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.
|INDRA - GOD OF FIRMAMENT AND KING OF THE ABODE
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.
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").
|MEGHAVAHANA - THE RIDER OF CLOUDS
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.