As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school. But there are five other Astika or orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy: Purva Mimamsa, Samkhya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, and Nyaya. My question is about the Samkhya school, founded by the sage Kapila. Verse 53 of Ishwara Krishna's Samkhya Karika, one of the defining texts of the Samkhya school, describes the different races of beings:

aṣṭavikalpo daivas tairyagyonaśca pañcadhā bhavati |
mānuṣyaścaikavidhaḥ samāsato bhautikaḥ sargaḥ ||

The divine class has eight varieties, the sub-human has five and the human has one (only). Such, in brief is this creation.

The eight varieties of divine beings are Brahma, Prajapati, Indra, Pitri, Gandharva, Rakshasa, and Pishacha. Now this excerpt from the Yukti Dipika, an ancient commentary on the Samkhya Karika of unknown authorship discovered in the 1930's, responds to the objection that this classification scheme excludes Asuras:

Objection: "The demons also should be mentioned." ... Proponent: No, because they are included in the above only. The demons are included because they were the gods earlier. The demons were the gods earlier. Moreover, because of their being Indra alternatively. The state of Indra is found in the shruti alternatively with reference to Dhanvi, etc. Similarly, because the Yakshas are identical with the Rakshasa. The Kinnaras and Vidhyadharas are included into Gandharvas because of the similarity of their nature. The diseased souls are included into ancestors because of their similarity in respect of having the same lord.

I find this reasoning somewhat tendentious, but I'm interested in the part in bold. My question is, what is the story of the Asura Dhanvi attaining the position of Indra?

I've heard of other Asuras taking over Swarga, like Prahlada and Mahabali, but I've never heard of Dhanvi. What scriptures describe him? Is he mentioned in the Vedas as the Yukti Dipika suggests?

  • The reasoning may be correct because the Asuras are also known as Purvadevas. In any case you might want to search for an Asura with a mighty bow, given his name. – Surya Oct 4 '17 at 12:24

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