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.
When I was eighteen, I had a pending university degree with no practical application, feared becoming unemployed and directionless, and had a strong faith in ideas of honour and service, so it seemed an excellent notion, to explore the Air Force and seriously consider a military career. After finishing a semester of ROTC classes and writing the officer’s qualifying test, I began preparing myself physically and mentally for officer training school that summer.
Then I woke up one night with some thoughts I’d not yet considered, conflicts I certainly needed to resolve before embarking upon this journey. I’d never fired a weapon before and didn’t like touching guns, even when others encouraged me to learn. I was a vegetarian who practiced yoga, a soft-spoken and shy person. Up until then, I’d thought that I simply needed more courage and resolve, that my doubts were only fears. Serving my country seemed a very noble purpose, and flying a wondrous thing; my eyesight barred me from pilot, but I could have trained for navigator. But I realised that night that, even if I didn’t work in a cockpit, the military still existed for the purpose of violence and that my job would be, essentially, to kill – to either do it myself or to support the people who would.
At that time my ideas of good and evil, life and death, were very clear-cut, direct, black-and-white, and fortunately – for everyone – I realised that the knowledge of killing would eventually, if not immediately, drive me mad. I couldn’t do it, and I didn’t.
How has your relationship with this deity changed over time?
A time when this deity has refused to help.
I don’t think that Indra “refuses to help”; rather, He “refuses to put up with nonsense.” He’s got too much Time and Karma going on to bother with idle whimsy and ill-considered wishes, and especially with the assumption that His “help” equals “getting what you want, when you want it.” What I’ve received in response to my own foolishness is not an outright “no,” but a simple sense of retreat, of emptiness, and if I choose to persist in folly despite that feeling, then on my own head be it.
A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with.
I love to read and have a stack of possible choices here, so I’m going to provide a quote, some poems, and a piece of writing! Again, though, I offer the caveat that I can’t speak for Indra; these are writings that remind me of Him, not pieces that perfectly express His nature.
Music that makes you think of this deity.
This is a really dangerous question to ask me. I love music. I have playlists for everything. And since I already had a compilation of “Indra songs” for this blog, I’m simply embedding the list here and providing relevant lyrics and/or explanations beneath the cut. Of course, if any song is particularly enchanting – or confusing! – feel free to ask me about it; I’m always happy to discuss wonderful music.
Any mundane practices that are associated with this deity?
“Mundane” is not the easiest word to assign in the Hindu way of life, but I’ll use it here to refer to any activity that isn’t a home or temple worship service. And today’s question is an interesting one, because it touches on changing ideas about the arts over time; you see, Indra is an artist par excellence. The later Indra is the Lord of a light-filled Heaven, which resonates day and night with music and displays dance of the highest order. It is said that, on the occasion of the very first pradoṣa – a twice-monthly day of Śiva’s worship – Indra Himself played the flute for the celebration. In Veda, Indra is hymned still more beautifully, as the Singer of the holy chants and the transcendent Dancer. So you might guess that the arts would be associated with Indra, and they certainly are.