Indra is the God of War and Weather, also the King of the Gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hinduism. He was the most important god in the Vedic religion and he later became a major figure in Hinduism and an important deity in Buddhism.
Indra is bestowed with a heroic and almost brash and amorous character. The formidable thunderbolt-wielding Indra strikes an imposing figure but as king of the gods he is generally benevolent, being generous to his worshipers, guaranteeing peace and prosperity and delivering beneficial rainstorms to end droughts. He can also be called upon in times of war to give support with his divine weapons and favorable intervention.
Indra has been known to partake on many adventures, although, Indra is, on occasion, portrayed in a less than favorable light in his adventures, for example, he is known for his fondness of the alcoholic elixir drink soma which he does not always take in moderation and so he sometimes suffers from its after-effects. However, the helpful Ashvins gods and the goddess Sarasvati are always on hand to administer an antidote taken from the body of a demon and restore the god to his senses.
In Indian mythology the clouds are equated with divine cattle and the sound of thunder during storms is Indra fighting with the demons who are forever trying to steal these celestial cows. In addition, the rain is equated with Indra milking his divine herd and the god is seen as a protector of earthly cattle belonging to his worshippers. Indra encompasses and controls the universe, balancing the earth in the palm of his hand and manipulating it according to his whim. He also created the rivers and streams by shaping the mountains and valleys with his sacred axe.
Indra was born, along with his brother Agni, from the mouth of the primordial god or giant Purusha whose various other body parts gave birth to the other members of the Hindu pantheon. These new gods then brought order to the cosmos and Indra, seated on his throne within the storm clouds of the svarga or third heaven is ruler of the clouds and skies alongside his wife Indrāni. In Indian mythology the clouds are equated with divine cattle and the sound of thunder during storms is Indra fighting with the demons who are forever trying to steal these celestial cows
Perhaps the most celebrated exploit involving the god is his battle with the demon Vritra. This demon, also known as the Enemy, had transformed himself into a fearsome snake with no less than 99 coils. Unfortunately for local farmers these tremendous coils were blocking up the rivers and streams and causing a great drought. So horrifying was Vritra that none of the gods dared intervene and it was only Indra who found the courage, fortified with soma, to slay the beast with one of his thunderbolts. As a result of this episode he won great favor among the other great gods and one of Indra’s surnames became Vritrahan, meaning the ‘slayer of Vritra’.
In later tradition Indra is transformed from a worshiped god into a mythological figure involved in various, sometimes unflattering, adventures whilst gods such as Vishnu and Shiva replace him at the head of the Hindu pantheon. Nevertheless, Indra continued to be associated with storms, rain and the cardinal point East.