6

Wikipedia states that "over a quarter of the 1,208 hymns of the Rigveda mention Indra, making him the most referred to deity than any other."

But in the post-vedic texts his importance is greatly diminished.

What are the reasons for his loss of status?

1
  • @gibet Good link, but that is not focused on Indra, and the answer contains no references or citations, thus it must be regarded as suspect. (i.e. that answer is interesting commentary, but the author does not support the assertions, and may be deriving his information from secondary sources or sources even further removed.)
    – DukeZhou
    Mar 3 '17 at 20:20
5

In the wikipedia link for post-vedic texts section, it states:

In post-Vedic texts, Indra is depicted as an intoxicated hedonistic god, his importance declines, and he evolves into a minor deity in comparison to others in the Hindu pantheon, such as Shiva, Vishnu, or Devi.

While I agree with the second part of Indra seeming like a minor deity in comparison to others, his exact depiction is still varied in different accounts/literature and not always as an "intoxicated hedonistic god". The reason he is referred repeatedly in Rigveda is likely because he is referred to as the king of heaven:

Of the Vedas I am the Sāma Veda; of the demigods I am Indra, the king of heaven; of the senses I am the mind; and in living beings I am the living force [consciousness]. (Bhagavad Gita 10.22)

With the heavenly realm being the residence of all the demigods, Indra is also understood to be the king of demigods. The Vedas have many sections that encourage worshiping various demigods, and the king of all demigods thus understandably gets a large chunk of the attention. His status, however, is still subordinate to the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, as well as Durga (or Devi).

(This answer is based largely on simple logic than a lot of references. If those are needed, though, please leave a comment.)

11
  • Krosrd Thank you for answering and the excellent commentary. I'm wondering about prominence of the trinity, which, at least per my admittedly cursory knowledge, came later, and thus the idea of "supplanting" the earlier gods.
    – DukeZhou
    Apr 5 '17 at 16:14
  • 1
    @Gibet From the way I understand it, Indra never lost his status as a 'main' deity among all the demigods (devatas), and is always understood to be their king. The trinity is above all the other devatas, also referred to as guna-avataras (incarnations presiding over gunas or modes of nature - sattva for Vishnu, rajas for Brahma and tamas for Shiva). They exercise dominion over the more fundamental modes of nature, while other devatas have powers over elements like wind, rain, thunder/rain (for Indra) and so on, which are combinations of the three modes.
    – Krostd
    Apr 5 '17 at 23:31
  • 1
    @Gibet If you read chapter 5 of Canto 2 of Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavat Purana), text 21 (vedabase.com/en/sb/2/5/21) onwards, even just the translations, it gives an idea of how the modes of nature are like the primary colors, with everything else slowly manifesting by their interaction with time etc. This is a very interesting section, actually, and a very informative read. :)
    – Krostd
    Apr 5 '17 at 23:33
  • 1
    @DukeZhou I'm glad to contribute :) Like I mentioned in my other comments, to me the trinity were always there but their worship seems not as rewarding or easy as that of the demigods or devatas, which is why you see very few people actually getting benedictions from Shiva, Brahma or Vishnu, and all of them being extraordinarily powerful regardless of their theistic/moral inclinations (case in point - Ravana). Of course, different sampradayas describe things differently and emphasize different things, so mine is not the ultimate or sole view/answer.
    – Krostd
    Apr 5 '17 at 23:36
  • 1
    @DukeZhou Since their worship is not as accessible or appropriate for the masses, there seems to be more emphasis on worship of demigods, headed by Indra, in the bulk of Vedic literature, since the bulk is likely for the masses. A smaller (and possibly later) section would talk about worship of trinity. A somewhat similar discussion takes place in vedabase.com/en/sb/1/5 (Bhagavat Purana, Canto 1, Ch. 5), where Narada instructs Vyasa to write a literature specifically about Vishnu/Krishna after he has compiled all the Vedic literature.
    – Krostd
    Apr 5 '17 at 23:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.