Through the present work entitled “Indra in Indian Mythology” the author gives an interesting and fascinating account of “Indra”- the king of Gods. Indra is well known to each and every body as Indra Devata, the Rain God. It is the impression of the general Public that heavy rain or adequate or death of rain is due to the pleasure and displeasure of Indra Devata. So as to satisfy him the people offer worship and perform yajna for raining. Thereby he is famous and familiar among the peoples. But other exploits and traits are unknown to common mass except some scholars. In his benevolent character he gives protection and in the melevolent nature he punishes those, who are irreligious dishonest and harmful to the society by killing or vanquishing them. Thus the benefolent and melevolent deeds done by him discussed in the greater detail in the twelfth chapters which are self explanatory.
The subject itself is an interesting from the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanisads, Puranas and epics have been briefly discussed in proper places of the book to make it popular among all classes of peoples.
The introduction part of this book contains necessary identification of the author Sri Muralidhar Mohanty. The author was working in the Culture Department of Orissa Secretariat where he had the opportunity to came in contact with eminent scholars of India and to develop and insight about the culture and tradition of Indian sub-continent. During his service career he has acquired long standing experience about the cultural and religious aspect of the country. To his credit he has written several books that are-
1. Origin and Development of Vishnu Cult
2. Sun in the religious life and lore of India
3. Indra in Indian Mythology
4. Agni-the God of Fire
5. Radha and Krishna
6. Origin and Development of Radha Cult.
Remarkable for its interesting and fascinating account of this book leaves a lasting impression on the readers.
Writing of such an old religious matter is like, “old wine in the new bottle”. Though this is the case, still then being backed by the intuition. I have tried to write it to present the same before the interested readers keeping in view of the present situation arised in the human society. Due to the change of time, the thought and action, attitude and behavior, nature and character of the people of the society have changed. What I feel that there is no society at present. The peoples are busy in imitating the culture of others leaving behind their own culture. As a result, filthiness thrusted into the society and irreligiousness prevailed. The peoples slipping away from the right path, proceed in a wrong way. In such a critical time, it is necessary to make the people religious conscious and divert their attention towards virtue and vow, presenting before them the tales of the gods and goddesses as has been narrated in Vedas, brahamanas upanisadas and puranas. With this point of view, the case of Indra, a most important and well known deity as described in all the scriptures has been put forth here in the hope of leading the people in a right way.
Therefore, I hope that the present work may be useful for both the common readers in general and research scholars in particular. I shall be happy if it is appreciated by the interested readers.
Thanks due to Dr. H. C. Das and Dr. R. N. Dash, the renowned scholars who has been pleased to verify the entire script and valuable suggestions imparted.
Besides, I thank to Sri M. K. Samal, Sushanta pattnaik, S. K. Bose and B. C. Routray as they have helped me a lot in the matter.
I am highly thankful to Sri P. K. Bhattacharya, Publisher, Punthi Pustak, Kolkata for his truthfulness and honesty in publishing the book in the stipulated time.
Lastly I thank to my family members particularly to Smt. Lalita Mohanty, my daughter in-law for her unstinted help in my work.
The author of this book has born in the village named Fatepur under Bhandaripokhari P. S. in district of Bhadrak. He was serving in the Department of Culture, Orissa Secretariat. After retirement he kept himself engaged in the work of reading the writing only. In his retired life, he has written about some vedic deities like Agni, the god of Fire, Origin and Development of Visnu cult. Sun in the Religious life and lore of India, Indra the God of Rain and Thunder, Mitra and Varuna, the two friends etc. out of these, only one manuscript “Origin and Development of Visnu cult has been published and the other manuscripts are yet to be published. The present case has been dealt with, Indra in Indian Mythology.
Indra is the puissant God of war, the lightning wieldier, who …slew the serpent, then discharged waters and cleft the caverans of the lofty mountains” …made all earthly things unstable. Who humbled and dispersed the Dasa colour, who as the players stake the winning gambler. The foemen’s fortune gains.”
Indra came to occupy the chief place among the vedic gods while Varuna, the sovereign of the universe and the guardian of the moral laws receded to the background and became merely the Lord of waters of sort of Indian Naptune.
He is an excellent god. Among all other deities in the Rigvedic India. Veda is the first and the foremost sacred scripture of Hindus. Among all other vedas, Rigved is the first and most important one. This is an ancient scripture which lauds the song of the triumph of Aryan intrusion in Indian continent. It is called a Repository of learning. “The Rigvedic hymns not only deal with the religious speculations, but also with the various branches of secular lore. They contain orthography, codes of laws and ritual, grammar, philosophy, prosody, astronomy, philology medicine, music, science of war, anatomy, geometry, arithematics etc.”
So far as religion is concerned, A.A. Macdonell observes that a Religion in its widest sense includes on the one hand the conception which man entertain of the divine or supernatural powers and on the other, that sense of the dependence of human welfare on those powers, which finds its expression in various forms of worship.”
As regards origin of the vedic gods, the observation of A. A. Macdonell is worth mentioning here. He says that “In the philosophical hymns the origin of the gods is mostly connected with the element of water. In the AV (IR-7-25) they are said to have arisen from the non-existent.”
Among other things, there are 33 gods, who attained special excellence and became most distinguished. Indra, is one of them who is a dominant deity of the middle region. He pervades the air and his place among gods of the air alone. He is the representative of the air in the triad Agni, Indra, Surya.
Rigveda has elevated Indra to the topmost position who aids the victorious Aryans in the conquest of the aboriginal inhabitants of India. He is Indra whose greatness, glory and grandeur has been sung in about 250 hymns and in parts of which he is praised or in which he is associated with other gods, the total hymns come to 300. A. A. Macdonell observed that “Indra is the favourity national god of the vedic Indians. His importance is indicated by the fact that about 250 hymns celebrate his greatness more than those devoted to any other gods and very nearly one fourth of the total number of hymns in the Rigveda. If the hymns in parts of which he is praised or in which he is associated with other gods are taken into accounts, the aggregate is brought up to at least 300.”
Indra had fought many battles as is evident from the following verses of Rigveda (1-53-8, 1-100-18, 1-103-3, 1-104-3, 4, 1-130-8, 1-133-2-5, 1-174-7, 8, 1-82-4, II-20-6, 7, III-10-6, IV-38-5, 8, IV-30-15, IV-30-20, IV-30, 31, V-70-3, VI-18-3, VI-25-2, VI-47-20, V-29-10, VIII-96-13, 5, X-22-8).
It is stated in the Rigveda (1-133-4) that Indra had killed one hundred and fifty soldiers. Therefore he was praised by the peoples.
Indra killed the most powerful non-Aryan chiefs Ku-Yava and Ayu lived in forest tracks and would fall on the Aryan villages and towns whenever an opportunity comes (RV-V-I-104).
Moreover, the most powerful was Krishna who lived on the River Ansumati. He had a ten thousand strong army. His oppression was great. So Indra killed him (RV-V-7-96).
Indra punished even refractory and wicked Aryan kings. Two Aryan kings namely Arna and chitra Ratha were killed by him in a battle on the River Sarayu and so on. Indra killing Dasyus saved the Aryans (RV-V-III-34).
He had demolished 90 strong fort of the Das kings (RV-III-12-6). In order to help the king Atithigva he had killed two non-Aryan Das, named Karanj and Parnaya (RV-1-53-8). Then he with the help of the king Rajisvana, he destroyed one hundred town of Tungadutta etc. there are many cased like this in the Rigveda. Indra killing non Aryan kings or chiefs provided space for the Aryans. As a result he won the title of favourite national god.
Indra was primarily the god of thunder who conquered the demons of drought or darkness and liberation of the water or the light forming his mythological essence. Thunder bolt (vajra) is his main weapon otherwise called as lighting stroke. He is sometimes equipped with the weapons bow and arrows. Those are golden, hundred pointed and winged with a thousand feathers. There is also a hook in his hand with which he bestows wealth or sometimes he uses it as his weapon. Besides he has a net by which he overwhelmed all his foes is called as Indra Jala.
Indra is called as the Deva-king, Purandara or Sakra, who had killed 99 powerful daityas and performed 100 sacrifices. Due to his valour he has elected as the first Indra. Jains have given no preference to the greater gods of the Hindus. They have 64 Indras and 22 Devis. His queen name is Sachi Devi, the daughter of a Daitya chief puloma.
As he is the king of gods, he has a car which is golden and swifted than thought. He has an elephant named Airavata, a horse named Ucheisrava. Indra’s capital name is Amaravati. He has a garden named Nandana Kanana and the name of the flower is parijata. Indra as a king, he has got all the royal amenities.
As regards physical feature of Indra, Rigveda provides him, a body, a head, arms, hands and a belly. His whole appearance is tawny. He has tawny hair, tawny beared. Generally the appearance of the gods is as stated by A. A. Macdonell, is anthropomorphic though only in a shadowy manner for its often represents only aspect of their natural bases figuratively described to illustrate their activities. The head face, mouth, checks, eyes, hairs, shouldes, breasts, belly, arms, hands, fingers, feet are attributed to various gods”. Accordingly, Rigveda has provided, physical features to Indra.
Regarding origin of gods, most of the statement in this connection contains in the veda and about the origin have been briefly described. In the philosophical hymns the origin of the gods is mostly connected with the element of water. In the A. V. (10-7-25) they are said to have arisen from the non-existent. It has been stated in a cosmogonic hymn (10-129-6) that they were born after the creation of universe otherwise they are in general described as the children of heaven and earth (OP-1-139-11).
As stated in Atharva Veda and Satapatha Brahmana gods were originally mortals. All the gods and also the individual gods like Indra. Agni and Prajapati were originally not immortal is implied in Rigveda. They have obtained immortality by drinking Soma juice, Indra is stated to be the habitual drinker of soma. In this connection, a separate chapter dealing with soma plant and soma the moon have been added here with “Its mysterious exhuberating and invigorating action surpassing that of ordinary food or drink and prompting to deeds beyond the natural powers led to soma being regarded as a divine drink which bestows immortal life. Hence it is mythologically called ‘amrt’ the drought of immortality. It is an immortal stimulant which the gods love.
Indra worship is stated to have been introduced by some sages in the Aryan society. Then it however met with a storm of opposition from other sages. The praise and dispraise of Indra, has been mentioned in numerous hymns of Rigveda. Indra is conjointly invoked with some other deities are called Indragni in eleven verses. Indra, Varuna in about nine verses. Indravayu in seven verses and two each to Indra soma. In some detached verses, Indra Nasatya, Indraparvata and Indramarutoh are invoked.
Indra is also identified with Surya in three four passages. He is at times called Manu and Surya. He is also once directly called Surya. Hence there does not appear to have any difference between Indra and Surya. Therefore they are one and the same. In other passage Indra has been called as Savitr. In Satapatha Brahmana Indra is identified with Savitr.
Indra’s gigantic size has been spoken of in many passages. His greatness and powers have liken sung in the most instinted term. Hence it is said that, “He has no parallel among those born or to be born or shall be born like him. No one god or man either surpasses on equal him. Neither former nor later, nor recent beings have attained to his valour. Neither gods nor men, nor water have attained to the limit of his might. No one like him is known among the gods, no one born past on present can rival him”.
Being a god of thunderstorm, his activities have been expressed more directly. He is the creator of lightnings in the heaven. Thereby he sends rain to the earth. In the puranic age Indra is regarded as the god of rain and thunder and at this capacity he is most popular among the peoples. In case of dearth of rain or inadequacy of rain, people apprehending drought worships him for raining.
However, Indra’s nature and character, benevolent and malevolent deeds have been narrated in a greater detail in Iselve separate chapters which are self explanatory.
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