Everything you wanted to know about Indra and were afraid to Ask
All the Other Indra’s
After Nahusha, deities who take the title of Indra include gods who are Indras and there are kings who get Indrahood or Kings who are equal to Indra’s and even parallel Indras or “Like Indras”.
It is these “less” powerful Indras who are referred to in Puranas. Indra is no longer Administrator of Heaven but now one of four lokpalas or eight Dikpalas.
In Rig veda, we find the mention of first “Normal” Indra. He is the first elected conquering Indra is the illegitimate son of daughter of a Kushika village chief (from Tvashta and so is brother to Trishikha and Sibi or he is son of Dyaus the Vasu).
This energetic young man would rise through ranks serving Asura chiefs and then rebelling against their Adharma and winning his own independence or Swarajya. Thus establishing the first Swarga (an alliteration of Swarajya). He is the Swadharma itself.
To those interested in finding the common points between Indian and Greek-Roman pantheons would find it interesting to note that his real father is the Dyaus Pitra (alliterated to Greek Zeus Pater the roving eyed chief of that pantheon). Removing Dyaus the Lord of Sky on way to secure his own Swarga, this great man or god is also called Swarat. (alliteration from Swarajya, self rule.). The first Swarga is thus created. This Indra also abdicates and becomes one with God and is first Indra who gets Moksha.
Maybe this champion Indra is also Purandhara or Sakra, later these titles are shared by many Indras. The original Indra of Purana stories hailed from Kasyapa family not Kusika and that is also indicated in Arayankas of election of Indra based on ability not birth. So, second or a popular Indra down the line was from Kasyapa family and takes his place as Aditya.
So quickly look at some Indra’s;
- This Indra the Vritrahanta needed Dadhichi’s help in quelling Vritra who himself enjoyed Indrahood for a period. He is from Angirasa family. There is another Indra Savya, son of Angiras and may be same as this Indra or not. When, this Indra was replaced by Saryata as Indra, he changed Vritrahanta’s policies.
- Indra Abhisheka was given to following kings and deities: Visvakarma, Saryata (Chyavana who gave the somapana back to Asvinis also called Duscyavan), Kakutstha Puranjaya, Gadhi, Marutta, (Marutta, the Anava, king of Anga and adopted father of Dushyanta, previous birth of Yudhishthara), then Bharata, Sudas (the winner of Dasrajna sangram -R.V.), then Yudhishthara, Janamejaya and then his son Satanika (who dies fighting against Asuras, his war finished by Sahasranika his son who names the new Indra Sahasraksha) or this Satanika is different one in Kuru line. Janamejaya’s son Satanika’s son was Asvamedhadatta in Mahabharata. Ambashthaya and Anga are later descendents from Yaudheya and Vairochana who are celebrated with Indra abhishek in Brahamanas also.
- Then there is an Indra who lost and regained his position Nineteen times. Once to Prahalad who then accepted old Indra as his disciple and learning from Prahalad, this multiple term Indra defeated him winning back the post of Indra among his many reconquests of the Indra position.
- Yayati and Virochana, sons of ex-Indras were among the unsuccessful challengers to the post. Visvamitra who was also a son of an Indra created a new heaven and made Trisanku his new Indra using his tejobala.
- Kesi was defeated by Indra but Indra then lost to Tarakasura who was defeated finally by Kartikeya restoring the old Indra.
- There was Indra who lost to Mahasani, son of Hiranya and relative to Varuna who took over as Indra. Later on Siva and Vishnu gave a joint avatara to restore this Indra back and kill Mahasani.
- Surapadma defeated and send Indra to exile and this Indra was also later restored. Indra and Indrani created new Swarga in their exile. This also indicates that Indrani position has some Gaarima and power with it. This story is situated after Parasurama killed Kartavirya Arjuna.
- There was an election held and new Indra elected to handle the menace of flying mountains. He was probably the same one who battled Hanuman and was father to Vali. The Surya du jour being father to Sugriva.
- There was Indra who achieved the post via his good deeds and later defeated Sambara. This Indra replaced the Indra who cut the flying mountains wings. This Indra was contemporary of Rama and lost his power after the Ahalya incident, and he was defeated by Meghanada. He was friend to Rishi Sarabhranga and created a new Swarga on Meghavana Mountain. There is an Indra who made a Swarga named Bindusara too.
- Then there was Indra of Parasara’s family who married Srutavati, Drona’s sister. This Indra was most likely father of Arjuna. (Maghavata Or Vasava or Pakasana). He also blessed the elephant of Kripacharya or Gautama protecting the animal from Dhritrashtra. Soma or Chandra is supposed to be Indra too in this period. This Indra or Indras are the ones involved with Epic stories.
- There were other Indras surnamed Satakratu, Mahabali, Purandhara, Bidaujas, Vrdhhasravas, Sunasira, Jisnu, Lekhasarbha, Satamanyu, Sutrama, Sakrutema Sakra, Gotrabhita, Vasava (one of Vasus?), Vrsa, Jambhabhedin (one who conquered Jambu parvata), Harihaya, Samkrandan, Turasat Meghavahana, Akhandala, Ribhuksa.
- Even a Bird and once a Fox, a Bull (vrishabh), a Goat (Mesha) who became Indra through their karma.
- There was a lady Indra too, Queen Mend, daughter to Vrsnasva. She helped King Rajnasaan and defeated Asuras, karanjas, Parnayas, Varimgardas. She is also the Indra associated with Sarama story and defeated Panis.
- Other Indras are named
Vaisanava Indras: Divasvati , Shambhu , Adbhut, Bali (His swarga is called Sutal Loka), Vidhrut . Dhurtshuchi , Krutdham , These seven are Indras by the grace of Vishnu and not by status. Three of them appear on Devi Bhagavata Shakta list as well.
- Vipaschita was Indra (after Chayavan) and ruled a Manvantara. He ruled as Indra for reigntime of Svarochisa. His cousin Susanti was next Indra and again ruled for one reign time. His brother Sibi II was Indra also. Dharma avatara Vibhu II was their younger brother as Indra (his Vayu was called Amitabha, here we have first Jaya-Veeru pair in history).
- Pusakara and Pramlocha Apsara’s daughter Malini married King Ruci whose son became Raucya Indra. Others include Adhbuta, Bali, Santi II, Ritudhaman, Divaspati, Suci (who is Indra and Saptarishi as well).
- Manojava Indra was the confidante and supporter of Five sons of Chakshusha and their valiant nephew who fought an earlier Mahabharata like war. These five Chakshasas are literally cloned Pandavas (and future Gods in future Manvantara as well). The nephew is either Ghatotkacha or Abhimanyu.
Vijayanagar Empire was traditionally founded by five brothers and their nephew Kumara Kampana who did not succeed as king later on but was famous for defeating the Madurai sultanate. Lot of stories attributed to these real life historical figures are found in later Puranas, the real life heroes get imbued with the existing legends and vice versa. The Five brothers including Alha Udal and their nephew Jayanta, and so on, we are forever seeking five men to come together and solve our problems, it is called a Panchayata.
When poets are using hyperbole saying ABC is like an Indra, they are not meaning the Real Indras, but the ones who raise themselves above the fray and their great qualities are hoped to be found in the heroes thus being praised.
by Pranshu B Saxena