Indra is considered to be one of the oldest gods of the Vedas. He was worshipped by the Hindus and the Khmers, the people who inhabited the territory of today’s Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Burma. This deity was, above all, a thunder-hurler, but he was also a horrific war god, and Khmers’ mythology represents Indra as the father of all gods, the supreme god. He was thought to be an extraordinarily just god, punishing the evil and rewarding the good. A son of Earth and Sky, Indra was the product of conjoining of the two primeval principles, which he unified in his role of the thunder-god. He gave light and rain, granted fertility and abundance for which his believers prayed and made offerings to him. As for Indra’s warrior aspect, it, above all, lies in the fact that Indra was a just god who fought against the evil principle embodied in the serpent called Vritra. Gold and red were his colours, and the latter is, as we know, related to all the gods that are warriors by nature. Indra was the god who led the gods of Deva into the war against the Asurs, another divine people. Indra is often associated with soma, a divine drink that was consumed by the old Aryans, and with the holy mountain Mera, of which he was the divine protector.
What was Indra’s role in the new Slavic mythology (that had some characteristics of the old Vedic religion)? In The Book of Veles, which was published by Juri Miroljubov, Indra was also represented as the war god and was therefore referred to as “the sword god”. Side by side with Perun, he fought against Slavic enemies, as we can see from the following sentence: “Indra and Perun throw the enemies under ground, and lead the sons of Or (Aryans) into victory” (The Book of Veles, plate marked F-21). Alexander Asov refers to Indra as Dievic, the name he attributes to all the gods that are in some way related to Daius Pitar, Aryan father-god. Dievic gods were sometimes ruled over by the prince of Darkness, and they usually had lunar characteristics (their equivalents in Hinduism are the Devas). Opposed to them were Vijevici that, according to Asov, had exclusively solar characteristics. Indra also became a part of the new-founded Slavic astrology that was established by Asov. In it, Indra is represented as the ruler of one zodiac constellation – Capricorn. Why does Asov connect Indra precisely with the Capricorn? As we know, the Vedas teach that Indra lives in a heavenly sphere situated below the sphere belonging to Varuna, or the heavenly Uranus. We could conclude from this that Indra was the ruler of the sphere of Saturn, but Asov, for unknown reasons, identified Saturn with Rod. It is possible that Asov related Indra with the Capricorn for the following reasons: in Russian folklore there was a creature resembling a goat – Indrik the Unicorn. Whatever reasons may have prompted Asov to conclude that Indra was connected to the zodiac field of the Capricorn, the fact is that Indra’s place in Slavic mythology was defined in this way. Asov also established a specific way of time measuring by which time is divided into twelve different cycles, each of them covering the period of two thousand years. The age of the Capricorn that, according to Asov, covered the period between the 25th and the 23rd millennium BC, was the time of Indra’s rule. Asov proved this in the following way: the myth found in the Vedas, describing how Indra had broken the holy stone in two with his mace, actually tells about the fall of a comet that happened in the era of the Capricorn. Of course, the theory of zodiac cycles or zodiac eras is not Asov’s invention. Many other astrologists have tackled the issue, the occultist Aleister Crowley being one of them.
As for the etymology, in the Slavic languages there are many names strongly resembling the name of this Vedic deity. The Czechs, the Slovaks and the Ukrainians use Indra as a first name, while in Slovenia we can find place names like Indrija, Indrijsko and Indrica (an excellent essay on remnants of Vedic gods’ names in the Slavic languages can be found in the anthology named The Sun – the Head of the Slavs. The author of the essay is Slovenian expert Matijaz Anzura, and the anthology was published by the Centre for ecology and ethnology “Sfera”).
by Vesna Kakaševski
translation by Snježana Todorović