Indra kills Trisira and Vritra and his penance

Prajapati Visvakarma, the famed Architect of Devas, had a son named Trisira or the three headed Brahmana boy who used to practise ascetism with one head, drink wine with another and look around in all directions with the third. Being an ardent student of Vedas, he was always engaged in severe Tapasya, especially ‘Panchagni Sadhana’ hanging upside down a tree branch exposed to Summer Sun, winter cold and heavy rainy season without food conquering worldly desires. Being highly suspicious of the intentions of Trisira who might pose problem his own throne, Indra despatched Apsarasas to disturb Trisira’s rigorous meditation but to no avail. Indra thus killed him even when he was in meditation, even as he knew that killing a pious Brahmana in meditation was the highest possible sin. Furious with Indra’s dreadful deed, Visvakarma performed an inexorable Sacrifice by ‘Abhichara’ process (taking revenge) reciting Atharva Veda Mantras, created a mountain like and ferocious boy with the sole objective of killng Indra.The huge boy was named Vritra or who could save his father as Vrinjina. Visvakarma equipped him with all kinds of war tactics and divine armoury including a swift and sturdy Chariot, a ‘Sudarshan’ like Disc, and a‘Trisula’ like spear. As Vritra grew, Indra was getting nervous and approached Deva Guru to prevent any risk from the Demon. Brihaspati warned Indra that he should better be prepared for a Big Battle as the forebodings were not conducive, as after all Indra had committed a heinous crime of killing a Brahmana out of pride and fear. Meanwhile Vritra formulated his plans of attack and grouped a vengeful and desperate army of Danavas as his support. As the dooms day arrived, Indra and Devas were attacked and a furious Danava clan fought for hundred years and Indra leapt for life from Elephant ‘Airavata’ and ran by foot and Varuna, Vayu, Agni and all other Planetary heads and Devatas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras and so on fled too incognito. At one stage Vritra caught hold of Indra and literally devoured him. All the Deva Chiefs prayed to Deva Guru to some how save Indra and Brihaspati managed Vritra to yawn with his mouth wide open and somehow helped Indra to manage to bale out from his mountain-cave like mouth of Vritra! As Indra and Devas fled and hid themselves from Vritra, the latter ruled Heavens for thousand years and Devas continued sporadic efforts to defeat Vritra and Danavas but to no avail. Indra and Devas approached Maha Deva for help and together along with Maha Vishnu prayed to Maha Devi and got Her blessings. Some senior Sages went in a delegation to Vritra requesting for truce with Indra and Devas. Vritra agreed that the truce be agreed provided that his death should take place neither during day or night, with a dry or liquid substance or by wood, stone, thunderbolt and similar substance.The Sages agreed to the conditions. But Vritra’s father Visvakarma cautioned the son that past history was a witness to Indra’s vicious acts and that he would certainly strike Vritra at an opportune time; he said that Indra was such a crook that he killed the foetus of his own mother’s sister Diti by entering into her womb by Anima and other Siddhis and killing it into pieces; by taking the form of Sage Gautam and cheated the Sage’s wife Ahalya into bed, and recently killed Trisira on the suspicion that he might usurp his throne and so on. In course of the function like ‘Suthika Sauchak’ie one month after birth till ‘Samavartan’ or boy returning from ‘Gurukula’ after studies. Meanwhile Rahul came to realise that Varun had been demanding the Naramedha and ran away. After some time when he came to know that his father was exremely ill with dropsy as a result of Varuna’s curse, Rahul wanted to return home but Lord Indra advised him against it. Sage Vasishtha the well wisher Guru of Harischandra suggested that an alternate way of performing Naramedha as approved by Scriptures was neither day nor night but the twilight time. It was wrongly deduced that it was Indra who killed Vritra, but the actual position was that Maha Bhagavati entered and energised the Sea foam and terminated Vritra. That was why Maha Bhagavati was known as ‘Vritranihantri’. [Srimad Maha Bhagavatha Purana stated that Maha Vishnu advised Devas to implore Sage Dadhichi to spare his backbone which was converted into a thunderbolt by Visvakarma the Architect of Devas with which was killed Vritra by Indra.] Badly hurt by the sense of guilt that he killed a Brahmana the result of which would be that of a Great Sin of ‘Brahma paataka’ as this woud be a second sin of killing Trisura, who was also a Bramhana, Indra felt miserable and hid himself in the stalk of a lotus in Manasarovar lake. As Indra was absconding for a long time, another Indra King Nahusha was installed, and puffed up by the new position Nahusha asked for Sachi Devi to serve him, as he was the King then. Sachi asked for some time Indra befriended Vritra and when the latter was roaming on the Sea beach he took advantage of the situation and sent his thunderbolt to dip itself in the froth of the Sea waves and killed Vritra as the time time to make sure that her husband was really hiding or dead. She prayed to Devi Maha Bhagavati and explained her predicament to Her. Maha Devi asked Sachi to accompany a female messenger named Visvakama; they went by an air-borne vehicle to Manasarovar where she met Indra who was frightened with the sense of guilt hiding inside the stalk of a lotus. On narratinig the happenings of the new Indra, his desire to own Sachi as his wife, her asking him for time, praying to Maha Devi and the messenger Visvakama helped locating Indra, the latter advised Sachi to allure Nahusha into a forest by a Vehicle meant for Sages. She returned to Nahusha who borrowed the ‘Vimana’ (air plane) of Sages who understood the deceipt of Nahusha and allowed both of them to board the vehicle saying: SARPA SARPA, which had the double meaning of ‘ Get In and go’ and also ‘Serpent, Serpent’!The Great Muni was whipped by Nahusha to let the Vehicle go fast. The Vehicle dropped Nahusha in the thick of a forest who took the shape of a huge serpent and picked up the real Indra and Sachi Devi back to Heavens safe, when all the Devas were happy that original Indra returned! Nahusha secured his liberation only after the Maha Bharata was over and the Five Pandavas passed through the forest and King Dharmaraja answered the questions correctly from his serpent formation and liberated him too. By the Grace of Devi Bhagavati, Indra was reinstated and the curse of his ‘Brahma Hatya Pathaka’ (killing a Brahmana) was already dissolved by way of atonement and sufferance in hiding at ‘Manasarovara’. Such was the Supreme Justice that Devi Maya did to every being without favour or prejudice. The powerful ‘Karma’or Fate works equitably to Tri Murthis downward to a grass blade, but the norms change with the passage of Yugas from Satya to Treta to Dvapara and Kali Yuga when the percentage of Gunas would witness radical change by way of reduction to Satvik, medium to Rajas and maximum to Tamas and when the peak reaches to Tamas, it then would be time for Universal Dissolution!

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at