"Upendra" means friend or helper of Lord Indra.

However, in Puranic stories the same is reversed.

But we consider Vedas as higher pramanam than Puranas.

Why do the Vedas describe Lord Vishnu as subordinate or helper of Lord Indra in his battles ?

We know that Lord Indra is undoubtedly the chief God in the Vedic literature. More than thousands of mantras are attributed to him and he is also declared as Brahman (which discussed in other posts in this forum).

Also, Lord Vishnu is considered as Adityas in the Vedas.

Why then the Vedic concepts of Indra and Upendra are not aligning with Puranas?

  • Is Vishnu called Upendra in the Vedas? Can you post a source for that? Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:10
  • 4
    Upendra is because he was born as a younger brother of Indra (Vamana). Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 17:47

3 Answers 3


Now a commen answer to this question would be that he is referred as freind of lord Indra as Lord Vishnu incarnated as vamana but it could be also possible Lord Vishnu s 3 steps and friend with Lord Indra is referring to this incidents Described in Shruit texts

Indra and Vishnu] said "Let us make an arrangement.' The Asuras said "Be it so." Indra said "So much as Vishnu three times traverses, so much be ours; let the rest be yours." He traversed these worlds, then the Vedas, then speech.(Aiterya brahmana of Rig veda)

Aiterya Brahman discribes devas and asuras were in a conflict about who will rule worlds so they took a desicion that as much as Lord Vishnu travels that part will belong to devas)

Now here is how shatapata brahmana describes this legend in detail here

They then said: 'Let us share in this earth along with yourselves! Let a part of it be ours!' The Asuras replied rather grudgingly: 'As much as this Vishnu lies upon, and no more, we give you!'Now Vishnu was a dwarf 1.

Now shatapata brahmana describes when lord Prajapati(Brahma)created the universe devas and asuras sprang from him so they were fighting for worlds and then vishnu changed himself into a dwarf and conquered the world's. So this is the reason Lord Vishnu is described as a helped of Indra as he helped him or the devas conqueror the world's and he is also described helper/friend of Lord Indra as he helped him killing vritra and destroying shambara and varchin forts.

Ye have destroyed, thou, Indra, and thou Viṣṇu, Śambara's nine-and-ninety fenced castles.Ye Twain smote down a hundred times a thousand resistless heroes of the royal Varcin.(Rig Veda book 7 hymn 99 verse 5)

Even as the power of Dyaus, to thee, O Indra, all Asura sway was by the Gods entrusted, When thou, Impetuous! leagued with Viṣṇu, slewest Vṛtra the Dragon who enclosed the waters.(Rig Veda 6.20.2)

This may be the Lord Vishnu is called or friend or campanion of lord Indra and I don't think he is called a subordinate of Indra.maruts are called subordinates of Lord indra.

  • But what about puranic portrayals of both deities? Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 22:09

Please note that Lord Vishnu is both Upendra and Mahendra:

Valmiki Ramayana ६-११७-१६ and ६-११७-१७:

सेनानीर्ग्रामणीश्च त्वं त्वं बुद्धि स्त्वं क्षमा दमः  || प्रभवश्चाप्ययश्च त्वमुपेन्द्रो मधुसूदनः |

इन्द्रकर्मा महेन्द्रस्त्वं पद्मनाभो रणान्तकृत् || शरण्यं शरणम् च त्वामहुर्दिव्या महर्षयः |

This is the English translation from one source:

You are the leader of the army and the village headman. You are the intellect. You are the endurance and the subduer of the senses. You are the origin and the dissolution of all, Upendra the Divine Dwarf (Vamana) and (the younger brother of Indra) as also the destroyer Madhu, the demon.

You perform action for Indra, the lord of celestials. Mahendra (the Supreme Ruler), the one having a lotus in one's navel and who puts an end to all in battle. The divine sages pronounce you to be fit to afford protection to all and the refuge for all.

Why do the Vedas describe Lord Vishnu as subordinate or helper of Lord Indra in his battles ?

It is even written in above shloka ६-११७-१७ so no contradiction:

You perform action for Indra, the lord of celestials. Here helper word should not be taken as inferior.

Krishna (incarnation of Vishnu) also helped Arjuna (son of Indra) in Mahabharata battle, does that make him inferior to Arjuna? definitely not.

Why, Lord Vishnu is considered as Adityas in the Vedas?

Adityas means

sons of Aditi

If Vishnu is referred as Aditya that means

either a son of Aditi whose name is Vishnu

or Vishnu's incarnation Vamana (took birth as a son of Aditi).

But not the Lord Vishnu from the Trinity gods directly.

Why Lord Vishnu from Trinity can't be Aditya?

Aditi was Daksha's daughter and as I mentioned Adityas means sons of Aditi. But Trinity gods were already there before the birth of Aditi.

If Aditi named his one son after the name of Lord Vishnu then this Vishnu is not same as the Lord Vishnu from Trinity. Or if from context, it is clear that it is referring Vamana incarnation then these is no confusion at all.

And we all know that Vamana incarnation just happened to help Indra because Bali was about to snatch Indra's throne.

Mohini incarnation also helped Devas.

Krishna incarnation too fought for Devas and killed Narkasura. Even though there was some initial conflict and Krishna encouraged people to worship nature (Govardhan) and not Indra. But Indra and Krishna both were good friends.

Indra sent his chariot to Rama incarnation in the battle with Ravana. Even there is one Sarga in Valmiki Ramayana: Indra's boon to Rama

In all incarnation Vishnu and Indra seems to be friend. Which purana says that Indra and Vishnu were or are enemies?

Update: As per Rakesh Joshi's comment

Sarga 117 of Yudhakand of Valmiki Ramayana can help a little on you follow up questions.

Friend doesn't mean they can not be devotee to each other. For instance,

Lord Shi Rama (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) is a great devotee to Lord Shiva.

Lord Hanuman (11th Rudra, closely related to Lord Shiva) is a great devotee to Lord Shi Rama.

Does that make Shiva inferior to Vishnu or vice versa?

  • Arent you aware about how puranas portray lord Indra ? Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 18:10
  • So both indra and vishu have a.relation of friends rarher than one being devotee to another. In that sense both are equal. Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 18:11
  • I too mention that friend is correct word in my answer then what's the confusion here...And I hv clearly mentioned that Vamana was younger brother of Indra hence can be referred as Upendra...
    – YDS
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 18:14
  • hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/3797/7853 Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 18:16
  • Updated my answer with some references.
    – YDS
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 19:56

Don't be confused with all that upendra word. We know that lord narayana taken birth as aditi's son so that's why he is called upendra it is very much similar to lord rudra who was incrated as son of lord bramha when lord bramha done hard peance to lord shiva. Other i want to make sure that lord vishnu was not included in aditya's in the vedas and not even in aranyakayas,brahmanas etc.

check here:— https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ādityas

And if lord vishnu is not an aditya in vedas so he is not also son of aditi in vedas so not also brother of indra in vedas.

We know vedic and post-vedic are little diffrent in sence both lord rudra and lord vishnu were unborn till the time of vedas.

In the Vedic hymns, Vishnu is invoked alongside other deities, especially Indra, whom he helps in killing the symbol of evil named Vritra. His distinguishing characteristic in Vedas is his association with light. Two Rigvedic hymns in Mandala 7 refer to Vishnu. In section 7.99 of the Rgveda, Vishnu is addressed as the god who separates heaven and earth, a characteristic he shares with Indra. In the Vedic texts, the deity or god referred to as Vishnu is Surya or Savitr (Sun god), who also bears the name Suryanarayana. Again, this link to Surya is a characteristic Vishnu shares with Vedic deities named Mitra and Agni, where in different hymns, they too "bring men together" and cause all living beings to rise up and impel them to go about their daily activities. In hymn 7.99 of Rigveda, Indra-Vishnu are equivalent and produce the sun, with the verses asserting that this sun is the source of all energy and light for all. In other hymns of the Rigveda, Vishnu is a close friend of Indra.

source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishnu

like wise when gods were related to purush then also lord narayana in narayana sukta of yajurveda 's taittrayi aranyaka was purush and is regarded as supreme absolute and lord rudra in same Taittiriya Aranyaka of Yajur Veda (10.24.1) Rudra is identified as the universal existent ("all this") and thus as the Purusha (Supreme Person or inner Self) of the Vedas.

same way lord vishnu was upendra in post-vedic age (mahabharata,ramayana) and was later identified with lord vamana like wise lord vishnu was called trivikrama in vedic age .Trivikrama refers to the celebrated three steps or "three strides" of Vishnu. The Vishnu Sukta 1.154 of Rigveda says that the first and second of Vishnu's strides (those encompassing the earth and air) are visible to the mortals and the third is the realm of the immortals.

source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishnu

if correction needed please comment

  • In the Chandogya Upanishad, Âditya is also a name of Viṣṇu, in his avatar as Vāmana. His mother is Aditi.
    – YDS
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 8:28
  • Are you sure it is there i have pdf of upnishads in group of 13 and i couldn't find those verse which you are saying please give the verses identification like chandogya upnishad 2.34 like that and dear friend i said lord vishnu is not an aditya in vedas after that post-vedic means after four vedas. And that is not even in brahmanas and aranyakas and lord vamana how much i know is present in post -vedic means in epics and purans. Thank you for putting your opinion so please provide idetification.:) Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 8:59
  • I copied it from the same link that u hv given in ur answer. :)
    – YDS
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 9:01
  • sorry,but i think that is not right because no refrence ex- [10] is given there after writing that and i also searched in but there us nothing like that if i get further information i would update my answer. Thank you ;) Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 9:07

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