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Ancient Proto-God


Indra is the king of heaven and one of the most ancient of all ‘Gods’ in the world.  Of all the ancient Gods, Indra has an interesting history in Indian scriptures.

This series of articles look at the development of Indra’s lore and character in Indian scriptures. It charts how authors of Indic lore developed their vision and ideas about Indra. I do not suggest this is how ‘Indra’ evolved or this is how his life developed.  This is primarily an academic discussion and not a theological one.

Having Vedic and Puranic Gods jostle for spot light in Hindu lore shows how different sects developed over time.
Vedic Gods are essentially nature Gods.
Puranic pantheon multiplies and is headed by the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Later still, Jain and Buddhist tales also feature Indra and heavenly Gods.

Even for religions that emerged from Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, Indra continued to be an important God to compare their Gods and Heroes to.  Two of these derivatives of Hinduism (Jainism, Buddhism) are avowed atheistic in their nature.  However, they too have Indra come and worship their saintly heroes - Thirthankars & Buddha. This is their way of acknowledging the influence of Indra in their time and deliberately humbling him to aggrandize their religious heroes.         

Using Indra as a foil for 'their own Gods' is really a nice complement to Indra and his enduring power to inspire and awe people.


Indra of the Vedas

Indra of Purans

Indra of the Mahabharata

Indra in non-Hindu religions

Indra in later Bhakti sects & scriptures


Indra, riding Airavat and holding aloft Vajra in his right hand
Sculpture from Odhisa

© Bhagwat Shahah   
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