Indra – A Samyu Bharadvaja profiling

As I analysed Mandala VI, Hymn 44 & 46 composed by Samyu Bharadvaja, the first strokes of the profile of the mighty, King of Vedic Gods – Indra began to emerge.

There are epithets and praises galore…

He is the ancient one.

Indra is the lord of the brave, most manly and with a thousand powers and ever able to slay his foes. He is considered as most wonderful and praised as the Mighty and Caster of Stone. He is that which is wealthiest, the splendour-most and illustrious. He is also the “most effectual” because, he bestows wealth on those that sing hymns in his praise and offer soma during sacrifice. He is the Lord of Strength who wrongs none. All conquering, most Bounteous, he is the un-questionable God of all tribes.

He is mighty even amongst the Gods, their King, not just the Ruler of men. The Goddesses – Heaven and Earth – revere his power and might. Even the other deities turn their mind to him to seek glory.

Given the pastoral nature of the people of the time, the Bull was a benchmark for measure of strength. Thus Indra is the Bull of earth, of heaven, of the rivers and of standing waters. He is the one who wedded the Dawns to a glorious consort – the Sun. And that is not all, the Sun owes its glory to Indra, for he is also the one who lights the light within the Sun. It is Indra that holds the heaven and earth apart and sustains them. He is the one who causes the rains.

Also known as Maghavan, he is lover of song and soma. He truly appreciates the songs that the priests and bards sings. He is therefore the bards supporter and cherisher of singers. Soma is the “draught” that gladdens Indra and by which his strength is increased and enables him to strike down resistless Vrtras.

Indra, the Wondrous God is pictured as wearing a visor and the thunder is his weapon of choice that he wields in his hands. It is said he is “strong of jaw”.

Men pray to him during battle…

Indra is the mighty God that the Arya pray to before and during battle. Battles fought for sunlight, water and for life itself. Men pray to him in war – intent on spoil, boldly they attack and smite their foe, steadfast in their faith that Indra would be the closest guardian of their lives. They pray to Indra to strengthen them and come to their aid in the fight, even as feathered shafts are flying in the air as are the arrows with their sharpened points.

In battle, Indra is asked to slay the Aryas’ foemen, be they kin or strangers. To spurn those that aim their hostile darts at the Arya and make them flee, to crush them and kill them. They pray to Indra for easy paths and ample freedom during battle fought so they may gain waters, seed and offspring.

The Bharadvajas pray that their kings and princes may find favour with Indra and ride by his side during battle.

And pray to him during peace…

Indra is called to grant the Arya hosts power and wealth; Indra is asked to boldly pour cattle and chariot-steeds. He is asked to be the strength of the Arya conqueror’s for eternity. Indra is urged to bring them name and fame which will then enrich them, make them mighty and excellent amongst their people and peers. He answers prayers of the skillful priet. Partaking of the offerings made during the sacrifice, he grants the treasures of the Gods to one who prays.  The great God can be won over through appropriate hymns and rewards his devotees by making his beauteous form apparent.

As a God who has made abundant the earth and heaven, men pray to him for succour. Men pray to the Excellent God to remove all that is weak in them, to make them firm and their foes weak, so they may be subdued.The Arya pray to Indra so he may ward off manifold malignities, that he may grant them abundant vital force (to deal with all types of malign forces). The Arya pray to Indra to keep far from them hatred and affliction.

The Bharadvajas pray to Indra to grant their rich lords a dwelling place, a happy home, “triply” strong a refuge safe from their enemies and even from Indra’s own dart. They pray to Indra to give them and their sons refuge and keep away all hostility.

He is the only friend amongst mankind that they turn to. Indra is beseeched not to forsake the Arya (to the hungry wolf, could mean the Panis) and ensure they remain umharmed (again from the Panis). He is implored to demolish those that do not present gifts or pour oblations of soma as part of sacrifice. Again, here the reference is to the Panis.


9 Responses to Indra – A Samyu Bharadvaja profiling

  1. srinidhi says:

    Interesting study. At some point Indra seems to have given way to other gods!

  2. Indeed, we need to be careful when distinguishing myth from history, or from spiritual truths. Indra, obviously, is a case in point. I feel the following may shed more on this:

    • yatin2710 says:

      Thank you for your comments. Yes, indeed, one needs to sift carefully history from myths and from spirituality. I interpret the Rig Veda as I read it – good, bad, ugly – without the bias of my religion by birth (Hinduism).

      I visited your blog briefly and content appears interesting with considerable intersect – need to spend quality time reading it though – which i will.

  3. I agree with you on the approach required on Rig Veda. Thank you for your reply.

  4. yatin2710 says:

    Thanks for the feedback. However, the view is based on a standard template from WordPress…not sure if i want to mess with the template…

  5. Subodh Kumar says:

    Sir, but is it not mentioned at places that Indra in his tunnel vision to achieve his goal is apt to adopt even devious means to achieve victory on his targets. And that is when he requires course correcting guidance of higher bodies?

    • yatin2710 says:

      Not so in the Rig Veda. During this time, Indra is the supreme God, higher than Rudra (later Shiva) and Vishnu (who along with Pusan is often mentioned as a friend of Indra). In post Vedic times, there is a dramatic role reversal where the holy trinity become superior and Indra is reduced to a caricature.

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