Although the gods and the demons were cousins, they did not like each other and fought amongst themselves all the time. Many daityas were killed by Vishnu and the other gods.
Diti was disconsolate to see her children suffer thus. She resolved that she would meditate so as to obtain a son who would be so powerful that he would kill Indra, the king of the gods. There was a tirtha (place of pigrimage) named Syamantapanchaka on the banks of the sacred river Sarasvati. Diti went there and started to pray to the sage Kashyapa. She lived on roots and fruits and meditated for a hundred years.
These prayers pleased Kashyapa. ―Ask for a boon,‖ he said.
―Please grant me a son who will kill Indra,‖ replied Diti.
―It shall be as you wish,‖ said Kashyapa. ―But there are some conditions. You will have to live in this hermitage for a hundred years more. Throughout these hundred years you will bear the baby in your womb. But there are certain conditions of cleanliness that you must obeserved. You must not eat in the evening, nor must you sleep under a tree at night. Excercise is not permitted in any form. Do not sleep with your hair unbraided, or without having had a bath. If you can observed these rules for a hundred years, you will have the son you wish for.‖
Kashyapa went away and Diti began to observe the rites that the sage had prescribed. But Indra had got to know what was afoot and he was naturally in no mood to permit the birth of a son who would be the cause of his own destruction. He hung around Diti‘s hermitage, pretending to serve his aunt. He brought her firewood and fruit and served her in other ways. But in reality, he was merely waiting for an opportunity. He was waiting for the moment when Diti would fail to observed the norms of cleaniness that had been laid down for her.
Ninety-nine years and three hundred and sixty-two days passed. That is, only three days were left for the period of one hundred years to be over. Diti was tired on one particular occasion. Since the period of her ordeal was soon to end, she had also become somewhat careless. She fell asleep without washing her hair. What was worse, she went to sleep without having braided her hair. This was an act of gross uncleanliness.
Indra seized his chance. Since Diti had committed an unclean act, her defences had been lowered. Indra entered Diti‘s womb in a trice. Indra has a wonderful weapon named vajra. With the vajra, Indra sliced the baby in Diti‘s womb into seven parts. These parts started to cry. ―Ma ruda,‖ said Indra. ―Don‘t cry.‖ But the parts continued to cry. Indra therefore chopped up each of the parts into seven more sections, so that there were forty-nine parts in all. Since Diti had failed to observe the prescribed rites, these forty-nine sections were no longer a threat to Indra. When they were born, they came to be known as the maruts from the words Indra had used in
addressing them. They were elevated to the status of gods and became Indra‘s friends and constant companions.