The figure and characteristics of Indra  as depicted in Mahābhārata-Rāmāyaṇa-Purāṇa is completely different from that of his acts and manners as described in  old Veda and Brāhmaṇa treaties. Indra in/of Veda  the greatest warrior, he is slaughter of Vṛtra, Namuci, Śuṣṇa, Cumuri, Dhuni, Śambara, Pripru, Vala, Arbuda, Kuyava — killing these dangerous demons/Asuras he is celibrated as a  greatly  honoured hero of Devaloka (Heaven) in Veda and  Brāhmaṇa books. Hundreds of his  deeds are appraised in Ṛgveda — Indra strengthened the painstriken  loose/weak Earth, created the Antarīkṣa, settled the Mountains, thundered the Sky, created Fire in the Cloud, he made the entire Viśva-bhuvana (World ) —

yaḥ pṛthivīṃ vyathamānāmadṛṃhat

yaḥ parvatān prakupitā aramṇāt.

yo antarīkṣaṃ vimame varīyo

yo dyāmyastabhnāt sa janāsa indraḥ.

In this ṛksūkta many  deeds of Indra are celebrated with much importance.  Various other deeds and virtues of Indra are hailed in the other sūktas,  in thousands  of mantravarṇas (letters of Mantra). Indra has become Devarāja King of Deities) from Deva,  who are the rivals there, list of their names is so big, so is the power and tactics to resist and  kill them — all that is in his control.

The devils and demons whom Indra defeated and destructed Śambara, Bala and Vṛtra were famous among them. It is  more curious than the description of repeated fight of Indra with  Śambara  that the demon named  Śambara  had hidden himself in a mountain, Indra  could caught  him after searching for forty years, it is so assumed 

ya Śambaraṃ parvateṣu kṣiyantaṃ

catvāriśyāṃ śaradyannavindat

About Śambarāsura, there are two other stories in Ṛgveda. Śambara had a hundred rocky-stony unenterable palaces which were destructed  by throwing thunder by Indra-

yaḥ śataṃ śambarasya puro vibhedāśmaneva pūrvīḥ/

Paṇḍitas proclaimed, the name ‘Purandara’ is famous for this fest of Indra in Mahābhārata-Rāmāyaṇa-Purāāṇa. Other power of Śambarāsura is Māyā (Dissimulation). Without  the power of Māyā or deceit it was not possible to hide himself for a long period of forty ears from Indra.  Śambara is marked as ‘Mahāmāya’ in Mahābhārata and the phrase Māyā of Śambara here stands as a proverb–

śambarasya ca yā māyā/

Ofcource Devarāja  Indra too has become a deceitful deity for killing such demons or by own nature.It is clearly/vividly said in Ṛgveda — You have killed the deceitful  demon Śuṣṇa by deceit only-

māyābhirindra māyinaṃ tvaṃ śuṣṇamavatiraḥ/

Though by  is the word Māyā, here, Indra’s power of taking several supernatural forms is narrated 

rūpaṃ rūpaṃ pratirūpaṃ babhūva

tadasya rūpaṃ praticakṣaṇāya/

indro māyābhiḥ pururūpa īyate/

yuktā hyasya harayaḥ śatā daśa//

Indra has become king of deities from a deity as stated in Veda and Brāhmaṇa treaties, that is mainly on the basis of killing Asura and dreadful demons. This Kingship is so prestigious to Indra himself that in spite of exposition/revelation of his extra-ordinary merit of warriorship/warfare his  aspect of deceit and crooked character is also manifested in Veda-Brāhmaṇa.and it is remarkable, in post vedic period at the age of Mahābhārata-Rāmāyaṇa-Purāṇa his eagerness to be settled  as devarāja-padavī (appellation  as king of deities) any how, prominent than to be the most valorous warrior.


In  Ṛgveda warfare of Indra is appraised extremely in the stories of killing several enemies and to regard him as the greatest king considering the result of his warriorship. As said  — You are king of kings, you are Rājendra (the lord of kings) —

tvaṃ rājendra ye ca devāḥ

Atharvaveda, the contemporary/subsequent treaty to Ṛgveda the title Rājendra does/did not remain in the status/ stage of homage/pratsing. In Atharvaveda the declaration comes down directly as notification/advertisement  — Indra is the king of this tribhubana (three world), he is the king of all mankind, He is the god of his kingdom extended by himself. He is Svarāt (Swarat, King by Himelf ). He is Indra among all Indras, i.e, king of all kings too. —

* indro rājā jagataścarṣaṇīnām

* indrendra manuṣyaḥ parehi


Why this Indra is kings of king, that is proclaimed in Aitareya Brāhmaṇa — he is the most powerful of all the deities, he is the boldest, he can bear/tolerate the enemy’s power mostly, he is the best of all, he is the most honest, he is the best performer of all works among the deities..–

ayaṃ devānāojiṣṭho baliṣṭhaḥ/

shiṣṭhaḥ sattamaḥ pārayiṣṇutamaḥ/

Which deity is getting how much share of somarasa   — on  this  the importance of  the deities was considered in Vedas and Brāhmaṇas,. On the basis of this thought more importance goes to Indra. The right of the deities over somarasa  as offerings into sacrifices is lessened.

It appears that on Somarasa, Indra’s right is the supreme.There are many examples of such incidents where Indra, before great battles, empowers himself by the drinking of Soma. There are also such examples where the yajñ-performers are inviting Indra to drink Somarasa, offering it as āhūti in yajña. In one mantra it is said that– “O Indra Śatakratu! Drinking this Soma, you had killed demons like Vṛtra–
asya pītvā śtakrato ghano vṛtrāṇāmabhavaḥ.

Drinking Soma is the favourite pastime of Indra, and in one mantra it is found that drinking Soma, Indra’s belly has become as big as the sea, and in his mouth, the drops of Soma never dry out, that is, he drinks constantly–
yaḥ kukṣiḥ somapatamaḥ samudra iva piṇvate
urvīrāpo na kākudaḥ.

It require a book-length study to describe the way Indra’s appearance and habits, his heroic frats, and his kindness to his loyal subjects , as described in Veda and Brāhmaṇa, but in the age of Mahābhārata and Purāṇ, this glory had been reduced to a great degree. In the perid between the Vedic age and that of Upaniṣad, there came a sense of mortal disappointment about getting the desirable fruits by pleasing gods, and they were too many. This attitude could be found towards the end of the Vedic age itself. To which god should we offer so much of havi (ghee)–
kasmai devāya haviṣā vidhema.

This kind of disappointment regarding kāmaya karma and and the god who gives its fruit, ultimately made way to the concept of the Only and One Brrahman of Upaniṣad. Finally, with the rise of the Trinity of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara, these there came to be mostly identified with the Supreme Brahman, and the other Vedic gods, including Indra, suffered a decline of glory.

In Mahābhārata-Rāmāyaṇa-Purāṇa, Indra remained the king of gods, but he had an obligation to Brahmā, Viṣṇu or Mahādeva. He was still the warrior-slayer of the demons, as previously mentioned, but this new idea came to be solidified that his glory and victory ultimately depend on the help of the Supreme Deities like Viṣṇu or Śiva. Such things alsohappened that, Indra had to suffer a lot at the hand of the Asura(s) mentioned earlier, and several times he had to fly away from svarga, even leaving his Indrāṇī Śacī. Above all, the heroic glory of Indra has been so much stained in the later period, that he always fears that some man or demon will take his kingdom away. Several times, sending the Apsarā(s), he has tried to break the ascetic penance of the sages, but all the time he has not been successful. In this way, his greatness has been jeopardised.

Indra was no longer a supreme god, nor does he hold infinite power as the Vedic Indra– this idea got reflected in an Upaniṣdic text as archaic as Kenopaniṣad. Here it is said that, it was with the power of the almighty Brahman that the gods gained victory over the Asura(s), and started considering themselves as champions. They considered the victory as theirs only–
ta aikṣntāsmakamevāyaṃ vijayao asmākamevāyaṃ mahimā.

In this situation, Brahman took a strange shape and came in front of the gods, but they could not recognise him. He placed a grass in front of them, and invited Agni, Vāyu and Indra to test their power upon it. None of them could do anything to the single grass. When Indra came, Haimavatī Umā, as a manifestation of the Supreme Brahman, addressed him and said– “This is the victory of the Supreme Power. Don’t glorify yourselves, but give credit to that Supreme Power, for your victory over the demons.”

This decline in the glory of Indra in Kenopaniṣad shaped his character in later times in a mixed way. Viṣṇu-Kṛṣṇa or Rudra-Śiva or Durgā became manifestation of Brahman and Indra became dependent on them. Above all, Indra was not one, but the concept of several Indra(s), and the status of Indra as a ‘post’ became prominent in the Purāna-age. A man or demon could also achieve the position of Indra by hard ascetic practices. The theory of Kenopaniṣad– that Indra was powerful only by virtue of the power entitled to him by the Supreme Power– came to be described in a different way in the legend of five Indra(s) in Mahābhārata.

Indra cast his terrible Vajra upon Triśirā Viśvarūpa. Struck by the thunder, Triśirā fell down like a fallen mountain peak–
parvatasyeva śikharaṃ praṇunnaṃ dharaṇītale
Even in that condition, Triśirā’s body was glowing with his ascetic power, and his three heads were looking alive still. Seeing this, Indra stood in fear and astonishment, not knowing what to do. Suddenly he found a vardhaki, who came there to collect woods, he had an axe with him. Indra asked him to cut off the heads of Triśirā. The wood-cutter said, “The neck of this man is too hard, my axe won’t be able to cut it off. And, why should I do such an act, as condemned by virtuous people? Indra insisted that he must kill Triśirā, and assured him that his axe will be as hard as the thunder.
The wood-cutter did not obey him without questions, even after knowing his identity. He asked Indra, whether he was not afraid of sins, even after killing the son of a sage during his tapasyā. Indra said, “I’ll afterwards perform hard rituals of prenance, and get id of my sins. However, this powerful Asura is my opponent, and I have already killed him. You just procced and cut off his heads. Out of kindness to you, I can further assure you that you will get the heads of the animals sacrificed in yajña(s).

Then the wood-cutter cut the heads off, and Indra, relieved of his fear, returned to heaven. Now, seeing that Indra has killed his son, Tvaṣṭā Prajāpati said, “My son Triśirā was performing asceticism, and he himself was a forgiving and disciplined person. Indra has killed him for no fault of his. Now I’ll create another son who will kill Indra.” Then, performing ‘acamana’, he offered āhūti to fire and said, “O enemy of Indra. Grow and flourish, by the virtue of my ascetic power.” Then Vṛtrāsura came out and grew across the sky.

so’vardhata divaṃ stavdhā sūryavaiśvānaropamaḥ.
The ancient Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa has noted that the origin of the name Vṛtra lies in this act of spreading his torso across the sky. It is said that Vṛtra was lying,  spreading his body across the space between the earth and heaven, so he came to be known by this name.

vṛtra ha vā idaṃ sarvaṃ vṛtvā siśye.
yadidaṃ antareṇa dyāvāpṛthivī sa yadedaṃ sarvaṃ vṛtvā śiśye
tasmad vṛtro nāma.

As instructed by Tvaṣṭā Prajāpati, Vṛtra attacked the heaven to kill Indra. A terrible fight started between Indra and Vṛtra. In Mahābhārata, it is said that Vṛtra at first consumed Indra. Then the gods became anxious, and they created Jṛmbhikā. As a result Vṛtra started jṛmbhana, opening his mouth and Indra came out of his mouth. The hostility did not stop then, and the battle continued. By the power of Tvṣṭā, Vṛtra became more powerful, and Indra had to retreat. The gods also got depressed, seeing this danger of Indra, and sat for consultation with the sages. In that consultation-assembley, Indra himself said, Vṛtra has occupied the entire world.

I have found no weapon that can kill him. Earlier I was able to fight him on equal terms, but I am no longer able to withstand this powerful demon. Let’s go to God Viṣṇu, he is the preserver of all. He will tell us the way of destroying Vṛtra.

The gods and sages then visited Viṣṇu. Uttering hymns dedicated to him, they told him everything. God Viṣṇu said, “You should go to Vṛtra, with the sages, gods and Gandharva(s), and talk to him politely. Before killing him, trying to form friendship with him. In the meantime, I’ll enter the vajra of Indra, unperceived by all.
sāma tasya prayuṅjaddhvaṃ tata enaṃ vijeṣyatha.
vṛtrasya saha śakreṇa sandhiṃ kuruta mā ciraṃ.

In Mahābhārata, in the context of Viṣṇu’s proposal to form an ‘alliance’ with Vṛtra, and in Bhāgavata Purāṇa and some other Purāṇa(s), the greatness of Vṛtra becomes all the more prominent. Especially in Bhāgavatapurāṇa, when Vṛtra is fighting face-to-face with Indra, the glory of God Viṣṇu is put in his mouth in such a way, as he gets more glorified than the gods. At one point, when the Vajra slipped from Indra’s grip, by a blow from Vṛtra, the later asked him to take it up again, and cast his blow upon him. Seeing this mental strength of Vṛtra, Indra himself praised him. And throughpout the chapter, it is Vṛtra’s advice that becomes all the more important– just as a wooden girl-doll or an animal made of leaves cannot move without the controlling power of the magician or the master-actor, so everything is controlled by the will of the Supreme God. Considering this, one should remain equally composed in life and death, happiness and sorrow, victory or defeat, glory and loss of fame.
yathā dārumayī nārī yathā patramayo mṛgaḥ
evambhūtāni maghavan īśatandrāṇi viddhi bhoḥ.
samaḥ syat sukhaduḥkhābhyāṃ mṛtyu-jīvitayostathā.

In Bhāgavatapurāṇa, Vṛtra was slain by the vajra-made of the bone of sage Dadhīci. In Mahābhārata, the incident is somewhat different. There, God Viṣṇu assured Indra that he would enter into the vajra of Indra, and also instructed him to offer friendship to Vṛtra, mediated by the sages. So, the sages went to him and said, “O Vṛtra, you are invincible, all the world is subdued by your power. But you are also not able to defeat Indra. You are fighting constantly, and thus a long time has passed. And as a result of this terrible fight, the entire universe is suffering. So, to get rid of this calamity, we wish that a friendship takes place between yourself and Indra. You will be happy and benefitted.

Hearing the advice of the sages, Vṛtra bowed his head, and said, “It is not possible to form an alliance between two powerful beings. I am powerful, so is Indra, how can there be a friendship between us?
tejasorhi dvayordevā sakhyaṃ vai bhavitā katham?

Still, the sages tried to convince him, They established the honour, power and status of Indra, and said, “It is our wish that your friendship will continue with Indra, you think of trusting Indra, and should not let your mind be otherwise–
tena te saha śakreṇa sandhirbhavatu śāśvataḥ.
evam viśvāsamāgaccha mā te bhūdvuddhiranyath.

This time, Vṛtra did not refuse the sages. Addressing the gods and sages, he said, I’ll obey the sages and I’ll only give some conditions– under these circumstances, I won’t be killed. He said, ‘I won’t be killed by anything dry or wet, nor by rock and wood, nor by weapons, neither in daytime nor at night, and above all, I won’t be killed by Indra or any other god. The sages acted as mediators and accepted all the conditions given by Vṛtra. An alliance was founded between Indra and Vṛtra.

After the sandhi, Indra had no longer a fear of attack from Vṛtra. He was in search of an opportunity of killing Vṛtra, especially thinking over the lacunae within the conditions Vṛtra gave to the sages. One day, he found Vṛtra on the sea-beach. The time was then neither day nor night, it was evening. He thought, it was the time perfect for killing the Asura. He meditated on God Viṣṇu, and found that a huge lump of sea-foam solidified in the bosom of the sea. This solidified foam was neither stone nor wood, nor any specific weapon. Indra attached that lump of sea-foam to his Vajra, and at that moment God Viṣṇu also entered into that. Indra cast it upon Vṛtrāsura, and he was slain.

In Udyogaparva of Mahābhārata, the incident of killing Triśirā Viśvarūpa and Vṛtra do not match the legend narrated in Śāntiparva. And the legend of making Vajra out of the solidified sea-foam is different from the traditional notion of making the Vajra out of the bone of Dadhīci. Here it is found that– Viśvarūpa the son of Tvaṭā Prajāpati, was the priest of the gods. And he was also a nephew of the Asura(s), through maternal connections. Since he was the priest of the gods, he used to give the gods their share of the yajña-offering. And he would send the yajña-share by somebody else, indirectly. The Asura(s) were highly offended at this, and led by the demon-king Hiraṇyakaśpu, they visited their sister– mother of Viśvarūpa, and said, “This is unfair. Your son is giving the gods their yajña-share directly, and ours by deputy. In this way the gods are growing powerful, and we are getting weaker day by day. Ask you son to give us our due.

One day, when Viśvarūpa came to Nandanavana, his mother told him, “Why are you doing this, which goes against the interest of your maternal uncles? In no ways, you can justify it. Then, hearing his mother’s complaint, Viśvarūpa thought that he should work for the flourish of his maternal side. With this purpose, he started tapasyā.

atha viśvarūpo mātṛpakṣavardhanaḥ atyarthaḥṃ tapasyabhavat.

Indra sent the Apsarā(s), to break his ascetic practice, but they failed. They wished to go away, but Viśvarūpa said, “Why, you can stay here, and it will be good for you. The Apsarā(s) said, we are divine women, and we’ll accept Indra as our husband, because he will be powerful in future. Hearing this, Viśvarūpa said, “Let Indra and all the gods perish today–
adyaiva vai sendrā devā na bhaviṣyanti.
Now Viśvarūpa started his chanting of mantra(s), as noticeably, at this time, his three heads began to grow. With one mouth, he was taking Somarasa given by the yājñika brāhmaṇa(s), with the second, he was taking ‘anna’, and with the third, he was almost attempting to consume Indra along with all other gods. Seeingg the danger, Indra and the other gods went to god Brahmā. They informed him that all somarasa offered in yajña was now being consumed by Viśvarūpa; and the gods were getting weaker, without their due. Please do something so that we may be benefited.

Hearing all this, Brahmā asked them to go to Sage Dadhīci. The gods would ask for a boon from him–so that he gives away his mortal body. after this, they need to make the ‘Vajra’ out of his bones. With this advice, Brahmā sent the gods to the place where Dadhīci was performing his tapasyā. The sage was a great a generous soul. The gods made a fervent request to him– “Kindly give away your mortal existence for the benefit of the universe. The sage, considering happiness and sorrow, life an death in equal terms, by virtue of his Yogic perception, assimilated his Jīvātman with Paramātmān. His mortal body lied there, and then Dhātā made Vajra out of it. God Viṣṇu entered into that Vajra. With that Vajra, Indra killed Triśirā Viśvarūpa. Then the gods started churning the body of Viśvarūpa, and from his body emerged another demon called Vṛtra. Indra also killed him with the same Vajra.

It is to be noted that when Aitareya Brāhmaṇa is mentioning the legend of Triśirā Viśvarūpa, there is also the mention of Vṛtra, as the second enemy of Indra’s. After killing Viśvarūpa and Triśirā, the gods did not allow Indra to have his share of Somarasa, since ḍhe has done Brahmahatyā. However, it is said that Indra was temporarily banned due to five sins committed by him. The other three were– He made the forest dogs feed on the flesh of Asura(s) who were disguised as Sages, he killed an Asura called Arumargha, dress as a Brāhmaṇa, and he misbehaved with Vṛhaspati, the Guru of the gods. Due to this five offences, he lost the right to Somarasa, on a temporary basis.

In the context of Indra’s killing of the demons, the legend of Namuci comes repeatedly, and it is also to to be noted that, the way Indra used the neither-dry-nor-moist seafoam to kill Triśrā Viśvarūpa, in one of the legends in Mahābhārata, he also used the same to kill Namuci. And this is accounted in texts that are more ancient than Mahābhārata– Kṛṣṇayajurvedīya Taittirīya Saṃhitā and Śuklayajurvedīya Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā.

In Ṛgveda, where there is a general mention of Indra’s killing of demons, we also have the mention of Namuci, in general terms–
yaḥ pipraṃ namuciṃ rudhikrāṃ.

But in Ṛgveda, there is also a brief account of how this Namuci became an enemy of Indra. According to this legend, the sage Vabhru, who is the author of this sūkta, mentions Vṛtra at first and then mentions Namuci, saying that– “It was for the benefit of humankind, for their happiness that you turned to dust the head of Namuci–
atrā dāsasya namuceḥ śiro yad
avartayo manave gātumicchan.

After this Vabhru tells us that Namuci placed his wives at the forefront, used them as protective weapons,while fighting with Indra. But Indra was not befooled by this strategy, he kept the wives locked in the inner quarters and proceeded to fight Namuci. However, it is not said whether Namuci was killed in this very battle.

In these mantras of Ṛgveda, the demon Namuci is referred to as Dāsa, and researchers have found this term synnonumous with ‘Dasyu’.

Drawing on this context, it can be said that — once Namuci took away the share of Soma that was due to Indra, and without Soma, Indra became very weak. This, by taking away Soma, Namuci seemed to take away all his strength as well–
namucinā indrasya vīryam pītam.
Finally, at the gods’ request the twin Aśvinikumāra(s), along with goddess Sarasvatī, rescued that Soma–
aśvinau hyenaṃ namuceradhyāharatātāmiti śruteḥ.

Mahīdhara, the commentator, has said this in the explanation of the mantra of Kṛṇayajurveda, where it is said that– “In yajña, I am drinking the glorious, brilliant , pure Soma, capable of of yielding great wealth, which the Asvi(s) brought from Namuci,the son of demons, and which was preserved by Sarasvatī for the strength of Indra–
yamaśvinā namucerāsurādadhi
sarasvatyasunod indriyāya.
imaṃ taṃ śuklaṃ madhumantaminduṃ
somaṃ rājānamiha bhakṣayāmi.

Mahīdhara, the commentator, here axplains the mantra in such a way, as if, Namuci was already dead. Indra struck at Namuci’s head with the solidified sea-foam. The blood oozing out of his severed trunk got mingled up with the Soma, so that Soma became read or rohita. Indra drank that Soma, so he also came to be known as Rohita.The twin Aśvi(s) and Sarasvatī finally cured Indra of his illness, and they also made the Soma white and pure once again.
tasmin hate rudhiramiśraḥ
somo jatastaṃ devāḥ papūḥ
tadabhibhāṣinyeṣā ṛk…
sarasvatī ca yaṃ somamaśvibhyam
ānītam asunot abhyṣuṇot
indrasya vīryāya bhaiṣayāya vā.

It is also mentioned in Ṛgveda, Indra was drinking Soma along with the twin Aśvi(s) and goddess Sarasvatī was also found to be present there.

Here also, it is not clearly mentioned how Indra killed Namuci. In Yajurveda, the legend of Indra’s slaying of Namuci is somewhat detailed, but elsewhere in Ṛgveda, it is briefly but clearly mentioned. After mentioning a number of glorious deeds by Indra, finally it is said, “You had whirled Namuci’s head away, striking with the water-foam, and you had also destroyed all the enemies–
apāṃ phenena namuceḥ śira indra udvartayaḥ.
viśvā yadajayaḥ spṛdhaḥ.

In Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa, it is said that Indra defeated the other Asura(s) after killing Vṛtra, but he could not overpower Namuci. Finally, he engaged himself in a wrestling with Namuci. But he felt rather sudued by Namuci’s power. Then Namuci took pity on him, and said, ‘let us come to a sandhi now, and I ‘ll let you free after that. He gave conditions — “You can’t kill me with anything that is dry or wet, neither in day nor at night. This water-foam was neither dry not wet, and the time then was neither day nor night. It was the meeting point of day and night.

In that meeting point of day and night, Indra whirled Namuci’s head and cut it off, striking with the solidified foam —
indro vṛtraṃ hatvā. asurān parābhāvya.
namucimāsuraṃ nālabhata. taṃ śacyāgṛhnāt.
tau samalabhetām
so’vravīt. sandhāṃ sandadhāvahai. atha tvā vaḥ

prakṣyāmi. na mā śuṣkeṇa nārdreṇa hanaḥ na
divā na naktamiti. sa etamapāṃ phenamasiñcat.
na vā eṣa śuṣko nārdro vyuṣṭāsīt. anuditaḥ sūryaḥ.
na vā etaddvivā na naktam. tasyaitasmillnoke.
apāṃ phenena śira udvartaya.

In one place in Mahābhārata, we have seen Indra casting foam at Vṛtrāsura, and in the pre-Mahābhārata tradition, Vṛtra was killed by Vajra, and Namuci by phena. This is also clearly stated in Araṇyakāṇḍ of Rāmāyaṇa. In the battle with Khara, when Rāmacandra cut the monter’s head off, Vālmikī used the analogy– just as Indra killed Namuci with phena.
sa vṛtra iva vajreṇa phenena namuciryathā.

Rāmayaṇa also confirms the truth that Indra had a hand-to-hand battle with Namuci. When The demon Dundubhi, who was defeated by Vālī, emerged from Indra, wanted to have a fight with the mountain Himālaya. Then Himālaya told him, “You should fight with Vālī, son of Indra. Just as Indra fought with Namuci, the learned Vālī is the only one to give you a combat–
vālī nāma mahāprājñśakraputraḥ pratāpavān
dvandvayuddhaṃ pradātuṃ te namuceriva vāsavaḥ.

Besides these two mentions in Rāmāyaṇa, Namuci is also mentioned in the context of two great warriors fighting, to stress the equality of their prowess. Similarly in Mahābhārata, we get the mention of the Indra-Namuci combat, to describe the prowess of both the sides.However, in such cases, the prowess of Indra becomes all the more evident.

In Mahābhārata, too, the mention of Indra and Namuci can be found in the context of describing the prowess of two powerful opponents, although the power of Indra has been highlighted. It is also to be noted that in the open field of politics, the strategy of playing cunningly with the powerful opponent is a matter of ‘principle’, and it is pronounced by Duryodhana. Here comes the example of Namuci. Seeing the power and prosperity of the Pāṇḍava(s) in the Rājasūya Yajña, feeling jealous, Duryodhana almost rebukes his father Dhṛtarāṣṭra, that in case of gaining wealth and power, playing a game with the enemy is part of Rājadharma. And Indra was a good example of this. Unable to withstand Namuci, he entered into a treaty with him. And later, when the situation was in his favour, he broke the rule of treaty, and cut Namuci’s head off. So, this is a traditionally acclaimed way of killing the enemy.
– adrohe samayaṃ kṛtvā ciccheda namuceḥ śiraḥ
śatruḥ sābhimatā tasya ripau vṛttiḥ sanātanī.
On the other hand, in Śalyaparva of Mahābhārata, citing the conflict between Indra and Namuci, it is shown that even the gods are involved in such trickery. Here, in the context of Valarāma’s visit to the pilgrimages related to river Sarasvatī, there is the mention of Aruṇā-saṅgamatīrtha, that is, where Sarasvatī and Aruṇa converge. Vaiśampāyana, the narrator of Mahābhārata tells us that – once upon a time, Indra and Namuci were constantly in struggle. Once Namuci concealed himself inside the sun-rays, in fear of Indra. Then Indra, seeing no other way, formed a treaty with Namuci, and as per the condition of the treaty, agreed that he would not strike at Namuci with anything dry or wet, neither in daytime nor at night.

Then one day Indra found a huge solidified chunk of seafoam, and cut Namuci’s head off. After this offensive act, the head of Namuci started pursuing Indra. That head was condemning Indra, saying– ‘You haven’t kept your promise, you have killed your friend.’ Indra went to Brahmā. Brahmā asked him to perform yāga-yajña at Sarasvatī-Aruṇāsaṅgama-tīrtha, at thka a ritual bath. Performing these rites and taking a bath at Sarasvatī Aruṇā-saṅgama, Indra god rid of the sin of Brahmahatyā, because Namuci was a demon born of the womb of of Danu, and sired by Sage Kaśyapa. He was also the brother of the famous Maya-dānava, and Arjuna, at the time of burning the Khāṇḍava-forest, did not kill him because he was the brother of Namuci. Nor did Agni (Fire) burn him dowm. Thus, killing Namuci, Indra was guilty of Brahmahatyā, and he god rid of the sin after taking bath in the pilgrimage-waters. Then, the severed head of Namuci went under the water, and Namuci’s soul attained the divine abode.

The killing of Valāsura is another achievement of Indra’s. In Veda and the Brāhmaṇa texts it is repeatedly said that Indra rescued the cattles from the secret cave of Valāsura–
yo gā udājapadhā valasya.

The way Indra rescued the cows from the cave of Vala, can be found as formed in coallition of several fragments of narratives. In the very first Maṇḍala of Ṛgveda, we see that Indra opened up the cave of an Asura called Vala. This common statement becomes more significant when in a mantra it is said that, pleased by the hymns uttered by the Āṅgirasa sages, cracked the body of demon called Vala, and opened the tough entrance of the rocky mountain-cave–
bhinadvalam aṅgirobhirgṛṇāno
vi parvatasya
In one mantra, it is clearly said why Indra killed Vala. Here it is said that Indra, with the purpose of rescuing the cows secretly captivated inside the mountain-cave, met the Āṅgirasa sages who were performing yajña.

ayamuśāna paryadrimusrā
rujadarugṇaṃ vi valasya
sānuṃ paṇirvacobhirabi yadhadindrā.

In the opinion of several scholars, the account of Paṇi, Saramā and the Āṅgirasa sages are associated with the legend of Valāsura. If the incidents can be organised one by one from the accounts given in Ṛgveda, it may appear that Valāsura took the cows away from the sages, and kept them in such a secretive place inside a mountain, that it might appear that the cows actually belonged to him, and he was the protector of them. That is why, in Ṛgveda, he is called ‘rakṣitāra dughānam’. In the very sūkta it is also said that Indra broke the rocky prison open and made the Paṇi(s) cry, and took the cows away by force —
arodayat paṇim ā gā amuṣnāt.
In this sūkta, the Āṅgirasa sages, including Vṛhaspati, are also praised a lot–
vipram padamaṅgiraso dadhānā yajñasya
dhāma prathamaṃ manaska.
It was possible that Valāsura took away the cows belonging to the Āṅgirasa sages and kept them ‘imprisoned’ inside the mountain in such a way that no information could be received about their whereabouts. In this situation, Indra was agitated by the fervent yearning and prayer by the sages —

and he sent Saramā, the hunting she-dog of the gods, to make preliminary enquiries about the cows. Yāaska, the author of Nirukta has called Saramā Devaśūnī (Devasuni; the dog belonging to the gods).
In one of the conversations between the Paṇi(s) and Saramā, it becomes clear that these Paṇi(s) kept the cows in a place called Rasā. According to Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa, the Paṇi(s) were a kind of Asura who used to look after the cows of the gods. These Paṇi(s) took the cows from the Aṅgirasa sages and kept them stuck in a place called Rasā, which was guarded by Valāsura.
atha vai paṇayo nāmasurā devānāṃ gorakṣā āsuḥ

According to Yāṣka, however, these Paṇi(s) were Vaṇik, that s, engaged in trade and commerce. The term paṇya has come from Paṇi. Saramā came to know about the cows from these non-Aryan Paṇi(s). When the Paṇi(s) asked about her identity, she introduced herself as the messenger of Indra and asked them to return the cows. Otherwise Indra would surely rescue them.

The Paṇi(s) wanted to take her on their side, by giving her some cows, and also threatened her with weapons. When they showed an extremist stand regarding the cows kept imprisoned, Saramā warned them, too, in the name of Vṛhaspati and the Āṅgirasa sages, and also Indra.

It is fairly understood that this hilly area where the cows were kept , which was situated by the river called Rasā — kathṃ rasayā ataraḥ payāṃsi — was a very difficult place. It was difficult to cross the river. And the cows were kept in this place, well-guarded by the mountains. So, this was the fortress of Valāsura– the Adrivudhnya.

Perhaps there was also a cave-like place, which can be shut up with a rock. Otherwise, it would not have been said that Indra penetrated the Pura of Vala, and opened up his city–
itthā vadadbhi valam aṅgirobhiḥ…
puro vi duro asya viśvā.

bhinad valasya paridhiriva tritaḥ.

It is also true that in order to belittle Vala’s power, his secret stronghold has been compared to a vila or ‘phaliga’– a leather-case-
tvam valasya gomato’pāvarad rivo vilam.

Whether Indra actually penetrated the fortress of Vala, or he himself cleared the way for him, in feaṛ– becomes the consideration of the of the mantra-letters.

But Sāyanācārya has described the entire conflict between Indra and Vala as a kind of allegory. According to him, the cows kept by Vala are clouds, or waters. In the context of slaying Vṛtra, while annotating a Ṛk-mantra, Sāyana has drawn a comparison between the cows captured by Vala, and water kept in hold–
niruddhā āpaḥ paṇineva gāvaḥ.

He has understood the cloud as Vṛtra, and likewise he has viewed the demon Vala as an anti-divine force that prevents rain.

In fact, the clouds are the cows of Vala, and Indra freed them, to bring down water. Another thing is to be noted: it is not clearly said that Indra killed ‘Vala’, but he ‘penetrated the rocky fortress of Vala (bhid-dhātu), or broke it open (dṛ dhātu), or crack it (ruj dhātu). Using these verbs, Indra has been referred to as Valabhid, Valaṃrujaḥ and so on, in Ṛgveda; and in Mahābhārata, his name ‘Valabhid’ has become quite famous.

In Mahābhārata, when Arjuna is about to kill Karṇa, there comes a comparison– as Indra set out to kill the demon Vala, so is Arjuna rushing at Karṇa, at hight speeḍ.– yathā Marutvān valabhedena purā. Thus in Mahākāvya, Indra is known as Valabhedana.

Krṛṣna is referred to as Madhusūdana, that is, the slayer of the demon Madhu, so Indra has also been repeatedly referred to as Valasūdana. So, Indra who penetrated Vala, has become the ‘slayer’ of Vala in Mahābhārata. What does Indra do for this earth? Answering this question, sages have said — Indra endows power and energy among the bhūta(s) (elements), he gives happiness to the subjects, gives them their objects of desired, but when it is required to bring retribution, he can punish, just as he punished Vala.

In Mahābhārata, Vala is one of the famous Asura-sons born of the womb of Danāyu, daughter of Dakṣ, and sired by Maharṣi Kaśyapa, and he is the brother of Vṛtrāsura–
danāyuṣaḥ punaḥ putrāścatvāro’surapuṅgavaḥ
vikṣro valavīro ca vṛtraścaiva mahāsuraḥ.

In Aṃśāvataraṇa-parva of Mahābhārata, it is said that Vala was reincarnated as the king of Pāṇḍya. In ancient times, this kingdom was situated covering a large area in South India.

In Ṛgveda, Indra ‘cracked’ the demon called Vala or his fortress, and thee is only an indication of whether Vala also counter-attacked him, or at leat resisted him. However in Mahābhārata, where Jarasandha attacks Bhīma, the analogy used is ‘just as Vala counterattacked Indra’–
pratyudyayau mahātejāḥ śakraṃ vala ivāsuraḥ.

Or, it is also said, by way of analogy– as Valāsura attacked the army of gods–
devasenāṃyathā valaḥ
the monster alamvuṣ attacked the Pāṇḍva(s).

In Mahābhārata, both Vala and Vṛtra are mentioned among the four sons of Danāyu, but be it for the power of Vala, or to establish Indra’s power as the slayer of Vala, in many instances, Vala has been mentioned along with Vṛtra as an ‘epithet’ for Indra–
prahasan valavṛtrahā.

In Ṛgveda, Indra ‘cracked’ the demon called Vala or his fortress, and thee is only an indication of whether Vala also counter-attacked him, or at leat resisted him. However in Mahābhārata, where Jarasandha attacks Bhīma, the analogy used is ‘just as Vala counterattacked Indra’–
pratyudyayau mahātejāḥ śakraṃ vala ivāsuraḥ.

Or, it is also said, by way of analogy– as Valāsura attacked the army of gods–
devasenāṃyathā valaḥ
the monster alamvuṣ attacked the Pāṇḍva(s).

In Mahābhārata, both Vala and Vṛtra are mentioned among the four sons of Danāyu, but be it for the power of Vala, or to establish Indra’s power as the slayer of Vala, in many instances, Vala has been mentioned along with Vṛtra as an ‘epithet’ for Indra–
prahasan valavṛtrahā.

To kill Nivātakavaca, Arjuna got a chariot from Indra. While naming the Asura(s) Indra killed, riding on that chariot, the names of Vala and Vṛtra have been pronounced at the same time–
namuciṃ vala-vṛtrau ca prahlāda-narakāvapi.
We know that Vṛtra was the ultimate enemy of Indra, and he had to take a special preparation to kill him. But killing his brother, Vala, was no less difficult. A major warrior of the Kaurava side was Sudarśana. When Sātyaki was engaged in a combat with him, it is described as if, a battle goes on between Indra and Vṛtra– vṛtrendrayoryuddham. Finally when Sātyaki cut his throat off, with a lance, it is said, “as if– Indra cut off the throat of the powerful demon called Vala–
bhrājiṣṇu vaktram nicakarta dehāt
purā yathā vajradharaḥ prasahya
valasya saṃkhye’tivalasya rājan.

A different description of the killing of Valāsura can be found in Padmapurāṇa. Here it is shown that Valāsura sat for ascetic practices, assuming the guise of a brahmacārī recluse. Seeing Valāsura in his evening worship, Indra could no longer control himself. He cast his vajra and killed Valāsura–
amalenāpi puṇyena brahmacaryena tena saḥ
sāgarasyopakaṇthe taṃ sandhyāāsanamupāgatam
japamānaṃ suśāntaṃ taṃ dadṛśe pākaśāsanaḥ
vajreṇa pāṭayāmāsa devendro’sau valaṃ tadā.
In purāṇa, the name of another Asura name Pāka can be found, but nowhere in details. In Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, Indra has been referred to as Pākaśāsana, but it is nowhere clearly said, how Indra killed Pāka. At one place in Vāmanapurāṇṇa, it is found that as per the suggestion of Aghāsura, the demons were heading towards Pātāla (Patala, the underworld). On the way, seeing the beautiful sight of Malaya-Parvata, they decided to live there. Out of excitement,they enjoyed themselves there, and started abusing all the respectable gods. Mahādeva, offended with the Asura(s),sent Indra to Malaya-parvata. Indra challenged the demons to battle. As the battle commenced, Indra troubled the other Asura(s), including Maya, with his arrows, and killed the demom called Pāka. So, ‘Pākaśāsana’ became one of his names–
tato vāṇairavacchādya mayādīn dānavān hariḥ
pākaṃ jaghāna tīkṣnāgrairmāgaṇeḥ kaṅkavāsasaiḥ
tatra nāma vibhurlebhe śāsanācca śarairdṛḍhaṃ
pākaśāsana ityevaṃ sarvāmarapatirvibhuḥ.

Another famous deed of Indra is that he cut off the wings of the mountains and made them still. In Rāmāyaṇa, it is said that, when Hanumān was crossing the sea in search of Sītā, the mountain Maināka extended his body and asked Hanumān to take rest upon his peak. At this time, Maināka related to him that in Satyayuga, all the mountains had wings. Once they started flying about the sky, and seeing this, the sages, gods, and all creatures of the earthly abode were struck by fear that the mountains would some day crack upon their heads. Seeing such activities of the mountains, the thousand-eyed Indra cast his vajra upon the mountains, and cut off the wings of thousands of mountains.
pūrvaṃ kṛtayuge tāta parvatāḥ pakṣiṇo’bhavan
te’pi jagmurdiśaḥ sarvā garuḍā iva veginaḥ.
tatasteṣu prayāteṣu devasanghāḥ saharṣibhiḥ
bhūtāni ca bhayaṃ jagmusteṣāṃ patanaśaṅkayā.
tataḥ kruddhaḥ sahasrākṣaḥ parvatānāṃ śatakratuḥ
pakṣāṃściccheda vajreṇa tataḥ śatasahasrasaḥ.


In Ṛgveda, Indra ‘cracked’ the demon called Vala or his fortress, and thee is only an indication of whether Vala also counter-attacked him, or at leat resisted him. However in Mahābhārata, where Jarasandha attacks Bhīma, the analogy used is ‘just as Vala counterattacked Indra’–
pratyudyayau mahātejāḥ śakraṃ vala ivāsuraḥ.

Or, it is also said, by way of analogy– as Valāsura attacked the army of gods–
devasenāṃyathā valaḥ
the monster alamvuṣ attacked the Pāṇḍava(s).

In Mahābhārata, both Vala and Vṛtra are mentioned among the four sons of Danāyu, but be it for the power of Vala, or to establish Indra’s power as the slayer of Vala, in many instances, Vala has been mentioned along with Vṛtra as an ‘epithet’ for Indra–
prahasan valavṛtrahā.

In Atharvaveda, Indra has been called Śacīpati (Sacipati), the husband of Śacī, and it is from the name Śacī, Indrāṇī also later came to be known as Sacī. In Ṛgveda it is said that sage Kutsa, who fell into the well, invoked Indra, the husband of Śacī, and the slayer of Vṛtra —
indra kutsovṛtrahaṇaṃ śacīpatiṃ/
kāṭe nivāḍhaṛṣirahvadūtaye.

And In Atharvaveda, Indra is several times referred to as ‘Śacīpati’ instead of Indra. In Atharvaveda, another indication is also clear, when it is said that — by slaying the enemies like Dāsa and Dasyu(s), he became Śacīpati–
hantā dasyūnāṃ abhavaccacīpatiḥ.
Here Śacī means Śakti or power, though Sāyanācārya has said, Śacī is synnonymous with Karma– śacīti karma-nāma– but we think that, the dhātu śak mean ‘to be able’, and hence Indra’s name ‘Śakra’. In this consideration, scholars have taken the term Śacī as ‘Śakti’. One who possesses Śkti is Śaktimān, using ‘matup’ pratyaya, and likewise, one who possesses Śacī is Śacīmān, that is, powerful. Macdonnel writes–
“Indra bears several characteristic attributes expressive of power. Śakra ‘mighty’ applies to Indra about 40 times and only about five times to other gods. Śacīvat, ‘possessed of might’, describes Indra some fifteen times and other deities only twice. The epithet, ‘Śacīpati’, ‘lord of might’ , occuring eleven times in the RV. belongs to Indra with only one exception (7.67.5), when the Aśvins as ‘lords of might’ are besought to strengthen their worshippers with might (śacībhiḥ). In one of these passages (10.24.2), Indra is pleonastically invoked as ‘mighty lord of might’ (śacīpate śacīnām). This epithet survives in post-Vedic literature as a designation of Indra in the sense of husband of Śacī(a sense claimed for it by Pischell even in RV).

Scholars and researchers are of the opinion that Indra was not so much known as the husband of Goddess Śacī. In Veda, the term ‘śacī’ had been used in the sense of ‘power’. In Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā of ŚuklaYajurveda it is said–
yat surāmaṃvyapivaḥ śacībhiḥ
sarasvatī tvā maghavannabhiṣṇak.
Here, ‘Indra drrank surā through several śacī(s)’ cannot mean that ‘śacī’ is the goddess, Indra’s wife. Mahīdhara, the commentator also explains here — the energy which empowers Indra to consure surā, is the same power that empowers him to slay demons.

Likewise, in several other Ṛkmantra(s), the meaning of ‘śacī’ can only be ‘power’ or ‘ablity to work’. Especially in Taittīrīya Saṃhitā of KṛṣṇaYajurveda, and in a similar mantra in Atharvaveda, it is said about Indra that he was able to kill the demons with his power–
Here ‘śacī’ cannot have any other meaning than ‘power’.Likewise in Aitareya Āraṇyaka, in the utterance “O Indra, come to this yajña-gound, by your own power, like the flow of a river–
indra nadīva edihi prasūtirā śacībhiḥ–
In both places, commentators have explained that ‘by means of śacī’ is ‘by means of power’– śacībhiḥ śaktibhiḥ. In these Vaidika utterances, śacī does not mean Indra’s wife. Śacī here means power or ability to act, so Indra is Śacīpati and Śakra.


senā vā indrasya priyā jayā vāvātā prāsahā nāma.

Yāska, the author of Nirukta says that ‘Indrāṇī’ means the wife of Indra– indraṇī indrasya patnī. According to the commentators, Indrāṇī is the vibhūti of Indra, she is Indra’s Mādhyamikā devatā.

In ancient texts, it can be found that Indra killed his ather-in-law The seed of this lies in Vṛhaddevatā by Śaunaka. It is said that Indra desired the elder sister of a demon called Puṃ, but he did so for killing the demon.
sa hi tām kāmayāmāsa dānaviṃ Pākaśasanaḥ
jyeṣṭhāṃ svasāraṃ puṃsaśca tasyaiva vadhakāmyayā

The connection of Indra as son-in-law to the demon Puloman or Pulomā, as mentioned later in Mahākāvya and Purāṇ, can be traced perhaps to this Dānavī woman of Vṛhaddevatā and the demon call Puṃ. It is not known whether Pulomā is called Puṃ in Vṛhaddevatā in a shortened form. In Mahākāvya and Purāṇa, the story of Pulomā is not described in details, but there are indications to this story. In Harivaṃśa Purāṇ it is said that there is no need to trust an enemy even if he is a close relation, just as Indra killed Pulomā, although he had been his son-in-law–
kṛtvā samvandhakaṃ cāpi visvasecchatruṇā na hi
pulomānaṃ jaghānājau jāmatā san śatakratuḥ.

Thus in this single line, it is said that Indra killed his father-in-law, but the detailed cause and effect of this was not given elsewhere. But in Kiṣkindhyākāṇḍa of Rāmāyaṇa, we have the mention of Pulomā in a different context. There, Rāmacandra, citing the example of to demons, says to Sugrīva– Rāvaṇa, worst of the Rākṣasa(s), has abducted Maithilī Sitā, to bring his own destruction. Just as that famous demon called Anuhlāda deceived Śacī, daughter of Pulomā, and brought his own death, Mārīca has likewise deceived Sītā. I have already killed Mārīca, and I will soon kill Rāvaṇa as well, just as Indra also killed Pulomā, father of Śacī–
jahārātmavināśāya maithilīṃ rākṣasādhamaḥ
vañcayitvā tu paulomīmanuhlādo yathā śacīm.
na cirāttaṃ vadhiṣyāmi rāvaṇaṃ niśitaiḥ śaraiḥ
paulamyāḥ pitaraṃ dṛptaṃ śatakraturivārihā.

On this part of Rāmāyaṇa, distinguished commentators has commented, in terms of Paurāṇikī Prasiddhiḥ, that Indra once got attracted to the daughter of a demon called Pulomā, and he desired him. Pulomā did not refuse Indra directly, but he played with a strategy. Another demon called Anuhlāda also desired Paulomī, and he took Pulomā into his confidence, and abduted her, with her father’s permission. Knowing all about this, Indra killed both Anuhlāda and Pulomā.

In Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa and Purāṇa(s), the name of the wife of Indra is Śacī. The other gods’ wives are merely named after them, as their female counterparts, such as Agnāyī, Varuṇāṇī or Aśvinī, whereas Indrāṇī has a separate name; it is a matter of special glory. But much before the Mahākāvya and Purāṇṇa(s),

So, the śakti of Śakra ultimately becomes the name of his wife. After the marriage of Draupadī with the five Pāṇḍva(s), Kuntī blessed her, saying that– “May your dedication to the Pāṇḍva(s) be like that of goddess Śacī for Indra, and that of Svāhā for Agni. So it appears that Śacī was also elevated to the status of a goddess. But we need to keep in mind that at the time of Mahākāvya-Purāṇ, the name of Indra had become symbolic of the ‘ruler of heaven’. In the Manvantara-phases in Purāṇa, it is found that in one Manvantara, one becomes the Indra. There are even examples of demons assumes the post of ‘Indra’. It is also found that the post of Indra had been vacant, but no god was willing to take the responsibility, and this can be explained in terms of a common, social reason. In order to rule the kingdom, the king musyt pay attention to the development and protection of the kingdom. The sages are in general supportive to Indra, but there would be a problem, if someone, out of his grudge against the person-Indra, goes aganist the post of Indra. Now a brahmahatyā has been committed, now some sage, getting angry, hurls a curse at some god, now someone is gazing at Urvaśī– against such probblems, Indra as a king must take some steps. But, if in doing so, the person-Indra has to suffer harrassments at a personal level, nobody will be willing to accept the post. Such things also take place in our everyday world.

When nobody was willing to accept the post of Indra, the sages thought of a mortal king, Nahuṣa. He was religious, famous and valiant, successfully ruling his earthly kingdom for a long time. Everybody wished that Nahuṣa should become the king of gods, too.

ayaṃ vai nahuṣaḥ śrīmān svargarājye bhiṣicyatām.

They visited Nahuṣa and proposed that Nahuṣa should be the king of heaven. Nahuṣa at first politely said, “I am a mere human being with little power, it won’t be possible for me to be the ruler of such divine beings of high level and power–
durvalo’haṃ na me śaktirbhavatāṃ paripālane.

To be a king in heaven, one should be as powerful as Indra. I am not like that. The sages said, we’ll empower you with our ascetic powers. Thus empowered, you can rule us. In fact, the sages told Nahuṣa about a very practical problem. Without a king, there remains no administration in a realm. The comes a mātsya-nyāya, when one thinks too highly of oneself. Without administration, the more powerful ones begin to torture the less powerful. The sages and gods said, “There has been a possibility of our getting tomented by ourselves–
parasparabhayaṃ ghoraṃ asmākaṃ hi na śaṃśayaḥ.


Takṣaka, king of the Nāga clan, was a great friend of Indra. At the time of the burning of the Khāṇḍava forest, Takṣka and his family lived there. Especially in order to protect Takṣaka, Indra repeatedly resisted Agni.
When Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, in order to help Agni, set out to burn the Khāṇḍava forest, Takṣaka was not present there. But his wife and sons were there, and Indra brought down rain to protect them. But Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna came forward to resist Indra. Arjuna put up a terrible fight against Indra and the gods, so that the burning of Khāṇḍava might be complete smoothly. After a great battle, Indra finally accepted his defeat.

However, Indra was seen to protect Takṣaka in many other ways, in later times. He also made arrangements for the protection of Takṣaka, during the Sarpayajña performed by Janamejaya, the great grand son of the Pāṇḍava(s). Finally, even he kept Takṣaka hidden under his upper garments.

In Śāntiparva of Mahābhārata, Indra is found to take advice from several distinguished persons.

In Śāntiparva, Indra is is found in conversation with Vṛhaspati , guru of the gods, and sage Mataṅga. Besides, he had also taken advices from such wise demon-kings like Śamvara, Prahlāda, Vali and several distinguished sages. The political treatise composed by Mahādeva is known as Vaiśālākṣtantra. Indra studied that treatise, and for the benefit of the common people, made it compact and divided it into five thousand chapters. This Daṇḍanītiśāstra is known as Vāhudaṇḍaka.

In ancient times, Diti, stepmother of Indra and mother of the demons, asked her husband, maharṣi Kaśyapa, for a boon so that she might be blessed with a son who would be able to conquer Indra and all other gods. Maharṣi Kaśyapa said, “Let it be so. But you have to maintain purity in all aspects”. Saying this, he made her pregnant, and went away for tapasyā.

Indra came to know about all this. He perhaps also knew that Father Kaśyapa had advised Diti to maintain purity and remain devoted in the worship of God. So, when the pregnant Diti engaged herself in ascetic practices, Indra came to her and started serving her. His purpose was to find any fault of Diti’s and wait for an opportunity to destroy her womb. Diti could not understand all this. Innocently she accepted the service offered by her stepson Indra, and was pleased with him, too. Now Indra would regularly bring for her necessary equipments like fire, water, wood, kuśa, fruits, he would massage her feet, and try to alleviate her work-burden if she got tired–
tapastayāntu kurvantyāṃ paricaryāṃ cakāra ha
sahasrākṣḥ suraśreṣṭhaḥ parayā guṇasampadā.
agniṃ samitkuśaṃ kāṣṭhaṃ phalaṃmula tathaivaca
nyavedayat sahasrākṣo yaccānyadapi kiñcana.
gātra saṃvāhanaiścaiva śramāpayanaistathā
śakraḥ sarveṣu lokeṣu ditiṃ paricacāra ha.


Pleased with the service of Indra. Diti said, “O son! I am very pleased with you. Just wait for ten years, and your brother will be born. By the grace of Parjāpati Kaśyapa, he will be as powerful as you.” With a smiling face, Indra hears everything and is keen to find any fault in Diti. Oneday, Indra found that Diti had fallen asleep at noon, resting her head on her knees, and her unkempt hair was falling over her feet. This is not the way of sleeping and if the hair touches one’s feet, it can be called ‘aśuchi’. Seeing this, Indra entered into Diti’s womb. Seeing him with the Vajra, the foetus cried out. Indra said to the foetus, “mā rodīḥ”– that is, don’t cry. Then he divided the foetus into seven pieces, and each of these pieces, again he divided into forty seven pieces. After this, Diti was awakened from her sleep, and she understood that Indra had destroyed her womb. She was about to curse him, and Indra humbly said, “Mother! you have been asleep in a way that is not ‘clean’. So I have cut your womb, capable of killing myself, into pieces–
aśucirdevi suptāsi pādayorgatamurdhajā
tadantaramahaṃ lavdhā śakra hantāramāhave.
bhinnavān garbhametaste vahudhā kṣantumarhasi.

Diti was agrieved, but hearing the logic of Indra, she could no longer blame or curse him. Rather she appealed to Indra, “O son, I don’t have any grudge against you. Please do something that is beneficial to my womb, so that my sons at least get their due place. While cutting the foetus, Indra said ‘don’t cry– mā rodīḥ’ . The dhātu ‘rud’ means ‘to cry’. From this utterance of Indra, the forty nine sons of Diti came to be known as ‘Marut’. Classified into seven gaṇa(s), they attained the status of gods, too. The names of these forty nine sons can be found in Vāyupurāṇa and Brahmāṇḍpurāṇa.

In ancient times, a lady called Śrutāvatī was performing a great tapasyā to get Indra as her husband. Indra was pleased to see her devotion towards him. One day, to test Śrutāvatī, Indra came to her, assuming the form of Maharṣi Vaśiṣṭha. Śrutāvatī offered him pādya and arghya, and said, “Command me, how can I serve you. I can do anything for you but I can’t submit myself to you, because I am performing Tapasyā to get Indra as my husband.” Hearing this, Indra, disguised as sage Vaśiṣṭha, said, “I know about you hard ascetic practice. By such hard asceticism, one maty receive whatever one desires. I hope, your desire will be fulfilled too. However, now you may cook these five vadarī fruits for me.” Śrutāvatī stared cooking those fruits, so much time elapsed and the wood for use as fuel, also burnt up. But the vadarī fruits remained unboiled. Finally Śrutāvatī thrust her legs into the oven and started cooking again. Seeing her dedication, Indra took her as wife, to the heavenly abode. This pilgrimage, graced by the glory of Śrutāvatī, came to be known as Vadaripācanatīrtha.

In Mahābhārata and Purāṇa, we have the mention of Jayanta ad Jayantī, son and daughter born out of the union of Indra and Śacī. In Rāmāyaṇ, Indra’s son, Jayanta is found to be participating in the battle between gods and the demons. In Purāṇa, it is described that Indra sent his daughter Jayantī to destroy the tapasyā of Śukrācārya, when he was performing great ascetic practices in order to gain the Saṅjivanī vidyā. But seeing Śukrācārya’s dedication and asceticism, Jayantī started serving her as a loyal wife. After his tapasyā was complete, Śukrācārya accepted Jayantī as his wife and they lived together as husband and wife for ten years. Sukrācārya’s daughter, Devayānī was born out of the womb of Jayantī.

However, the most ancient mention of the son of Indra can be found in Ṛgveda. The name of one Vasukra is found as the seer-sage of two mantra(s) in the tenth cycle of Ṛgveda. In one of the mantra(s), the wife of sage Vasukra refers to Indra as her father-in-law. So it is clear that Vasukra was a son of Indra.

In Mahākāvya and Purāṇa, there are mentions of the divine sabhā (courtroom) of Indra, his chariot, weapons etc. In Sabhāparva of Mahābhārata, sitting in the courtroom of Yudhiṣṭhira in Indraprastha, Devarṣi Nārada compares that courtroom with that of Indra.

In this context, there is a full chapter covering the description of Indra’s court named ‘Sudharmā’. This court is about 150 yojana in length, 100 yojana in width, and five yojana in height. It is free from ageing, death and distress, Indra and Śacī reside at the throne in that divine courtroom. Other distinguished gods, siddha ṛṣi and maharṣi(s), Gandharva(s) and Apsarā(s), well-versed in the arts of dance and music, grace that courtroom, too.

Accoring to Purāṇa, the elephant Airāvata was the vāhana (carrier) of Indra, and he had a beautiful chariot, well-decorated with gold and jewels, called Jaitra. Mātali was his charioteer.

The bow of Indra was called Vijaya. Druma was a chieftain of some special semi-divine clan like Yakṣa, Gandharva or Kinnara. Rukmī, son of Bhīṣmaka, king of Vidarbha, learned archery from this Druma. It is heard that after the completion of his lessons , Druma gave Indra’s bow, ‘Vijaya’ to Rukmī. Again in Karṇaparva of Mahābhārata, Karṇa, while describing the history of his own bow, also called ‘Vijaya’, says that Viśvakarmā had made this for Indra–
sarvāyudha mahāmātraṃ vijayaṃ nāma me dhanu
indrārthaṃ priyakāmeṇa nirmitaṃ viśvakarmaṇā.


Before the final battle between Rāma and Rāvaṇa, in Laṅkā, Indra sent his chariot and his charioteer, Mātali, in order to help Rāma. Mātali performed the duty as charioteer for Rāma.

In Mahābhārata, there are several mentions of Indra, but he is most importantly known as the divine father of Arjuna, the third son of Kuntī. Arjuna, the kṣtraja son of Pāṇḍu, was actually sired by Indra.

On Śataśṛṅga Parvata, after the birth of Yudhiṣṭhira and Bhīma, Pāṇḍu was living peacefully. Yudhiṣṭhira was born as the eldest son, so there was no tension regarding the royal inheritance. At that time a thought occurred to him, that– a man’s excellence shines when daiva (divine providence) and puruṣakāra (ability) merge together. He wanted a son with all such attributes. Who else but Indra, king of the gods, could give such a son? So Pāṇḍu started tapasyā to please Indra. He asked Kuntī to do the same. Pleased with their ascetic practice, Indra granted them a boon to have a son like himself. Then Kuntī invoked Indra by using the vaśīkaraṇa-mantra, and Arujna was born. Sages, Gandharva(s), Apsarā(s), came to see the newborn. The birth-ceremony of Arjuna was performed on Śataśṛṅga Parvata.

During their exile in the forest, Arjuna was making his preparations for the war. At first he please Mahādeva, and received the Pāśupata astra from him. Then, in order to procure more weapons, he set out for svarga (the divine abode).

Indra was very pleased to receive his son Arjuna to Svarga. The entire divine city was also prepared to welcome him. Śacī, wife of Indra, came to smell the head of Arjuna(mastaka-āghrāna; a gesture of motherly affection). Dancing and singing performances were organised in the divine court. Indra himself made Arjuna sit on his own throne.

Arjuna, staying in Indraloka, Arjuna started gaining knowledge about several divine weapons– about their application and control. When his learning about the divine weapons was finished, Arjuna wished to return to his brothers. Indra said, “Arjuna, you should learn music and dance from Citrasena. It will be beneficial for you. Thus instructed by Indra, Arjuna devoted himself to learn the art of music.

An incident took place while Arjuna was learning divine weaponry and music in the abode of gods. Suddenly it occurred to Indra that Arjuna had been attracted to Urvaśī. Through the Gandharva Citrasena, Urvaśī was instructed by Indra to satisfy Arjuna, and she was informed about his features and virtues. So, that night, Urvaśī, dressed as an Abhisārikā, visited Arjuna. Arjuna knew nothing of this. He felt both surprise and shame, hearing the purpose of Urvaśī. She had been a foremather of the Candravaṃśa, the wife of Aila Pururavā, and therefore, respectable as a great grandmother of Arjuna. Saying this, Arjuna asked her to go back. Urvaśī got furious and cursed Arjuna that he would become an eunuch. Indra, however, limited the effectivity of that curse to the period of their Ajñatavāsa only, and consoled Arjuna that the curse would be useful to him.

Even after this, Arjuna spent some time in the heavenly abode. Indra wished to make him stay longer.So he requested Sages like Lomaśa to visit Yudhiṣṭhira and assure them of Arjuna’s well-being. He said, until Arjuna complete his lessons, the Pāṇḍva(s) shoud visit pilgrimages and gain the fruits of virtue. In fact, besides the pleasure of making his son stay with him, Indra had another concern behind keeping Arjuna with himself. The demon-clan called Nivātakavaca was trying to attack the heaven. Only Arjuna could save the heavenly abode from their attack.

After Arjuna completed his lessons, Indra said- “You lessons are complete. Now you have to pay the Gurudakṣiṇā. Arjuna said, “Command me, I’ll surely do so. Indra said– The Nivātakavaca demons, three crores in number, are living inside the sea, making a fortress. They are very powerful and torturous.

Arjuna got ready to go the fight. Indra gave him his own chariot, and charioteer Mātali. After Arjuna came back, gaining victory, Indra presented to him a highly expensive coronet, a gold-necklace, a divine and impenetrable armoum and the śankha called Devadatta.

But even after Arjuna came back to the earthly abode, well-learned in the knowledge of divine weapons, Indra was not completely at peace. Karṇa, the kānīna son of Kuntī, and sired by Sūrya, became the cause of his concern. Indra knew that Karṇa was the greatest opponent of Arjuna. And Karṇa had the natural armour and earrings, no divine weapon would be able to penetrate that– Indra knew this too well. So Indra thought that he wouuld go to Karṇa, disguised as a begging Brāhmaṇa, and ask for his kavaca and kuṇḍala as donation. Karṇa promised that he would surely fulfil the wish expressed by the brāhmaṇa. Then Indra asked for his kavaca and kuṇḍala. Karṇa understood that he was no ordinary Brāhmaṇa, rather Indra himself , in disguse was standing before him. His own father, the Sun-god, had already warned him that Indra might do so, for the benefit of his son Arjuna. Karna smiled and said to him, “I am invincible to my enemies for my kavaca and kuṇḍala. But if I give them to you, you will be a target of jokes, because this will make me vulnerable. So you should give me something as a compensation.” Indra felt somewhat ashamed of his deed, hearing the words of Karṇa. But he had no other option than taking the kavaca and kuṇḍala. So he said, “O Karṇa! I shall give you anything you ask for, except my major weapon. Then Karṇa asked for the fatal ‘śakti’ weapon from him.

However, in Ādiparva of Mahābhārata it can be found that Indra had much earlier sensed that Karṇa would ask for the weapon ‘Śakti’, for applying it against Arjuna. So he made Ghaṭotkaca’s birth possible, out of the womb of Hiḍimvā, and sired by Bhīma, so that Karṇa culd apply this weapon against this powerful son of Bhīma’s, and Arjuna’s life might be saved.

This Garuḍa, lord of the bird clan, is a stepbrother of Indra’s. When Garuḍa set out to fetch Amṛta, in order to release his mother Vinatā from her maidship to Kadrū, Indra resisted him. However, even a blow from Indra’s vajra could not do any harm to Garuḍa. Afterwards, Indra and Garuḍa became friends. After releasing his mother from bondage, Garuḍa returned the container of Amṛta to Indra.

In Rāmāyaṇa it is said that Mantharā was the daughter of the demon-king Virocana. She was caprocious and very cruel at heart, always perpetrating evil deeds. Once she was about to destroy all living creatures. To save the world, Indra was compelled to kill her. To advise Rāma, that under cetain circumstances, it is not a sin to kill a woman, sage Viśvāmitra has mentioned this incident.

Brahmā said to the gods that God Viṣṇu would assume a human incarnation as Rāmacandra. He also advised them to beget powerful Vānara sons in Martyaloka, so that they could help Rāma. It was to help Rāmacandra, Indra gave birth to Vālī, in the womb of Ṛkṣarajā, a Vānara-king turned a woman.

Once at the childhood of Hanumān, Indra cast his vajra upon him. According to Rāmāyaṇa, one day, Hanumān’s Mother Anjanā went away to the forest to collect fruits. The baby Hanumān at home was hungry. At that time he found the morning sun, like a big red ball. He thought, it would be some fruit. Thinking so, Hanumān took a great leap at rushed at the sun. Crossing a long distance in the sky, he came to the sun but the sun-god, out of compassion for the child, did not burn him. That day was the day of solar eclipse. Rahu came to grasp the sun, and seeing Hanumān with Sūrya, went back to Indra and said,


those who did not die according to providence, also became ‘immortal’ like us. So we no longer have any speciality–
martyā amartyā sambhūtā na viśeṣonti kaścana.
Bhrahmā said, “After the completion of yajña, Yama will go back to his own place and resume his own work, then everything will be alright. Those who were destined to die, will fulfil their lot. The gods, hearing the words of Brahmā, sat beside the flow of Gaṅga, on the way to Yama’s place of yajñ. At that time, they found that one golden lotus was floating across the stream. To inquire into the matter, Indra, the most powerful among the gods, reached the place of the origin of Gaṅgā, in the Himālaya. There Indra found a lady of dazzling beauty, crying. And while she was shedding tears, her tear-drops, falling in water, turned into golden lotuses.

Indra asked that lady why she had been weeping. She said, “Proceed forward, you’ll see why I am crying”. Indra went further and found that a man, sitting on a tiger-skin, was playing dice with a young lady. He did not pay any attention to Indra. In fury, Indra shouted, “Listen, all the world is under my control, I am the Supreme lord.”. The young man smiled, and simply turned his gaze upon Indra, and his body became still and inactive. The man finished his play and said to that weeping lady, “Bring that person to me, I’ll do something so that he may not be so proud in future”.
The lady touched Indra, and all his limbs gave away, he fell on the ground. Now that young man revealed that he was Mahādeva. He said, “O Indra, don’t boast of your strength. I know, you are very powerful. Go, remove that big stone placed in front of you and enter the cave. There are other four Indra(s) like you, they also boasted of their power, and I have imprisoned them there”. Indra found the four like himself, and in fear, sought forgiveness from Mahādeva.

This legend of five Indra(s) ultimately comes down to the conceptual theory behind the five husbands of Draupadī. But what we would like to point out is the fact that by the time of Mahābhārata and Purāṇa, ‘Indra’ had become an affiliation, and if someone achieves the status of Indra, he begins to fear somebody else attaining immortality. Gods like Indra depend upon a greater, Supreme force, for their own existence and stability. Here the five Indta(s) are mentioned as Viśvabhuk, Bhūtadhāmā, Śivi, Śānti and Tejasvī.

In Mahābhārata- Purāṇa, Indra is not an independent god. He is referred to as Tridiveśvara, Tridaśeśvara, Sureśvara, and so on– but Mahādeva had assigned to him this rulership over other gods. In Śāntiparva of Mahābhārata, it is said that Mahādeva creted ‘Daḍa’ out of his meditative contemplation, amidst a situation of anarchy, and Goddess Sarasvatī turned that Daṅḍ into Nīti (Rules). After the creation of Daṅḍa, Śiva assigned to Indra the duty to rule over the other gods–
bhūyaḥ sa bhagavān dhyātvā cira śulavarāyudhaḥ
devānām iśvaraṃcakre devaṃ daśaśatekṣaṇam.
Elsewhere, in Vanaparva, while uttering a praise of God Viṣṇu, it is said that Indra, Varuṇa, Soma , Agni and other gods are worshipping Viṣṇu, uttering his praises. Viṣṇu, as in the Vedic times, is involving in rendering support to Indra. In several occasions of battles between gods and demon, sometimes he is in the role of a guide to Indra, telling him the strategies of killing demons, or sometimes, he himself assumes incarnations to fulfil the task of gods. On the whole, the stability of Indra in the times of Mahākāvya depends on Brahmā-Viṣṇu-Śiva and that Supreme power, who clearly stated in Vaidika Sūkta– “I am the one who holds Indra, Agni and the twin Aśvi(s)–
ahamindrāgnī ahamaśvinobhā.

It is to be noted that when Skanda-Kārtikeya was born out of the union of Śiva and Pārvatī, Indra stood in front of him, with folded hands, in fear. While introducing Indra to Skanda, the sages have however praised him, saying that– this Indra inculcates strength and energy in all creatures, he also causes their happiness and procreation. In the absence of Sūrya and Candra, he functions as Sūrya and Candra, and if required, he also assumes the form of Agni (Fire), Vāyu (Wind), Jala (Water) and Prithivī (Earth) to do good to all creatures. After the introduction is done, all other gods, led by Indra, sumitted to Skanda and wished to coronate him as Indra. But Skanda simply wanted the post of the gods’ chief-general (Senapati). He was married to Devasenā, and was called Devasenāpati.

Elsewhere in Mahābhārata, maintaining Indra’s Vaidika glory, it is said that — he, though being the son of a Brāhmaṇa, took the vocation of a Kṣatriya. He killed at least ninety nine members of his relatives– those who were Asura(s) and Demons– and thus he achieved the status of Indra.
indro vai brahmaṇaḥ putraḥ kṣatriyaḥ karmaṇābhavat
jñātīnāṃ pāpavṛttīnāṃ jaghāna navatīrnava.
taccāsya karma pūjyañca praśasyañca viśāṃpate
tenendratvaṃ samāpede devānāmiti naḥ śrutam.

While speaking of Indra’s birth and deeds, it must be said at the outset that in Mahābhārata, Indra is clearly referred to as the son of Aditi. Indra (Śakra) was the major one among the twelve Āditya(s) sired by Prajāpati Kaśyapa, and born of the womb of Aditi, daughter of Dakṣa–
*dvādaśaivāditeḥ putrāḥ śakramukhyā narādhipaḥ.
*adityāṃ dvādaśādityāḥ sambhūtā bhuvaneśvarāḥ.
dhātā mitro’ryamā śakro varuṇastvaṃśa eva ca.
bhago vivasvān pūṣā ca savitā daśamasthathā.
ekādaśastathā tvaṣṭā dvādaśo viṣṇurucyate.

In Veda, two comeplete sūkta(s) are given to the description of the mystery behind the birth of Indra. There, at one point, in is said– “Your mother, the young lady Aditi, before giving you the breastmilk, gave you soma, at the house of your famous father. In another mantra it is said that Indra did not wish to take birth out of the mother’s womb, through the genital path, he rather wished to come out by the side of the mother’s womb–
nāhamato nirayā durgahaitattiraścatā pārśvānnirgamāṇi.

Here Macdonnel has commented– “Once he is represented as wishing to be born in an unnatural way through the side of his mother. This trait may possibly be derived from the notion of lightning breaking from the side of the storm-cloud.” In Veda, he is once referred to as the son of Niṣṭigrī, though Sāyana has described her as Aditi. In another mantra of Atharvaveda, Indra’s mother has been called Ekāṣṭakā. By performing great ascetic rituals, she got the glorious Indra as her son–
ekāṣṭakā tapasā tapyamānā/
jajāna garbhe mahimānamindram.

However, scholars have said– the aṣṭamī tithi of the month of Māgha is called Ekāṣṭakā. In this consideration, Indra is associated with aṣṭakākarma.

In Mahābhārata, Indra is directly referred to as the son of Brahmā (brahmaṇaḥ putraḥ). However, since Brahmā sat for tapasyā, and instead of himself taking part in the act of creation, and started procreation through his conceptual sons, it appears that Marīci was the conceptual son of Brahmā. Here, Kaśyapa, son of Marīci has been called Brahmā, and Kaśyapa has been referred to as ‘Prajāpati’ several times, thus identifying him with with Brahmā. In Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, it is directly said that Indra, Agni, Soma– they are allsons of Prajāpati. And in Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa, it is said that Prajāpati created Indra after creating the other gods, but made the youngest one the ruler of the others.

In two or three sūkta(s) of Ṛgveda, we have the mention of Indrāṇī as the wife of Indra once or twice. However, Indrāṇī here is not so such known as Indra’s wife, but the feminine gender of Indra, because in the same mantra, Varuṇāṇī is used as the feminine consort of Varuṇa, and Agnāyī as the female form of Agni–
ihendrāṇīmupahvaye varuṇāṇīṃ svastaye
agnāyī somapītaye.
In another sūkta, Indrāṇī is said to be the most fortunate among all women, because her husband does not grow old and die, like others

Indra gave that bow to Paraśurāma and from Paraśurāma, Karṇ received this bow called Vijaya. But two contemporary warriors had the same Vijaya dhanu at the same time inpossession– from this claim, it may appear that the glory of the bow Vijaya was attributed to both the warriors’ bows.

In the chapter called Khaḍgotpatti in Śāntiparva of Mahābhārata, it is said that Brahmā made a Khaḍga for the punishment of evil-doers and for the benefit of the common people. Indra got that khaḍga by lineage.

Several powerful kings of Martyaloka have aided Indra during the battle betweeen gods and demons, and Indra, too, in order to help them, came down to the earth, several times. In Viṣṇupurāṇa, Bhāgavatapurāṇa and Harivaṃśapurāṇa, we have the mention of king Mucukunda who once led the army of the gods in the battlefield.

It was because of Mucukunda that the demons were defeated. Kakutstha, another Rājarṣi belonging to the Ikṣvāku clan, once led the divine army, too. To carry him to the battlefield, Indra himself assumed the form of a vṛṣa (a bull). Since he set out for the battle, riding on the ‘kakida’ (hunch) of that bull, his name was Kakutstha. Rājarṣi Māndhātā of the Ikṣvāku clan was born, penetrating the side of his father Yuvanāśva. Without a mother, how would this child get his nourishment, or what would he suck– this became a concern to all. The Indra came and said, this child will suck me for his nourishment–
kaṃ dhāsyati kumāro’yaṃ stanye rorūyate bhṛśam
māndhātā vatsa mārodīritīndro deśinīmadāt.
The dhātu ‘dhe’ in Sanskrit means ‘to drink’. Indra said, this child will drink me– māṃ dhātā. Sucking amṛta from his indicating finger, the child got his nourishment. In Rāmāyaṇa it is mentioned that Daśaratha of the Ikṣvāku clan, also helped Indra in a battle against the Asura(s).

During the yajña of King Śaryāti, when Maharṣi Cyavana was about to grant the right to Soma to the Aśvinikumāra(s), Indra put up a strong resistance. When Cyavana invited the twin Aśvinikumāra(s) for drinking Soma, Indra did not let the liquor fall from the container in his hand. He said, “Listen, O sage. These two Aśvinikumāra(s) are not entitled to the offering of Soma. They are only the physicians of the gods, they cannot be equal to the other gods.”
Cyavana counterargued and said, “These two Aśvinikumāra(s) are energetic, and magnanimous. They have turned me into a young man and rejuvenated me. And why should this be so, that nobody except you and some gods only will enjoy the share of Soma during the yajña(s)?–
ṛte tvāṃ vivudhāṅścānyān kathaṃ vai nārhataḥ savam.
Why can’t you accept the Aśvinikumāra(s) as gods? ” Indra tried to convince Cyavana with his logic, and finally threatened him, “If a single drop of Soma is offered to the Aśvinikumāra(s), I’ll cast my vajra upon you.”
vajraṃ te prahariṣyāmi ghorarūpamanuttamam.
Cyavana was not at bit afraid of Indra, he again took the container of Soma and was ready to offer it to the Aśvinikumāra(s). Indra was about to cast his thunder-blow, but Cyavana stopped him, using his ascetic powers. Then he created a fatal divine power out of the yajña-fire to kill Indra. Indra found, he could not move a limb, but the fatal power created by Cyavana was rushing at him. Being helpless, he said to Cyavana, “Well, I accept what you are saying. From this day, the Aśvinikumāra(s) will also be considered as aristocratic gods like us, entitled to Soma. Please save me now.” Cyavana then withdrew the fatal power created by him. The Aśvinikumāra(s) were placed among the gods, entitled to drink Soma. And the yajñ of king Śaryāti was performed smoothly.


The gods and the sages said, this self-oriented clash cannot continue. O Nahuṣa, you become the king in this heavenly kingdom–
abhiṣicyasva rājendra bhava rājā tripiṣṭape.

Regarding the possession of power, we can assure you that you can take away power from any god, demon, yakṣa, rāksasa, by simply gazing at him, and you may secure power by this. From this logic given by the sages, it appears that all the gods, demons, .yakṣa(s) and rākṣasa(s) would accept the authority of Nahuṣa–
teja ādāsyase paśyan valavāṃśca bhaviṣyasi.

At the fervent request of the gods and sages, Nahuṣa finally agreed to rule the heavenly abode.
Nahuṣa became the king of gods. The previous Indra was hiding in the sea, in fear of Tvaṣṭā Prajāpati. But his wife, Indrāṇi Śacī still remained in svarga, waiting for her husband’s return. Now, after gaining the rulership over the heavenly abode, Nahuṣa’s moral character also declined. He got engrossed in carnal pleasures and desires. His uncontrollable desire moved him across places, and thus, one day, the previous Indra’s favourite queen, Śacī came to his gazeway. Indrṇī Śacī is the best of beautiful women, so it was no wonder that  an all-consuming lustful man like Nahuṣa would be attracted towards a charming lady like Śacī. But here we can also find that, in Nahuṣa’s mind, that power-politics was at work. He thought, in the absence of Indra, Śacī should come to serve him. How could she avoid him and stay at home?
indrasya mahiṣī devī kasmān māṃ nopatiṣṭhati.
This incident makes it appear, as if, Indra is the positional name of the ruler of heaven, so the wife of Indra will also be the Indrāṇī Śacī to any ruler of heaven. In this way, the symbolic significance of Śacī as the ‘power of Indra’ becomes important , and the same time, this anthropomorphic conceptualisation of Śacī makes her appear as equal to any other beautiful woman, who is quite disturbed in the absence of a usband like Indra, and worried about another man’s advances.

We would like to make the point that in the Vedic mantra(s), the abundance of power becomes evident in Indra as well as in Indrāṇī Śacī. But in the period of Mahākāvya-Purāṇa, In Veda and Brāhmaṇa, another famous name of Indra is Śatakratu, which generally means that Indra performed one hundred major yajña(s). But if this Vedic name of the Vedic god has to be explained in Vedic terms, it should be kept in mind that in Vedic times, the term ‘kratu’ did not mean ‘yajña’. First, the term ‘kratu’ meant ‘karma’ which becomes evident from the first Ṛk mantra of Indrasūkta. Here it is said that– “One who is the chief among gods from the moment of his birth, and who transcnded all other gods by virtue of his heroic deeds–
yo jāta eva manasvān
devo devān kratunā paryabhūt.
Here, if the meaning of ‘kratu’ is ‘karma’, the name Śatakratu denotes that Indra gained his status as the chief one by performing hundreds of heroic deeds. In several places of Ṛgveda and Atharvaveda, Indra has been referred to as Śatakratu, in the context of some Aryan community’s setting out for a battle, or becoming victorious in battle–
*ūrdhvasthiṣṭhā na utaye’smin vāje śatakrato
(O Śtakrato, be anxious to protect us in this battle)
* yuktaste astu dakṣiṇa uta savyāḥ śatakrato.


In the later Vedic period, the term Śatakratu came to be used in the sense of ‘one who has done many works’ and ‘one who has performed many great yajña(s)’. But another meaning of Kratu is yajña, and the significance of the term lies in the multiple numbers of those yajña(s). In Brahmavaivartapurāṇa, we can find that Indra became the king of gods by performing one hundred yajña(s).
purā śatamakho kṛtvā makhaśataṃ mudā
vabhūva sarvadevānāmadhyakṣaḥ sampadā yutaḥ.

From this śloka in Purāṇa, it is understood that the post of Indra is not a permanent one. If one can afford to perform hundred yajña(s), and if one has that ability, he can achieve the status of Indra. This concept is reinforced further, when Indra tried to spoil the aśvamedha yajña of king Sagara, by abducting his horse, dedicated to the purpose of yajña. Sagara performed many Aśvamedha yajña(s) as per the advice of his Guru, sage Aurva, and during the last yajña, Indra stole the horse. It is not clear whether this yajña had been the hundredth yajña of Sagara, but it is indicated that behind this theft, Indra had a fear of losing his own position. In Bhāgavatapurāṇa, we have the mention of the Aśvamedha yajña by Pṛthu. It is said that, in the place called Brahmāvarta, where river Sarasvatī used to flow on the east, Pṛthu decided to perform hundred Aśvamedha yajña(s). Indra found that the yajña(s) performed by Pṛthu were more gracious than his own yajña(s)–
tadabhipretā bhagavān karmātiśayamātmanaḥ
śatakraturna mamṛṣe pṛthoryajña mahotsavam.

Though all the gods in general are fond of Soma, Indra is preeminently addicted to it. He even stole it in order to  drink it. He is the one Soma-drinker among gods and men, only