by Frederick Eden Pargiter | 1904 | 247,181 words | ISBN-10: 8171102237
This page relates “indra’s transformations” which forms the 5th chapter of the English translation of the Markandeya-purana: an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. It consists of 137 parts narrated by sage (rishi) Markandeya: a well-known character in the ancient Puranas. Chapter 5 is included the section known as “conversation between Markandeya and the birds”.
The birds spoke:
“Of old, O brahman! when the son of Tvaṣṭṛ was slain, Indra’s splendour, oppressed by the brahmanicide, suffered a grievous decline. Then because of his wrong conduct Indra’s splendour entered Dharma; and, his righteousness and splendour being gone, Indra became splendourless.
“Then hearing that his son was slain, the prajāpati Tvaṣṭṛ enraged, tearing out a single matted lock of hair, uttered this speech. ‘Let the three worlds and the gods thereof see my might this day, and let Indra the perverse brahmanicide see, by whom my son when engaged in his own business was destroyed.’ Thus having spoken, he, his eyes red with anger, sacrificed that lock of hair in the fire.
“Then uprose Vṛtra, the mighty Asura, encircled with flame, huge in body, with great teeth, resembling a mass of broken collyrium. He, the enemy of Indra, of immeasurable soul, surpassing the might of Tvaṣṭṛ, mighty in valour, increased daily a bow-shot in stature. And Indra, having seen the mighty Asura Vṛtra eager for his slaughter, unnerved by fear, sent seven Ṛṣis, desiring peace. Then the affectionate-minded Ṛṣis, who delighted in benevolence towards all creatures, brought about friendship and treaties between him and Vṛtra. When Indra violating the rules of the treaty slew Vṛtra, then his might overwhelmed by the sin of the slaughter waned; and that might which quitted Indra’s body entered the wind, which pervades everything, is imperceptible, and is the supreme deity of power.
“And when Indra, assuming the form of Gautama, violated Ahalyā, then the lord of the gods lost his form. Thereupon his beauty of limb and feature, which was exceedingly captivating, forsook the wicked lord of the gods and went to the Aśvins.
“Perceiving the lord of the gods to have lost his uprightness and glory, to be powerless and formless, the Daityas endeavoured to conquer him. Daityas of exceeding might, desirous to conquer the lord of the gods, were born in the families of kings of surpassing valour, O great Muni. Then the Earth, afflicted with their weight, once went to the summit of Meru, where is the abode of the heaven-dwelling gods. Afflicted with their excessive weight, she declared that the cause of her distress arose from the Dānavas and Daityas. ‘These Asuras, widely resplendent, have been slain by you; they have all been born in the world of men in the families of kings; their armies are numerous indeed: oppressed by their weight, I am sinking downward; do ye, O ye thirty gods, devise how tranquillity may be attained for me.’
The birds spoke:
“Then the gods descended with portions of their glory from heaven to earth, to benefit the creatures and to alleviate the burden of the Earth. Dharma himself relinquished the glory which is innate in the body of Indra, then was born of Kuntī the resplendent raja Tudhiṣṭhira; Vāyu relinquished his might, then was born Bhīma; and from the half of Indra’s power was born Dhanañjaya, the son of Pṛthā; Tama’s two sons, resembling Indra in form, of glorious dignity, were born of Mādrī. Thus the adorable Indra became incarnate in five forms. His auspicious wife was born as Kṛṣṇa from Agni: she, Kṛṣṇa, is the wife of Indra alone, and of no one else. The lords of ascetics can even multiply their bodies.