Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": 'INDRA- WHO AS SOON AS BORN


('Rig Veda,' II, 12, 1-5 13)

1. The chief wise god who as soon as born
surpassed the gods in power;
Before whose vehemence the two worlds trembled by reason
of the greatness of valour: he, O men, is, Indra1

2. Who made firm the quaking earth,
who set at rest the agitated mountains;
Who measures out the air more widely,
who supported the heaven: he, O men, is Indra.

3. Who having slain the serpent released the seven streams,
who drove out the cows by the unclosing of Vala,
Who between two rocks has produced fire,
victor in battles: he, O men, is Indra.2

4. By whom all things here have been made unstable,3
who has made subject the Dasa color4 and has made it
Who, like a sinning gambler the stake,
has taken the possessions of the foe: he, O men, is Indra.

5. The terrible one of whom they ask 'where is he,'
of whom they also say 'he is not':
He diminishes the possessions of the foe like the stakes of
gamblers. Believe in him: he, O men, is Indra. . . .

13. Even heaven and Earth bow down before him;5
before his vehemence even the mountains are afraid.
Who is known as the Soma-drinker, holding the bolt in his arm,
who holds the bold in his hand: he, O men, is Indra.6


1. In contrast with Varuna and the asuras, another group of gods, the devas, is led by Indra, the warrior god, who is king (svaraj) not like Varuna through the evolving cosmic order, but rather by virtue of his own dynamic being.
2 Here the famous exploits of Indra are recalled: the slaying of the serpent Vritra, who encompassed the cosmic waters, released for men the seven rivers; Vala, another demon and the brother of Vritra, was also slain by Indra: and Agni as lightning was generated by Indra from the clouds, as fire is struck from flint. All of Indra's effusive deeds are the result of his generative bull-like nature.
3 Cyavana, 'shaking': the advent of Indra's power has calmed earthquakes (stanza 2) but has agitated and made transient all worldly phenomena.
4 The non-Aryan population.
5 Gradually in the Rig Veda Indra takes over those roles which formerly has been Varuna's, until eventually Indra too achieves soveriegnty. (cf. Rig Veda IV, 42 and X, 124)
6 Indra is the greatest drinker of intoxicating soma. The vajra, his thunderbolt, is in constant use against his foes.

Translated by A.A. Macdonell, in his A Vedic Reader for Students (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1917), pp45-54

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