Vritra

Highlights

Vritra, INDRA is the King of the Devas and Brihaspati is his Acharya or preceptor. One day, when Brihaspati came to his court, Indra did not rise from his seat to receive him.

INDRA is the King of the Devas and Brihaspati is his Acharya or preceptor. One day, when Brihaspati came to his court, Indra did not rise from his seat to receive him.
Brihaspati became angry at this discourtesy and walked away from Indra’s court.

From that day, the power of the Devas started declining and their enemies, the Asuras became powerful. Indra was alarmed.
He wanted to fall at the feet of Brihaspati and beg his pardon. But Brihaspati became invisible and Indra could not trace him.
The Devas went to Brahma and asked his advice.

Brahma said: "Take another Acharya. Twashta’s son, Viswarupa, ia very learned man. Request him to become your preceptor. "The Devas went to him with their request. Viswarupa agreed and he became their Acharya.

The Devas became strong once again. Viswarupa’s mother was an Asura woman. So Indra became suspicious of Viswarupa. He feared he might let them down.
For this reason Indra killed Viswarupa.

On coming to know of his son’s death, Twashta became very angry. He vowed to avenge his son’s death. Twashta performed a yaga and produced from the sacrificial fire a fierce monster called Vritra.

He said to the demon: "O Vritra, go and kill Indra this moment." A great battle began between Vritra and Indra.
Indra soon became exhausted, and Vritra gained the upper hand. Seeing it, the Devas and rishis rushed to Vishnu and prayed for help.
Vishnu said: "I shall enter into Indra’s weapon Vajrayudha and help Indra in the fight.”

In the meantime, the Devas tried to make peace between the two.
They said to Vritra: "Please become friendly with Indra. Do not fight.”

Vritra said: "I don’t mind, but I doubt Indra’s sincerity. If you grant me a boon that I cannot be killed by day or night, not by weapons, stone, wood or metal, I am willing to abide by your wishes."

The Rishis and Devas granted Vritra the boon. He laid down arms and the battle ceased; but Indra was not sincere.
One evening Indra met Vritra alone at the beach and started attacking him.

He cut Virtra’s limbs one by one with his Vajrayudha; but Vritra did not die. He bravely fought back with his maimed body.
At one stage Vritra swallowed Indra, but Indra cut open his belly and came out. Still Vritra did not die because of his boon.
At last Indra flung his Vajrayudha into the nearby sea and the foam from its waters fell on Vritra.

Vishnu had entered the foam which killed Vritra; for he could not be killed by other weapons.
Although Vritra was dead, Indra was not happy since he killed Vritra by deceit.

Out of shame Indra hid himself inside a lotus flower at Manasarovar and did tapas for a long time to wash away the sin.
When Indra disappeared, the Devas made Nahusha their King.

Nahusha too became arrogant and fell into bad ways. As a result the rishis cursed him to become a serpent.
The Devas were once again kingless.

God, pleased at last with Indra’s tapas, pardoned him of his sins and Indra became once again the King of the Devas.
Even Indra had to suffer untold misery for swerving from the path of truth.

The word Vritra means cloud and Indra is also the rain God.
So this story is sometimes said to be an allegory, a story having a hidden meaning.

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