with peacock feathers.
Peacocks and roosters are two animals where considerable and noticeable differences exist between the male and the female of the species. This is not the case for all animals, but it is the case for the animals that are Goddess Aditi’s vahanas. The peacock and the rooster are also the vahanas associated with Lord Murugan. Perhaps the association was ascribed to highlight the importance of gender in defining the trajectory of one’s reproductive life.
Cockfights were a common occurrence during the Vedic era. There is evidence to suggest that cockfighting was a popular pastime during the heyday of the Indus Valley civilisation. The use of roosters to celebrate and to fight has a strong relationship to the solstice which takes place in January. In addition to saying bye bye to winter, the rooster awakens at each dawn, heralding the return of the Sun.
The peacock and the rooster were both symbols time. They symbolised the journey of the day and of the summer seasons; as well as a period of rest before a return and a resurrection. Mother Aditi is thus symbolic of the return of the blessings of the Sun and the Solar Rays. She is a birth goddess as well as a rebirth goddess.
Madre de Dios
In Vedic thought, Aditi was the Mother of the Gods. Her children were known as the Adityas. She was also said to be the Mother of Future Kings. Another vahana associated with Aditi is the cow. Aditi’s presence is that of a loving mother who is also a provider.
The cow is an animal that provides not only for her own young, but for human children as well. The cow is symbolic of a Mother who provides for the children of others. In modern day husbandry, cows are generally artificially inseminated. Humans value the female of the species far more than we do the male. Bulls are known to be aggressive and difficult to control.
Aditi is the Mother of All Mothers. In the ancient world, it was the Mother of the King who was hailed as the empress. Aditi is often petitioned as a Mother Guardian. She protects those who call on her and is a provider of wealth and abundance. In Vedic texts, it was not uncommon to hear petitions to God, “For increasing cattle…” Cows were a symbol of wealth and abundance for the cow was a productive animal.
In Aditi’s emanation as an Empress, her role is that of the Mother of a Nation as well as a Mother to All. Goddess Aditi embodies the energy of the Eternal Mother. She is the Mother of All Creation and all that is yet to be created. In prayer, she was often invoked to free the one who petitioned her from all that was proving to be a hinderance: especially sin, illness and sickness–be it of the physical body or any ailments of the mind.
In ancient times, Aditi was the one that was called upon to untangle and free us from any difficulties that we were facing. As the one who frees us, her role is similar to her son Varuna: who is the enactor of cosmic moral order. Aditi is a powerful symbol of motherhood in her children’s life as a nurturer, provider and protector.
The Adityas are named after their Mother. The Adityas are said to be either 8 or 12 in number. They collectively represent the ancient pantheon of the Vedas. Each God or child of Aditi rules over a particular aspect of human existence.
Indra was invoked as the destroyer of enemies whereas Varuna was invoked as the upholder of Cosmic Law and Justice. The order as well as the importance of the various deities in the Hindu pantheon has changed considerably over time.
Some of these deities have disappeared completely. Others have been re-birthed as new deities. And others have continued to be revered within certain communities; while at the same time losing their ‘mainstream’ significance. It seems that as our societies changed–and as our needs changed–so did our way of worship.
During the age of creation, when human civilisation was born, these Gods never embodied a far-fledged spiritual concept. They were a part of the visible cosmology and the everyday realities of daily life.
The old Vedic pantheon was diverse. It celebrated the diversity that the Mother created and saw creation as an emanation of the Divine. With time, different camps emerged and enmity and rivalry were born. But those ideas came later, when our values changed and we decided what was ‘good’ and what was ‘bad’. We destroyed what we thought was bad and we prioritised what we considered to be good.
Death was never meant to be an antithesis to life. Death is a part of life. It was viewed as a phase and a period to settle one’s unfinished affairs. Death also promised the soul a new journey. Death was deemed by ancient thinkers to be a temporary state of affairs. For after death, there was always rebirth.
The Mother would welcome us into her arms and life would be reborn once more.