Vritra, aka: Vṛtra; 6 Definition(s)


Vritra means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit term Vṛtra can be transliterated into English as Vrtra or Vritra, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Itihasa (narrative history)

Vṛtra (वृत्र) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.59.32, I.65, I.61.41) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Vṛtra) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

(Source): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
context information

Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).


1a) Vṛtra (वृत्र).—A son of Tvaṣṭri, created out of a sacrificial offering with an ugly appearance to avenge Indra, the murderer of Viśvarūpa. Hari advised Indra on the means to end Vṛtra. In the battle Vṛtra encouraged his soldiers and uttered words of heroism. Ran towards Indra as Kaiṭabha against Hari and had one hand cut off. But in the contest the Vajra of Indra slipped and Vṛka asked him to take up the weapon and fight. He had his other arm cut off. But Vṛka swallowed Indra into his stomach from which Indra escaped and cut off his head. Vṛtra attained Aloka due to his faith in Hari having been born as Citraketu (s.v.) in his previous birth.1 Attained release by satsaṅga. His greed for more territory.2 Killed by Hālāphala avatār. An account of the death in the bhāgavata; an Asura of Kṛtayuga.3 Brought forth sons from his terrible breathing during his fight with Indra in thousands. All followers of Mahendra, those who have realised Brahmā, are happy, dharmic and live in small bodies.4

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. chh. 9-12 (whole); ch. 14 (whole); 17. 38-39; X. 77. 36; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 72. 83.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa XI. 12. 5; XII. 3. 11.
  • 3) Matsya-purāṇa 47. 51; 53. 20; 249. 67.
  • 4) Vāyu-purāṇa 68. 34-6.

1b) A son of Anāyuṣa. Father of Bakas in hundreds who followed Mahendra.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 6. 31.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
context information

The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Vritra is the son of Tvashta. When Vishwarupa, the son of Tvashta, was slain by Indra, Tvashta performed a sacrifice with the intention of obtaining a son who could slay the King of Gods. Due to a mispronounciation, he instead obtained a son who would be slain by Indra instead. This son was Vritra.

According to the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, Vritra was a King named Chitraketu in his previous birth. While coursing the skies in his chariot, he saw the half-woman (Ardha-Nari) form of Lord Shiva and made a disparaging comment on it. For this sin, he was cursed to be born as a demon in his next birth.

(Source): Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Vritra (वृत्र): Means "the enveloper". Vritra, was an Asura and also a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and enemy of Indra. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi ("snake"), cognate with Azhi Dahaka of Zoroastrian mythology and he is said to have had three heads. He was son of Twashta who was defeated by Indra's weapons Vajrayudha. He was born out of his father's sacrificial flames and became Indra's mortal enemy.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

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