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I recently learned about the story of Indra and the ants.

The punchline of the story is that lord Vishnu appear as a boy before Indra and tells Indra that the ants in his palace were previous Indras.

This seems to suggest that Gods are subject to the cycle of death and rebirth.

How can we know when a god dies? (Might we be worshiping a dead god?)

Do gods only die at the end of the universe?

There is already a question on death and Gods here: Do Gods die in Hinduism?
However, I don't fully understand if/how the answers there answer my question.

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No, we might not be worshiping a dead god. Let me explain.

Indra is not a god, but a position. The king of the heaven is known as Indra. It's just like the position of president. So just like when the president dies or retires, some one else takes up his place, whenever the acting Indra retires, someone other eligible jiva takes up his place. Hence, because we worship the authority of Indra, but not the specific jiva acting as Indra, we might not be worshiping a dead god. Now because Indra is the name of the position, you might be wondering what's his actual name. So as per Vishnu Purana the name of current Indra is Purandara:

āditya-vasu-rudrādyā devāśvātra mahāmune
purandarastathaivātra maitraya! tridaśeśvaraḥ
[VP - 3.1.31]

Meaning
O great sage, in this manvantara Aditya, Vasu, Rudra, etc. are the gods and their king is Purandara

Regarding their longevity, they change at the end of each manvantara. Our existence lasts for one kalpa (a single day of Brahma). And each kalpa is divided into fourteen manvantaras. In every manvantara, the rulers change. That is, the position of Manu, the sapta rishis (seven primary sages), the Indra, etc. go to other eligible jivas. So doesn't matter whether a god retires or dies and takes birth as an ant, the position and responsibilities of a god always stay active. And because 1 manvantara is equal to 306,720,000 human years, from the perspective of we humans, who live only for few decades, the position of gods stays occupied all the time. So we might not be worshiping a dead god.

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this article talks about the manvantara and it's swami (now is savarni), death/replacement of manu. The article also throws light on death/replacement of the creator god (Lord Bramha), the article also shows how hindu stories are scientifically sound and they both join at one end.

This even death of Bramha means that there is death for every god created in one Chaturyuga .

This is the exact time divisions for Gods.

  • 1 human year (in Hindu calendar) = 1 Deva Ahoratra for God (1 day and 1 night)

  • 360 Deva Ahoratras = 1 Deva Vatsara

  • 12,000 Deva Vatsara = 1 Chaturyuga

  • (12,000 Deva Vatsaras are defined as, 4,800 Deva Vatsaras of Krita yuga, 3,600 Deva Vatsaras of Treta Yuga, 2,400 Deva Vatsaras of Dvapara Yuga and 1,200 Deva Vatsaras of Kali Yuga which is 1,200 * 360 = 4,32,000 human years)

  • 71 Chaturyugas = 1 Manvantaram (1 life span of Manu)

  • 14 Manvantaras = 1 kalpa (1 day of Brahma)

  • 2 Kalpas = 1 day + 1 Brahma ratra

  • 360 days of Brahma = 1 Brahma varsha

Talking about Indra it is a position reserved for the Bali who struggles and gives respect to the vamana avatar in every Chaturyuga. This article talks about the raja Bali.

Following is excrept from the article which is derived from Vamana Purana which talks about next Indra as Raja Bali. As he was pushed down into Patala (a good colony of demons), King Bali made a last request. He requested that he be allowed to visit Kerala once in a year to ensure that his people were still happy, well fed and content. Lord Vishnu was pleased to grant Mahabali his wish. Also, by the boon of Vishnu, Bali will be the next, that is the eighth Indra (King of Devas) (Purandara is the current Indra) during the time of the eighth Manu, Savarni Manu.

As you see from above discussion that we are not even equivalent to a second in a god's life cycle we have to Worship them as eternal in our lifetime and they will be automatically replaced by newer ones after their Lifecycle.

P.S: Talking about god's sun is also a god and will die after estimated life span of 12 billion years!

There are some interyugic cycle which Shri Yuketshwar Giri believes cycle in one yuga e.g.

Presently it is the age of kali yuga but in the kali-yuga(or any other yuga) there are 4 ages in it also known as sat,treta,dwapar,kali and each of them depicts the age of the dharma i.e. weather it is decline of righteousness or rise of it this cycle completes in 24000 years.

See this for more reading on this theory

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