This post will serve as both a farewell and an offering, and it’s an essay I’ve needed to write for some time. The time of my parting from Indra’s worship has come, a difficult decision, and one that has not been taken lightly or one-sidedly.
I’ve written about the difficulties of Indra-worship before, and one point bears repeating, for my own as well as others’ understanding: there’s irony in being attracted to the fire-rituals whose own tradition disqualifies me from them on grounds of sex, birth, and origin. Environment and circumstances have made even the simpler worship of agnihotra impossible for years now, and my work with the ancient Indra of the Vedas has revealed Him to be aniconic – not just difficult to depict in image form, but actively resisting attempts to do so, making image pūjā to Him quite a complex matter. The increasing difficulty of serving and worshipping Him was compounded by a strong feeling that He was resisting me doing so; the impression I had was enough. It is enough. Over and over again, with a gentle feeling of being pushed back.
Well, no devotee wants to believe that their God is telling them to sod off.
But in truth, despite all of my wounded feelings, I also felt a sensation of parting, a sense of having flamed brightly and then out, that the time had come to let the smoke scatter and open some windows. And over time I was able to soothe my ruffled feelings, to quell the questions of what I’d done to deserve “abandonment,” for it was not a message of cruelty but of freedom. Indra is the God of Freedom, after all; He will not be clutched with desperate over-dependence, nor will He bury what a worshipper doesn’t want to face.
The time of pondering this change has taught me of humility, of detachment and surrender enough to understand that I do not work with a Deity; He works with me, and when His task is complete, it is mine to let go and not cling to dissipating smoke, unwilling to relinquish my place as “devotee.” The truth is that there’s no resentment in this parting. Indra for me has served as Liberator; I can never thank Him enough, and yet He demands nothing from me. In encouraging me to ask “….and?” with every situation, He has shown me how many of my “limitations” in this world are created by my own thoughts, the walls that I cower behind instead of facing what seems so frightening and terrible beyond them. He came uninvited and has never asked me to do anything for Him, but has simply been there to break the chains and show me that the cage is a lie. He feels now to me like a Teacher who is leaving the room, comfortable that I’ve learned enough to continue alone – at least for a time, though He may return whenever He wills.
I feel that Indra’s ultimate aspiration for all of us is enlightenment, and that I as yet have too little to sacrifice upon that flame; I’ve spent years breaking free of limiting situations, people, and expectations and thus much more time escaping from life than living it. I can hardly be ready to discard the world when I still know so little of it. I’m not ready to die before I’ve truly lived. This is the impression that I have from Him, and which I confirmed within myself, when I was able to step back from self-blame long enough to look at what was really inside of me.
Those ideals of transcendence and enlightenment shone far more brightly for me when, in breaking attachments to others, I felt empowered to “rise above” conflicts and problems, to holy-text-and-meditate-and-ivory-tower them away. But in truth, much of my disconnection and alienation was not spiritual; it was dark and bitter and escapist, and part of my work in the days to come must be to delve into that darkness and grapple with it.
I have fled not only from my current life, but from the past and my own ancestry, burdened from exploring my own heritage not only by privilege-related guilt, but by conflict and disconnection from my living family. But I feel I can no longer reject the ways of my ancestors without even attempting to learn about them, and a recent trip has confirmed to me that I should indeed seek them and that there is truth in my concerns.
I don’t want this ending to discourage anyone who feels devotion to Śrī Indra, for I believe that He is more than worth every service He is paid. I also feel that, if He is not the best Guide for a devotee, He is still a wonderful Deva to worship, for His is the power to clear away any limitations and fears that may be clouding the correct choice. His may not be the road one ultimately treads, but His light will show the right path; His rain will wash away impurity – and His lightning ensures a speedy result indeed.
Although I plan no further updates to this blog, I leave it open for future posts, in case I come across anything interesting about Indra that ought to be shared. I also pledge to keep the Indra calendar and the various links up-to-date and to honour my commitment to correspond with anyone who has questions or ideas. This blog will stay online to share information and will remain connected to my e-mail account, so I’ll receive notification whenever anyone posts a comment. Please don’t be shy about getting in touch with me if there’s anything Indra-related on your mind! It’s not a bother to me, but rather, a way to honour and show gratitude to the Deva who has given me so much.
For any Indra-devotees reading this, please know that I do have a few books and ritual items that I’m looking to re-home; I don’t want payment for them, just the reassurance that they’re going to a new home where they’ll be respected and tended. If you’re interested, please leave a comment on this entry, with an e-mail address or other means by which I can contact you privately.
Also, I’m considering starting a new spiritual blog, to write about the journey I’m now taking and to leave this space purely dedicated to Indra as it always has been. I’d rather not post the probable URL publicly – this blog draws quite a bit of spam, and I don’t want a bunch of robot followers mucking up a new blog before I’ve made a single post! – but if you’d like to follow me elsewhere, please leave a comment with an e-mail address or other private way to get in touch with you, and I’ll send you the username once I’ve gotten the site registered and going.
I thank everyone who has accompanied me on this particular part of my journey, for the insights that encouraged and challenged me all along the way. I hope that you’ll come with me to my new site and that we can continue to share thoughts and ideas.
For now, the best conclusion to this post, and to this blog, is also a new beginning, and even a gentle invitation that remains always open:
Oṃ indrāya namaḥ.