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In Mahabharata, Mayasura is said to be the architect of the Daityas. But, in Bhagavata Purana Mayasura is called the Danava King (Canto 5, Chapter 24, Verse 28).

Surely there must be some significance to there even being two Asura clans called Daityas & Danavas, or those names and their descendance from their particular mothers would not have been written about. So, I can't understand why Mayasura is called a member of both clans. I know Danu is also said to be the mother of Vritra, who is a Naga. So, maybe the Danavas are Naga Asuras?

So, I suppose I have two questions. One is narrow, "Is Mayasura actually a Danava or a Daitya?" The second is broader (so that I may understand the significance of the first), "Other than their being descended from Diti & Dana, what is the difference between Danavas & Daityas?"

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  • He is son of Danu so should be Danava...but he was architect for Danavas as well as Daityas and he built for Pandavas too and in few cases may be for Devas as well...sometimes Daityas and Danavas r used interchangeably as they r from same group Asura and our scriptures r in poem form so they put the word which gets fit in there... similarly, Nagas and Sarpas r used interchangeably in scriptures...
    – YDS
    Jan 21 at 2:09
  • What's the reference for "He is son of Danu?" Also, is there a reason you made this a comment instead of an answer? Jan 21 at 2:32
  • Danavas are descendants of the 40 sons (Viprachitti, Sambara, Puloma etc) born to Danu by Sage Kashyapa, their king is Vrishaparva & traditionally considered to reside in Patala around Hiranyapura. Daityas are descendants of 2 sons (Hiranyaksha & Hiranyakshashipu) born to Diti by Sage Kashyapa, their king is Prahlada & are traditionally considered to reside around Shonitapura. Jan 21 at 7:37

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"Is Mayasura actually a Danava or a Daitya?"

As per The Brahmanda Purana: Section 3 - Upodghāta-pāda: Chapter 6 - Glorification of The Race of Danu, Maya was a Danava:

4-13. The following are glorified as the prominent members of the family of Danu:—Dvimūrdhan, Śambara, Śaṅkuratha, Vibhu (or lord), Śaṅkukarṇa, Vipāda, Gaviṣṭha, Dundubhi, Ayomukha, Maghavān, Kapila, Vāmana, Maya, Marīci, Asipā, Mahāmāyā, Aśiras, Bhṛśī, Vikṣobha, Suketu, Ketuvīrya, Śatāhvaya, Indrajit, Dvivida, Bhadra, Devajit, Ekacakra, Mahābāhu, the extremely powerful Tāraka, Vaiśvānara, Puloman, Prāpaṇa, Mahāśiras, Svarbhānu, Vṛṣaparvan, Puruṇḍa the great Asura, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Sūrya, Candramas, Indratāpana, Sūkṣma, Nicandra, Cūrṇanābha, Mahāgiri, Asilomā, Sukeśa, Śaṭha, Mūlakodara, Jambha, Gaganamūrdhan, Kumbhamāna, Mahodaka, Pramada, Adma, Kupatha, Aśvagrīva, the valorous, Vaimṛga, Virūpākṣa, Supatha, Hala, Ahala, Akṣa, Hiraṇmaya, Śatagrīva, and Śambara (the second). ...

  1. There were fourteen thousand more, those of the residents of Hiraṇyapura. Paulomas and Kālakeyas were Dānavas of great strength.

28-29. They could not be killed by the Devas. They were slain by Savyasācī (Arjuna). Six children, five sons and a daughter were born of Rambhā and Maya. They were very powerful. The sons were Māyāvin, Dundubhi, Mahiṣa, Kālika and Ajakarṇa. Mandodarī was the daughter.

"Other than their being descended from Diti & Danu, what is the difference between Danavas & Daityas?"

The same chapter says:

  1. Thus the Asuras, Daityas and Dānavas have been recounted. The Daityas are remembered as Sutvats (soma drinkers) and **the sons of Danu are remembered as Asutvats (non participants in drinking soma juice).

Apart from this they were from the same broader group Asuras and we find more similarities than differences.

Daityas and Dānavas is used interchangeably sometimes same as how Nagas and Sarpas are used (Difference between Naaga and Sarpa). For example the Rakshasutra mantra states Bali as Danava king though he was a Daitya king (Diti -> Hiranyakashipu -> Prahlada -> Virochana -> Bali):

येन बद्धो बलि राजा दानवेन्द्रो महाबल: |

तेन त्वाम् प्रतिबद्धनामि रक्षे माचल माचल:।

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    Also, as a follow up, you quoted that Maya's sons are, "Māyāvin, Dundubhi, Mahiṣa, Kālika and Ajakarṇa." Bhagavata Purana V-24-16 says, "...in the world of Atala, Bala the godless son of Maya resides..." I know that Bala means "child, son, offspring." Do you happen to know if the Bala mentioned there means one of the sons you mentioned or is this a different child who is for some reason named "Child". Jan 21 at 7:23

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