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Many people today are saying that Indra is the supreme Brahman. This theory is primarily advocated by people who reject the Upanishads and believe that the Rig Veda Samhita is the only true Veda.

Did any ancient or medieval scholar advocate the theory that Indra is the supreme Brahman?

Nadadur Ammal was a medieval Sri Vaishnava scholar who was Vedanta Desikan's guru's guru. In his work called "Para Tattva Nirnaya", he establishes that Narayana is the supreme Brahman. But before that, he lists some purvapaksha theories that were common during his time:

The first obvious view is that Rudra is Brahman:

The prima facie view is- 'Rudra is the greatest Reality of all.' To explain...

Another view is that Brahma is Brahman:

Here rises up another disputant with an objection: Hiranyagarbha (Brahma) alone is entitled to be accepted as greater than all.

And then finally the view that Narayana is Brahman:

Here the final view is presented thus - Narayana is the supreme Brahman, because....

He doesn't make any mention of Indra or Surya, etc.

So who was the earliest Vedic scholar to claim that only Indra and no other Deva is Brahman?

NOTE: To clarify, I am looking for someone who is identified as an exclusive Indra-devotee, similar to vaishnavas and shaivas. Basically, someone who thinks only Indra is the parabrahman. I'm not looking for people who say all gods are identical or brahman or anything like that.

PS: This question has been modified after one of the members wrote an answer.

  • Do you doubt that vyAsa is a historical figure? Do you doubt that vedic rishis were historical figures? Secular history does not deny vyasa or vedic rishis. They just dont know the exact dates when these seers lived. – user16581 Nov 1 '19 at 23:26
  • @LazyLubber No, but I'm aware that there are references like this in Hindu scripture. However I am looking for someone like a vaishnava or a shaiva, but with respect to Indra. – Ikshvaku Nov 1 '19 at 23:30
  • Why dont you add that to the question? – user16581 Nov 1 '19 at 23:40
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BhagavAn veda vyAsa considers Indra as the supreme brahman in the Mahabharata. Below is a prayer to Indra by Kadru -

Adi parva 21 (Mahabharata BORI edition)

tadavasthAnsutAndRRiShTvA kadrUH shakramathAstuvat || 6|| namaste devadevesha namaste balasUdana | namuchighna namaste.astu sahasrAkSha shachIpate || 7|| sarpANAM sUryataptAnAM vAriNA tvaM plavo bhava | tvameva paramaM trANamasmAkamamarottama || 8|| Isho hyasi payaH sraShTuM tvamanalpaM pura.ndara | tvameva meghastvaM vAyustvamagnirvaidyuto.ambare || 9|| tvamabhraghanavikSheptA tvAmevAhuH punarghanam | tvaM vajramatulaM ghoraM ghoShavA.nstvaM balAhakaH || 10|| sraShTA tvameva lokAnAM saMhartA chAparAjitaH | tvaM jyotiH sarvabhUtAnAM tvamAdityo vibhAvasuH || 11|| tvaM mahadbhUtamAshcharyaM tvaM rAjA tvaM surottamaH | tvaM viShNustvaM sahasrAkShastvaM devastvaM parAyaNam || 12|| tvaM sarvamamRRitaM deva tvaM somaH paramArchitaH | tvaM muhUrtastithishcha tvaM lavastvaM vai punaH kShaNaH || 13|| shuklastvaM bahulashchaiva kalA kAShThA truTistathA | sa.nvatsarartavo mAsA rajanyashcha dinAni cha || 14|| tvamuttamA sagirivanA vasundharA; sabhAskaraM vitimiramambaraM tathA | mahodadhiH satimitimi~NgilastathA; mahormimAnbahumakaro jhaShAlayaH || 15|| mahadyashastvamiti sadAbhipUjyase; manIShibhirmuditamanA maharShibhiH | abhiShTutaH pibasi cha somamadhvare; vaShaTkRRitAnyapi cha havIMShi bhUtaye || 16|| tvaM vipraiH satatamihejyase phalArthaM; vedA~NgeShvatulabalaugha gIyase cha | tvaddhetoryajanaparAyaNA dvijendrA; vedA~NgAnyabhigamayanti sarvavedaiH || 17||

Translation by van buitenen -

Seeing her sons in such a state, Kadrü gave praise to Sakra": “Homage to thee, Lord God of Gods, homage to thee, Slayer of Vala! Homage to thee, Killer of Namuci, thousand-eyed husband of Saci. With thy waters become thou a flood for the sun-stricken snakes–thou alone, supreme among Immortals, art the ultimate savior of us. For thou art able to pour forth water aplenty, O Sacker of Cities, thou art cloud, thou art wind, thou art the fire of lightning in the sky. Thou art the spreader of the massing clouds, thee they call the dense Cloud itself. Thou art the matchless, dreaded thunderbolt, thou art the roaring monsoon cloud. Creator of the worlds art thou and their unvanquished destroyer. For all beings thou art the light, thou art the brilliant sun, the marvelous Great Being, and King, and Sovereign of the Gods. “Thou art Visnu, and the thousand-eyed Indra, and God and last resort. All Elixir art thou, O God, and the most highly honored Soma. Thou art the lunar day, and the hour, and the instant, the twinkling of the eye, the bright fortnight and the dark, the daily sliver of the moon, and a fraction thereof, and a fraction of that. And year, and seasons, and months, nights and days. "Thou art the sublime earth with its mountains and forests, and stainless heaven with its sun, and the sea with its whales and swallowers of whales, that rolls its billows, hosts its crocodiles, and stirs with its fish. Forever art thou honored as great Fame itself, thou joyful Indra, by the great wise seers; and when thou hast been praised, thou drinkest the Soma at the sacrifice and the oblations that are spent with vasat for thy well-being! “Priests are ever offering to thee, for the sake of the fruits, and thou of the matchless flood of might art chanted in the Vedic sciences. Because of thee are the lords of the twiceborn given to worship and study the auxiliaries along with all the Vedas!"

The highlighted portions praise Indra as Creator, Destroyer of everything, and the light of everything, and as the supreme savior and last resort, are the typical characteristics of brahman.

Apart from the above, Indra is also praised as all-pervading (Vishnu), and all instants of time, the earth, heaven etc.

There should be absolutely no doubt that it is Indra who is praised in these passages, because he is referred to as the husband of Sachi and also from the context of this portion of the Mahabharata.

  • I have clarified the intent of my question after seeing this answer. – Ikshvaku Nov 1 '19 at 23:07
  • The reason being, it would be very easy to cite a seer of a vedic mantra that says "Indra is brahman" and the like. Not what I am looking for. – Ikshvaku Nov 1 '19 at 23:08
  • @Ikshvaku Do you doubt that vyAsa is a historical figure? Do you doubt that vedic rishis were historical figures? – user16581 Nov 1 '19 at 23:21
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    doesn't answer question. Question asks for earliest 'vedic'- i.e., a 'vedas' scholar. Mahabarata scholar is a mahabarata scholar not a vedic scholar. – Swami Vishwananda Nov 2 '19 at 7:14
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    @Swami Veda vyAsa is also the arranger of vedas and a revered figure in vedanta. It follows he was a vedic scholar. – user16581 Nov 2 '19 at 7:34
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The question is

So who was the earliest Vedic scholar according to secular history to advocate the idea that Indra is the supreme Brahman?


We have to split the question into parts for understanding the issue in a better way.

The question was on advocating Indra as the Supreme Brahman

  1. Supreme Brahman

  2. Secular History

  3. Earliest Vedic scholar


  1. As far as I understood from the reading of different literature and perception that I got out of thinking over them, there is only the God or BRAHMAN, but not many BRAHMANS and a SUPREME BRAHMAN.

2. Secular History

The dictionary meaning of the word Secular is things are not religious.

It is a religious/Dharma site and are we supposed to quote from Secular angle? If so, are Vaishnava texts or Shaiva Texts or Ramayana or Mahabharata or Upanishads Secular or Religious?

3. Earliest Vedic scholar

According to some scholars, 2nd Mandala was composed first, whereas 1st Mandala was the younger one.

In Rig Veda 1.164.46, Indra/Agni/Varuna was praised as BRAHMAN.

a) So if we go through the Rig Vedic Mandalas by Serial number, then Rig Veda I.4 eulogises Indra's Great deeds first. According to the Anukramanika of Rig Veda, this Hymn was composed by Madhushchandhas Vaishvamitra

b) If we go by age-wise, then Rig Veda II.XI eulogises Indra's Great deeds first. According to the Anukramanika of Rig Veda, this Hymn was composed by Sage Gritsamada.

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