Asura – Indra vs Vritra

The sky’s blackish-indigo canvas was peppered with flashes of lightning. The sound of the crashing thunder was drowned by the sound of clashing swords and grunts and roars that reached all three worlds. Gods, humans, dwellers of svarga and naraka stood still and witnessed the spectacle that was unfolding before them.

On one side stood Indra, the King of the devas and the ruler of svarga, atop his magnificent white elephant Airavata and facing him was Vritra, the King of the asuras and the purveyor of drought. The two sworn enemies had been engaged in a fierce fight for 359 continuous days – a battle between good and evil.

‘Give up, Vritra!’ Indra bellowed. ‘Your path of destruction is unholy. Surrender and I’ll give you a swift death.’

‘I have defeated you before, Indra!’ thundered Vritra. ‘My sole existence is to end you and I would have done it already if not for the Gods’ interference. Don’t worry, I will finish the job today.’

‘You are evil and need to be destroyed,’ Indra said and let loose a volley of arrows towards his adversary.

‘What’s good and what’s evil?’ Vritra deflected the arrows and growled. ‘My nature is to be violent, but you are hedonistic, adulterous, and drunk in your own pride. Yet you are the champion of all that is good and I represent evil? You came to me waving the flag of friendship, yet it was all a ploy to find out my weakness. Yet I’m evil, and you are good?’

Indra didn’t, couldn’t reply. What Vritra stated was true, yet he had a moral obligation to kill this personification of evil. After all, that’s what the Asuras were – evil. He muttered the spell to invoke his special weapon – the mighty Vajrayudha, and with a hoarse cry fell on his enemy.

Note: 1. According to Hindu mythology, Vritrasura was created by an enraged sage whose son was killed by Indra. 

2. Vritra resembled a gigantic serpent. The myth of a Storm God battling and slaying a serpent is prevalent in many cultures. Thor vs Jörmungandr (Norse), Zeus vs Typhon (Greek), Susano’o vs Yamata-no-Orochi (Japanese)

Glossary: 

Asura – Fallen Gods, demons (Hindu mythology)

Deva – Gods

Svarga and Naraka – Heaven and Hell 

Vajrayudha – Indra’s weapon made from the bones of the sage Dadhichi.

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75 Comments

  1. Arent stories/history always written from the point of view of the victor? I strongly agree with the Asura. Indra, as we all know is most insecure of the Gods who always fear for the loss of his throne. He had been guilty of many treacherous deeds e.g. Cheating Ahilya and still he is God. He is none less than the daemon.
    Interesting story.

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  2. Oh wow, this was so exciting! I truly adore mythology. This is a story that I am only vaguely familiar with though really only because I am terrible with names. You did such an amazing job retelling this story in an easy to understand way. I also appreciate the footnotes at the bottom. That makes it easier to understand exactly what is going on. Plus it gives people a place to start if they want to read more into the story. Bravo and good luck on the challenege!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words. When we delve deep into mythologies and legends of the various cultures across this world, we’d start finding some common threads amongst them. The characters might be different, the stage might be different, but the stories, more or less, are the same. Wish you the best for the challenge as well.

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      1. That is so true. It was really a surprise when I starting reading into things. The similarities that is held between them. But it makes sense though. Considering that most deities and religious based stories had a lot to do with peoples environment and the resources that they used. Hunter gather civilization put a lot of stock into families and agriculture. This they had a lot of fertility deities. The same for beings in charge of what helped their nation flourish. Even Nomadic folk where said to hold beliefs though we do not know the exact details. Only the drawings we have found throughout the land.

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  3. Very, very cool. One: I’m really happy to read your work. Two: I get to learn new mythology and other stuff. Three: this was an excellent start. Can’t wait for all the letters to come.
    Stu

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Dream. I have read the first book written by Amish – ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ but didn’t like his style so stopped. I prefer Ashok Banker’s retelling of Ramayana. If possible, please check the series out.

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  4. I have read theories on how a certain section of people were labelled Asuras.I have also read the Mahabharata from the perspective of the Kauravas. It’s really fascinating to read alternate versions of history, mythology and scriptures.

    History is seldom written by the vanquished, nay?

    That was amazingly written, as always!

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  5. A fine start to the A2Z. I liked the interplay on the idea of good and evil being relative. Could also be about victors writing history.
    Also, the reference to similar stories in other mythologies was a nice touch.

    All the best for the rest of the A2Z.

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  6. I didn’t know about Vitra. I like mythology. I liked the glossary where you referred to Japanse counterpart of the same story. BTW, was your profile picture by any chance clicked at Gangtok?

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    1. When I was researching various asuras and their conflicts with devas, I came across Vritrasura. Often we could draw parallels between the legends and myths of different cultures.

      And yes, the pic was clicked in Sikkim but at Jorethang.

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  7. You have drawn a very beautiful image with words. Brings me back my memories of reading amar chitra katha when I was ten years old.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our puranas and the stories from our mythology have a much deeper meaning to them. Often it’d surprise us. Thank you for your kind words 🙂

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  8. I LOVE mythic fiction. Great opening! 🙂 Storm god vs serpent also reminds me of the Thunderbirds and the Uktena. I wonder what deep old memory that image comes from…
    Happy A to Z!

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    1. Yet another culture has/ had a similar legend. Gives great credence to the fact that we all are one. Thanks for stopping by, Zalka.

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  9. Your story makes one realize how biased certain stories have been. It’s not black and white. There are shades of grey too. Not all devas were as divine, pure of heart and “good” as they liked to think and not all “asuras” were violent, ruthless and evil. Great take on a classic tale and a wonderful start to the challenge. Looking forward to the 25 stories. 🙂

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  10. How unfair life can be. What I like about our myths is that all our characters have feet of clay. I look forward to 25 wonderful stories. I will use this material for good night stories for my grand daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the very kind words ma’am. The tales in our myths have much more to them than the surface level meanings. If we reflect on them, we could find the lessons applicable even today.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Aha! It is truly a matter of perspective! We all look at a situation and only see it from one perspective, which leads to walking around blind to the other perspective without even realizing it. Interesting story, Varad!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Perspectives – something we need today with our trigger friendly ways. So easy to look at the world in black and white when it is anything but. Wonderfully portrayed in this.

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    1. Spot on. Indra is a fantastic case study when you juxtapose his nature against the pious and honorable asuras he has fought against. Thanks for the comment, Suchita.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was in two minds about participating after last year’s debacle. But somehow pushed myself to write. After all, this is once a year stuff. Thanks a lot for the comment, Meena. 🙂

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    1. If we delve deep into our mythology, we’d find that the heroes are not really heroic and the villains are not entirely evil. That’s the beauty of our mythology and lore. Thanks for the comment, Moon. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I didn’t know about Vritra. Indian mythology is full of unknown facts and people. Sometimes gets confusing too. But when posts like this one give a briefing, these characters starts to make a meaning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely, our mythology is an ocean and there are a lot of stories and characters not known to the majority of us. Thanks for reading, Alapana 🙂

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