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For example, it is shown in this answer- How did Vishnu help Indra in killing Vritra? that indra was defeated and also shamed and also in the last line 'and later Nahusha becoming the new Indra and getting cursed by Agastya etc.' we see that Indra's also change.

However in Vedic hymns described in Which Vedic verses describe Indra as Brahman? tell us otherwise. It shows that Indra could have single handedly defeated any demon. Then why is there such a contradiction?


EDIT: This question is not a duplicate of Why is the Vedic Indra so different from the Puranic Indra? . Although the examples I gave were about Indra, my major doubt was if Purana are important religious scriptures, then why is their such a huge difference between Vedas and Purana. On one hand Vedas calling Indra Dev as supreme Brahman, while on the other hand Purana saying that a human can become Indra Dev in next birth by doing certain things. The difference is HUGE in my opinion and that is why I gave this example.

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    you need to go through all the purnaic scripture, uphanishad and vedic scripture, niruktha, siksha, kalpa, vakyarana and chandas and joythisa to determine exactly what is being said, for you question, – Prasanna R Jun 12 '19 at 6:21
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    Indras keep changing every manvantra.. Mahabali will become indra in next manvantra.. Indra is also name of Lord Narayana... Narayana himself was indra in one of the manvantra... i dont know.. so that indra was indeed lord Narayana himself.. eytmologically Indra -> one who is lord of indriyas -> Sriman Narayana.. Since he his lord of lord Indra means one whose is antaryami of every one he is indra.. all vedas says about only one God even if its name are different.. – Prasanna R Jun 12 '19 at 6:25
  • @PrasannaR a man that has experienced Brahman cannot go back. Let us get back to the original topic, not of that of rebirths of Indra. Indra, is depicted equal, if not more than, to Vishnu in the Vedas. But, this is not true in Purana. Similarly, the Vedas praise him as very powerful and bringer of success, etc but Purana show him as weak. You are saying I need to read other Scriptures too, but I'm comparing Vedas and Purana, which is allowed (and Vedas are taken as superior). I am saying that I'm losing trust in Purana if they depict super powerful deities like Indra like that. – Complex Numbers Jun 12 '19 at 15:53
  • @Shashwat: The answer to this question could be very lengthy, related mainly to shift from SPIRITUAL thinking to RITUALISTIC thinking. This shift itself was the cause of the birth of Buddhism and consequent writing of Puranas, purportedly authored by Sage Vyasa. – srimannarayana k v Jun 13 '19 at 0:16
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    Yes you are right some puranas show Lord Indra in that way there is a reason for this,if see valmiki ramayana and mahabharata they respect Indra and he is portrayed as supreme lord there,even in valmiki ramayana Indra dev is said to slay vritra single handedly but puranas mention that to show there diety superior like Vishnu puran mentions Vishnu helping Indra to show Lorf vishnu supreme I think these are interpolated verses.In vedas Every diety is praised supreme including Lord Rudra(shiva)n,Lord vishnu,Lord Indra,Lord agni etc. – Karmanya Nanda Jun 13 '19 at 16:33
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Prologue:

Sri Desiraju Hanumanta Rao & Sri K.M.K.Murthy prepared the e-text on Valmiki Ramayana and made available at http://www.valmikiramayan.net/. In the Footnotes below Sloka 28 & others of Sarge 3 of Kishkinda Kanda, the above authors explain the importance of remembrance power, vyaakarana, nirukta, sikhsha,chandas, while understanding the phonetic Rig Veda.

The following is from their analysis in the Kishkinda kanda. (https://www.valmikiramayan.net/utf8/kish/sarga3/kishkindha_3_frame.htm)

In Rig Veda every letter has too many phonetically deflected variations, in many ways to mean many things. It is practically impossible to contain that knowledge, unless the recitalist has complete control over it. Hence the word, viniita , 'well trained' is used. In Yajurveda many anuvaaka-s or passages occur recursively, with different utilisation. Remembering not to mix one with the other is a difficult process. Hence the recitalist has to have enormous remembrance. In Saamaveda the pitch and duration of the rendering is of high importance, as such it requires a scholarly bent to control vocal notes.


According to my understanding, if we omit interpolations like "Purusha Sukata", the Rig Veda contains pure spiritual aspects of of that era. Apparently, those hymns from Rig Veda might be referring to Indra (Over a quarter of the 1,028 hymns of the Rigveda mention Indra, making him the most referred to deity than any other), Agni, Vishnu, etc, but to the seers, who heard from within, they might have gave deep SPIRITUAL INSIGHTS.

In Rig Veda, the Almighty God was described in different names like Indra, Agni, Vayu, Vishnu, etc, according to the form, the Almighty's power was perceived.

a) The God was described as Indra, when he was praised as the saviour.

b) Vishnu indicates the all pervasiveness of the God. In Rig Veda, it was described as Vishnu made space by taking 3 great strides, for Indra for wielding him his Vijra, for eliminating Vritra.

https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv01154.htm

Similarly, with Agni, Vayu, etc.

c) The allegorical stories of Indra's slaying of Vritra, etc, have deep SPIRITUAL meaning, but understood by later day generations in too literal ways. This resulted in evolving of ritualistic concepts like Yagna, sacrifices, etc, in Yajurvedic era.

This lead to converting allegorical stories of/epithets like Prajapati used in Rig Vedic era into deifying different Gods like Brahma, Indra, Vishnu, into fixed forms and stories like Varaha, attributing to Prajapati Brahma, etc, were woven.

स वराहः ततो भूत्वा प्रोज्जहार वसुंधराम् | असृजच् च जगत् सर्वम् सह पुत्रैः कृत आत्मभिः || २-११०-४

"Thereafter, that Brahma, assuming the form of boar, caused the earth to rise from water and with his sons of pure soul, created the entire world."

Ayodhya Kanda, Ramayana

d) This decline in the capacity of successive generations in comprehending the pure SPIRITUAL concepts and consequential development of ritualistic ways, deviated the people from the pure SPIRITUAL CONCEPTS, further deteriorating the system into fixed ritualistic society.

Even in Ramayana, importance was given to rituals and Sri Rama was described as expert in Yajurveda (यजुः वेद विनीतः - 35th Sarga 14th Sloka of Sundara Kanda).

It does not mean to say that Ramayana occurred at that point of time, but was composed in that ritualistic Yajurvedic period.

e) It was in that chaotic period, Gautama, the Buddha was born. The teachers of ritualistic generation could not offer proper answers to the Buddha. Hence, he discarded the ritualistic methods and found his own way of SELF REALISATION.

f) His methods may be different, but the ultimate goal is the same as the seers of Rig Vedic visualised. However, the successive followers of Buddha could not fully comprehend his ABSTRACT concepts, and they also got degenerated and split into groups.

g) Finally, Sri Sankara was forced to held arguments at length with various scholars of his time for bringing back many of them in to the fold of SANAATANA DHARMA and purging of Buddhism from India.

However, due to his shorter life span, he could not rejuvenate the Rig vedic concepts to original place. Perhaps, due to this vaccum created by his departure, the 6 methods of worship, writing of Puranas, etc, were taken place.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanmata


In SPIRITUAL concepts, irrespective of understanding of the scriptures, one should have been gifted with INTUITION, without which the real meaning of the SPIRITUAL CONCEPTS, can NEVER be understood.

1) INDRA, the Chief of Gods in Rig Vedic Period, was degraded in the later part of literature and was attributed with so many vices and avarice, viz., his misadventure with Ahalya, etc.

2) Prajapati (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prajapati) appears late in the Vedic layer of texts, and the hymns that mention him provide different cosmological theories in different chapters. His role peaked in the Brahmanas layer of Vedic text, then declined to being a group of helpers in the creation process.

The earliest versions of the Varaha legend are found in the Taittiriya Aranyaka and the Shatapatha Brahmana. They narrate that the universe was primordial waters. The earth was the size of a hand and was trapped in it. The god Prajapati (Brahma) in the form of a boar (varaha) plunges into the waters and brings the earth out.

Later this Varaha form was converted into an incarnation of Vishnu in Puranas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varaha

This prajapati concept was converted into Brahma in later stages and 6 Prajapatis were stated to have been created by Brahma. Brahma was temporarily elevated to the status of Creator of all in Ramayana, but later degraded and placed next to Vishnu and Shiva. Further, he was attributed with various vices, like his lust towards Parvati.

3) We do not find Shakti, Shiva, Ganapati, etc, in Vedic Era. Even in Bhavad Gita we do not find mention of Shakti, Ganapati.

4) In Puranas, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, etc , were elevated to the level of SUPREME GODS, and Indra was defamed, while attributing various vices.


There was a clear shift, in my view, from Pure SPIRITUAL CONCEPTS of Rig Vedic era to ritualistic Yajurveda period. This shift was more pronounced in Puranas.

  • But Sri Rudram (Yajurveda) describes Rudra as Sadashiv & mahadev & also describes five syllable mantra (namah shivay). Yajurveda mentions ganesh as danti,parvati was mentioned as Uma many times in Vedas specially in gayatri's & Shakti was mentioned in Durga suktam. – aniket kumar singh Jul 28 '19 at 15:36
  • @aniketkumarsingh: Yajurveda is somewhat diluted version of Rig Veda. Purushasukta itself an interpolation(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purusha_Sukta#Authenticity). It was further diluted in Yajurveda and some more mantras were added in Yajurvedic version (sacred-texts.com/hin/wyv/wyvbk31.htm ). Many more interpolations are there. Basically Yajurveda is ritualistic and that is what I had mentioned in my answer. Many people may not like this version, but still it is a fact. :-) – srimannarayana k v Jul 29 '19 at 8:55
  • But the rituals in YajurVeda are true right? Or are you saying all the rituals in Vedas are actually allegories and have deep spiritua meaning? – Complex Numbers Aug 17 '19 at 2:47
  • @Random-15: Rig veda contains spiritual concepts only. It was in the later date the rituals had been initiated by those who could not understand the deep spiritual meanings of Rig vedic verses. – srimannarayana k v Aug 17 '19 at 3:13
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Why is there such a stark contradiction in Vedic hymns and many Purāṇic stories?


As the late P. L. Bhargava discusses in his paper The Origin and Development of Purāṇas and Their Relation With Vedic Literature, the Purāṇas had a different objective altogether:

The religion of the Ṛgveda is very simple and there is hardly any room for mythology in it. The later Vedas have also very little of mythology. It is the Brāhmaṇa literature with which real mythology starts. The mythology of the Brāhmaṇas is, however, mostly a natural development of the beliefs recorded in the Vedas, though at places it violates the spirit of the Vedic hymns. Later works like the Bṛhaddevatā are much nearer the Purāṇas. As a matter of fact the Purāṇas being mostly sectarian works, their main aim was to extol and elevate their own particular god at the expense of other gods. The Vaiṣṇava Purāṇas were particularly aggressive in this respect. They naturally wanted the exclusive worship of Viṣṇu and since some of the other Vedic gods, particularly Indra, stood in the way of the ascendancy of Viṣṇu, they distorted the Vedic account of this god and even fabricated new stories to bring Indra into disrepute. The truth is that Indra was already a very popular god when the ancestors of the Indians and Iranians were still one people. For this reason Zoroastrianism in Persia and Vaiṣṇavism in India had to face great difficulty in persuading the people not to worship Indra as a competitor of Ahura Mazda and Viṣṇu respectively. The Zoroastrian Avesta therefore converted Indra into a demon and the Vaiṣṇava Purāṇas did everything short of turning him into a demon in order to bring him into disrepute. Let us now see how the Purāṇas distorted the Vedic image of Indra.

One of the chief epithets of Indra in the Ṛgveda is Vṛtrahan, which he earned as a result of his victory over Vṛtra, the demon of drought. This is the greatest exploit of Indra in the Ṛgveda. This demon is pictured as a dragon encompassing the waters and by killing him Indra releases water for the mankind and thus acts as the saviour of humanity. In this fight the Maruts are his regular allies but Agni, Soma and Viṣṇu also often assist him. Now let us turn to the Purāṇas. The Bhāgavata Purāṇa has converted the dragon Vṛtra into a Brahman by killing whom Indra incurred the sin of Brahmanicide (SB VI.12, VI.13). This transformation is in itself amazing but when it is added that Vṛtra was a devotee of Viṣṇu, one simply feels astounded for in the Ṛgveda Viṣṇu helps Indra in the slaying of Vṛtra.

Another epithet of Indra in the Ṛgveda showing his great power is Śatakratu which means one having a hundred powers. This epithet was interpreted by the Purāṇic authors as meaning one who performs a hundred sacrifices and so in consonance with this meaning it was presumed that one who performs a hundred sacrifices becomes Indra. Hence Indra has been shown as being constantly afraid of kings who intend to perform a hundred sacrifices and trying to foil their intention. One such example is that of Pṛthu. Another is that of Sagara. The horses of both were stolen by Indra according to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (IV.19.10-11; IX.8.8). What a travesty! From a lover of sacrifices in the Ṛgveda Indra has been transformed into one who dreads the sacrifices in the Purāṇas.

Yet another epithet of Indra in the Vedas is Ahalyāyai jara which only means favourer of the unploughed land. The personification of Ahalyā began in the Brāhmaṇas but the Purāṇas fabricated a most unseemly story wherein Ahalyā has been depicted as the wife of a ṛṣi named Gautama who pronounces a very ugly curse on Indra for seducing her (Brahma 87; Padma V.51). Thus the ṛṣis who used to worship Indra in the Vedas have been given the role of cursing him in the Purāṇas.

In the Vaiṣṇava Purāṇas which give the story of Kṛṣṇa, Indra has been several times depicted in an unfavourable light in order to prove the superiority of Kṛṣṇa. A notable example is the incident of Kṛṣṇa's substituting the worship of the Govardhana hill for that of Indra and Indra's subsequent wrath and humiliation (VP V.10-V.12; Brahma 187-88; SB X.24.7). Another example is provided by Kṛṣṇa's invasion of Indra's heaven for carrying away the Pārijāta tree in order to satisfy the whim of his wife Satyabhāmā and for bringing about Indra's complete debacle (VP V.30; Brahma 203; SB X.59.39-40).

Another feature of the Purāṇic Indra is his fear of the demons for which he constantly seeks the aid of human kings. Sometimes even human kings are represented as subduing him (see the story of Raji and his sons, Vāyu 92.75-90; Brahmāṇḍa III.67.80-96; Matsya 24.35-43; VP IV.9; SB IX.17.12-15). He is also afraid of ascetics who by their austerities can capture heaven and so whenever any ascetic performs severe austerities Indra sends some Apsaras to distract his mind (see the story of Kaṇḍu in Brahma 178). Thus in the hands of the Purāṇic authors the Vedic Indra has been transformed beyond recognition.

What applies to Indra applies in a lesser degree to the other great Vedic god Varuṇa because of his much less popularity. This omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent god of the Vedas has become a god of pools and puddles in the Purāṇas. One example from the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (SB X.28) will suffice to show how completely he has been shorn of his greatness by the Purāṇas. Once when Nanda, the fosterfather of Kṛṣṇa, went to bathe in the Yamuna a servant of Varuṇa made him a captive and took him to Varuṇa. When Kṛṣṇa came to know of this he went to Varuṇa who, while beseeching him to take back his father, pacified him by humble prayers and apologies.

Besides the denigrating of Vedic gods, the Purāṇic religion has many other features such as the glorification of temples, the consecration of images and the appeasement of planets which cannot be called the amplification of what we find in the Vedas. Thus the claim of the Purāṇas that they reinforce the Vedas cannot stand the test of scrutiny at least in the sphere of religion.

That does not, however, in the least mean that the Purāṇas are not valuable documents. In fact, we should be grateful to the authors of the Purāṇas for preserving for us, even in a distorted form, a record of the great deeds of our ancestors from the earliest times to the fourth century A. D. Much of our history would have been a void if the Purāṇas had not come down to us.

  • Good answer. Up voted. Do you have soft copy of the above research article? @sv. – srimannarayana k v Oct 31 '19 at 23:15
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The vedas are sruti literature. They are the foremost authority on sanatana dharma.Except the veda samhitas everything else is smriti I.e-composed by rishis.Now these smritis maybe adulterated over time. Anything that goes against vedas goes against dharma.The puranas are allegorical not to be taken as itihasa(history).Basically I'm trying to say anything that contradicts the Vedas are adulteration of texts and the vedas should be followed

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