Diti and Hema

This is another character pairing that I’m growing very fond of, and I thought I could maybe discuss it.

Hindu mythology says that the Devas — demigods — and the Asuras — demons — each came from two women. The mother of the devas was Aditi. The mother of the asuras is Diti. (Diti means chaos, Aditi means “resolution of chaos”)

When the Devas took the elixir of immortality after the churning of Vishnu’s ocean, they fed some to their mother. Aditi, agonizing over the decision, fed some to Diti. She and her sister were dear to each other, though Aditi’s frivolity often annoyed Diti. Diti, now immortal, now gets to watch her mortal sons die — and each generation of descendants. She grows to hate her sister for cursing her to see these generations die. What she really wants is to be killed

Hema’s weapon, given to her by the goddess Parvati, is the only thing that can kill Diti. When Hema visits the underworld, she goes to see Diti, as Diti has the point of access to the Heavens and a way to rescue Nilam. Diti says she will help her get to heaven and conquer death in the process so that she can go to Amaravati without harming herself.

Hema and Diti are joined by the grief they feel for their children. They bond over motherhood, a common and intangibly powerful connection that give them unintended power and consequence. They get to know each other, and Hema feels unable to kill Diti when they’ve grown to love and respect each other so much. And those quiet scenes where they talk and grow to understand each other, while death hangs over their head, constitute some of the favorite scenes I have to write.

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