King Indra Afflicted by Sinful Reaction
This chapter describes Indra's fear at having killed a brahmana (Vrtrasura), and it also describes how he fled and was saved by the grace of Lord Visnu.
When all the demigods requested Indra to kill Vrtrasura, he refused because Vrtrasura was a brahmana. The demigods, however, encouraged Indra not to fear killing him because Indra was protected by the Narayana-kavaca, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, Lord Narayana. Even by a glimpse of the chanting of Narayana's name, one becomes free from all the sinful reactions of killing a woman, a cow or a brahmana. The demigods advised Indra to perform an asvamedha sacrifice, by which Narayana would be pleased, for the performer of such a sacrifice is not implicated in sinful reactions even if he kills the entire universe.
Following this instruction from the demigods, King Indra fought Vrtrasura, but when Vrtrasura was killed, everyone was satisfied but King Indra, who knew Vrtrasura's position. This is the nature of a great personality. Even if a great personality acquires some opulence, he is always ashamed and regretful if he acquires it illegally. Indra could understand that he was certainly entangled by sinful reactions for killing a brahmana. Indeed, he could see sinful reaction personified following him, and thus he fled here and there in fear, thinking of how to rid himself of his sins. He went to Manasa-sarovara, and there, under the protection of the goddess of fortune, he meditated for one thousand years. During this time, Nahusa reigned over the heavenly planets as the representative of Indra. Unfortunately, however, he was attracted by the beauty of Indra's wife, Sacidevi, and because of his sinful desire he had to accept the body of a serpent in his next life. Indra later performed a great sacrifice with the help of exalted brahmanas and saints. In this way he was released from the reactions of his sinful killing of a brahmana.
vrtre hate trayo loka
vina sakrena bhurida
sapala hy abhavan sadyo
sri-sukah uvaca--Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said; vrtre hate--when Vrtrasura was killed; trayah lokah--the three planetary systems (upper, middle and lower); vina--except; sakrena--Indra, who is also called Sakra; bhuri-da--O Maharaja Pariksit, giver of great charity; sa-palah--with the rulers of the various planets; hi--indeed; abhavan--became; sadyah--immediately; vijvarah--without fear of death; nirvrta--very much pleased; indriyah--whose senses.
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: O King Pariksit, who are so charitably disposed, when Vrtrasura was killed, all the presiding deities and everyone else in the three planetary systems was immediately pleased and free from trouble--everyone, that is, except Indra.
daitya devanugah svayam
deva--demigods; rsi--great saintly persons; pitr--the inhabitants of Pitrloka; bhutani--and the other living entities; daityah--demons; deva-anugah--the inhabitants of other planets following the principles of the demigods; svayam--independently (without asking permission from Indra); pratijagmuh--returned; sva-dhisnyani--to their respective planets and homes; brahma--Lord Brahma; isa--Lord Siva; indra-adayah--and the demigods headed by Indra; tatah--thereafter.
Thereafter, the demigods, the great saintly persons, the inhabitants of Pitrloka and Bhutaloka, the demons, the followers of the demigods, and also Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and the demigods subordinate to Indra all returned to their respective homes. While departing, however, no one spoke to Indra.
In this connection Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments:
brahmesendradaya iti; indrasya sva-dhisnya-gamanam nopapadyate vrtra-vadha-ksana eva brahma-hatyopadrava-prapteh; tasmat tata ity anena manasa-sarovarad agatya pravartitad asvamedhat parata iti vyakhyeyam.
Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and the other demigods returned to their respective abodes, but Indra did not, for he was disturbed at having killed Vrtrasura, who was actually a brahmana. After killing Vrtrasura, Indra went to the Manasa-sarovara Lake to become free from sinful reactions. When he left the lake, he performed an asvamedha-yajna and then returned to his own abode.
srotum icchami bho mune
yenasan sukhino deva
harer duhkham kuto 'bhavat
sri-raja uvaca--King Pariksit inquired; indrasya--of King Indra; anirvrteh--of the moroseness; hetum--the reason; srotum--to hear; icchami--I wish; bhoh--O my lord; mune--O great sage, Sukadeva Gosvami; yena--by which; asan--were; sukhinah--very happy; devah--all the demigods; hareh--of Indra; duhkham--moroseness; kutah--from where; abhavat--was.
Maharaja Pariksit inquired from Sukadeva Gosvami: O great sage, what was the reason for Indra's unhappiness? I wish to hear about this. When he killed Vrtrasura, all the demigods were extremely happy. Why, then, was Indra himself unhappy?
This, of course, is a very intelligent question. When a demon is killed, certainly all the demigods are happy. In this case, however, when all the demigods were happy because of Vrtrasura's having been killed, Indra was unhappy. Why? It may be suggested that Indra was unhappy because he knew that he had killed a great devotee and brahmana. Vrtrasura outwardly appeared to be a demon, but inwardly he was a great devotee and therefore a great brahmana.
Herein it is clearly indicated that a person who is not at all demoniac, such as Prahlada Maharaja and Bali Maharaja, may outwardly be a demon or be born in a family of demons. Therefore in terms of real culture one should not be considered a demigod or demon simply according to birth. In his dealings while fighting with Indra, Vrtrasura proved himself a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Furthermore, as soon as he finished fighting with Indra and was apparently killed, Vrtrasura was transferred to Vaikunthaloka to become an associate of Sankarsana. Indra knew this, and therefore he was morose at having killed such a demon, who was actually a Vaisnava or brahmana.
A Vaisnava is already a brahmana, although a brahmana may not be a Vaisnava. The Padma Purana says:
avaisnavo gurur na syad
vaisnavah sva-paco guruh
One may be a brahmana in terms of his culture and family and may be expert in Vedic knowledge (mantra-tantra-visaradah), but if he is not a Vaisnava, he cannot be a guru. This means that an expert brahmana may not be a Vaisnava, but a Vaisnava is already a brahmana. A millionaire may very easily possess hundreds and thousands of dollars, but a person with hundreds and thousands of dollars is not necessarily a millionaire. Vrtrasura was a perfect Vaisnava, and therefore he was also a brahmana.
sarve devah saharsibhih
naicchad bhito brhad-vadhat
sri-sukah uvaca--Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said; vrtra--of Vrtrasura; vikrama--by the powerful activities; samvignah--being full of anxieties; sarve--all; devah--the demigods; saha rsibhih--with the great sages; tat-vadhaya--for the killing of him; arthayan--requested; indram--Indra; na aicchat--declined; bhitah--being afraid; brhat-vadhat--due to killing a brahmana.
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami answered: When all the great sages and demigods were disturbed by the extraordinary power of Vrtrasura, they had assembled to ask Indra to kill him. Indra, however, being afraid of killing a brahmana, declined their request.
vrtra-hatyam kva marjmy aham
indrah uvaca--King Indra replied; stri--by women; bhu--the earth; druma--the trees; jalaih--and water; enah--this (sin); visvarupa--of Visvarupa; vadha--from the killing; udbhavam--produced; vibhaktam--divided; anugrhnadbhih--showing their favor (to me); vrtra-hatyam--the killing of Vrtra; kva--how; marjmi--shall become free from; aham--I.
King Indra replied: When I killed Visvarupa, I received extensive sinful reactions, but I was favored by the women, land, trees and water, and therefore I was able to divide the sin among them. But now if I kill Vrtrasura, another brahmana, how shall I free myself from the sinful reactions?
rsayas tad upakarnya
mahendram idam abruvan
yajayisyama bhadram te
hayamedhena ma sma bhaih
sri-sukah uvaca--Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said; rsayah--the great sages; tat--that; upakarnya--hearing; maha-indram--unto King Indra; idam--this; abruvan--spoke; yajayisyamah--we shall perform a great sacrifice; bhadram--good fortune; te--unto you; hayamedhena--by the horse sacrifice; ma sma bhaih--do not be afraid.
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: Hearing this, the great sages replied to King Indra, "O King of heaven, all good fortune unto you. Do not fear. We shall perform an asvamedha sacrifice to release you from any sin you may accrue by killing the brahmana."
istva narayanam devam
moksyase 'pi jagad-vadhat
hayamedhena--by the sacrifice known as asvamedha; purusam--the Supreme Person; paramatmanam--the Supersoul; isvaram--the supreme controller; istva--worshiping; narayanam--Lord Narayana; devam--the Supreme Lord; moksyase--you will be liberated; api--even; jagat-vadhat--from the sin for killing the whole world.
The rsis continued: O King Indra, by performing an asvamedha sacrifice and thereby pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the Supersoul, Lord Narayana, the supreme controller, one can be relieved even of the sinful reactions for killing the entire world, not to speak of killing a demon like Vrtrasura.
brahma-ha pitr-ha go-ghno
svadah pulkasako vapi
suddhyeran yasya kirtanat
tam asvamedhena maha-makhena
sraddhanvito 'smabhir anusthitena
hatvapi sabrahma-caracaram tvam
na lipyase kim khala-nigrahena
brahma-ha--a person who has killed a brahmana; pitr-ha--a person who has killed his father; go-ghnah--a person who has killed a cow; matr-ha--a person who has killed his mother; acarya-ha--a person who has killed his spiritual master; agha-van--such a sinful person; sva-adah--a dog-eater; pulkasakah--a candala, one who is less than a sudra; va--or; api--even; suddhyeran--may be purified; yasya--of whom (Lord Narayana); kirtanat--from chanting the holy name; tam--Him; asvamedhena--by the asvamedha sacrifice; maha-makhena--the topmost of all sacrifices; sraddha-anvitah--endowed with faith; asmabhih--by us; anusthitena--conducted or managed; hatva--killing; api--even; sa-brahma-cara-acaram--all the living entities, including the brahmanas; tvam--you; na--not; lipyase--are contaminated; kim--what then; khala-nigrahena--by killing one disturbing demon.
One who has killed a brahmana, one who has killed a cow or one who has killed his father, mother or spiritual master can be immediately freed from all sinful reactions simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Narayana. Other sinful persons, such as dog-eaters and candalas, who are less than sudras, can also be freed in this way. But you are a devotee, and we shall help you by performing the great horse sacrifice. If you please Lord Narayana in that way, why should you be afraid? You will be freed even if you kill the entire universe, including the brahmanas, not to speak of killing a disturbing demon like Vrtrasura.
It is said in the Brhad-visnu Purana:
namno hi yavati saktih
tavat kartum na saknoti
patakam pataki narah
Also, in the prema-vivarta by Jagadananda Pandita it is said:
eka krsna-name papira yata papa-ksaya
bahu janme sei papi karite naraya
This means that by once chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can be freed from the reactions of more sins that he can even imagine performing. The holy name is so spiritually potent that simply by chanting the holy name one can be freed from the reactions to all sinful activities. What, then, is to be said of those who chant the holy name regularly or worship the Deity regularly? For such purified devotees, freedom from sinful reaction is certainly assured. This does not mean, however, that one should intentionally commit sinful acts and think himself free from the reactions because he is chanting the holy name. Such a mentality is a most abominable offense at the lotus feet of the holy name. Namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhih: the Lord's holy name certainly has the potency to neutralize all sinful activities, but if one repeatedly and intentionally commits sins while chanting the holy name, he is most condemned.
These verses name the performers of various sinful deeds. In the Manu-samhita the following names are given. A son begotten by a brahmana and born from the womb of a sudra mother is called a parasava or nisada, a hunter accustomed to stealing. A son begotten by a nisada in the womb of a sudra woman is called a pukkasa. A child begotten by a ksatriya in the womb of the daughter of a sudra is called an ugra. A child begotten by a sudra in the womb of the daughter of a ksatriya is called a ksatta. A child begotten by a ksatriya in the womb of a lower-class woman is called a svada, or dog-eater. All such offspring are considered extremely sinful, but the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is so strong that all of them can be purified simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra.
The Hare Krsna movement offers everyone a chance to be purified, regardless of birth or family. As confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.4.18):
abhira-sumbha yavanah khasadayah
ye 'nye ca papa yad-apasrayasrayah
sudhyanti tasmai prabhavisnave namah
"Kiratas, Hunas, Andhras, Pulindas, Pulkasas, Abhiras, Sumbhas, Yavanas, members of the Khasa races, and even others addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of devotees of the Lord, for He is the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful obeisances unto Him." Even such sinful persons can certainly all be purified if they chant the holy name of the Lord under the direction of a pure devotee.
Herein the sages encourage King Indra to kill Vrtrasura even at the risk of brahma-hatya, the killing of a brahmana, and they guarantee to release him from sinful reactions by performing an asvamedha-yajna. Such purposefully devised atonement, however, cannot relieve the performer of sinful acts. This will be seen from the following verse.
evam sancodito viprair
marutvan ahanad ripum
brahma-hatya hate tasminn
sri-sukah uvaca--Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said; evam--thus; sancoditah--being encouraged; vipraih--by the brahmanas; marutvan--Indra; ahanat--killed; ripum--his enemy, Vrtrasura; brahma-hatya--the sinful reaction for killing a brahmana; hate--was killed; tasmin--when he (Vrtrasura); asasada--approached; vrsakapim--Indra, who is also named Vrsakapi.
Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: Encouraged by the words of the sages, Indra killed Vrtrasura, and when he was killed the sinful reaction for killing a brahmana [brahma-hatya] certainly took shelter of Indra.
After killing Vrtrasura, Indra could not surpass the brahma-hatya, the sinful reactions for killing a brahmana. Formerly he had killed one brahmana, Visvarupa, out of circumstantial anger, but this time, following the advice of the sages, he killed another brahmana purposely. Therefore the sinful reaction was greater than before. Indra could not be relieved from the reaction simply by performing sacrifices for atonement. He had to undergo a severe series of sinful reactions, and when he was freed by such suffering, the brahmanas allowed him to perform the horse sacrifice. The planned execution of sinful deeds on the strength of chanting the holy name of the Lord or undergoing prayascitta, atonement, cannot give relief to anyone, even to Indra or Nahusa. Nahusa was officiating for Indra while Indra, absent from heaven, was going here and there to gain release from his sinful reactions.
tayendrah smasahat tapam
nirvrtir namum avisat
hrimantam vacyatam praptam
sukhayanty api no gunah
taya--by that action; indrah--King Indra; sma--indeed; asahat--suffered; tapam--misery; nirvrtih--happiness; na--not; amum--him; avisat--entered; hrimantam--one who is shameful; vacyatam--ill fame; praptam--obtaining; sukhayanti--give pleasure; api--although; no--not; gunah--good qualifications like possessing opulence.
Following the advice of the demigods, Indra killed Vrtrasura, and he suffered because of this sinful killing. Although the other demigods were happy, he could not derive happiness from the killing of Vrtrasura. Indra's other good qualities, such as tolerance and opulence, could not help him in his grief.
One cannot be happy by committing sinful acts, even if one is endowed with material opulence. Indra found this to be true. People began to blaspheme him, saying, "This person has killed a brahmana for the sake of enjoying heavenly material happiness." Therefore in spite of being King of heaven and enjoying material opulence, Indra was always unhappy because of the accusations of the populace.
candalim iva rupinim
vikirya palitan kesams
tistha tistheti bhasinim
tam--the sinful reaction; dadarsa--he saw; anudhavantim--chasing; candalim--a woman of the lowest class; iva--like; rupinim--taking a form; jaraya--because of old age; vepamana-angim--whose bodily limbs were trembling; yaksma-grastam--infected with tuberculosis; asrk-patam--whose clothes were covered with blood; vikirya--scattering; palitan--grayed; kesan--hair; tistha tistha--wait, wait; iti--thus; bhasinim--calling; mina-gandhi--the smell of fish; asu--whose breath; gandhena--by the odor; kurvatim--bringing about; marga-dusanam--the pollution of the whole street.
Indra saw personified sinful reaction chasing him, appearing like a candala woman, a woman of the lowest class. She seemed very old, and all the limbs of her body trembled. Because she was afflicted with tuberculosis, her body and garments were covered with blood. Breathing an unbearable fishy odor that polluted the entire street, she called to Indra, "Wait! Wait!"
When a person is afflicted with tuberculosis, he often vomits blood, which makes his garments bloody.
nabho gato disah sarvah
prag-udicim disam turnam
pravisto nrpa manasam
nabhah--to the sky; gatah--going; disah--to the directions; sarvah--all; sahasra-aksah--Indra, who is endowed with one thousand eyes; visampate--O King; prak-udicim--to the northeast; disam--direction; turnam--very speedily; pravistah--entered; nrpa--O King; manasam--the lake known as Manasa-sarovara.
O King, Indra first fled to the sky, but there also he saw the woman of personified sin chasing him. This witch followed him wherever he went. At last he very quickly went to the northeast and entered the Manasa-sarovara Lake.
sa avasat puskara-nala-tantun
alabdha-bhogo yad ihagni-dutah
varsani sahasram alaksito 'ntah
sancintayan brahma-vadhad vimoksam
sah--he (Indra); avasat--lived; puskara-nala-tantun--in the network of the fibers of a lotus stem; alabdha-bhogah--not getting any material comfort (practically starving for all material needs); yat--which; iha--here; agni-dutah--the fire-god messenger; varsani--celestial years; sahasram--one thousand; alaksitah--invisible; antah--within his heart; sancintayan--always thinking of; brahma-vadhat--from the killing of a brahmana; vimoksam--liberation.
Always thinking of how he could be relieved from the sinful reaction for killing a brahmana, King Indra, invisible to everyone, lived in the lake for one thousand years in the subtle fibers of the stem of a lotus. The fire-god used to bring him his share of all yajnas, but because the fire-god was afraid to enter the water, Indra was practically starving.
tavat trinakam nahusah sasasa
nitas tirascam gatim indra-patnya
tavat--for so long; trinakam--the heavenly planet; nahusah--Nahusa; sasasa--ruled; vidya--by education; tapah--austerities; yoga--mystic power; bala--and strength; anubhavah--being equipped; sah--he (Nahusa); sampat--of so much wealth; aisvarya--and opulence; mada--by the madness; andha--blinded; buddhih--his intelligence; nitah--was brought; tirascam--of a snake; gatim--to the destination; indra-patnya--by Indra's wife Sacidevi.
As long as King Indra lived in the water, wrapped in the stem of the lotus, Nahusa was equipped with the ability to rule the heavenly kingdom, due to his knowledge, austerity and mystic power. Nahusa, however, blinded and maddened by power and opulence, made undesirable proposals to Indra's wife with a desire to enjoy her. Thus Nahusa was cursed by a brahmana and later became a snake.
tato gato brahma-giropahuta
papas tu digdevataya hataujas
tam nabhyabhud avitam visnu-patnya
tatah--thereafter; gatah--gone; brahma--of the brahmanas; gira--by the words; upahutah--being invited; rtambhara--on the Supreme Lord, who maintains truth; dhyana--by meditation; nivarita--impeded; aghah--whose sin; papah--the sinful activity; tu--then; dik-devataya--by the demigod Rudra; hata-ojah--with all prowess diminished; tam--him (Indra); na abhyabhut--could not overcome; avitam--being protected; visnu-patnya--by Lord Visnu's wife, the goddess of fortune.
Indra's sins were diminished by the influence of Rudra, the demigod of all directions. Because Indra was protected by the goddess of fortune, Lord Visnu's wife, who resides in the lotus clusters of Manasa-sarovara Lake, Indra's sins could not affect him. Indra was ultimately relieved of all the reactions of his sinful deeds by strictly worshiping Lord Visnu. Then he was called back to the heavenly planets by the brahmanas and reinstated in his position.
tam ca brahmarsayo 'bhyetya
yathavad diksayam cakruh
tam--him (Lord Indra); ca--and; brahma-rsayah--the great saints and brahmanas; abhyetya--approaching; hayamedhena--with an asvamedha sacrifice; bharata--O King Pariksit; yathavat--according to the rules and regulations; diksayam cakruh--initiated; purusa-aradhanena--which consists of worship of the Supreme Person, Hari; ha--indeed.
O King, when Lord Indra reached the heavenly planets, the saintly brahmanas approached him and properly initiated him into a horse sacrifice [asvamedha-yajna] meant to please the Supreme Lord.
sa vai tvastra-vadho bhuyan
api papa-cayo nrpa
nitas tenaiva sunyaya
nihara iva bhanuna
atha--therefore; ijyamane--when worshiped; puruse--the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sarva--all; deva-maya-atmani--the Supersoul and maintainer of the demigods; asvamedhe--through the asvamedha-yajna; maha-indrena--by King Indra; vitate--being administered; brahma-vadibhih--by the saints and brahmanas expert in Vedic knowledge; sah--that; vai--indeed; tvastra-vadhah--the killing of Vrtrasura, the son of Tvasta; bhuyat--may be; api--although; papacayah--mass of sin; nrpa--O King; nitah--was brought; tena--by that (the horse sacrifice); eva--certainly; sunyaya--to nothing; niharah--fog; iva--like; bhanuna--by the brilliant sun.
The horse sacrifice performed by the saintly brahmanas relieved Indra of the reactions to all his sins because he worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead in that sacrifice. O King, although he had committed a gravely sinful act, it was nullified at once by that sacrifice, just as fog is vanquished by the brilliant sunrise.
sa vajimedhena yathoditena
istvadhiyajnam purusam puranam
indro mahan asa vidhuta-papah
sah--he (Indra); vajimedhena--by the asvamedha sacrifice; yatha--just as; uditena--described; vitayamanena--being performed; marici-misraih--by the priests, headed by Marici; istva--worshiping; adhiyajnam--the Supreme Supersoul; purusam puranam--the original Personality of Godhead; indrah--King Indra; mahan--worshipable; asa--became; vidhuta-papah--being cleansed of all sinful reactions.
King Indra was favored by Marici and the other great sages. They performed the sacrifice just according to the rules and regulations, worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul, the original person. Thus Indra regained his exalted position and was again honored by everyone.
idam mahakhyanam asesa-papmanam
mahendra-moksam vijayam marutvatah
patheyur akhyanam idam sada budhah
srnvanty atho parvani parvanindriyam
dhanyam yasasyam nikhilagha-mocanam
ripunjayam svasty-ayanam tathayusam
idam--this; maha-akhyanam--great historical incident; asesa-papmanam--of unlimited numbers of sinful acts; praksalanam--cleansing; tirthapada-anukirtanam--glorifying the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as Tirthapada; bhakti--of devotional service; ucchrayam--in which there is an increase; bhakta-jana--the devotees; anuvarnanam--describing; maha-indra-moksam--the liberation of the King of heaven; vijayam--the victory; marutvatah--of King Indra; patheyuh--should read; akhyanam--narration; idam--this; sada--always; budhah--learned scholars; srnvanti--continue to hear; atho--as well; parvani parvani--on the occasion of great festivals; indriyam--which makes the senses sharp; dhanyam--brings wealth; yasasyam--brings fame; nikhila--all; agha-mocanam--releasing from sins; ripum-jayam--makes one victorious over his enemies; svasti-ayanam--brings good fortune for all; tatha--so also; ayusam--longevity.
In this very great narrative there is glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, there are statements about the exaltedness of devotional service, there are descriptions of devotees like Indra and Vrtrasura, and there are statements about King Indra's release from sinful life and about his victory in fighting the demons. By understanding this incident, one is relieved of all sinful reactions. Therefore the learned are always advised to read this narration. If one does so, one will become expert in the activities of the senses, his opulence will increase, and his reputation will become widespread. One will also be relieved of all sinful reactions, he will conquer all his enemies, and the duration of his life will increase. Because this narration is auspicious in all respects, learned scholars regularly hear and repeat it on every festival day.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Sixth Canto, Thirteenth Chapter, of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled "King Indra Afflicted by Sinful Reaction."