The Riksharajas series – Indrarajas इन्द्रराजन् Part 1
Indra is the most famous figure in Vedas and Puranas. The number of names of Indra, I stopped counting at 500. The number of terms which begin with Indra are again more than 500. He is called sata and asata as well. He is the Hari in the Vedas and the ruler of the Svarga.
Indra can be a woman, and animal roopa Indras have been described. Indra has lost his position several times and many parallel Indras are also possible.
In uparichara personal level, Indra is the Brain. At Astikadi level, we counted 85 plus Indras and more.
Read below post for more:
What exactly is the role of Indra?
There is lot of confusion there because of the different power structure paradigms of various Indras. Indra of Puranas is not the Powerful Indra of the Vedas. That may in itself be a great allegory on maturing of our Svarga as a political space. Vedas and Mahabharata predate the writing of Puranas.
Puranas did exist before Mahabharata. Vyas mentions that. Other texts give evidence that sheer mass of Puranas existed before Mahabharata was written which dealt with much larger variety and diversity of sources. The Size of Purana was estimated at crore grantha slokas.
Ved Vyasa did not edit the Vedas alone. He edited the Puranas as well. And we do not need to go again and again to look at how modern Puranas developed and were re-edited and rewritten over time falling into sectarian hands and kept on adulterating.
When the First Indra is announced in Vedas, he is THE powerful being. That is also reflected in Puranas and there Indra is more accurately identified as Indra Yagneya.
He is the ultra powerful Indra and the “Adityas” of the day are actually his sons. Thus, this Indra is more than just Indra, he has role of Indra and Kasyapa as well. He is also representation of Vishnu. Kasya being the quality of Brahma himself maybe humor. Thus, this Indra is Brahma and Vishnu in one. The next two Indras follow the same pattern, representations of Vayu and Dharma. These Indras have also the dual role of Indra Kasyapa.
This is representative of an early stages of newly formed political paradigm where Strong central leader is needed to hold the administration and the polity together.
The Indras are the SOUL while triloki is the BODY. The initial Indras are very powerful supra divine figures and they are also seconded with Dakshina and other top level Devis as their wives.
As Aditi was to Kasyapa, the wives of Initial Indras have strong vibrant personality and presence in our legends. That fades away later.
These are the Vedic Indras.
Then come series of Indras who have less power than before. But in a very important twist, Rig Veda also tells us that these Indras are very very powerful.
As Rig Veda states “Ideal Indra is both Father and Mother to the people.”
This Ideal Indra may not have the avatar or supra elemental presence but as they contains the powers of both the masculine and feminine aspects of rulership, these set of Indras are equally powerful. But correspondingly the power or importance of Indrani, the wife or spouse goes down.
Some Indras are even female now. These Indras form the next group of Indras.
This is again the reflection of maturity of Swarga Polity where initial paradigms and dharma rules are set and we don’t need strict powerful central leaders but now we need leaders who are now focused on people they serve.
This Vedic change is accurately reflected by Chanakya in his set up of the Maurya administration. He chose Chandragupta as King ( the soul) and then selected Katyayana also called Rakshsasa, the no-nonsense, completely devoted to rules as the Prime Minister, Mahamatya (Brain or Indra of the empire) . The selection of Bindusara reflects the trend towards strong central figures but during Bindusara’s rule, decentralization started happening and then we have Asoka.
Asoka writes on the stones for all to see: I am the Father and the Nurse to my people. Asoka ascribes to the second set of Indras, The Father and the Mother. It is also very important part of this allegory that the person who replaced Rakshasa as Mahamatya was Radhagupta. (One who understands the “Secret of Radha”).
Radha the divine lover of Krishna was the one who gave the greatest sacrifice of them all. She was the one who let kanhayya go and grow so that world can meet Vasudeva. Whole world , whole nation, whole people should benefit from administration.
We have an Emperor Asoka calling himself the female Nurse and his PM who worships Radha. The Maternal aspect of administration is highlighted after the initial Paternal set up under Chandragupta and Amatya Rakshasa.
Mahabharata itself has a very clear message on Dharma and evolving political paradigms. The Kaurava side is very literally Patriarchal Baap ki Jaagir team against the well balanced Pandava side. A reflection of evolving Mother-Father aspect of Dharmika rule.
Duryodhana is born in a pot, his supporters include Bheeshma who does not marry, no woman in his life, Drona born in a pot, Kripa, born without mother and no woman in life as do Asvwathamma. There is no feminine on their side. Only feminine character shuts her eyes deliberately.
Pandavas are replete with balance of Yin and Yang. The Masculine and Feminine. They are named for an absent father but it is mother Kunti and Draupadi who act as their Brains, their Indras. (Pandavas are ironically all ex-Indras reborn!) Nara Arjuna even takes the role of Nurse to Uttara, the mother to future King.
As Asoka said, I am Father and Nurse to the people.
Bhima even kills Kichaka (representing the oppression of a ruling class) disguised as a woman to highlight the Shakti of the people, quiet, unadorned, lying dormant and suddenly unleashing as Kannagi burns the whole city down, as the entire sabha becomes filled with clothes as Vaisyas and Sudras and other run into the Assembly hall and demand that Draupadi’s question be answered.
There is a reason why the feminine noun Praja is used for Public, the Janta-Janaradhan! And Patriarchal society is unnatural to Life as such. We will discuss that separately.
Thus we can state that the powerful Indras of the Vedas was followed by Indras of the Mahabharata era.
The Dharma Rajya Indras.
The political administration of Svarga is evolving. When a polity establishes and settles down, it shows in vibrant institutions and checks and balances on the powers of the executive and there is a vibrant legislature also. At height of maturity, the concepts of turbulence and uncertainty and fast change of executive have no effect on long term health of that polity. The maturity of the polity takes care of that.
After a certain time and certain size is crossed, nothing can be changed without violence. It becomes a case of irresistible force meeting immovable object. A Case in point is modern US two party state democracy where 88% of the voting public have already chosen sides and they can hardly budge on that. And every two years, five billion dollars are spent to influence 15 million voters! It may be easier and less cacophonic to just sent $400 checks. No modern religion with the humongous size and diversity of its believers is so fragile or weak that a cartoon can influence its course.
That is true for descriptions of Swarga as well.
We then have overthrow of Indra’s by outside influences, bloodless replacements of Indras, Indra walking away from the job, Indras impeached and Indras overthrown from inside. Indras are selected from all ilks, rishis, munis, Daityas, Danavas, Manavas, all qualify. Prahalad, Virocana, Viprachitti et all are Indras.
The Magadha Empire after Asoka is a case in point. The next 204 years saw 21 kings. If we take out the two long ruled ones Bhagwata and Pushyamitra, we are left with 136 years and 19 kings.
Over Seven, almost Eight years a King. That is the term limit for most Presidential democracies now!!
(Rajgopalachari did state nothing is new under the sun!)
The long term political and social health of Magadha-lead India was not affected by the frequent changes of the Executive. Actually in the descriptions, the Sungas ansd Kanvas were instrumental as Amatyas behind the scene for longer periods, creating a continuity of administration which was not affected by the Head or figurehead.
Thus Pauranic Indras evolved.
Now the number of Indras jumped in Puranas. We had discussed elsewhere the changing role of Indra. (link: https://www.facebook.com/puransandvedas/posts/566287266845209
प्रश्नस्य उत्तरम् IIPart 1 @https://www.facebook.com/puransandvedas/posts/566287266845209Supreme deity Indra…
Indra was the sole powerful source, the soul of Svarga.
- The Snataka Indra.
- Then Indra is the Father and Mother of Triloki.
- Then comes the Executive, office holder Indra.
- The Grahastha Indra.
- Then would come the vanprastha and sanyasi Indras.
As Man moves from childhood and snataka Varna to Grahastha Varna to Vanprastha Varna to Sanyasa varna, Indrahood would follow the same pattern.
And Why not? Man is under influence of his Indriyan controlled by brain aka Indra. As one’s mind moves from plays of childhood to serious responsibilities of household to the thoughts towards securing one’s merits in higher lokas and then the eventual detachment itself.
The main role of Indra would then become to identify the next Indra.
Because Rulership of Swarga is not the highest point an Indra can attain.
Uss Aasman se aage Aasman aur bhi hain.
In Next part, we will discuss the Vayu Purana and the Higher Lokas.
by Pranshu B Saxena