Rudra & Indra

Before we describe the relationship or contract between Rudra and Indra, one has to understand that Vedas describe Divinities (Devas) and Divine-Concepts (All encompassing Deva). Such as Soma, Rudra, Indra, Prajapati, Purusha, Vrātyas, Manyu and more. These Divine Concepts are not individual divinities limited to a Yajna or a single event, they are omniscient concepts. That is why they overlap with other Divinities. In the end, they are all cumulative of Rta.

Rudra is a RAW Concept, meaning one can’t just limit Rudra = ‘XYZ’ and be done with it, doing so is a half-baked attempt. The concept of Rudra overlaps with various Devas (divinities) that is why Vedas were very very specific in addressing Rudra as:

  1. Viṣvarūpam = meaning the cosmic form or the all-encompassing
    omni-form
  2. Pururūpam = meaning multiform/multihued, and
  3. Virūpam = meaning multifold altering forms and
  4. Vahurūpa = meaning multi-formed
    (References RV2.33.10,TS4.5.4,TA10.23.1)

The details in which Rudra is explained in the Vedas are astonishing, so are Soma, Prajapti, and Indra more than any.

Rudras (rudrébhis or rudrésu) are the only Divinities in the Vedas to possess a multitude of precise and powerful weapons. Atharva Veda speaks of Rudra’s golden bows and weapons flying abroad like guided missiles in the direction he desires AV11.2.12. The only other Divinity who comes close to possessing multiple weapons is Indra; He too has a weapon common to Rudra, which is the lightning (Asani). These hymns define Rudras and Maruts as Earth-shaking clans feared by all lokas as they could create fires, bring rain (nourishment and lords of food RV2.1.6), hunts like predators, and attacks in thousands, and kill in hundreds AV11.2.12 causes lightning and thunder [RV1.38,2.33,5.58/59, KYV4.5.11, AV11.2.26], and make rain in deserts RV1.38.7. Hence he is called the Tempest God, and also has the title Aśani given to Rudra in Brahmāṇa-1 of Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 8.1.3.6.

In numerous hymns, Agni, Indra, Atithi, and others are urged to pass on their recommendations and pleas to Rudras/Maruts through Rudriya & Marutvatia (hymns dedicated to Rudra/Maruts respectively). On many occasions, various Divinities request the help of Rudras/Maruts as their strength is invincible in battle RV1:87,167. Indra will not overwrite the boons given by Maruts RV1:166 as they are his trusted friends and comrades AB1.3.20. There is a story in the Puráńas of how Viṣṇu led Maruts to a battle. Viṣṇu is also called Evaya Marut, meaning the fastest Marut RV5.87 and the title ŚipiViṣṭa (शिपिविष्ट) RV7.100.6 meaning the rays which permeate, this title is given to both Viṣṇu and Rudra TS4.5.5. Aitareya Brahmāṇa 1.30 states that Viṣṇu is the leader of the Maruts and both Ashivns and Varuna who themselves being Rudras follow His lead. The twin Ashvins are also considered as Rudras – “उत नो॑ रुद्रा चिन्मृळतामश्विना” RV10.93.7 and they move like the Rudra, hence the word Rudravartanī (रुद्रवर्तनी) which means to move forwards boldly/fiercely with brilliance like Rudra RV1.3.3. It’s because of this hymn many observed a commonality among the twin Ashvins with that of Rudras, and the most obvious trait of them being Physicians just like Rudra. Hence are considered as the children of Rudra. As Sri Aurobindo famously says, if Viṣṇu is the all-encompassing space/canvas, and Brahma is the Creative Idea, Rudra is the invisible force that propels Creation forward to the highest state/stride of Viṣṇu and bestows bliss/nourishment RV1.114 in their journey. When we say nature.

Rudra is not necessarily a single entity or a group because of the unique nature of Rudra to manifest across various concepts and divinities. Since Rudra is the raw and un-manifested invisible force, with the knowledge and immortal wisdom came the Maruts as the individual forces of nature wielded by Rudra. These forces cause the evolution of creation and favorite to Indra in the destruction of VritraAB3.20. THE RUDRA is not as a person but as “The Concept of Sovereignty and All-Encompassing Cosmic form” Hence, Rudras can save us, at the same time, cause destruction to restructure things in Creation, this is why Rudras are all-encompassing form and are not limited to fixed attributes/actions and the Maruts are called the arrows/missiles of Rudra.

The most distinctive attribute of Rudra is His long hair, Vedas gave three distinctive titles, they said Harikeśa (हरिकेशेभ्य) YV4.5.2 MB1.17.11 and Vyuptakeśa (व्युप्तकेश) and Kaparddi (कपर्दिने) YV4.5.5. Harikeśa has many meanings, like self-Luminant, golden-head/hair, or fair-headed which means the one who is unprejudiced towards all beings. The most interesting part is that Indra is also addressed as Harikeśa RV10.96.5. This title has many compounds (Sandhi) in Sanskrit like Hari+keśa or Hari+ka+iśa. 

Similar to Rudra, the concept of Soma enters into various aspects of the Yajñá (Yagna). In this way, Soma enters into the offering of the Soma:latha juice, into clarified butter (ghee) used in Yagna, or the full moon, into medicines, into amṛta, and is the very ṛta. In other places, Somapavamana, meaning the purified/clarified/refined version of Soma, gave rise to both Indra and Viṣṇu during Yajñá RV9.96.5. This does not mean Viṣṇu takes physical birth because various divine concepts (Devas) emerge during various states of Yajñá performed by Prajāpati. Soma is also addressed as an additive to milk or ghee used as Medha (offering) of Yajñá. Soma is also used as a synonym for amṛta and it is this Soma that the Devas compete RV1.108, Indra more than others, as his strength comes from the divine Soma through which He and other Devas conquered all the worlds RV8.92/9.62.29. It is this Soma that gives them health, immortality, and strength to fight off Vṛtra, allowing room for ṛta. To this, the Maruts provide their support. Many dualities are paired among various divine concepts in the Vedas, like Mitra-Varuna, similarly, Rudra and Soma are paired together as a dual divinity across Vedas and are treated as one.

Taittirīya Saṃhitā 2.2.11 gives us a brief glimpse into an event where both Ausras and Devas reach a disagreement and when they leave, Soma leaves with Rudras and Agni leaves with Vasus, Indra with Maruts and Varuna with Ādityās.

Let’s go to Mahabharatam Sauptika Parva, in which Yudhishthira (Dharmaraj), in despair for losing his children and many others to Drona’s son Ashwathama questions Śrī Kṛṣṇa (Vasudeva), for which He replies:

The holy one said, ‘Verily, Drona’s son had sought the aid of that
highest of all the gods, viz., the eternal Mahadeva. It was for this
that he succeeded in slaying, single-handed, so large a number of
warriors. If Mahadeva be gratified, he can bestow even immortality and
Girisha can give such valor as will succeed in checking Indra himself.
I know Mahadeva truly, O bull of Bharata’s race! I know also his
various acts of old. He, O Bharata, is the beginning, the middle, and
the end of all creatures. The entire Universe acts and moves through
his energy.

Mahabharatam Itihāsa Sauptika Parva 17

The Atharva Veda points to Indra’s role as the supreme ruler in terms of the administration of Creation and Yajñá, but there is no clear reference of him being addressed as one of the Rudras. However, both Rudra and Indra share many similar titles like Vāstoṣpati, Vrittahan, Bhutapati & Satpatim. Asani is an epithet of Rudra in the form of a thunderbolt held by Indra which is also mentioned in Mahābhāratam.

Let’s go to Caraka Katha Āraṇyaka 2.100/101:

Wandering Rudra in the heavenly realm (svargaṃ lokaṃ) with a sun-like
luster/brilliance (ādityavarṇaṃ). The Devas who ascended to the
heavenly realm saw and sought Rudra as to who he was (.abruvan: ko
.asīti). I am Rudra (ahaṃ rudro), I am Indra (aham indro), I am the
Āditya (aham indro, aham ādityo), I am divine brilliance the
encompases entirity ( ahaṃ sarvasyāvayā haraso divyasyeti). The Devas
claimed no offering to Rudra. He Roared fiercely towards them
(rudratvam). The devas realized this and addressed him with due
reverence by calling him Bhava. They said Bhava the entirety is thy
Sarva. Because they said you are all this that revealed Śarva’s
[prowess] as an archer. Because he then became favorable that is
Śiva’s benevolence.

Caraka Katha Āraṇyaka 2.100/101

In Mahābhāratam Drona Parva Vyasa said:

‘Hearing these words of the lotus-born Brahma, Maheswara became
gratified. Desirous of extending his grace, he laughed aloud. The
celestials then gratified (with praise) both Uma and Rudra. The arm of
the thunder-wielding Sakra re-got its natural state. That foremost one
of all the gods, that destroyer of Daksha’s sacrifice, that divine
lord having the bull for his sign, became gratified with the gods. He
is Rudra he is Siva, he is Agni, he is everything, and he hath
knowledge of everything. He is Indra, he is the Wind, he is the twin
Aswins, and he is the lighting. He is Bhava, he is Parjanya, he is
Mahadeva, he is sinless. He is the Moon, he is Isana, he is Surya, he
is Varuna. He is Kala, he is Antaka, he is Mrityu, he is Yama. 1 He is
the day, and he is the night. He is the fortnight, he is the month, he
is the seasons. He is the morning and evening-twilights, he is the
year. He is Dhatri, he is Vidhatri, he is the Soul of the universe,
and he is the doer of all acts in the universe. Though himself without
body, it is he who is the embodied celestial.

Mahābhāratam Drona Parva Section 202-203 (jaya section)

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