- After Govardana Hill incident, did Indra know that Krishna was Incarnation of Lord Vishnu?
- If He knew Krishna as Avatar of Lord Vishnu after that incident, why did Indra fight with Krishna when Krishna stole Parijata flowers from Amaravati, abode of Indra?
- Indra helped Arjuna many times as Arjuna was his son. At the same time Krishna and Arjuna were best friends. So how were Indra and Krishna? Were they hostile or were they friendly?
About why Indra fought for Parijata tree there's shloka in Bhagavata-purana, 10.59.41, directly after short shloka about Parijata tree:
yayāca ānamya kirīṭa-koṭibhih ̣ pādau spṛśann acyutam artha-sādhanam siddhārtha etena vigṛhyate mahān aho surāṇāḿ ca tamo dhig āḍhyatām
ISKCON translation (you can use whatever you prefer, it'll not change anything serious):
Even after Indra had bowed down to Lord Acyuta, touched His feet with the tips of his crown and begged the Lord to fulfill his desire, that exalted demigod, having achieved his purpose, chose to fight with the Supreme Lord. What ignorance there is among the gods! To hell with their opulence!
About your first question, in the same Bhagavata-purana, 10.27.5, right after the story about Govardhana hill, Indra calls Krishna not just an "avatar of Vishnu", but the Bhagavan, meaning, in short, Supreme God.
Both stories described rather succinctly in Bhagavatam, by the way. No specific details about someone's words or preferences.
1. Did Indra know Shri Krishna as an avatara of Hari?
Yes, Indra knew that Shri Krishna was an avatar of Vishnu after the Govardhana Hill incident. The same is known from the following lines selected:
It is wonderful as well as dear for me to see that you are able to conceal the complete Vaishnava splendour within your human body, which comes out when you are angry. I consider the mission of gods as accomplished since you are endowed with your splendour even though you have taken a human body. (18-19). Krishna, I am the lord of all living beings, the king of gods, Purandara (indra). Earlier I was your elder brother, when you entered the womb of aditi.(37) [A reference to Vamana Avatara].
-Harivamsa, Vishnu Parva Chapter 19
2. Why did Indra fight with Krishna?
Before explaining this, it is pertinent to note that Indra was aware of Shri Krishna’s identity during the Parijata episode too, which is evident from Indra referring to Shri Krishna by the following :-
- Vishnu having incomparable splendour. (2.69.38)
- The slayer of Madhu (2.69.65)
- Vishnu, the one who performs difficult tasks (2.69.69) and ‘my brother’ (2.69.70)
The story goes, that Shri Krishna asks Narada to convey to Indra about his desire for the Parijata tree. Narada warns Shri Krishna that Indra will never part with the tree and the primary reason given by Narada is Shachi’s fondness for the tree:
The one with thousand eyes, indra, will not give you the Parijata tree. What I say is the truth. That best tree is always with goddess Shachi. Krishna! That tree provides all to Indra, having great splendour. (verses 2.68.29-30)
Narada also explains how Indra had refused to give the Parijata tree even to Shiva, who considering Shachi’s fondness let it remain with Indra (2.68.14-16). Anyway, narada goes and conveys Shri Krishna’s desire to Indra and as expected Indra, while still acknowledging Shri Krishna as his younger brother, refuses citing the following reasons:
- Brahmaji and the Prajapatis ordained different types of pleasures for different lokas, where Parijata was for Swarga:
The great soul Brahma along with his sons and grandsons made procedures for all things for people in the world with firmness. If I deviate from the route prescribed by Prajapati, the lord, the one with intellect, the Prajapati, may have pronounced a curse, hearing about this. If we ourselves break our code of conduct, without doubt, the daityas and others on their side will definitely break it. Lord Brahma himself has specified the things to be enjoyed by men. Let my brother be happy with them, realising the change of time. O lord! Whatever I have in this heaven, all that can be used by Krishna when he returns to heaven.
-Harivamsa Vishnu Parva verses 2.69.47-52
- He feared that if the Parijata is taken to earth, people will stop worshipping him through yajñas, to reach heaven:
O nArada! If men enjoy the benefits of Parijata on earth, there will not be any difference between deva-s and men. O the one with the wealth of penance! In heaven, Parijata is the best of jewels. In the world all men will become similar to deva-s. Men will not do sacrifices, if they get the benefits of heaven on earth. If they become similar to deva-s, they will not offer what is due.
-Harivamsa Vishnu Parva verses 2.69.60-63
- The primary issue is when Narada tells him that Krishna will take the Parijata even if he has to fight Indra, Indra thought his ‘younger brother’ was challenging him and became an ego issue, remembering all past insults:
If Keshava does like this to me, his elder brother, who is faultless, O the one with wealth of penance! what can be done now? O Narada! Krishna has done many things against me before. Considering that he is my brother, I always suffered all those. Before this, he drove the chariot for arjuna in the Khandava forest and blocked my clouds which were extinguishing the blazing fire. Lifting the govardhana mountain up, he did what was not liked by me. When I sought his help in slaying Vritra, he said that he was equal to all beings (he did not offer his help). What is the use of speaking more? Let it happen what may. I have no use of a quarrel between brothers. O Brahmin, It is unfortunate that he is challenging me in this way. O Brahmin, Vishnu, conquered by his wife is challenging me in this way. (2.70.13-23)
If you desire (for battle) you may come. I can bear what you desire. O the one conquered by wife! You may strike in the beginning. If you strike me, O keshava, I shall strike back according to my power. Alas! You are challenging my love. It will be good, if you do not go against me. O the best of sages! I will not give Parijata till I am defeated by the discus wielder in the battle. O the one with the wealth of penance! That younger brother is calling me, the elder brother for battle. For what purpose I am bearing with that Hari, who is conquered by women?
-Harivamsa, Vishnu Parva, verses 2.70.43-49
Well this primary ego issue has been explained very well as ignorance among the devatas, as also stated by Lakshmana to Shri Rama with reference to Varuna, in the Ramcharitmanas:
नाथ दैव कर कवन भरोसा। सोषिअ सिंधु करिअ मन रोसा॥
No reliance can be placed devatas. Fill your mind with anger and dry up the ocean.
-Ramcharitmanas Sundarakanda Doha 51.2
Thus to summarise, Indra decided to fight with Krishna for the Parijata tree because:
- Primarily, he got an ego issue out of ignorance, and thought his younger brother was challenging him.
- His wife loved the tree and even Lord Shiva had left it for this purpose.
- He felt the tree belongs only to swarga as Brahma had ordained
- He felt swarga would lose his respect and people would stop worshipping him.
3. Relation between Shri Krishna and Indra
From the various interactions between Indra and Shri Krishna in the Harivamsa, it appears as if Indra considered Krishna as his younger brother only (Vamana) and in fact loved and respected him too (friendly relation). It is only when his post as an elder brother felt threatened that out of ignorance Indra and Shri Krishna have a fallout. Other lines highlighting this relation:
shakra (indra)! Whatever your son arjuna asks me, I will do as a servant, because I am bound by your affection. (2.19.101)
Then, vAsava (indra) having great splendour spoke to the younger brother of vAsava (kR^iShNa), touching his auspicious face with his hand in a gentle way. (2.63.32)
[Indra says] You are the lord, the creator of the entire world. I was installed by you as the king (of deva-s). Having installed me why are you insulting me again? You took up brotherhood with me as your elder brother. Why do you, with eyes as beautiful as lotus, want to abandon this (relation)? (2.75.28-29)
Then Krishna bowed to his father (kashyapa) and mother (aditi) as well as to the great Indra along with shachI and proceeded towards the city of Dwarka. (2.75.41)
Indra and Shri Krishna were not hostile to each other.
Indira, the king of heaven did not attack Krishna on his own thought, but he fought with him because his wife Saci complained him which may be due to some jealousness she had towards Satyabhama, Krishna's wife.Those who listens to the advice of their wives and have no sense of conscience are definitely fools and the similar thing happened with Indira.So his mind not steady and puzzled, he was not able to decide on his own and went to fight with Krishna who himself is the god.