Indra (इन्द्र) is a Vedic deity in Hinduism, a guardian deity in Buddhism,and the king of the highest heaven called Saudharmakalpa in Jainism. His mythologies and powers are similar, though not identical to those of such Indo-European deities as Zeus, Jupiter, Perun, Thor, and Odin (Wotan).
Kashyapa was born to Marichi, the eldest of the spiritual sons of Brahma. Indra was the son of Kashyapa and Aditi, the eldest daughter of Daksa. The twelve sons who were born to Kasyapa and Aditi are called Adityas. The twelve Adityas are Dhata, Aryama, Mitra, Rudra, Varuna, Surya, Bhaga, Vivasvan, Pusa, Savitri, Tvast, and Visnu. In addition to them, Aditi had twentyone sons more. Indra is the eldest of the 33 sons. Indra became the ruler of the Devas, Airitvata is Indra’s elephant, Uccaissravas, his horse, and Vajra his weapon.
“Indra has been prayed that He protects us by His supreme intellect. ”
Indra and Arjuna
Kunti, Pandu’s wife had received mantra from Durvasas for begetting sons. One of those Mantras was chanted meditating on the sun even before she was married and Karna was born. After marriage she used three more of the Mantras and three sons were born to her from Yama, Vayu and Indra respectively. Arjuna is the son received when Kunti invokes Indra by her power of mantra.During his life in the forest, Indra presented to Arjuna who visited him in Indra’s residence, a Gandharva named Citrasena as his companion. Chrasena taught him music, dance, etc.
At the palace of Indra, as secretly instructed by Indra, Urvasi approached Arjuna with advances of love. Arjuna who refused to yield to her temptations was turned into a eunuch by her curse. But Indra lifted the curse by saying that this curse would be an advantage to him during the incognito life of the Pandavas. It was Citrasena who was used as a tool by Indra to test Arjuna’s self control.
In order to ensure Arjuna’s victory in battle, Indra, disguised as a Brahmin, obtained by begging Kama’s ear-rings.
“As the counterpart of Zeus for the Greeks or Jupiter for the Romans, Indra is the god of the thunderstorm, who vanquishes drought and darkness. ”
Indra and Vrtrasura
A famous exploit of Indra was the killing of Vrtrasura. Under the leadership of Vrtrasura, the Kalakeyas and many other Raksasas besieged the Devas. The battle raged furiously. Indra fell down unconscious owing to the shower of arrows from Vrtra. At once Vasistha with his divine power restored Indra to consciousness. Finding it impossible to kill Vrtra, the nonplussed Devas under the leadership of Indra approached Mahavisnu. Visnu told them that Vrtra could be killed only with the bone of the sage Dadhlca.
So all of them approached Dadhica. Realising the situation, Dadhica let Indra have his bone for the purpose. Indra made his weapon Vajra with that bone and receiving a fatal stroke from it, Vrtra fell down dead. By killing Vrtra Indra incurred the sin of Brahmahatya. To expiate for that sin the Devas and Rsis took Indra to Sarayu river and performed his holy bath there.
Maya undertook to build a sabha (assembly hall) for the Pandavas at Indraprastha. When it was being discussed, the sage Narada described to them Indra’s sabha as given below : Indra has a Sabha which dazzles with divine effulgence. It is 150 yojanas in length and 100 yojanas in breadth. It has a height of five yojanas. Beautiful storeyed buildings and divine trees add to the grandeur of the sabha. Indra is seated within the holy light in it.
Sacidevi takes her seat near him. Indra is very handsome. He wears a crown, he is dressed in spotlessly pure clothes, and wears a garland round his neck. Maruts, Siddhas, Devas, Rsis and a host of others stand around attending on him. They are all bright with the halo of fire. Parasara, Parvata, Savarni, Galava, Samkha, Likhita, Gaurasiras, Durvasas, Akrodhana, Syena, Dirghatamas, Pavitrapani, Bhaluvi, Yajnavalkya, Uddalaka, Svetaketu, Pandya and other famous sages ire members of Indra’s assembly. In this way, Indra’s Sabha is the most magnificent.
“The one without whom people do not conquer, the one to whom, when fighting, they call for help; the one who is a match for everyone, the one who shakes the unshakable, he, O people, is Indra.”
Indra and Prahlada
The great King Prahlada once conquered Heaven. Indra, who lost his kingdom and glory, accepted Brhaspati’s advice and went to meet Sukracarya. Sukra told Indra that Prahlada was the noblest person and that he had earned that nobility by his good qualities. Indra decided to acquire those good qualities from Prahlada. Indra disguised himself as a Brahmin boy and approached Prahlada with a request for moral and spiritual advice.
Prahlada accepted him as his pupil and gave him moral and spiritual advice. Pleased with the pupil’s devotion, Prahlada agreed to give him whatever boon he wanted. The pupil said that he wanted only the good qualities of the Guru. Prahlada agreed to it. Then a shadow-like figure appeared to emerge from Prahlada’s body. Prahlada who]]was puzzled asked the figure : “Who are you” “The figure answered : “I am your virtuous character. Now I am leaving you and entering this boy’s body.” Saying thus it left Prahlada’s body and entered Indra’s body. Following it, all the good qualities of Prahlada, like charity, truth, glory etc. entered Indra’s body one after another. It was only in the end that Prahlada came to know that the cunning pupil was Indra. Thus from that day, Prahlada began to decline in his good qualities and Indra began to prosper.
The nature of Sun is to shed light, that of the water is to flow and of the air to dry up . These are the ‘vows’ of some of the external gods which Indra helps execute (Atharva Veda).
Indra and Subrahmanya
Long ago the Asuras led by Tarakasura, persecuted the gods in many ways. Tarakasura had received a boon from Brahma that only the son born to Siva could slay him. So, to distract Parameshvara from his penance, in order to make it possible for him to beget a son, Indra sent Kamadeva (god of love) to him. But Kamadeva was burnt up in the fire from the third eye of Siva. After that Parvati won Siva as her husband as a result of her austere penance. She praytd to Siva that Kamadeva should be brought back to life and that a son should be born to her. Siva replied to her : “Kama was born from Brahma’s mind. As soon as he was born, he asked Brahma “Karh Darpam ?” which means whom shall I tempt and conquer ?
So Brahma called him “Kandarpa”. Brahma had advised him even at that time that he should never tempt me. Disregarding that advice he came to attack me and I burned him up. Now it is not possible for him to be born in a physical form I shall beget of you a son with my spiritual power. I do not need the urge of Kamadeva for this, as in the case of ordinary mortals”. As they were discussing this problem, Indra and Brahma arrived there. At their request Siva agreed to beget a son by Parvati. Since it is not desirable that all living beings should perish, Siva allowed Kamadeva to be born in the minds of all creatures. Brahma and Indra returned quite happy. One day, Siva and Parvati began their amorous dalliance. They did not stop it even after a hundred years. The whole world began to shake to its very foundations. Fearing that the world might perish, the dcvas, as ordered by Brahma prayed to Agni, to interrupt the amorous play of Siva and Parvati. Agni, who understood that it was not possible to achieve their object, fled and concealed himself under water. The Devas went out in search of Agni. By that time, the creatures in the water who could not bear the heat of Agni, told them the secret. Then Agni deprived them of the power of speech by a curse. After that he went and hid himself on the Mandara mountain. Elephants and parrots disclosed the secrets of Agni, who was hiding within the hollow of the trunk of a tree. Agni deprived them of their tongues by a curse. At last the gods discovered Agni. They sent him at once to Siva to stop him in his amorous dalliance. Agni succeeded in his mission by his intense heat. Siva transferred his semen to Agni who became pregnant. Being unable to bear its weight Agni deposited it in the river Gariga, who at the behest of Siva himself, left it in the woods on the Mahameru mountain. Siva’s attendant bhulas (spirits) offered Puja to it there. After a thousand years a boy with six faces (Subrahmanya) was born out of it. He was suckled by the Krttikas employed for that purpose by Parvati and the boy grew up with astonishing rapidity within a few days. Having been suckled by the Krttikas, the boy got the name “Karttikeya”. In those days, Devendra who was defeated by Tarakasura, decided to give up war and was living in Mahameru. The Devas and the sages used to go to Subrahmanya for protection. When Devendra knew it, he became angry and went to war with Subrahmanya. Subrahmanya was wounded on the face with Indra’s weapon. From the wound two sons named Sakha and Visakha were born to Subrahmanya. With their help Subrahmanya encountered Indra again. At this stage Siva appeared there and informed Indra that Subrahmanya had been born with a mission to kill Tarakasura and to restore Indra’s kingdom to him. It was then that Indra recognized Subrahmanya. He begged pardon of Subrahmanya and expressed his desire to instal him as his military commander. When he tried to perform the ceremony of installation by sprinkling the holy water on Subrahmanya’s head, the water refused to come out of the pot. Siva told Indra that it was because he had tried to perform the installation before propitiating Ganapati. Indra then offered worship to Vighneshvara (Ganapati) and the ceremony went off without any hitch. Subrahmanya who thus became Indra’s commander, killed Tarakasura shortly after-wards.
The one whom the two lines of battle, coming together, call upon separately, the nearer and the farther, both foes even the two who have mounted the same chariot call upon him individually, he, O people, is Indra.(Rig Veda).
Indra cut an embryo to pieces
Diti and Aditi were the daughters of Daksa. Kasyapa married them. Indra was born as the son of’Aditi. At this birth of a son to Aditi, Diti became jealous of her sister. One day she told her husband Kasyapa that she too wanted to have a virtuous, heroic and brave son who would be equal to Indra in every respect. Kasyapa promised to grant her wish. In due course, Diti became pregnant. Now it was Aditi’s turn to become jealous of Diti.
She could not bear the thought of Diti having a son equal to her own son Indra, in glory and splendour. So she called Indra and secretly instructed him to destroy Diti’s child in the womb, by whatever means. In obedience to his mother, Indra approached Did pretending friendship and spent a lot of time in her company. He soon won her confidence and love by his affectionate attentions. On one occasion, when she was in sound sleep, Indra, by his mystic power, entered into Diti’s womb with his weapon Vajra and cut the child in the womb into seven pieces. The child began to cry loudly, but Indra said “Ma ruda” which means “do not cry” and cut each of the pieces again into seven parts. Thus the embryo (child) was finally cut into fortynine pieces, which later became the fortynine “Manilas” or “Maruts”. When she woke up, Diti realized Indra’s treachery and in her fury she cursed Indra and Aditi. She cursed that Indra would lose his kingdom of Devaloka and that Aditi would be imprisoned and her sons would be killed. As a result of this curse Devendra lost his kingdom on one occasion. Aditi, in her next birth, was born as Devaki, wife of Vasudeva and was imprisoned by Kamsa who killed her children.
The one who is first and possessed of wisdom when born the god who strove to protect the gods with strength the one before whose force the two worlds were afraid because of the greatness of his virility, he, O people, is Indra.(Rig Veda).
Indra’s Term Of Life
The Devi Bhagavata 5th Skandha says that two life-spans of Brahma make Visnu’s life-span. Siva has double the life-span of Visnu, that during the life of Brahma, fourteen Indras will drop down from Heaven and perish, and one day of Brahma is made up of one thousand “Caturyugas.” There are fourteen Manvantaras during the life of the present Brahma (See under Manvantara) . This means that fourteen Manus will be born and will die one after another during this period. Each Manvantara will have its own Indra and the Devas. The first Manu was Svayambhuva. After him five more Manus, Svarocisa, Uttama, Tamasa, Raivata and Caksusa, have passed away. The present Manu is Vaivasvata the son of Surya. The current Vaivasvata Manvantara is the seventh. At the end of seven more Manvantaras, the present Brahma will perish and a new Brahma will be born. For the names of the Indras of different Manvantaras, see under Manvantara.
“The one who, having killed the serpent, released the seven rivers; the one who drove out the cows by undoing. One who generates fire between two rocks, victor in battles, he, O people, is Indra.”
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