Indian Weather Gods
Indra the Thunder God
Indra occupies an important place in the pantheon of Indian gods. A central figure in Hindu mythology, Indra held the position of supreme ruler of the gods in the Vedic age. In fact, of all the gods, the most hymns in the Rig Veda (about 250) are dedicted to him. As supreme ruler, he was the god of thunder and storms as well as the leader of the Devas. According to the Aryan theory of the history of India, Indra was one of the gods of Vedism or Brahmanism, the religion of the Aryans - the nomadic people from the steppes of Central Asia, who entered northwest India around 1800 BC. The other gods worshipped by the Aryans were Agni, the Fire God and Surya, the Sun God.
|Indra, the Thunder God, seated on his elephant, Airavata. |
Foremost among warriors, Indra was considered omnipotent, even among the gods! Among his many roles was that of being the defender of mankind and divinity against the forces of evil. Further, he had the power to revive dead warriors who perished on the battlefield. In Brahamanic times and later, Indra gradually lost his position of prominence. He was supplanted by Vishnu and Shiva as the most important of gods.
Indra is generally best known as the Thunder God or the Weather God. However, he displays aspects of a sun god as well as of a god of creation. He is also considered a fertility god, as, in Hindu mythology, he is the one who brought water to the earth. Indra is traditionally armed with a range of weapons, comprising his trademark lightning bolt, the Vajra, as well as a bow, a net and a hook in battle. When not in his chariot, Indra rides on his great white elephant, Airavata.
Physically, Indra is considered very powerful. Reddish in complexion, he is depicted with either two or four very long arms. The sky god Dyaus Pita and the earth goddess Prithivi are his parents. According to myth, he took birth from his mother's side, fully grown and fully armed. His wife is Indrani, and his attendants are called the Maruts. His sons are Jayanta, Midhusa, Nilambara, Rbhus, Rsabha, Sitragupta, Arjuna.
Indra's domain is Swarga, his heaven in the clouds that swirl around the peak Meru. This heaven moves anywhere at Indra's instructions. Indra and his wife Indrani rule over this heaven, where Apsaras and Gandharvas dance and entertain those present.
Surya, the Sun God