Indra


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Indra

(ĭn`drə): see VedaVeda
[Sanskrit,=knowledge, cognate with English wit, from a root meaning know], oldest scriptures of Hinduism and the most ancient religious texts in an Indo-European language.
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Indra

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The five principal deities of Hinduism are the three gods of the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), Agni, and Indra.

Indra is the ancient god of war and storms, similar to the Greek Zeus or the Norse Odin. He often appears with a thunderbolt in his hand and is known as a slayer of demons.

We first read about him in the ancient hymns of the Vedas, so he probably came to India with the Aryan culture. But over the years this volatile god has, like so many Hindu gods, become internalized and tamed a bit. Originally born of heaven and Earth, he separated the two, bringing form out of chaos when he killed the great demon/serpent Vritra, who was threatening the whole planet.

But a prime myth of Hinduism reminds people that even such accomplishments amount to nothing in the great scheme of things unless they understand the fundamental meaning of what it is to be human.

The Upanishads, Hindu sacred texts, tell us that after slaying Vritra, Indra is understandably puffed up with pride. He ascends a great mountain and decides to build a palace worthy of such a great hero as himself. But the construction of the building just goes on and on. The head carpenter to the gods realizes he has signed on to an eternal contract. Clearly something must be done to whittle Indra down to size.

Upon consultation with Brahma, the god of creation, a curious plot is played out. A mysterious messenger appears at the palace door one day, and Indra proceeds to show him around the new construction. The messenger is properly impressed and remarks that this is certainly the finest palace any Indra has ever built. Indra is understandably confused. Any Indra? He thought he was the only one. The messenger from Brahma draws Indra's attention to a procession of ants walking in formation over the palace floor. "Those ants," he says, "are all former Indras!"

And that's the way it goes. A god in one world's lifetime is reincarnated as an ant in the next. It doesn't pay to get too cocky because you never know what kind of karma you're building.

Indra learns his lesson. He goes off to become a yogi. Of course he does everything to extremes, so he has to be taught another lesson. But he finally comes to understand that he is a manifestation of Brahman.

Indra

thunder god and controller of weather. [Vedic Myth.: Leach, 521]
See: Thunder
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