Indra and Vrtra

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Thu Oct 17 01:52:51 CDT 2002

Today was Ekadashi and I try and read from the Bhagavata on such days.
Thanks to the list members I had an interesting topic to study.

Srinivas Gadkari wrote:

> vRtra was the Asura killed by Indra using vajra. This event
> is celebrated in the Rg veda. It has been pointed out that vRtra
> is the name for the glaciers of the last ice age. (I have seen this
> mentioned by David Frawley.)

David Frawley is another one of those kooks who conjure up fantasies out
of a "vedic" hat.  This is also demonstrably false.  Not only is there no
support from the bhashyas of any Acharya (though they do mention another
natural phenomenoas I will explain later) it is a geological fact that the
Ice Age never got as far south as India.

Venkatraman Chandrasekaran wrote:

> If killing Vr~tra was indeed treachery and a misdeed why then Devi,
> Vishnu willingly helped Indra in perpetrating the crime? What is the
> subtle meaning behind this story?

Shrikrishna Ghadiyaram wrote:

> This is an interesting question. But, I do not know if there is any subtle
> meaning for all the accounts of the Purana apart from being accounts of
> the past.

There always is though it may not be immediately discernable.  Let me
start by narrating the story as mentioned in the 6th skandha of Bhagavata

Daksha Prajapati had 60 daughters to were given in marriage to various
Gods and Sages.  Of those, Aditi and Diti were the wifes of Maharshi
Kashyapa and the mothers of the Devas (thus also called Adityas) and
Daityas respectively.  Apart from the fact they eternally quarrelling
there is not a lot of difference between the Devas (some of whom have less
than sterling qualities like Indra in this story) and the Daityas (some of
whom are quite good e.g. Bali, Prahlad.) Yet we call the Devas "Gods" and
the Daityas "demons".  Why is this?  The names of the mothers give a clue.
Aditi is "Infinite" and Diti is "Finite"  The infinite is worthy of
worship not the finite.  The Daityas had a sister called Rachana who
became the wife of a Prajapati called Tvashta or Vishwakarma who made
various marvellous creations such as Vishnu Bhagawans' Sudarshan Chakra,
Yamas' danda, Kuberas' palanquin, etc.

Once Indra and His Devas had achieved a great victory over their enemies
and were celebrating in Heaven.  Their acharya Brhaspati walked in but
Indra did not notice and didn't get up to pay His respects.  Acharya
Brhaspati took offense and left.  Only then did Indra notice and though he
belatedly expressed his apologies, it was too late.  Brhaspati had

On learning that the Devas were spiritually defenseless, the daityas
renewed their attacks and the Devas suffered defeat after defeat.  The
devas resolved to find a new Acharya and on the advice of Brahmaji, chose
Vishwarupa the son of Tvashta.

This Vishwarupa was also called Trishiras on acount of his three heads.
One constantly drank soma, one drank wine, and the third stared as if to
drink up the sky.  (some variants of the story say the third head ate food
constantly.)  He became the purohit of the Devas and taught Indra the
famous stotra called Narayana kavacha by which the Devas once more became
victorious.  However Vishwarupa felt a certain sympathy for his maternal
relatives too and secretly began giving the Daityas a share of the yajna.

When Indra heard about this, he became extremely angry and immediately
cut off Vishwarupas' three heads.  From the first came the birds called
kapinjala, from the second, birds called kalavimka, and from the the
third, the birds called tittira.  (Sorry, I don't know the English names
of these species.) Although he was in the right (Vishwarupa had
transgressed a Brahmanas' dharma by double-crossing his yajamana,) the
fact was Indra had murdered a great sage.  So he was afflicted by the sin
of brahmahatya.  For a year He roamed around unable to bear the terrible
burden but finally he was able to get rid of by giving it to earth, water,
trees and women.

When Tvashta heard of the death of his son, he resolved to get revenge on
Indra and he created a monstrous demon called Vrtra sworn to be the enemy
of Indra.

[to be continued]

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

>From  Thu Oct 17 09:15:02 2002
Message-Id: <THU.17.OCT.2002.091502.0700.>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 09:15:02 -0700
Reply-To: venky at
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
From: "Venkatesh ." <venky at OREKA.COM>
Subject: Weekly page from Hindu Dharma: Rational Way to Know God

This week's page from Hindu Dharma (see note at bottom) is "Rational Way to Know God" from "Nyaya". The original page can be found at

Next week, you will be emailed "We Need All Types of Knowledge" (from "Nyaya")

Best regards

(this email is being sent on an automated basis)

Rational Way to Know God
from Nyaya, Hindu Dharma

      Vaisesika takes up the thread of inquiry from where Nyaya leaves it with its pramanas. According to the great sage Kanada, the founder of Vaisesika, everything ultimately is made up of atoms. Isvara created the world by different combinations of atoms. In both Nyaya and Vaisesika, the cosmos and the individual self are entities separate from Isvara.

 As we inquire into the origin of conscious life and the insentient atom and go step by step ahead in our inquiry, we realise in the end the monistic truth that everthing is the manifestation or disguise of the same Paramataman. Nayaya is an intermediate stage to arrive at this truth.

 Naya or Tarka (logic) gives rationalism its due place, but this does not lead to materialism, atheism or the Lokayata system. Through intellectual inquiry, Nyaya comes to the conclusion that, if the world is so orderly with so many creatures in it, all of them interlinked, there must be an Isvara to have created it. Nyaya recognises that there are areas that cannot be comprehended by human reason and that the truths that cannot be established rationally must be accepted according to how the Vedas see them. This means that Nyaya takes every care to see that reasoning does not take a course that is captious (remember what I told you about the Acarya's view that tarka should not become kutarka ) and that it leads to the discovery of truth.

 To examine something with the instrument of knowledge is to purify that very knowledge. It is also a means of obtaining intellectual clarity. When there is lucidity the truth that is beyond the reach of this very intellect will appear to us in a flash. [In other words there will be an intutive perception of the truth].

 It is indeed commendable to have faith in the Lord and in the sastras even without carrying out any intellectual inquiry. But are we able to have such complete faith that will take us across worldly existence? Instead of idling away one's time, without making any intellectual effort to discover the truth, would it not be better to keep thinking even if it be to arrive at the conclusion that there is no God? A person who does so is superior to the idler who has no intellectual concern whatsoever. perhaps the athesit, where he to continue his inquiry, would develop sufficient intellectual clarity to give up his atheism. But the idler has no means of advancing inwardly.

 This is one reason why even "Carvakam" was accepted as a system in India. "Caru-vakam"="Carvakam" : that which is pleasing to the ear. Carvakam believes that there is no need to worry about God or any Sprit or to observe vows and fasts or to control one's senses. Live as you please according to your whims and according to the to the dictates of your senses.

 Sorrow, however, is inevitable even in a life in which we consciously seek pleasure. Indeed sorrow will predominate. The purpose of religion is overcoming sorrow.

Hindu Dharma is a translation of two volumes of the well known Tamil Book "Deivatthin Kural", which, in turn, is a book of 6 volumes that contains talks of His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji of Kanchipuram. The entire book is available online at .

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