Why are Vishnu and Shiva the main Gods worshiped now in Hinduism when in the Vedas Indra is considered King of the Gods, but is now a minor God? This issue comes up in comparative religion of pre- christian/Islamic times. I know many Gods and their complementary Goddesses are worshiped such as Lakshmi, Ganapati and Hanuman. But I believe each of these are connected with Shiva or Vishnu. The exception, of course, are Saraswati and Brahma, although Brahma does come out of Vishnu's navel, this could be considered a connection.

  • This is not a question about Hinduism - it is about evolution of the Hindu religion, In the West the older Gods - the Titans = were replaced by the Olympians - Zeus,Mars et al. = who were then replaced by Christianity. There are all kinds of secular theories why the Vedic Gods were largely replaced by Puranic Gods. Krishna's fight with Indra over Govardhana Giri can be considered a metaphor for this replacement.
    – S K
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


I am answering the question why Indra is called the king of the Gods.

Indra is called King of gods because he is the king of lower heaven. Indra is a job. Lord Indra is a jiva who is temporarily holding the post of Indra. A jiva can only get such a job if he has exceptionally good karma. This job is, however, inferior to moksha.

Vritra became the foe of Indra, but Indra slew him also with the Thunder-bolt. In consequence of the sin of Brahminicide, being thus doubled Indra thus became overcome with a great fear and as the consequence thereof he had to abandon the sovereignty of heaven. He entered a cool lotus stalk that grew in the Manas lake. In consequence of the Yoga attribute of Anima, he became very minute and entered the fibres of that lotus stalk. When the lord of the three worlds, the husband of Sachi, had thus disappeared from sight through fear of the sin of Brahminicide, the universe became lordless. The attributes of Rajas and Tamas assailed the deities. The Mantras uttered by the great Rishis lost all efficacy. Rakshasas appeared everywhere. The Vedas were about to disappear. The inhabitants of all the worlds, being destitute of a king, lost their strength and began to fall an easy prey to Rakshasas and other evil beings. Then the deities and Rishis, uniting together, made Nahusha, the son of Ayusha, the king of the three worlds and duly crowned him as such. Nahusha had on his forehead full five-hundred luminaries of blazing effulgence, which had the virtue of despoiling every creature of energy. Thus equipt Nahusha continued to rule heaven. The three worlds were restored to their normal condition. The inhabitants of the universe once more became happy and cheerful. Nahusha then said, - Everything that Indra used to enjoy is before me. Only his spouse Sachi is not by. Having said this, Nahusha proceeded to where Sachi was and addressing her, said, - O blessed lady, I have become the lord of the deities. Do thou accept me. Unto him Sachi replied, saying – Thou art, by nature, wedded righteousness of behaviour. Thou belongest, again, to the race of Shoma. It behoveth thee not to assail another person’s wife. – Nahusha, thus addressed by her said, - The position of Indra is now being occupied by me. I deserve to enjoy the dominions and all the precious possessions of Indra. In desiring to enjoy thee there can be no sin. Thou wert Indra’s and, therefore should be mine.

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCCXLIII

I have not yet mentioned the exceptionally good Karma of Indra. How did he become chief of Gods? The answer is given in the passage posted below.

Devasthana said, ',,The Supreme Ordainer created wealth for sacrifice, and He created man also for taking care of that wealth and for performing sacrifice. For this reason the whole of one's wealth should be applied to sacrifice. Pleasure would follow from it as a natural consequence. Possessed of abundant energy, Indra, by the performance of diverse sacrifices with profuse gifts of valuables, surpassed all gods. Having got their chiefship by that means, he shineth in heaven,'

Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section XX

Unlike Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, Indra and other gods of lower heaven are mortal.

On mortality of gods

The gods, without exception, (when their merits cease), have to take birth as mortal creatures also (when they acquire sufficient merit), succeed in attaining to the status of gods.

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCLIX

Why are these mortal creatures called gods?

They are called Devas, the shining ones, and are more powerful than humans. The English translation of Deva as god is causing the problem of understanding them. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the most powerful manifestations of Brahman, the Ultimate Reality.

There is a second question as to why Indra was demoted. I have not come across any good answer to this question.

  • not an answer. the questioner is asking how/why did Indra become a minor god in iitihasapuranas, with degrading stories like the Ahalya incident associated with him. But even in the Mahabharata Indra is equated to Brahman hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/36907/12489 he is of course the unmatched Supreme god of the Aryans in the Rig Veda. hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/19035/12489
    – S K
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 11:10

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