Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Indra included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Indra




Kaśyapa was born to Marīci, the eldest of the spiritual sons of Brahmā. Indra was the son of Kaśyapa and Aditi, the eldest daughter of Dakṣa. The twelve sons who were born to Kaśyapa and Aditi are called Ādityas. The twelve Ādityas are—Dhātā, Aryamā, Mitra, Rudra, Varuṇa, Sūrya, Bhaga, Vivasvān, Pūṣā, Savitā, Tvaṣṭā, and Viṣṇu. In addition to them, Aditi had twentyone sons more. Indra is the eldest of the 33 sons. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 65, Verses 9-15).

Indra became the ruler of the Devas. Airāvata is Indra’s elephant, Uccaiśśravas, his horse, and Vajra his weapon. (Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 51, Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 18).

Indra and Garuḍa.

Kaśyapa had two sons, Garuḍa and Aruṇa by Vinatā and a large number of Nāgas by his other wife, Kadrū. Kadrū and her children kept Vinatā and her son Garuḍa as their servants. Kadrū agreed to set them free if they brought Amṛta from Devaloka.

Once Kadrū and her children asked Garuḍa to carry them to the beautiful Nāgālaya in the middle of the ocean. Garuḍa carried them on his shoulders and flew very high near the sky. The excessive heat of the sun made the Nāgas unconscious. Kadrū, in her distress, prayed to Indra. Indra showered rain and cooled the atmosphere. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 25, Verses 717). They reached the lovely island in the middle of the ocean.

Garuḍa decided to earn his freedom by bringing Amṛta from Devaloka. With determination, he flew up into heaven and secured Amṛta. The enraged Indra attacked him with his weapon, Vajra. But Garuḍa spread his feathers in such a way that he was not wounded. Indra was struck with wonder, and pleased with the beautiful feathers (Parṇa) of Garuḍa, named him 'Suparṇa'. At last Indra was pleased and allowed Garuḍa to take Amṛta with him. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 32, Verses 18-25).

How Indra came to have 1000 eyes.

(See Tilottamā, 2nd Para).

Indra and Arjuna.

(1) Kuntī, Pāṇḍu’s wife had received five mantras from Durvāsas for begetting sons. One of those Mantras was chanted meditating on the sun even before she was married and Karṇa was born. After marriage she used three more of the Mantras and three sons were born to her from Yama, Vāyu and Indra respectively. The fifth Mantra was presented to Mādrī the other wife of Pāṇḍu. Thus Arjuna was the son of Kuntī by Indra. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 123).

(2) There is a story of a rivalry between Indra and Arjuna in the Mahābhārata. (See under 'Khāṇḍavadāha').

(3) During their life in the forest, once Arjuna started to Kailāsa to worship Śiva. On the way Indra appeared before him and showered his blessings on him. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 41, Verses 15, 16).

(4) During his life in the forest, Indra presented to Arjuna who visited him in Indra’s residence, a Gandharva named Citrasena as his companion. Citrasena taught him music, dance, etc. (Mahābhārata Araṇya Parva, Chapter 44, Verse 9).

(5) At the palace of Indra, as secretly instructed by Indra, Urvaśī 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 Pāṇḍavas. It was Citrasena who was used as a tool by Indra to test Arjuna’s self control. (Mahābhārata Araṇya Parva, Chapters 44, 45).

(6) In order to ensure Arjuna’s victory in battle, Indra, disguised as a Brahmin, obtained by begging Karṇa’s ear-rings. (Mahābhārata Araṇya Parva, Chapter 310).

Indra and Vṛtrāsura.

A famous exploit of Indra was the killing of Vṛtrāsura. Under the leadership of Vṛtrāsura, the Kālakeyas and many other Rākṣasas besieged the Devas. The battle raged furiously. Indra fell down unconscious owing to the shower of arrows from Vṛtra. At once Vasiṣṭha with his divine power restored Indra to consciousness. Finding it impossible to kill Vṛtra, the nonplussed Devas under the leadership of Indra approached Mahāviṣṇu. Viṣṇu told them that Vṛtra could be killed only with the bone of the sage Dadhīca. So all of them approached Dadhīca. Realising the situation, Dadhīca let Indra have his bone for the purpose. Indra made his weapon Vajra with that bone and receiving a fatal stroke from it, Vṛtra fell down dead. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 101, Verses 14, 15; Śānti Parva, Chapter 281, Verses 13-21).

By killing Vṛtra Indra incurred the sin of Brahmahatyā. To expiate for that sin the Devas and Ṛṣis took Indra to Sarayū river and performed his holy bath there. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bāla Kāṇḍa, 24th Sarga).

(For further details about Vṛtrāsura see under Vṛtrāsura).

Indra and Cyavana.

Indra did not allow the Aśvinīdevas to drink soma juice. The sad Aśvinīdevas left Indraloka and while passing through a forest, they met Sukanyā, wife of the sage Cyavana. She was extremely beautiful. The Aśvinīdevas advised her to become their wife instead of being the wife of the blind Cyavana. But Sukanyā rejected their advice. Pleased by her conjugal fidelity, they restored Cyavana’s eyesight and made him a youth with beautiful eyes. In his gratitude, Cyavana promised to get permission for them to drink soma juice. He performed a yāga. Indra, Aśvinī devas and other gods attended it. Indra insisted that the Aśvinīs should not be allowed to drink Soma juice. Cyavana disputed with him and in the dispute Indra was defeated. From that time the Aśvinīs were allowed Soma drinking. See also 'Cyavana'. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 124, Verse 14; Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 156, Verses 16-31).

Indra and Triśiras.

Indra’s brother Tvaṣṭṛ did not like some of Indra’s activities. With the object of rebuking Indra, Tvaṣṭṛ begot a son named Viśvarūpa, Viśvarūpa had three faces and so he was also called Triśiras. With one face he used to recite Vedas, with the second he drank alcohol and he used the third face for observing the world. He performed a rigorous tapas. Indra, who was alarmed at it, sent goddesses to allure him, but in vain. At last Indra himself went to the forest riding on his elephant Airāvata and killed Triśiras with his Vajrāyudha. In his violent fury he had the three heads of Triśiras cut by a carpenter. From that day, it was ordained that the head of the cow sacrificed at yāgas should be given to a carpenter. Tvaṣṭṛ who was enraged by Indra’s killing of his son Triśiras, begot another son Vṛtrāsura. (Devī Bhāgavata, 6th Skandha).

Indra and Nahuṣa.

See the word Agastya.

Indra and Bali.

When Indra defeated and drove away the Asuras, Mahābali, the Asura emperor assumed the form of an ass and hid himself in an empty house. Brahmā informed Indra of this. Indra found him out there, but set him free without killing at the behest of Brahmā. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 223).

Indra and Yayāti.

Yayāti was the son of Nahuṣa. In his old age, he handed over the kingly duties to his younger son Pūru and went to the forest for performing penance. After performing penance, he reached Indraloka in the end. Indra did not like Yayāti’s boast that there was none who had greater power of tapas than himself. Indra pushed him down to the world. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 88).

Indra and Śaradvān.

Śaradvān was born as the son of Sage Gautama. Śaradvān started a penance for acquiring divine arrows. Devendra who was alarmed, sent the Apsarā woman Jānapatī to obstruct his tapas. Deeply affected by her irresistible charm and fascinated by her temptations, he had an involuntary emission of semen, which fell on the Śarastamba and split itself into two parts. Two children a boy and a girl, were born from it. The King’s servants brought them to Hastināpura. The boy was named Kṛpa and the girl was named Kṛpī. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 130).

Indra and King Kuru.

The King named Kuru was once ploughing the field at the place known as Kurukṣetra. (This was long before Kurukṣetra became famous as the battlefield of Bhārata Yuddha). Indra who happened to come that way at the time, seeing the King tilling the land, asked him why he was doing so. The King replied that he was performing a yāga to enable the men who fell dead there, to attain Heaven. Indra returned to Heaven, smiling. Other devas came to know of this from Indra. They said that if all men came to Devaloka, the share of yajña which was to be received by the gods, would be diminished and so they advised Indra to go and give some boon to King Kuru. Indra returned to earth and gave his blessing to Kuru as follows:

The following classes of people will attain heaven if they die there (at Kurukṣetra).

(1) Those who die of starvation.

(2) Those who die fighting heroically.

(3) Those who were men in their previous life, but who have been born as animals.

From that time Kurukṣetra became an important place. (Mahābhārata Śalya Parva, Chapter 53).

Indra and Takṣaka.

Indra’s friend, a Nāga named Takṣaka lived in Khāṇḍava forest. When Agni burned Khāṇḍava forest, Indra caused the rain to fall in order to save Takṣaka. See under 'Khāṇḍavadāha'. (Mahābhārata Araṇya Parva, Chapter 235).

For the story of how Indra saved Takṣaka from the Sarpasatra see under 'Āstika'.

Indra and Khāṇḍavadāha.

At the time of Khāṇḍavadāha, Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna fought against Devendra.

Indra Sabhā.

Maya undertook to build a sabhā (assembly hall) for the Pāṇḍavas at Indraprastha. When it was being discussed, the sage Nārada described to them Indra’s sabhā as given below:—

Indra has a Sabhā 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 sabhā. Indra is seated within the holy light in it. Śacīdevī 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, Ṛṣis and a host of others stand around attending on him. They are all bright with the halo of fire. Parāśara, Parvata, Sāvarṇi, Gālava, Śaṃkha, Likhita, Gauraśiras, Durvāsas, Akrodhana, Śyena, Dīrghatamas, Pavitrapāṇi, Bhāluvi, Yājñavalkya, Uddālaka, Śvetaketu, Pāṇḍya and other famous sages are members of Indra’s assembly. In this way, Indra’s Sabhā is the most magnificent. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 7).

Indra and Kāmadhenu.

Once Indra saw Surabhi, the Kāmadhenu, crying in the Indraloka. He asked her why she was crying. Surabhi answerd: "My Lord, the cattle, who are my children are groaning in the world under the yoke of the farmer. I was overwhelmed with grief at the sight of their sufferings" Indra’s heart meltted due to Kāmadhenu’s tears. He caused very heavy showers in the world when ploughing the fields became impossible. In this way as a result of Surabhi’s tears Indra caused heavy rainfall which gave rest to the cattle in the world. (Mahābhārata Araṇya Parva, Chapter 9).

Indra and Nala.

Nala proceeded to Vidarbha to attend Damayantī’s Svayaṃvara. On the way, the four gods, Indra, Agni, Varuṇa and Yama met him. (For further details see the word 'Nala'). Nala married Damayanti with the blessings of these gods. When the devas returned, they met Kali and Dvāpara. to whom they described Nala’s marriage. Kali and Dvāpara who wished to marry Damayantī, naturally felt disappointed and angry. Kali was about to pronounce a curse on Nala. But on the advice of Devendra he did not do so. Still he decided to gain secret entrance into Nala’s body and to bring about the loss of his Kingdom. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 58).

Indra and Māndhātā.

A King named Yuvanāśva was born in the Ikṣvāku dynasty. He earned great reputation by performing many Aśvamedha yāgas. But he was very much distressed because he had no children. So he entrusted his kingly duties to his ministers and proceeded to the forest. One day during his wandering he arrived at the āśrama of the sage Bhṛgu. He was tired and thirsty. Bhṛgu had filled a pot with water by reciting a mantra and placing it on a low stool, he had gone to sleep. Not knowing that it was a pot of water intended to cause pregnancy, and in his intense thirst, Yuvanāśva drank water from it. He became pregnant and in due course Yuvanāśva brought forth a son. Indra, accompanied by other gods came to see the child. When the Devas asked how the child was going to drink milk, Indra put his index finger into the child’s mouth and the child began to suck it. Indra said "The child will drink me". The Sanskrit words "Māṃ dhātā" mean "one who drinks me". Thus the child was named "Māndhātā" by Indra and the other gods. (Mahābhārata Araṇya Parva Chapter 126).

Indra and Śibi.

Once Indra and Agni tested the strength of Emperor Śibi’s 'dharma'. Indra took the form of an eagle and Agni that of a dove. The dove flew down into the lap of Śibi. The eagle pursued it. The dove entreated Śibi to save it from the eagle. Śibi promised to do so. The eagle argued that the dove was its prey and should be returned to it. But Śibi offered to give the eagle his own flesh, equal in weight to that of the dove. Accordingly, the dove was placed in one pan, but even when all the flesh from his body was cut and placed in the other pan, it did not weigh equal to the dove. At this stage, Indra and Agni appeared to Śibi in their own forms and blessed him to be more happy and prosperous than before. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 131).

Indra and Yavakrīta.

Long ago there was a sage named Yavakrīta. He started a tapas with the ambition of acquiring all knowledge by himself, without the help of a Guru. Indra was alarmed at the sternness and rigour of the tapas. He induced Yavakrīta to stop tapas, but it was in vain. At last Indra disguised himself as an old Brahmin and went to the bank of the Gaṅgā where Yavakrīta was performing tapas. He began to build a dam across the river with sand. Seeing this Yavakrīta ridiculed him. The old Brahmin retorted that Yavakrīta’s tapas was also equally ridiculous. But Yavakrīta was not shaken even by his taunt. He resumed his tapas with renewed strength. At last finding no other alternative, Indra appeared to Yavakrīta and granted his wish. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 135).

Loss of Indra’s umbrella.

Once Narakāsura went to heaven, fought with the gods and robbed Indra of his umbrella and the earrings of Aditi, Indra’s mother. Grief-stricken Indra complained to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Accompanied by Satyabhāmā and riding on the back of Garuḍa, Śrī Kṛṣṇa went to the city of Prāgjyotiṣa, the residence of Narakāsura and razed it to the ground. He recovered the umbrella and ear-rings and returned to heaven with Satyabhāmā. Indra and Aditi were overjoyed on getting back the lost articles. On their return journey, Śrī Kṛṣṇa at the request of Satyabhāmā cut for her a twig of the Pārijāta tree. This made Indra angry and he fought against Śrī Kṛṣṇa. After defeating Indra and other gods, Śrī Kṛṣṇa accompanied by Satyabhāmā returned to Dvārakā with the Pārijāta. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Indra and Narakāsura.

The Asura called Naraka once performed a very severe penance on the Gandhamādana mountain with the object of usurping Indra’s place. Indra was alarmed and rushed to Mahāviṣṇu for help. Viṣṇu went to Gandhamādana mountain and killed Narakāsura. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 142).

Indra and the sage Baka.

After the war between Devas and Asuras, Indra, in a peaceful state of mind, was going around the world, riding on his elephant, Airāvata. When he reached an Āśrama on the eastern coast of the sea, he met the great sage Baka. A conversation about the happiness of longevity took place between Indra and sage Baka who was hundred thousand years old. After that Indra returned to Devaloka. (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 193).

Indra and Keśī.

Long ago a terrible war took place between Devas and Asuras. At that time an Asura called Keśī attempted to abduct Devasenā, daughter of a Prajāpati. Hearing her shrieks, Indra rushed to the spot. In the clash between Keśī and Indra, Keśī’s club was broken into two with Indra’s weapon Vajra. Suddenly Keśī lifted a mountain and threw it at Indra.

Indra broke that mountain also into two. One part of it fell on Keśī himself, who fled frightened. After that, Indra asked Devasenā how she happened to fall in Keśī’s hands. Devasenā answered thus:—"I am the daughter of Prajāpati. My name is Devasenā. Keśī had abducted my elder sister, Daityasenā. My sister and I used to come to take our bath in this Mānasa lake. Keśī had expressed his wish to abduct both of us. My father has given me his blessing that a person who is worshipped by gods and asuras will become my husband. Having heard these facts, Indra held consultations with Brahmā and arranged the marriage between Subrahmaṇya and Devasenā. See also the word "Subrahmaṇya". (Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 223).

Indra and Aṅgiras.

After killing Vṛtrāsura, Indra hid himself in a lotus flower in the Mānasa lake, to expiate for the sin of Brahmahatyā (killing a Brahmin). It was at that time that Nahuṣa became Indra. After Nahuṣa had been forced to go back to the earth as a serpent by the curse of Agastya, the Devas brought back Indra. At that time, Aṅgiras praised Indra with mantras from Atharvaveda. From that day Aṅgiras got the name of 'Atharvāṅgiras'. Indra was pleased and blessed Aṅgiras that his name would become famous throughout the world. (Mahābhārata Udyoga Parva, Chapter 18).

Indra and the Bow called Vijaya.

Karṇa had a bow called Vijaya. It was made by Viśvakarmā according to Indra’s liking. (Mahābhārata Karṇa Parva, Chapter 31. Verse 42).

Indra and the Tripuras.

The Tripurāsuras performed penance and received boons from Brahmā. After that they clashed with Indra. Indra was not able to kill them. The vanquished Indra had the Tripuras killed by Śiva. See the word "Tripura". (Mahābhārata Karṇa Parva, Chapter 33).

Indra and Sūrya (the sun-god).

When Karṇa and Arjuna came into conflict at the Bhārata battle, a controversy raged in heaven between Indra and Sūrya. Indra argued that Arjuna would win, while Sūrya asserted that Karṇa would gain victory. The Devas joined the side of Arjuna and Asuras joined Karṇa’s side. In the end, Arjuna came out victorious and thus Sūrya was defeated by Indra. (Mahābhārata Karṇa Parva, Chapter 87).

Indra and Namuci.

The Rākṣasa Namuci once evaded capture by Indra by remaining hidden in the rays of the Sun. Indra went to him and pretending friendship, promised not to kill him either with wet thing or dry things or at night or in day time. Trusting his words, Namuci came out. Then Indra cut off Namuci’s head with the froth scraped from the waves of the sea at the time of dusk. The head pursued him shouting, "You murderer of a friend, by breaking your promise!" Indra sought refuge under Brahmā. Brahmā advised him to bathe in Śoṇapuṇya tīrtha to expiate for the sin. Accordingly Indra bathed in the river Sarasvatī and washed off his sin.

River Sarasvatī.

There is a story about how Sarasvatī river became Śoṇapuṇya tīrtha. There were frequent quarrels between Vasiṣṭha and Viśvāmitra. Once Viśvāmitra got angry when he came to know that Vasiṣṭha was performing a penance on the banks of the river Sarasvatī. He summoned Sarasvatī and ordered her to produce Vasiṣṭha before him immediately. Sarasvatī was in a dilemma. If she brought Vasiṣṭha to Viśvāmitra, Vasiṣṭha would curse her; if on the other hand, she did not bring him Viśvāmitra would curse her. At last she decided to produce Vasiṣṭha before Viśvāmitra. By eroding the earth on her bank little by little near the place where Vasiṣṭha was performing his penance, Sarasvatī managed to bring him down into her own current. Then she carried him floating down to the place where Viśvāmitra was waiting. When Vasiṣṭha reached his presence, Viśvāmitra was pleased. But without allowing Viśvāmitra to capture Vasiṣṭha she took him away in her current, eastwards. Enraged at this, Viśvāmitra pronounced a curse that blood should flow through the river Sarasvatī. Thus the water in the river became blood-red. The great sages who came there afterwards sympathised with Sarasvatī in her ill-luck and as a result of their prayers Śiva made her Śoṇapuṇyatīrtha.

It was in this river that Indra took his bath and washed off his sin. (Mahābhārata Śalya Parva, Chapter 43).

Indra and Śrutāvatī.

Bharadvāja’s daughter Śrutāvatī (Śruvāvatī) performed a very severe penance to get Indra as her husband. To test her character, Indra assumed the shape of Vasiṣṭha and went to Śrutāvatī. She received the guest with due reverence. Pleased with her treatment, the guest handed her five raw fruits and asked her to cook them for him. Śrutāvatī gladly undertook that service. She proceeded to cook the fruits but even after burning all the fuel she had, the fruits were not properly cooked. So she began to use her limbs one by one as fuel and burned them up. Indra was deeply impressed by her selfsacrifice and appearing to her in his own form married Śrutāvatī, (Mahābhārata Śalya Parva, Chapter 48).

Indra became Śatakratu.

Indra performed one hundred sacrifices at the place called Indratīrtha. Thus he became Śatakratu. It was there that he gave much wealth to Bṛhaspati. (Mahābhārata Śalya Parva, Chapter 49, Verse 2).

Indra became a bird.

Once Indra took the form of a bird and went to the forest and preached moral and spiritual duties to the sages who had gathered there. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 11).

Indra and Dantideva.

Once Dantideva received a boon from Indra that he should have plenty of food and enough travellers to eat it. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 29, Verses 120, 121).

Indra and Bṛhaspati.

Once Bṛhaspati told Indra that everything in the world could be achieved with soothing speech. (Mahābhārata Śalya Parva, Chapter 84, Verse 2).

Bṛhaspati’s wife Tārā once fell in love with Candra (the Moon god). She deserted Bṛhaspati and went to live in Candra’s residence. Bṛhaspati complained about it to Indra. Indra promised to bring her back and to restore her to Bṛhaspati by whatever means possible. Accordingly he sent a messenger to Candra. Compromise talks with Candra ended in failure. So preparations were started for a dreadful war between Indra and Candra. Śukra, the preceptor of Asuras also joined the side of Indra. Brahmā who came to know of all this, came riding on his swan and reconciled Indra and Candra. As directed by Brahmā, Candra agreed to restore Tārā to her lawful husband, Bṛhaspati, (Devī Bhāgavata, First Skandha).

Indra and Prahlāda.

The great King Prahlāda once conquered Heaven. Indra, who lost his kingdom and glory, accepted Bṛhaspati’s advice and went to meet Śukrācārya. Śukra told Indra that Prahlāda was the noblest person and that he had earned that nobility by his good qualities. Indra decided to acquire those good qualities from Prahlāda.

Indra disguised himself as a Brahmin boy and approached Prahlāda with a request for moral and spiritual advice. Prahlāda accepted him as his pupil and gave him moral and spiritual advice. Pleased with the pupil’s devotion, Prahlāda agreed to give him whatever boon he wanted. The pupil said that he wanted only the good qualities of the Guru. Prahlāda agreed to it. Then a shadow-like figure appeared to emerge from Prahlāda’s body. Prahlāda 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 Prahlāda’s body and entered Indra’s body. Following it, all the good qualities of Prahlāda, like charity, truth, glory etc. entered Indra’s body one after another. It was only in the end that Prahlāda came to know that the cunning pupil was Indra. Thus from that day, Prahlāda began to decline in his good qualities and Indra began to prosper. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 124).

Indra and Gautama.

There is a story in the Mahābhārata, of how Indra restored life to a dead Brahmin. Gautama was a Brahmin who had left his own home and settled down to live in the village of Dasyus (an aboriginal tribe). He married from a low caste and followed the customs of Dasyus. At that time another Brahmin happened to come there. He ridiculed Gautama who had lost his caste. Next morning Gautama left his residence and went to another place. Tired after his long journey, he fell asleep under a banyan tree. A King of birds named Nāḍījaṃgha lived on that tree. Nāḍījaṃgha who was the son of Kaśyapa, became very friendly with Gautama. He brought fish from the river Gaṅgā to feed Gautama and fanned him with his wings. Gautama told the bird that he was a poor Brahmin and that he was anxious to get some wealth. There was a wealthy Rākṣasa King named Virūpākṣa in that country, who was a close friend of Nāḍījaṃgha. Nāḍījaṃgha sent Gautama to Virūpākṣa with a request to give Gautama some wealth. Virūpākṣa gave plenty of gold to Gautama. He returned to the foot of the banyan tree carrying the gold on his head. Gautama who was quite tired after his long walk, was hospitably received by Nāḍījaṃgha. That kingly bird lay asleep close by Gautama. An evil desire to eat the flesh of Nāḍījaṃgha dawned upon the mind of Gautama. He killed that King of birds in his sleep. Virūpākṣa who came to know of this, killed Gautama and gave his flesh as food for Dasyus. Virūpākṣa, with tears in his eyes, made a funeral pyre and cremated Nādījaṃgha’s body. At that time, as directed by Brahmā, Surabhi caused milk to flow from heaven and revived Nāḍījaṃgha. Virūpākṣa told the whole story to Indra who came there at that time. Indra said that Nāḍījaṃgha died as the result of Brahmā’s curse. He had offended Brahmā on a former occasion by refusing to attend Brahmā’s assembly, although he was invited. Nāḍījaṃgha who was restored to life, was noble enough to request Indra to bring back Gautama also to life. Accordingly Indra revived Gautama. Nāḍījaṃgha returned the gold to Gautama and sent him away with his good wishes. Indra returned to heaven. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 173).

Indra and Ahalyā.

Indra, once fell in love with Ahalyā, the wife of Gautama. Sage Gautama who came to know of it, cursed Indra. For further details, see under Ahalyā.

Indra turned into a Fox.

Once a haughty Vaiśya knocked down a young sage named Kaśyapa, with his chariot. The disgraced sage decided to commit suicide. Knowing this Indra went to the sage in the form of a fox and spoke to him, dwelling upon the evil aspects of suicide. At last the young sage gave up the idea of committing suicide and returned to his hermitage. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 130).

Indra and Subrahmaṇya.

Long ago the Asuras led by Tārakāsura, persecuted the gods in many ways. Tārakāsura had received a boon from Brahmā that only the son born to Śiva could slay him. So, to distract Parameśvara from his penance, in order to make it possible for him to beget a son, Indra sent Kāmadeva (god of love) to him. But Kāmadeva was burnt up in the fire from the third eye of Śiva. After that Pārvatī won Śiva as her husband as a result of her austere penance. She prayed to Śiva that Kāmadeva should be brought back to life and that a son should be born to her. Śiva replied to her:—

"Kāma was born from Brahmā’s mind. As soon as he was born, he asked Brahmā "Kaṃ Darpam?" which means—whom shall I tempt and conquer?" So Brahmā called him "Kandarpa". Brahmā 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 Kāmadeva for this, as in the case of ordinary mortals".

As they were discussing this problem, Indra and Brahmā arrived there. At their request Śiva agreed to beget a son by Pārvatī. Since it is not desirable that all living beings should perish, Śiva allowed Kāmadeva to be born in the minds of all creatures. Brahmā and Indra returned quite happy. One day, Śiva and Pārvatī 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 devas, as ordered by Brahmā prayed to Agni, to interrupt the amorous play of Śiva and Pārvatī. 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 Śiva to stop him in his amorous dalliance. Agni succeeded in his mission by his intense heat. Śiva transferred his semen to Agni who became pregnant. Being unable to bear its weight Agni deposited it in the river Gaṅgā, who at the behest of Śiva himself, left it in the woods on the Mahāmeru mountain. Śiva’s attendant bhūtas (spirits) offered Pūjā to it there. After a thousand years a boy with six faces (Subrahmaṇya) was born out of it. He was suckled by the Kṛttikās employed for that purpose by Pārvatī and the boy grew up with astonishing rapidity within a few days. Having been suckled by the Kṛttikās, the boy got the name "Kārttikeya".

In those days, Devendra who was defeated by Tārakāsura, decided to give up war and was living in Mahāmeru. The Devas and the sages used to go to Subrahmaṇya for protection. When Devendra knew it, he became angry and went to war with Subrahmaṇya. Subrahmaṇya was wounded on the face with Indra’s weapon. From the wound two sons named Śākha and Viśākha were born to Subrahmaṇya. With their help Subrahmaṇya encountered Indra again. At this stage Śiva appeared there and informed Indra that Subrahmaṇya had been born with a mission to kill Tārakāsura and to restore Indra’s kingdom to him. It was then that Indra recognized Subrahmaṇya. He begged pardon of Subrahmaṇya 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 Subrahmaṇya’s head, the water refused to come out of the pot. Śiva told Indra that it was because he had tried to perform the installation before propitiating Gaṇapati. Indra then offered worship to Vighneśvara (Gaṇapati) and the ceremony went off without any hitch. Subrahmaṇya who thus became Indra’s commander, killed Tārakāsura shortly afterwards. (Kathāsaritsāgara, Lāvāṇakalaṃbaka, 6th Taraṅga).

Indra and Mahābali.

The vanquished Mahābali who had left his home and country was in gloom and despair when once Indra paid him a visit. At that time Mahālakṣmī emerged from Mahābali’s body and entered Indra’s body. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 224).

Indra and Godāna (gift of cow).

Once Indra asked Brahmā about the efficacy of godāna or giving a cow as gift. Brahmā told him that there is a world free from the infirmities of old age and diseases and it is called "Goloka". He added that those who perform Godāna would get a place in Goloka.

Indra and a bird.

A hunter in Kāśī once went to shoot birds with poisoned arrows. One of his arrows hit a big tree accidentally and the powerful poison dried up the whole tree. In the hollow of the trunk of that tree there lived a bird with mystic powers. It did not like to leave that tree which had been its refuge ever since its birth. One day Devendra, in the guise of a Brahmin came to the bird, who recognized him by its mystic power. In the conversation between them Devendra advised the bird to leave the tree and find some other suitable place for its residence. The bird did not accept his advice. Indra was pleased at the bird’s loyalty and gratitude towards that tree which had been its shelter all along. So he took the bird along with him to Devaloka. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 5).

How Indra turned Bhaṃgāśva into a woman.

There was a King named Bhaṃgāśva. Once he performed a sacrifice called "Indradviṣṭa" which was believed to have the power of blessing him with children. Indra being not invited was displeased with him and was waiting for an opportunity to wreak vengeance on him.

One hundred sons were born to Bhaṃgāśva. Once he went to the forest after entrusting the affairs of the kingdom to his sons. Indra cunningly misguided him and made him lose his way in the forest. Wandering alone with his horse in the forest, he reached the bank of a river. Weary and thirsty, he stepped down into the river. To his amazement, he was instantly transformed into a woman! The bewildered "woman" somehow reached Bhaṃgāśva’s palace. All the members of his family were deeply grieved over his change of sex. To avoid embarrassment to himself and others, Bhaṃgāśva returned as a woman to the forest and there lived as the wife of a sage and became the mother of a hundred sons. After some years "she" went back to the palace with the sons and leaving them there returned again to the forest.

Indra went to the palace at this time and made the two sets of hundred sons quarrel with one another until all of them perished in fighting. Hearing about this the mother who was in the forest, wept bitterly. Indra visited her (Bhaṃgāśva) there and she told him the whole story of her misfortunes and begged his pardon for performing Indradviṣṭa sacrifice without inviting Indra. Pleased with her repentance Indra promised to resuscitate one set of her hundred sons. She wanted all the hundred sons who were born when she was a woman, to be restored to life. Indra was ready to restore her manhood too, but she preferred to continue as a woman. Indra restored to life all the 200 sons of Bhaṃgāśva and leaving Bhaṃgāśva as a woman, returned to Devaloka. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 12).

Indra and Mataṃga.

A story is found in the Mahā-Bhārata under the title of "Indra-Mataṃga-Saṃvāda" which illustrates that a Kṣatriya, Vaiśya or Śūdra can never become a Brāhmaṇa by any means. It was told by Bhīṣma to Arjuna as follows:—

"Long ago a Brāhmaṇa’s wife gave birth to a boy. The boy was given the name Mataṃga. His father sent him in a chariot drawn by a donkey, in connection with a yāga which he wanted to perform. Mataṃga whipped the donkey mercilessly. Seeing this, the donkey’s mother said to Mataṃga—"You are not a Brāhmaṇa. Brāhmaṇas cannot be so cruel. You are a Caṇḍāla (a man of the lowest caste) born to your mother by a barber."

Mataṃga sadly returned to his father and after telling him what he had heard from the mother-donkey set out to perform an austere penance with the object of becoming a Brāhmaṇa. Devendra appeared to him and asked him what he wanted. Mataṃga asked for a boon whereby he could become a Brāhmaṇa; Indra vanished after saying that it was impossible. After that Mataṃga performed penance for hundred years, standing on one foot. Indra appeared again and repeated that it was impossible for Mataṃga to become a Brāhmaṇa. Then Mataṃga continued his penance for a thousand years, standing on his toe. Indra appeared again and transformed Mataṃga into a Deva named "Chandodeva". Indra told him that though he could become a Deva, he could never achieve Brahminhood. In his extreme grief Mataṃga renounced his life and entered Heaven. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapters 27, 28 and 29).

Indra and Śaṃbara.

There is a story in the Mahā Bhārata in which an Asura named Śaṃbara explained the greatness of Brahminhood to Indra. Once Indra approached the Asura, Śaṃbara and asked him what was the source of his glory and prosperity. Śaṃbara replied that it was all due to his whole-hearted worship of Brāhmaṇas. From that time Indra began to offer worship to Brāhmaṇas and thus he won the place of Indra. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 36).

Indra loved Ruci.

There is a story in the Mahābhārata of how a sage named Vipula who was born in the family of Bhṛgu once saved Ruci, his Guru’s wife from Indra. Long ago, a great sage named Devaśarmā lived in a forest. His wife Ruci being enchantingly beautiful, many suitors were attracted to her. Chief among them was Indra. Devaśarmā was aware of this. Once he had to leave his āśrama in connection with a yāga. So he ordered his disciple Vipula to guard his wife Ruci during his absence. He had given a hint to Vipula that Indra who was an expert in disguises, might appear in the āśrama in any form. Vipula, by means of his mystic power entered into his guru’s wife and guarded her.

After some time, Indra reached the Āśrama in the guise of a handsome youth. He disclosed his real identity to Ruci and told her that he had come there to spend a night with her. Ruci fell in love with him. But since she was under the mystic control of Vipula, Indra was unable to fulfil his desire. At last Vipula sent him away in disgrace. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 4, 44).

Indra’s theft of Lotus.

Indra once stole Agastya’s lotuses. (See under Agastya).

Indra’s theft of an Elephant.

Indra once stole an elephant belonging to the great sage Gautama. The sage complained to Dhṛtarāṣṭra, who advised him to offer prayers to Indra. Accordingly Gautama pleased Indra by his prayers. Indra appeared and after returning the elephant took both the elephant and Gautama along with him to Devaloka. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 102).

Indra and Marutta.

Long ago there was a famous king named Marutta. Indra was closely associated with him in many of his activities. (For more details see Marutta).

Indra and Dharmaputra.

Another anecdote about Indra which deals with the last part of Dharmaputra’s life is given in the Mahābhārata.

The Pāṇḍavas, towards the end of their lives entered the forest and were travelling to the north. Dharmaputra who was walking in front, was followed by a dog. On the way the four brothers and Pāñcālī fell down dead. Dharmaputra continued his journey accompanied by the dog without turning back or looking behind. At the end of the journey, Indra was waiting for him with his chariot. He told Dharmaputra that his brothers and wife had already taken their places in Heaven and that he should leave behind the dog and get into the chariot to go to Devaloka. Dharmaputra pleaded that it was not right for him to enter Devaloka after deserting the dog which had followed him so far. Even though Indra pressed him very much to enter the chariot without the dog, Dharmaputra did not yield. At last the dog assumed the form of Yama who appeared and explained to them that he had taken the form of a dog and followed his son Dharmaputra to test his noble nature. They were all happy and all the three of them proceeded in the chariot to Devaloka. (Mahābhārata Mahāprasthānika Parva, Chapter 3).

Indra and Bāli.

In Uttara Rāmāyaṇa there is a story as given below, about the birth of Bāli, a son of Indra:—

Aruṇa, the charioteer of Sūrya (the sun-god) went one night to Indraloka to see the goddesses dancing. Men were not allowed to enter the dancing hall. So, Aruṇa managed to enter the hall by disguising himself as a beautiful lady. The moment Indra saw her he fell in love with her. The name she assumed at that time was Aruṇī. Indra secretly took her outside and they had a sexual union. Bāli was the son born from their union.

Indra’s theft of a Horse.

A King named Sagara once performed a sacrifice. Devendra stole the sacrificial horse. Sagara sent all his 60,000 sons in search of the horse. They dug up the earth and went to the Nether worlds where they saw the horse tied in front of the sage Kapila. The enraged sons of Sagara tried to capture and bind the sage. But Kapila reduced all the 60,000 princes to ashes by his curse. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bālakāṇḍa, Chapter 39).

Indra cut an embryo to pieces.

Diti and Aditi were the daughters of Dakṣa. Kaśyapa 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 Kaśyapa that she too wanted to have a virtuous, heroic and brave son who would be equal to Indra in every respect. Kaśyapa 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 Diti 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 "Mā 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 "Mārutas" 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 Devakī, wife of Vasudeva and was imprisoned by Kaṃsa who killed her children. (Devī Bhāgavata, Fourth Skandha).

Indra and Aṃbarīṣa.

(1) King Aṃbarīṣa had a minister named Sudeva. Sudeva fell fighting in the battle-field. After some years, Aṃbarīṣa also died. When Aṃbarīṣa arrived in Heaven, he was surprised to find that Sudeva had already secured a place there long ago. Ambarīṣa had performed many more acts of holiness than Sudeva. Yet Sudeva attained Heaven earlier than Aṃbarīṣa. Aṃbarīṣa asked Indra why it was so. Indra answered that just as Aṃbarīṣa had performed many sacifices, Sudeva had performed many war-sacrifices. He added that war-sacrifices were as efficacious for attaining Heaven as other kinds of sacrifices (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 98).

(2) Aṃbarīṣa, King of Ayodhyā was performing a sacrifice. At that time, Indra had stolen the sacrificial animal. To continue the sacrifice without interruption, the King decided to substitute Śunaśśepha, the son of Ṛcīka, for the cow. But Śunaśśepha prayed to Indra who came and rescued him from the jaws of death. (This story is given in other Purāṇas with slight variations. Vālṃīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bāla Kāṇḍa, 61st Sarga).

Indra and Triśaṅku.

There is a story that Indra once pushed down from Heaven, Triśaṅku a King of the Sūrya vaṃśa (Solar dynasty). See under TRIŚAṄKU.

Indra and Viśvāmitra.

Once Viśvāmitra observed a vow of silence for a period of one thousand years. At the end of that period, when he was about to take his food, Indra appeared in the form of a Brahmin and asked for that food. Viśvāmitra gave that food to the Brahmin and resumed his austere penance. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bāla Kāṇḍa, 65th Sarga).

Indra, Śrī Rāma and Śarabhaṅga.

(1). At the time when Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa were leading their life in the forest, one day Indra paid a visit to the Āśrama of the sage Śarabhaṅga. Devendra wished to take the sage with him to Devaloka. As they were talking, they saw Śrī Rāma coming to the Āśrama. Indra advised Śarabhaṅga to speak to Śrī Rāma and left the place. As suggested by Indra, the sage had a conversation with Śrī Rāma. After it Śarabhaṅga offered his body to the fire and went to Devaloka. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Araṇya Kāṇḍa, 5th Sarga).

(2) When the battle between Śrī Rāma and Rāvaṇa was in progress, Indra presented to Śrī Rāma, an excellent chariot along with the horses. The chariot and horses were handed over to Śrī Rāma on the battlefield by Mātali; Indra’s charioteer. Śrī Rāma fought against Rāvaṇa from that chariot and slew him. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Yuddha Kāṇḍa, Sarga 103).

(3) After the war with Rāvaṇa, Indra appeared before Śrī Rāma and asked him what boon he wanted. Śrī Rāma replied that all those monkeys who died in the war should come back to life and the forests in which they lived should abound in fruits and flowers in all the seasons of the year. Indra restored all those monkeys to life and made all the forests in which they lived, green and rich with luxuriant vegetation. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Yuddha Kāṇḍa, Sarga 129).

Indra gives his sword for safe-custody.

During their life in the forest Śrī Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, accompanied by Sītā entered Daṇḍakāraṇya. Śrī Rāma’s chief object in going there was to give protection to the sages and their hermitages in the forest. But seeing that he had made the killing of Rākṣasas his main purpose, Sītā told him that this change in the objective would spoil other important matters. To illustrate this she told him the following story:—

'Once upon a time, a great sage was observing holy rites with great austerity. Indra was alarmed at it. He went to the sage’s hermitage in the form of a warrior armed with a sword. Indra handed over his sword to the sage for safe custody. The sage accepted it and from that time all his attention was concentrated on the sword. All his time was spent in guarding the sword and he began to neglect his devotional duties as a sage. As a result of it his mystic power declined and ultimately he fell into Hell. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Araṇya Kāṇḍa, 9th Sarga).

Indra and Kabandha.

See under Kabandha.

The Post or Office of Indra.

Indra was anointed as King of Devas on Meghavān mountain. In the 42nd Sarga of Kiṣkindhā kāṇḍa of Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa we find that Sugrīva had ordered the monkeys to search for Sītā on that mountain also.

Indra and Maya.

Maya, the carpenter of the Asuras, performed penance to Brahmā and acquired complete mastery in the science of carpentry and architecture. After that he constructed a forest mansion of golden colour and took up his residence in it. Once Maya set his eyes on a goddess named Hemā. When Indra knew this he became angry and killed Maya with his weapon—Vajra. From that time Hemā got Maya’s golden mansion. This was told by Hemā’s maid, Svayaṃprabhā to Hanūmān. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Kiṣkindhā Kāṇḍa, 51st Sarga).

Indra cut off the wings of Mountains.

In Kṛtayuga all the Mountains in the world had wings. They used to fly about here and there like Garuḍa with the speed of wind. The sages and the Devas feared that they might fall on their heads. The Devas held a conference and elected Indra to find a remedy for this. Indra cut off the wings of the mountains with his Vajra. The Maināka mountain was a friend of wind. When Indra was about to cut off the wings of that mountain, Wind suddenly removed it and deposited it in the ocean. It is out of his gratitude for this that the Maināka mountain rose up from the ocean and provided a resting place for Hanūmān, the son of Wind god, when he jumped to Laṅkā. This story was told by Maināka mountain to Hanūmān. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Sundara Kāṇḍa, 1st Sarga).

Indra cut off his preceptor’s head

Once Devendra accepted a sage named Viśvarūpa as his preceptor for a sacrifice. Viśvarūpa’s mother was a Dānava partisan. So this priest, as directed by his mother, performed the sacrifice with the prayer—"May the gods and the Asuras prosper." As a result of the prayer, both the gods who performed the sacrifice and the Asuras who did not perform it, prospered. At this Devendra became furious and he cut off the head of the Guru. (Devī Bhāgavata, 3rd Skandha).

Indra and Mahiṣāsura.

See under Mahiṣāsura.

Indra became a bull.

Long ago there was a King called Kakutstha in the Ikṣvāku dynasty. When he was ruling over the kingdom of Ayodhyā, a war broke out between Devas and Asuras. In that war, the Devas were not able to defeat the Asuras. Indra in distress approached Viṣṇu for refuge. Viṣṇu advised him to seek the help of Kakutstha, King of Ayodhyā. So Indra with the other gods went to Ayodhyā. When Kakutstha heard about their appeal for help, he glady offered his help but only on condition that Indra became his vehicle. Seeing no other way, Indra assumed the form of a bull and Kakutstha, riding on the back of the bull fought against the Asuras and defeated them. It is from that day that the King came to be called "Kakutstha", "Indra-vāhana" and "Purañjaya". (His original name is unknown). "Kakut" means the "hamp of a bull". Because he was seated on the "Kakut" he got the name "Kakutstha". Because he made Indra "vāhana" (vehicle) he got the name of "Indravāhana". As he defeated the Asuras and conquered their city (pura) he was called "Purañjaya". Kakutstha was the son of Śaśāda and the father of Pṛthu. Śrī Rāma is called "Kākutstha" because he was born in the family of Kakutstha. (Devī Bhāgavata, 7th Skandha).

Indra’s Task.

Devī Bhāgavata, 8th Skandha says that Indra is one of the "Aṣṭadikpālakas (the eight protectors of the quarters) and the name of his city is "Amarāvatī".

Indra’s term of Life.

The Devī Bhāgavata 5th Skandha says that two life-spans of Brahmā make Viṣṇu’s life-span. Śiva has double the life-span of Viṣṇu, that during the life of Brahmā, fourteen Indras will drop down from Heaven and perish, and one day of Brahmā is made up of one thousand "Caturyugas."

There are fourteen Manvantaras during the life of the present Brahmā (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 Svāyambhuva. After him five more Manus, Svārociṣa, Uttama, Tāmasa, Raivata and Cākṣuṣa, have passed away. The present Manu is Vaivasvata the son of Sūrya. The current Vaivasvata Manvantara is the seventh. At the end of seven more Manvantaras, the present Brahmā will perish and a new Brahmā will be born. For the names of the Indras of different Manvantaras, see under Manvantara. (Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Part 2, Chapter 1).

Indra became a Calf.

(See under Pṛthu).

The name Purandara.

Sardar K.M. Panikkar in his preface to Ṛgveda Saṃhitā says that Indra got the name Purandara because he destroyed the cities (Puras) of the Dasyus. But in Chapter 71, of Vāmana Purāṇa, we are told that he got this name because he killed "Pura", the son of Mahābali.

Indra in the land of Koṅkaṇa.

Once an Asura named Śūrapadma obtained from Brahmā, a boon to enable him to conquer the whole world. He persecuted the inhabitants of all the three worlds. He sent his followers to bring Indrāṇī (Indra’s wife) to him as a captive. Indra, who came to know of this, secretly went away with Indrāṇī to the Koṅkaṇa land and lived in a temple there. After some days, entrusting Indrāṇī to the protection of Śāstā, he went to Kailāsa. Just at this time, Śūrapadma’s sister Ajāmukhī came there and tempted Indrāṇī. Śāstā cut off the hands of Ajāmukhī and took Indrāṇī to Kailāsa. (Skanda Purāṇa, Asura Kāṇḍa).

Indra and Mucukunda.

Mucukunda, a King of the Ikṣvāku dynasty, once went to Devaloka at the invitation of Indra. In the war between the Devas and Asuras, Mucukunda helped Indra and the Asuras were defeated. Indra was pleased and asked Mucukunda what boon he wanted. Mucukunda asked for a boon which would give him long and sound sleep. Indra granted it and in addition declared that anyone who disturbed Mucukunda’s sleep would be reduced to ashes. After that Mucukunda went to sleep in a cave in the middle of a dense forest.

A King of the tribe Yavana performed penance to Brahmā and obtained his boon which would enable him to defeat the Yādavas (Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s clan) and he began to fight with Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Because of Brahmā’s boon, Śrī Kṛṣṇa was not able to kill him. He drove Yavana into the cave in which Mucukunda was sleeping. Mucukunda suddenly woke up from his sleep and looked at him with great anger. Yavana was at once reduced to ashes. (Bhāgavata, 10th Skandha).

Indra’s favourite Drink.

The juice of the Soma Plant is the favourite drink of Indra. (Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 1st Anuvāka, 1st Sūkta).

Indra became a Goat.

Sage Aṅgiras began worshipping the Devas, hoping to have a son who will be equal in glory to Indra. Indra who did not like another person to be his equal, took birth himself as the son of Aṅgiras. Savya is the name of that son. Once Savya assumed the form of a goat and ate up the soma plant of a sage called Medhātithi. The sage then called him Meṣa (goat). Indra is still known by the name, Meṣa. (Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 1st Anuvāka, 5 1st Sūkta).

Indra turns woman.

Once Indra took birth as the daughter of a king named Vṛṣaṇāśva and assumed the name Menā. (Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 1st Anuvāka, 52nd Sūkta).

Indra and Ṛjiśvan.

Once Indra helped a King named Ṛjiśvā to defeat the Asuras, Karañja, Parṇaya and Vaṃgṛda. (Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 1st Anuvāka, 53rd Sūkta).

Indra and Sūrya.

A King named Svaśva offered prayers to Sūrya to bless him with children. Sūrya himself took birth as his son. Once a great sage called Etaśa got involved in a fight with this son (Sūrya). When the sage was about to collapse, Indra came to his rescue. (Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 11th Anuvāka, 62nd Sūkta).

Indra and Saramā.

Once an asura called Paṇi stole some cows and hid them in some unknown place. Indra asked Saramā, the bitch of the Devas to find out and inform him where the cows were kept concealed. Saramā replied that she was prepared to do so, if Indra would give milk to her child and look after it in her absence. Indra undertook that task and the bitch went out and found out the place where the cows were hidden and reported it to Indra, (Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 11th Anuvāka, 62nd Sūkta).

Indra and Dadhīca.

Dadhīca (Dadhīci) was the son of Atharva. He used to scare away the Asuras by his eerrible look. Once when he had gone to Heaven, the earth became infested with Asuras. Indra set out to fight them. He tried to find out whether Dadhīca had left behind anything to be used as a weapon. "Dadhīca had with him a horse-head", he was told. Indra went in search of it and at last found it in a lake at a place called Śaraṇya. It is with its bone that he killed the Asuras. (Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 13th Anuvāka, 84th Sūkta).

Indra and Dadhyaṅ.

Indra taught Madhuvidyā (The science of intoxicating drinks) to Dadhyaṅ. He was warned by Indra that if he communicated that lore to anyone else, his head would be cut off. Once the Aśvinīs wanted to learn it. Since Indra had denied Soma drinking to Aśvinīs, they were not on good terms with Indra. So they approached Dadhyaṅ to acquire that Knowledge. But he refused to teach them due to his fear that Indra would cut off his head. So the Aśvinīs cut off Dadhyaṅ’s head and fixed a horse’s head in its place. With that horse-head Dadhyaṅ taught the Aśvinīs Madhu Vidyā. After they had learnt the knowledge, they replaced his own head after removing the horse-head. (Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 17th Anuvāka, 116th Sūkta).

81) It is said that once, in a light mood, Indra made a mare give birth to a cow. (Ṛgveda, 1st Maṇḍala, 18th Anuvāka, 121st Sūkta).

Indra and Śatānīka.

Śatānīka was a King of the Lunar dynasty who ruled over the city of Kauśāmbī. Indra who was highly impressed by his heroic exploits once invited him to Devaloka to suppress the Asuras. In the war with Asuras, Śatānīka was killed. After that Śatānīka’s son, Sahasrānīka went to Devaloka and killed the Asuras. Indra who was pleased declared that Sahasrānīka would marry the beautiful Mṛgāvatī and they were married. See under Mṛgāvatī. (Kathāsaritsāgara, Kathāmukha laṃbaka, 1st Taraṅga).

Indra and Vāsavadattā.

Vāsavadattā who was the wife of Udayana was born in the world by Indra’s blessing. See under "Vāsavadattā". (Kathāsaritsāgara, Kathāmukha laṃbaka, 1st Taraṅga).

Indra and Meghanāda.

Rāvaṇa conquered the world with the help of Brahmā’s blessing. In his pride he came into conflict with Indra. After a fierce battle, Rāvaṇa’s son, Meghanāda defeated Indra. He took Indra to Laṅkā as a prisoner. Rāvaṇa chained Īndra’s hands and feet and tied him to his flagstaff. The Devas in distress approached Brahmā for help. Brahmā went to Laṅkā and secured the release of Indra. After giving the title of Indrajit to Meghanāda, Brahmā returned to Brahmaloka.

Sometime before this Devendra had committed adultery with Ahalyā, Sage Gautama’s wife. At that time Gautama had uttered a curse on him, that he would have to spend a year in prison, chained by an enemy. His life in Rāvaṇa’s prison in Laṅkā was in fulfilment of that curse. (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa).

Indra and Hanūmān.

Hanūmān, the son of Vāyu (wind) sprang up into the sky as soon as he was born, seeing the brilliant rising sun, and mistaking it to be some delicious food. He saw Rāhu who was standing near the sun and made a leap towards him. When he came near, he saw Airāvata, Indra’s elephant, standing in Devaloka. At once he turned towards that elephant to swallow him. Seeing the struggle between Hanūmān and Airāvata Indra used his weapon Vajra which cut the monkey’s "hanu" (jaw bone) and he fell down dead on the earth. Vāyu, in deep sorrow, took the dead body of his son and went to Pātāla. When Vāyu (wind) left the world, the creatures of the world underwent great suffering. Then the Devas led by Brahmā went to Pātāla, consoled Vāyu and revived Hanūmān. Since his "Hanu" was cut with Vajra, the monkey was named "Hanūmān" by Indra. Besides, Indra gave him a blessing that Hanūmān would die only when he wished. (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa; Kiṣkindhā Kāṇḍa; 66th Sarga).

Indra and Govardhana.

For the story of how the people of Gokula (Cowherds' colony) stopped the worship of Indra, how Indra caused a heavy shower of rain, and how Śrī Kṛṣṇa used the Govardhana mountain as an umbrella, see under "Kṛṣṇa".

Indra becomes victim of old age.

Once the sage Durvāsas went to Devaloka. The goddesses gave him a grand reception at which Menakā presented him with a garland made of fragrant flowers. The sage gave it to Devendra. Indra placed it on Airāvata’s tusk. The fragrance of the garland attracted a large number of bees to it. They swarmed round the head of the elephant and annoyed it. Airāvata picked up the garland trampled it under his foot, pulled it to pieces and threw it away. Durvāsas took this as an insult to himself and pronounced a curse that all the gods would be subjected to wrinkles and grey hair of old age.

Indra and the other gods fell victims to old age. Indra requested Durvāsas to release him from his curse. The sage relented and told him that if the Devas drank Amṛta obtained by churning the ocean of milk they would recover their youth. Accordingly, the ocean of milk was churned by the joint effort of the Devas and Asuras and in the end the Devas snatched it away. When the Devas drank Amṛta, the symptoms of old age disappeared and they recovered their youth. (Uttara Rāmāyana).

Indra and Daṇḍakāraṇya.

Daṇḍa the son of Ikṣvāku, a King of the Solar dynasty, ruled over the territory between the Vindhya and the Himālayas. Once when he was out ahunting in the neighbourhood of the mountains, he saw a charming woman. She was "Arā", the daughter of the sage Śukra. The King was fascinated by her beauty and fell desperately in love with her at the very first sight. He seized her by force and committed rape on her. When Śukra knew about this, he was furious and uttered a curse that Indra should shower a rain of fire on Daṇḍa’s kingdom. Thus the whole country of Daṇḍa was destroyed by Indra’s rain of fire. In course of time that region was turned into a dense forest and came to be called "Daṇḍakāraṇya". (Uttara Rāmāyaṇa).

Other names of Indra.

Indra; Marutvān, Maghavān, Biḍaujas, Pākaśāsana, Vṛddhaśravas, Sunāsīra, Puruhūta, Purandara, Jiṣṇu, Lekharṣabha, Śakra, Śatamanyu, Divaspati, Sutrāmā, Gotrabhit, Vajṛī, Vāsava, Vṛtrahā, Vṛṣā, Vāstoṣpati, Surapaṭi Valārāti, Śacīpati, Jambhabhedin, Harihaya, Svārāt, Namucisūdana, Saṃkrandana, Duścyavana, Turāṣāt Meghavāhana, Ākhaṇḍala, Sahasrākṣa, Ṛbhukṣā.

Indra’s Divinity.

In the earliest stage of Hinduism, Indra had occupied one of the most eminent places among the gods. Mahāviṣṇu had only the place of younger brother of Indra at that time. In Amara Kośa we find "Upendra Indrāvaraja" as the synonym of Viṣṇu. In Ṛgveda Indra has a more important place. Although Rudra is a divinity or deity and although there are references to Kapardin, there is not even a single stuti (praise) about Śiva in the Ṛgveda. Ṛgveda does not recognize Devīpūjā and idol worship. But in the Purāṇic age, Indra was transformed into a lascivious "Deva Prabhu" (Lord among the gods). Sardar K.M. Panikkar, in his preface to "Ṛgveda Saṃhitā" says about Indra:—"The main actor in Ṛgveda is Indra. In the war against the Dasyus the Āryas seek the help chiefly of Indra. Indra is represented as very handsome and of a golden complexion. His weapon is Vajra, thunderbolt which was made by Tvaṣṭā. Vāyu (wind) is his charioteer. He is constantly travelling about in the sky driving in his golden chariot. Indra likes drinking Soma juice more than the other gods. Indra is even referred to as "Somapa". He is also sometimes described as the twin brother of Agni. Sages have sung unendingly about the exploits of Indra. Hiraṇyastūpa, a sage, has composed a work entitled "Indrastuti" which celebrates many of the heroic deeds of Indra. Indra was Vajrapāṇi who had slain the Asuras like Ahi, Tuṣṇa, Śaṃbara, Vala, Vṛtra and others.

There are also several stories in the Vedas about the birth of this hero. At the time of Indra’s birth, somehow, his mother felt that he was incapable of being killed. So she decided to abandon him. Fearing trouble for herself, she asked the child to leave her and go to some other place. Indra refused to do so and followed her to the house of Tvaṣṭā. There he drank the juice of the soma plant and gained strength to kill his enemies. But unaware of this, his mother, tried to keep him concealed. Indra, however, came out of the place in his dazzling attire and encountered the enemies. Vṛtra who met Indra got ready for a fight. In the fight Vyaṃsa struck down Indra. The devas fled in fear. Indra who was left alone called upon Viṣṇu and sought his aid.

Although Indra needed help in his fight with Vṛtra, he was the chief support to the Ārynas in their fight against the Dasyus. It was Indra’s Vajra which broke up the fortresses of many Dasyu kings. That was why he got the name "Purandara". Once Indra dried up the whole river to enable his army to cross it for the sake of Sudās. When Suśravas became helpless, Indra destroyed twenty kings and 60099 soldiers with his chariot wheel. Thus we see Indra in the Ṛgveda as the destroyer of the Dasyus and the protector of Āryans."

Indrāṇī, Śacī and Pulomajā are the names of Indra’s wife. Indra’s son, Jayanta is also known by the name of Pākaśāsani. Indra’s city is Amarāvatī; his chariot "Vimāna", his charioteer Mātali, and his garden Nandanavana. "Vaijayanta" is the name of his mansion. Indra’s weapon has several other names, such as, Hrādinī, Kuliśa, Bhidura, Pavi, Śatakoṭi, Svaru, Śāmba, Dambholi, Aśani etc. Indra’s assembly is called "Sudharmā". Indra’s bow is the rainbow, his sword is Parañjaya and his residence is Heaven. The trees in Heaven are, Mandāra, Pārijāta, Santāna, Kalpavṛkṣa and Haricandana. The festival celebrated in honour of Indra is called "Śakradhvajotthāna" or "Indrotsava".

Indra and Uttaṅka.

See under Uttaṅka.

Indra and Kabandha.

See the second para under the name Kabandha.

Indra was born as Gādhi.

See under Gādhi.

Śiva ended Indra’s pride.

See under Pāṇḍavas.

Indra stole the cows.

For the story of how Indra stole the cows from Gokula see under Kṛṣṇa.

Indra and Mahāśani.

Once Mahāśani, the son of Hiraṇya defeated the gods in a battle and took Indra and Indrāṇī to Pātāla as captives. The Devas who knew that Mahāśani was a relative of Varuṇa, sought the help of Varuṇa. At the instance. of Varuṇa, Indra was released. The revengeful Indra prayed to Śiva. Śiva appeared and asked Indra to submit his complaint to Viṣṇu. Indra offered his prayers to Viṣṇu. As a result of it, a man who had the elements of Śiva and Viṣṇu, in him, took his birth from the water of the Gaṅgā. He killed Mahāśani. (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa).

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