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21. 02. 2018
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Lord Indra

Indra is the son of Dyaus and Aditi and sometimes Agni is mentioned as his twin brother. He goes to war either riding his elephant indra Airavata or on a chariot like the Aryans who had ridden into India on horses. His horse is called Uchchaisravas, his chariot Vimana and Matali is his charioteer. Indra is heavily armed and his most powerful weapon is the Vajra, the thunderbolt. He also carries a hook, a bow, called the Sakradhanush, as it is made of the rainbow, and a sword, Paranja.

When going to battle the asuras, after drinking generous draughts of Soma, he rides out singing martial songs followed by the Maruts and the army of gods. Indra is all soldier and conquering king, as Sukumari Bhattacharji notes, "Morality, in the human sense, is not his strong point; he has bigger stakes to play for. Demons have to be slain, his people have to be provided with cattle, land, food a nd wealth; his country and kingdom have to be established. So he can hardly afford to concern himself with the niceties of conduct".

Indra is the god of the firmament, of the rains, thunder and lightning. He is described as a golden haired man with long powerful arms, and his chariot is pulled by tawny horses with flowing manes and tails. When not striking the enemy with his vajra or arrows, he uses the hook to entangle them in a net.

He is described as destroying the 'stone built' cities of the asuras and the Dasyus. He can change his shape and fight in various animal and human forms. His character comes through surprisingly clearly in the hymns—of a fearless soldier who enjoys his food and drink, loves the company of pretty apsaras, and just as he is fierce in battle, he is generous to his friends. The hymns list innumerable asuras that he defeats and also mention the many weapons and captured horses, cows, and wealth that he gives to his devotees and friends.

The Vedic triad was of Agni-Surya-Indra and among the three Indra is the most active and approachable. He was also the favourite of the worshipper and there are many details of his life. As the gallant warrior-king he rules in heaven called Swarga with its capital named Amravati built on Mount Meru. With him is his queen Indrani whose hand he won after battling and killing her father.

The exquisitely beautiful Indrani is also called Sachi and Aindri and they have two children, Jayanta and Jayanti. His palace is called Vaijayanta with gardens named Nandana, Kandsara or Parushya. In his luxurious court he is served by the Maruts and the Vasus and sits surrounded by beautiful apsaras like Rambha and Urvashi. It is easy to understand how the Rajput kings in the medieval period were often compared to Indra. He is the ideal image of the conquering Kshatriya warrior and king.

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