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Indra Home -› Lesser Gods -› Indra
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Indra - god of firmament
Indra, the god of firmament and the king of the abode of gods, is probably the most colorful character in Hindu mythology. The ebb and tide of his career, the rise and fall of his power provides a very fascinating story to all, who are interested in the lives of Hindu gods and goddesses. His parents were the sky god DYAUS PITA and the earth goddess PRTHIVI; he was born fully-grown and fully armed from his mother's side. His wife was INDRANI, and his attendants were called the MARUTS. His sons are named as JAYANTA, MIDHUSA, NILAMBARA, RBHUS, RSABHA, SITRAGUPTA, and, most importantly, ARJUNA.

In the Vedas - rather early Vedic age - Indra stands as the top-ranking figure among gods. Still he is not equivalent to OMKAR or Brahma because he has a parentage.

He was the leader of the Devas, the god of war, the god of thunder and storms, and the greatest of all warriors, the strongest of all beings. He was the defender of gods and mankind against the forces of evil. He had early aspects of a sun god, riding in a golden chariot across the heavens, but he is more often known as the god of thunder, wielding the celestial weapon VAJRA, the lightening bolt. He is the ruler of the atmosphere and the weathers are at his command. Whenever and wherever he thinks proper Indra sends rains as well as thunders and lightning. He is also represented having a big bow with long pointed arrows as well as a big hook and a net, in which he is said to entrap his enemies.

Indra - meghavahana - the rider of clouds
He shows aspects of being a creator god, having set order to the cosmos, and since he was the one who brought water to earth, he was a fertility god as well. He also had the power to revive slain warriors who had fallen in battle. As a high ranking god he had been shown as the preserver and rescuer of cows, priests and even gods. He once killed a demon named VALA, who had stolen cows so that men would not use the milk for themselves or for religious ceremonies. He killed this demon and saved the cows. In the earlier Vedic period he is a very great warrior, who subdued the enemies of Aryans and conquered their forts. During his warfare against enemies of gods he was assisted by other lesser gods-especially MARUTS. He has got more hymns of praise than other gods in Vedas and he was widely worshipped for his kindness and as the granter of rains and the giver of fertility. He was known as a great drinker of Soma; sometimes he did this to draw strength, and when he did he grew to gigantic proportions to battle his enemies, but more often he merely wanted to get drunk. When not in his chariot, Indra rode on the great white elephant AIRAVATA, who was always victorious, and who had four tusks, which resembled a sacred mountain. He was given numerous titles including SAKRA ("Powerful"), VAJRI ("the Thunderer"), PURANDARA ("Destroyer of Cities"), MEGHAVAHANA ("Rider of the Clouds"), and SWARGAPATI ("the Lord of Heaven").

Indra's most notable exploit was his battle with the asura VRITRA. Vritra took the form of a mighty dragon, and had stolen all the water in the world for himself. No one could do anything about this until Indra was born. Upon hearing what had happened, Indra vowed to take back the life giving liquid. He rode forth to meet him the terrible Vritra. He consumed great amounts of Soma to give him the strength needed to fight such a foe. Indra smashed through Vritra's ninety-nine fortresses, and then came upon the dragon. The two clashed, and after a long battle Indra was able to destroy his powerful enemy. Vritra had been keeping the earth in a drought, but when Indra split open the demon, the waters again fell from the skies. So Indra became a hero to all people, and the gods elected him their king for his victory.
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