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The Rigved verse 5.29.10 talks about an interesting incident:

9 What time ye came with strong steeds swiftly speeding, O Uśanā and Indra, to the dwelling, Thou camest thither -conquering together with Kutsa and the Gods: thou slewest Śuṣṇa.

10 One car-wheel of the Sun thou rolledst forward, and one thou settest free to move for Kutsa. Thou slewest noseless Dasyus with thy weapon, and in their home o’erthrewest hostile speakers.

My question is what is the story behind Indra taking away one wheel of the Sun's chariot for his friend Kutsa?

  • SB 5.21.13:- The chariot of the sun-god has only one wheel, which is known as Saṁvatsara. If Indra steal wheel it cause world time might stop and push in to the darkness. Is it myth? – CR241 Aug 1 '17 at 22:16
  • @CR241 no the verse I shared clearly mentions that to begin with Surya's chariot had TWO wheels. It also states that while Indra removed one to help his friend Kutsa the other was left and THAT remaining wheel is known as Samvatsara, – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Aug 2 '17 at 5:00
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    The story is related to Rishi Etasha. Indra took away the wheel of chariot of surya , when etasha rishi was competing with Surya.And in order to protect Rishi Etasha Indra did this. And later on with this wheel defeated his foes. Will try to write the answer ,if more info . on this story is found. – SwiftPushkar Oct 19 '18 at 7:05
  • @SwiftPushkar plz do! Also check out the recent questions I had asked from the Shatpatha Brahmana if possible. – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Oct 19 '18 at 10:15
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal Yes , BTW the name of the rishi is एतेश. :-) – SwiftPushkar Oct 19 '18 at 10:26
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Your enquiry is about the story of this incidence. Here in the above verse we find the description of Indra taking away one wheel of the Sun's chariot for his friend Kutsa to defeat his enemies. . But there is also a background to this story , which is associated with Rishi Etesha एतेश and the the reason can be found in various mantras of vedas ,which tells us the story in brief.

There is some story of rishi Etesha mentioned in Rig-Veda as well as in Atharva-Veda , which tells us that rishi Etesha was competing /fighting with Surya in a chariot race as described in Atharva-Veda - Kanda 20 -Sukta 35- Mantra 15.

एवा ते हरियोजना सुवृक्त्रिन्द्र ब्रह्माणि गोतमासो अक्रन |
एषु विश्वपेशसं धियं धा: प्रातर्मक्षु धियावसुर्जगम्यात् || AV 20.35.15 ||

Now unto him of these things hath been given what he, who rules alone o'er much, electeth. Indra helped Etasa, the Soma presser, contending in the chariot-race with Sūrya.

And here is Hindi Translation of above verse.


Similar story also can be found in Rig-Veda Mandala 5-Sukta 31- Mantra 11 .

सूरच्श्री परितक्म्यायां पूर्वं करदुपरं जूजुवांसम् |
भरच्चक्रमेतश: सं रिणाति पुरो दधत्सनिष्यति क्रतुं न : || RV. 5.31.11||

sūraś cid ratham paritakmyāyām pūrvaṃ karad uparaṃ jūjuvāṃsam |
bharac cakram etaśaḥ saṃ riṇāti puro dadhat saniṣyati kratuṃ naḥ ||

11 When night was near its close he carried forward e’en the Sun's chariot backward in its running. Etaga brought his wheel and firmly stays it: setting it eastward he shall give us courage.


When the Indra and Rishi Etesha were competing Indra did stopped the Surya's chariot which was coming from the front of the Rishi Etesha to protect him as described in Rig-Veda Mandala 5 - Sukata 29-Mantra 5.

अध क्रत्वा मघवन्तुभ्यं देवा अनु विश्वे अददुः सोमपेयम् |
यत सूर्यस्य हरितः पतन्तीः पुरः सतीर उपरा एतशे कः ||

adha kratvā maghavan tubhyaṃ devā anu viśve adaduḥ somapeyam |
yat sūryasya haritaḥ patantīḥ puraḥ satīr uparā etaśe kaḥ ||

5 Thus all the Gods, O Maghavan, delivered to thee of their free will the draught of Soma; When thou for Etaśa didst cause to tarry the flying mares of Sūrya racing forward.

This is clear from another translation of Rig-Veda By Dr. Ganga Sahai Sharma - See Page 622.


In all this Indra did tried to protect Rishi Etesha from Surya's chariot. Rig-Veda Mandala 4- Sukta 30 - Mantra -6 tells us that

यत्रोत मर्त्याय कमरिणा इन्द्र सूर्यम | प्राव: शचीभिरेतशम् || RV 4.30.6 ||

yatrota bādhitebhyaś cakraṃ kutsāya yudhyate | muṣāya indra sūryam ||

6 When also for a mortal man, Indra, thou speddest forth the Sun, And holpest Etaśa with might.

Here is Hindi translation of above.


And to protect Rishi Indra did stopped the chariot of Surya and took away one wheel of the same . So from above quoted mantra Rig-Veda 5.31.11. We come to know that Indra did took away the wheel in order to protect Rishi Etesha. - See Page 628
Brief account of the story - There was certain vedic Rishi named Etesha. Long time ago he was competing/fighting with surya. Surya was riding in his chariot at that time. When Surya's chariot was coming from the front of the Rishi , Indra stopped the chariot and pulled one wheel of his chariot to protect Rishi Etesha. And later with this wheel did slayed his foes. So Indra did took away the wheel to protect Rishi Etesha as well as with it to slay his enemies.


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    What a splendid find buddy! You're one of the real 'treasure-hunters' on this website :) – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Oct 22 '18 at 4:36
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    @Dr.VineetAggarwal Yes , thanks as usual. I will also try to answer your Shatapatha Brahmana questions. Carry on your tradition of asking fabulous questions. Your questions are at first place , which led me to find more about these stories. I have yet to search the full story , I am too interested in knowing this full story. – SwiftPushkar Oct 22 '18 at 4:42
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    Its said that Indra did some harm to sun god. And Why Rishi and Surya was competing etc. Will also search Brihad-Devata and similar accounts. Hope that we will get the entire picture. – SwiftPushkar Oct 22 '18 at 4:43
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal BTW , Who is Rishi Etesha and What is his story is also an interesting question. – SwiftPushkar Oct 22 '18 at 4:53
  • Yes indeed.. it would be great to know what his enmity with Surya was! Posting it separately. – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Oct 22 '18 at 5:44
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Lord Indra aided Kutsa in defeating Shushna, Kuyava, and Dasyus by the help of Lord Surya chariot wheel on a single day. This story is mentioned in Rig veda, Mandala 4, Hymn 16.

आ द॑स्यु॒घ्ना मन॑सा या॒ह्यस्तं॒ भुव॑त्ते॒ कुत्स॑ स॒ख्ये निका॑मः। स्वे योनौ॒ नि ष॑दतं॒ सरू॑पा॒ वि वां॑ चिकित्सदृत॒चिद्ध॒ नारी॑॥ ४.०१६.१०

With a mind resolved on killing the Dasyu, you came (to his dwelling), and Kutsa was eager for your friendship now have you two alighted in his, (Indras), habitation, and being entirely similar in form the truthful woman has been perplexed (to discriminate between you).

यासि॒ कुत्से॑न स॒रथ॑मव॒स्युस्तो॒दो वात॑स्य॒ हर्यो॒रीशा॑नः। ऋ॒ज्रा वाजं॒ न गध्यं॒ युयू॑षन्क॒विर्यदह॒न्पार्या॑य॒ भूषा॑त्॥ ४.०१६.११

You go with Kutsa in the same chariot, determined to defend him (you) who are the tormentor (of foes), the lord of horses (of the speech) of the wind on the, same day wherein, yoking (to the car) the straight-goign steeds, as if to receive food, the sage (Kutsa) has been enabled to cross over (the sea) of calamity.

कुत्सा॑य॒ शुष्ण॑म॒शुषं॒ नि ब॑र्हीः प्रपि॒त्वे अह्न॒ कुय॑वं स॒हस्रा॑। स॒द्यो दस्यू॒न्प्र मृ॑ण कु॒त्स्येन॒ प्र सूर॑श्च॒क्रं वृ॑हताद॒भीके॑॥ ४.०१६.१२

For Kutsa, you have slain the unhappy Susna and in the forepart of the day, attended by thousands (you have slain) Kuyava with thunderbolt you have swiftly destroyed the Dasyus, and you have cut them to pieces in the battle, ,with the wheel (of the chariot of) the sun.

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    Thanks for the reference but they again just hint at what happened not the details. I wanted to know what the actual story was - for example why would Indra needs the wheel of Surya's chariot to kill the Dasyus? Couldn't he have used his Vajra? – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Sep 7 '17 at 5:48
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    Yes. At one place (didn't remember the exact reference) I have read that there are some asura having boon not to be killed by Vajra so he used chariot wheel. – Triyugi Narayan Mani Sep 7 '17 at 6:01
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    Oh cool! It would be great if you can remember where the reference came from :) – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Sep 7 '17 at 8:27

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