30 Days, day 27: Misconceptions.

Worst misconception about this deity that you have encountered.

There are three misconceptions that I consider “the worst,” for different reasons.

The most shocking and horrible is the version of Ahalyā’s story in which the affair is neither seduction nor trickery, but rape. Part of Gautama’s curse upon Indra becomes that He will bear part of the sin for every rape ever committed.

The most widespread misconception I’ve yet encountered is that Indra and Kṛṣṇa are enemies. Indra and Viṣṇu are ancient Friends; they are hymned together in Ṛgveda. Their roles are different, but both always work for world-welfare, and if that work is sometimes seen through the veil of Māyā, well, then I imagine that that is as They would wish it.

And the misconception that has affected me most adversely is the idea that other religions generally, and any non-Christian God specifically, is a trap set by the Devil to ensnare the intellectual. The concept that my Gods are really demons, and that I am evil for following a different faith, has unfortunately cost me family relationships and friendships.

But Indra remains, beautiful and terrible, and true regardless of how He is seen.

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4 thoughts on “30 Days, day 27: Misconceptions.

  1. Having Vedic and Puranic Gods jostle for spot light shows how different sects developed over time. Having a Vedic God, such as Indra, being defeated or overwhelmed by a Puranic God like Krushna is actually a back handed complement to the Vedic God. Having to defeat Vedic Gods like Indra and Agni is almost like a ‘right of passage’ for the Puranic Gods to prove that now they are in ascendancy.

    Jain and Buddhist tales also feature Indra and heavenly Gods. Though these two derivatives of Hinduism are avowed atheistic in their nature, they both have Indra come and worship their saintly heroes – Thirthankars & Buddha. This is their way of acknowledging the influence of Indra in their time and deliberately humbling him to aggrandize their religious heroes.

    Using Indra as a foil for ‘their own Gods’ is really a nice complement to Indra and his enduring power to awe people.

    • Your point is excellently made; it’s true, even in modern books and films, that a hero’s strength and virtue are proven when he triumphs over great enemies, and you’re right to see a backhanded compliment to Indra in such tales. The last sentence of your comment is particularly beautiful, as well. :)

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