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The devata of Rigveda tenth mandala 47 and 48 suktas (hymns) is Indra Vaikuntha. This is not Vishnu but one of the incarnations of Lord Indra. He is named as Vaikuntha because of his mother Vikuntha, daughter of Prajapati.

There is a text called Bṛhaddevatā which is written by Sage Shaunaka. This text contains the details of the deities worshipped in hymns of Rigveda. It also gives the background stories of composition of the mantras.

There is explanation given for these hymns.

In this answer, the deeds of Indra was described.

There was an Āsuri, daughter of Prajāpati, Vikunthā by name. She, desiring a son like Indra, performed very severe austerities. She then obtained from Prajāti her desires (in the form of) various boons. And Indra himself was born of her, as he wished to slay the Daityas and Danavas. Once he was engaged in battle with the Danavas.

Of them he slew nine nineties and seven groups of seven. Having shattered with the might of his arm the citadels of gold, silver, and iron, (and) having slain all (of them) in their respective spheres (yathāsthānam), as arrayed on earth and the other (two worlds). On earth he exterminated both the Kālakeyas and the race of Puloma, the archer, and in heaven the notorious (tan) offspring of Prahlada.


My question is - Was deed of Indra in demolishing the citadels of gold, silver, and iron, of Danavas, source for the story of destruction of 3 cities of Tripurasura by Shiva?

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  • Are you asking if Shiva took inspiration from Indra to destroy Tripurasura?
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 14:41
  • Please read the question again. I am talking about composing of story. @Ikshvaku Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 14:50
  • These stories really happened according to Vedanta. That's what Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, etc say in their brahma sutra bhashyas.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 14:52
  • I have my own doubts and I had expressed them. If you know the answer you can post it. I am not interested in arguments please. @Ikshvaku Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 14:55

3 Answers 3

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The above story described above in the question is not the source of story of destruction of Tripuras by Lord Shiva! This destruction of Tripuras story is taken from YajurVeda. In the Krishna Yajurveda 6.2.3:

तेषामसुराणां तिस्त्रः पुर आसन्नयस्मय्यवमाथ रजताथ हरिणी ता देवा जेतुं नाशक्नुवन्ता उपसदैवाजिगीषन्तस्मादाहुर्यश्चैव वेद यश्च नोपसदा वै महापुरं जयन्तीति त इषु समस्कुर्वताग्निमनीकं सोमं शल्यं विष्णुं तेजनं तेऽब्रुवन्क इमामसिष्यतीति रुद्र इत्यब्रुवन्रुद्रो वै क्रुरः सोऽस्यत्विति सोऽब्रवीद्वरंवृणा अहमेव पशूनामधिपतिरसानीति तस्माद्रुद्र पशूनामधिपतिस्ता रुद्रोऽवासृजत्स तिस्त्रः पुरो भित्वैभ्यो..... [YajurVeda 6.2.3 ]

The Asuras had Tripuras; the lowest was of iron, then there was one of silver, then one of gold. The gods could not conquer them; they sought to conquer them by siege; therefore they say--both those who know thus and those who do not--'By siege they conquer great citadels.' They made ready an arrow, Agni as the point, Soma as the socket, Visnu as the shaft. They said, 'Who shall shoot it?' 'Rudra', they said, 'Rudra is fierce, let him shoot it.' He said, 'Let me choose a boon; let me be overlord of Pashus.' Therefore is Rudra overlord of Pashus. Rudra let it go; it cleft the Tripuras and drove the Asuras away from these worlds.

This is the story for the destruction of Tripuras by Lord Shiva and it is this story which is described by Puranas. It's because here- Destruction is done by Lord Rudra who is Lord Shiva himself. - Various Gods became various parts of the arrow and Puranas also mention this!

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  • I read the Yajurvedic story. However, my doubt is that Bṛhaddevatā, in the which story mentioned in the question appears, might have preceded the Yajurvedic story. Hence, the question @Tejaswee Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 14:40
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Rig Veda mentions purandara - पुरन्दर (one who destroyed cities). Rig Veda praises both Agni and Indra as purandara - पुरन्दर.

In praise of Agni: Rig Veda VI.16.14

तमु त्वा दध्यङ्ङृषिः पुत्र ईधे अथर्वणः। वृत्रहणं पुरन्दरम् ॥१४॥

tamu tvā dadhyaṃṃ ṛṣiḥ putra īdhe atharvaṇaḥ | vṛtrahaṇaṃ purandaram ||

In praise of Indra, Rig Veda II.20.7

स वृ॑त्र॒हेन्द्र॑: कृ॒ष्णयो॑नीः पुरंद॒रो दासी॑रैरय॒द्वि । अज॑नय॒न्मन॑वे॒ क्षाम॒पश्च॑ स॒त्रा शंसं॒ यज॑मानस्य तूतोत् ॥७॥

sa vṛtrahendraḥ kṛṣṇayonīḥ purandaro dāsīrairayad vi | ajanayan manave kṣāmapaśca satrā śaṃsaṃ yajamānasya tūtot ||

If we closely observe, both Indra and Agni were praised as eliminator of Vritra and destroyer of cities.

That is the beauty of above mantras, composers of which were different sages, of Rig Veda. They are referring to the same Almighty or BRAHMAN, because Agni, Indra are epithets used to indicate same brahman (RV I.164.46 - ekam sad ...)


Coming to the destruction of 3 cities by Indra, as mentioned in Bṛhaddevatā of Sage Shaunaka, we can infer from the above that Sage Shaunaka explained the deeds of Indra as mentioned in Rig Veda, in an anecdote .

Destruction of 3 cities or Tripuras by Rudra, as mentioned in Krishna Yajurveda 6.2.3, might have followed the anecdote of Bṛhaddevatā of Sage Shaunaka.

One interesting aspect is that Vishnu is also called purandara in Vishnu Sahasranama No.335


The term puram is also used to refer to the three Sariras viz. the sthula,sukshma, and karaaa sariras. He is purandara because he has torn apart these three and is the Atma beyond these three Sariras.

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Disclaimer.: It's gonna be a long answer.

Both, Brihaddevata and Yajurveda story looks similar to me with Bhagawan Rudra destroying the TriPuras with some symbolisms.

  • From the Vedic point of View.:

In this answer of mine, i have mentioned how Vedik Indra = Rudra.

Yajur Veda 6.2.3.:

The Asuras had Tripuras; the lowest was of iron, then there was one of silver, then one of gold. .

.

'By siege they conquer great citadels.' They made ready an arrow, Agni as the point, Soma as the socket, Visnu as the shaft. They said, 'Who shall shoot it?' 'Rudra', they said, 'Rudra is fierce, let him shoot it.' He said, 'Let me choose a boon; let me be overlord of Pashus.' Therefore is Rudra overlord of Pashus. Rudra let it go; it cleft the Tripuras and drove the Asuras away from these worlds.

Bṛhaddevatā of Rig Veda, Ch. 7.:

Having shattered with the might of his arm the citadels of gold, silver, and iron, (and) having slain all (of them) in their respective spheres (yathāsthānam), as arrayed on earth and the other (two worlds). On earth he exterminated both the Kālakeyas and the race of Puloma, the archer, and in heaven the notorious (tan) offspring of Prahlada.

Kaushitki Aranyaka of RigVeda.:

To him then Indra said: . . Transgressing many compacts I killed the people of Prahlada in the sky, the Paulomas in the atmosphere, the Kalakanjas on the earth. Of me, such as I was then, not a single hair was injured. . .

III-2. Then he (Indra) said: I am the Spirit of the vital breath (prana), the intelligent Self (Atman). As such, worship me as life, as immortality. . .

So, From the above verses, it's clear that Lord Indra Killed Rakshasas in three Puras and shattered them. The 3 Puras being - The lowest, Iron viz Earth, middle being Silver viz Atmosphere and the highest being Gold aka Heaven.

Before, moving on ahead let me just share a small point about names. The names of deities are nothing but their attributes (gunas).

The Purusha,

  • For its (Brihat) Big nature is called Brahma.

  • For its All pervasive (Vishva) nature is called Vishnu.

  • For its nature of being Fierce, bringing and taking away tears cries (Rudan) is called Rudra.

  • For its nature of being a Ruler (Ishana) and being Self Realized (Idandra), it's called Indra and so on.

Katha Aranyaka of Rig Veda, 2.100.:

Indeed the deva-s did not recognize Rudra who had entered the heavenly world wandering in with a solar luster. They said: “Who are you?”. [He replied]: “I am Rudra, I am Indra, I am the Āditya, I am the arrival of all the divine luster. They said: We shall not offer a share to this one [i.e. Rudra]. Roaring he [Rudra] yelled at them. He rushed at them. They [the other deva-s] said: “Sir, you are all of this”. Because roaring he yelled at them that is Rudra’s fierceness (rudratvam). Because they called him sir (bhavān) that is Bhava’s lordship over existence. Because they said you are all this that revealed Śarva’s [prowess] as an archer. 𝗕𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝗵𝗲'𝘀 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗯𝗹𝗶𝘀𝘀𝗳𝘂𝗹 𝗮𝘀 𝗲𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗵𝗲'𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗻𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺 𝗼𝗳 𝗦𝗵𝗶𝘃𝗮.

Now, let's understand.:

Q.: How, Indra Shattered the Puras.?

A.: By the might of his arms (स्ववाहुवीर्येण).

Q.: Why, the devas asked Rudra to to shoot the arrow.?

A.: Because Rudra is fierce (क्रुरः).

So, the Bahu (Arm) Veeryam (Might) of Indra is his Rudrattva.

Just, as the Rudrattva of Bhagawan Shiva is Lord Veera Bhadra, Kala Bhairava, etc.

  • From the Puranic point of view.:

  • The Description of Pinaka.:

Sri Linga Purana 1.72.:

  1. The king of mountains (Himavān) was his bow and the bowstring was the (भुजंगाधिपः) lord of serpents (Vāsuki) himself, along with Kālarātri (the night of nightmares) and Indradhanus (rainbow).

  2. The bell of the bow was goddess Sarasvatī of the form of the Śrutis (Vedas).

So, Pinaka was created by Using all kinds of Kings viz Himavan/Mandara as the bow stick and Vasukhi, Kalratri and Indra Dhanush as bow string. So, it's also called Indra Dhanush the Lord/King of the Bows.

Atharva Veda 15.1.:

He (Eka Vratya/Shiva) is the only ruler of the Vratya group, The bow which was touched (held) by him was called Indradhanush. 6.

Again, the Indra Dhanush is Indra himself and the 7 colours of it can be equated with how Indra (Indriya/Prana) divided itself into 7 Purushas after churning as mentioned in Shatapatha Brahmana 6.1.1.2&6.

I have mentioned Indra Dhanusha in details in this answer of mine.

Now, Shatapatha Brahmana in 6.1.1.2 mentions how Prana is Indra being the Indriyas.

Just a side note.:

  • The snakes are called Bhujanga. Bhuja (Coiled) + Anga (Limb/Part) and Adhipa is King same as Adhipati.

  • Bhuja can also mean Arm and Indra is King's synonym. So, if we translate the above Linga Purana Bowstring verse with changed words it becomes something like this.:

The Arm (Bhuja) part (anga) of Indra (Adhipa) became the bow string.

  • Now, after comparing it with the above verse of Indra destroying the 3 cities with the might of his arm kinda matches it. (Just a theory though).

  • From the Yogic point of view.:

Indra is our Antaratma. Being the ego/ahamkara (I)-ness (Aham) in us as Asani.

B.G. 13.23, Mundaka Up. 3.1.1-2 n 3.2.9, states how our body have 2 atmas 1 Jivatma and other Paramatma (Maheshwara) and Jiva remains stuck in sansara but after realising the Paramatma it becomes paramatma itself. Aitreya Up. 1.3.13-14 also states that this Self realized Jiva is nothing but Idandra aka Indra as I have already mentioned in this answer of mine.

So, when we say Aham Brahmasmi it's same as the self realisation of Indra being I(Indra/Jiva) is Brahman.

The Process for Indra for becoming Brahman is Tripura Dahan.

  • How.?

Let's study the Bow of Rudra first.

The Bow is the Mountain, String is the Snake, Bells are Vedas.

So, our Spine being the meru mountain and the Kundanini being the snake which goes from lower end of the bow to the upper. Bells represents the nada omkara which a yogi heard after piercing the 3 puras which are actually the 3 knots Brahma Granthi in Mooladhara Chakra, Vishnu Granthi in Anahata Chakra and Rudra Granthi in Ajna Chakra after that he reaches Sahasrara and becomes Brahman himself there. As i have mentioned in this and this answers of mine. 3 granthis are gates for crossing 3 Shariras or Dehas the sthula, sukshma, and karana or 3 states Jagrat, Swapna and Sushupti.

Again, this Jiva is also Parmeshwara himself as i have mentioned in this answer of mine.

Same is the concept of Samudra Manthan. Stick being the Mandara, Rope being Vasukhi, and support (Mooladhara) being the Tortoise (Kurma/Kashyapa/Prajapati) and the 3 puras being the 3 gunas Sat, Raj and Tam as i have mentioned in this answer of mine.

Q.: Why Indra, Agni and Vishnu are called Purandra.?

A.: 1. Because they formed the weapons for killing Tripuras.

  1. Indra (Prana) and Agni along with Kundalini goes from Mooladhara to Sahasrara, after crossing the 3 granthis in inner cismos. And as for Vishnu being the male form of Uma/Kundalini takes 3 steps in 3 Puras (Earth, Air, Heaven) in outer cosmos as mentioned in this and this answers of mine.

Conclusion.: Lord Indra (Jiva/Pashu) crosses 3 puras to get free from Pasha (Maya) and thus reaches Bhagawan Pashupati and becomes Ishana/Ruler (Ishwara) himself.

Miscellaneous.:

Vak being the Indriya is also Prana/Rudra as mentioned in Chandogya Upanishad and this and this answer of mine. So, Vak/Atma Shuktam where both Rishi and Devata both being Vak Devi is a Self Realising Shuktam.

Plus, in his commentry of Sri Rudram, Anuvaka 1 Mantra 1, in Sri Shiva Rahasya Maha Itihasa, Lord Kartikeya describes the bow of Bhagawan Rudra as follows.:

Sri Rudram Anuvaka 1 Mantra 1.:

O Rudra, the remover of sorrow (or the giver of knowledge)! Salutations to your anger, salutations to your arrows and salutations to your two arms.

Commentry.:

  1. Our salutations to your powerful arrow and the bow which is Mount Mahameru with the king of serpents (Vasuki) as its string; and also to your other blessed bow of Pranava with Gayatri as its string. We also offer our salutations to your two hands which hold the bow and the arrow, or to all your innumerable hands.

Rig Veda 10.125.6.:

I bend the bow of Rudra, to slay the destructive enemy of the Brāhmaṇas, I wage war with (hostile) men. I pervade heaven and earth.

Explanation.: I (Indra/Vak, being the bow string/Kundalini) bend the bow of Rudra . . . I pervade/Penetrate Earth, (Air), Heaven (and go beyond).

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Prd..

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