Indra is described as having killed Trishiras and in revenge Tvastar created Vritra who was also slayed by Indra. But few verse from the Vedas mention someone else as the slayer of Trisiras:

Rig Ved Verse 10.8.7 states:

7 Through his wise insight Trita in the cavern, seeking as ever the Chief Sire's intention, Carefully tended in his Parents' bosom, calling the weapons kin, goes forth to combat.

8 Well-skilled to use the weapons of his Father, Āptya, urged on by Indra, fought the battle. Then Trita slew the foe seven-rayed, three-headed, and freed the cattle of the Son of Tvaṣṭar.

9 9 Lord of the brave, Indra cleft him in pieces who sought to gain much strength and deemed him mighty. He smote his three heads from his body, seizing the cattle of the oniniform Son of Tvaṣṭar.

Another Verse RV 8.7.24 is extolling Maruts for helping Trita Aptya who was helped by Indra:

24 They reinforced the power and strength of Trita as he fought, and helped Indra in battle with the foe.

The following verse RV 1.187 even mentions Trita as the one who killed Vritra:

  1. Now will I glorify Food that upholds great strength, By whose invigorating power Trita rent Vṛtra limb from limb.

So who did actually kill Trishiras & Vritra? If it is Trita who is he?


I found who Trita Aptya was in the Shatapatha Brahmana 1.2.3 which mentions the following:

  1. Fourfold, namely, was Agni (fire) at first. Now that Agni whom they at first chose for the office of Hotri priest passed away. He also whom they chose the second time passed away. He also whom they chose the third time passed away. Thereupon the one who still constitutes the fire in our own time, concealed himself from fear. He entered into the waters. Him the gods discovered and brought forcibly away from the waters. He spat upon the waters, saying, 'Bespitten are ye who are an unsafe place of refuge, from whom they take me away against my will!' Thence sprung the Âptya deities, Trita, Dvita, and Ekata.

  2. They roamed about with Indra, even as nowadays a Brâhman follows in the train of a king. When he slew Visvarûpa, the three-headed son of Tvashtri, they also knew of his going to be killed.; and straightway Trita slew him. Indra, assuredly, was free from that (sin), for he is a god.

So according to Shatapatha Brahmana it was indeed Trita who killed Trishiras. The story also helps us make some sense of the earlier Vedic verses regarding him knowing thec 'chief-sire's intention'. But then how do we reconcile this version with the verses that claim it was Indra who performed the act?

Please note I am not looking for Puranic versions only what can be gleaned from the Vedic literature like Samhitas, Brahmanas etc.

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    Very interesting! Why do Vedas talk about different people doing the same things? Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 5:25
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    Haha beats me.. at many places different epithets may be used for the same person but at others there are genuine overlaps such as in the verses I shared above. Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 5:00

2 Answers 2


The other answer is not totally correct. The Zoroastrian equivalent of Trita is actually Thrita (which makes much more sense etymologically). We can see this parallel in Rigveda 10.99.6:

The sovereign Indra attacking him overcame the loud shouting, six eyed, three headed Dasa, Trita invigorated by his strength, smote the cloud with his iron-tipped finger.

and the Zoroastrian text Yasna 9.8 also has a similar description (Thrita is mentioned a few verses later in Yasna 9.10):

Who smote Azhi Dahaka, three-jawed and triple-headed, six-eyed, with thousand perceptions, and of mighty strength, a lie-demon [druj] of the Daevas, evil for our settlements, and wicked, whom the evil spirit Angra Mainyu made as the most mighty Druj [against the corporeal world], and for the murder of (our) settlements, and to slay the (homes) of Asha!

Note that in the Rigveda verse both Indra and Trita are mentioned in the same verse, leading me to believe they were (at least in the early Vedic religion) indeed different deities. This is corroborated by Zoroastrian evidence, Dasa and Azhi Dahaka are very similar demons. Not sure about Trishiras, I could not find enough information on my own. But we can be sure that Trita really was separate from Indra.

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    Thanks for sharing this interesting info, now we need to confirm if Trita is not an epithet of Indra. Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 12:11
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal: According to the notes (p.314) on Volume II (Translation of Rig Veda) by H.H. Wilson, Trita means Maharshi. Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 8:54
  • @srimannarayanakv yes Trita is also the name of a rishi but I don't think he fits here as the Shatpatha Brahman reference shows Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 6:58

The Rig Vedic mantras, as per my understanding, are allegorical in nature.

Rig Veda II.11.19 - dedicated to Indra, says,

sanema ye ta ūtibhistaranto viśvā spṛdha āryeṇa dasyūn | asmabhyaṃ tat tvāṣṭraṃ viśvarūpamarandhayaḥ sākhyasya tritāya ||

The translation of H.H. Wilson (P.137) is as follows:

Let us honour those men, who through thy protection, surpass all their rivals, as the Dasyus (are surpassed) by the Arya; this (hast thou wrought) for us; thou hast slain VISWARUPA, the son of TWASHTRI, through friendship for TRITA.

It was explained by H.H. Wilson in the Notes that TRITA means Maharshi.

Here, we can infer that Indra, through the friendship with VISWARUPA, a Maharshi - TRITA, killed the latter.

It is well known story that Indra eliminated Vritra//Shambara. However, Rig Veda says Brihaspati eliminated Shambara.

Rig Veda 2.1 indicates that Indra, Brihaspati, Vayu, Agni, etc, are epithets used to indicate same ALMIGHTY.

Rig Veda II.14.2 - dedicated to Brihaspati - says,

He who with might bowed down the things that should be bowed, and in his fury rent the holds of Śambara: Who overthrew what shook not, Brahmaṇaspati,—he made his way within the mountain stored with wealth.

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