[Advaita-l] The Humbling of Indra - a story from the Brahma-vaivarta Purana (Part Two)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 15 10:44:12 CDT 2003

The great Muni (sage) was dressed in the skin of a black deer, and had
a bright mark on his forehead. His head was piled with matted hair,
shaded by a paltry parasol of grass. The cluster of hair on his chest
was circular and intact at the circumference, but in the center had
disappeared. This saintly figure strode directly to Indra and the boy,
squatted between them on the floor, and there remained, motionless as a

The great Indra, when he saw the newcomer, joyfully bowed to him,
reverentially offered him oblations of honey and milk, humbly enquired
into his welfare, and with pleasure and esteem offered him the
hospitality due to a guest. Whereupon the boy addressed the holy man,
asking the very questions Indra himself would have proposed, "O
Brahmin, whence have you come? What is your name and what brings you to
this place? Where is your home and what is the meaning of the grass
parasol over your head? Why in your chest is the circle of hair dense
at the circumference, but almost bare at the center? Be kind enough to
answer, in brief, these questions. I am anxious to understand." 

The Muni, hearing the words of the boy, slowly began his reply, "My
name is Lomasha (the hairy one). The cause of my arrival is to behold
Indra. Since I know I am short-lived, I have decided to build no house,
neither to marry nor to seek a livelihood. I exist by begging alms. To
shield myself from sun and rain I carry over my head this parasol of
grass. As to the circle of hair on my chest, it is a source of fear to
the people of the world, but nevertheless teaches wisdom. With the fall
of an Indra, one hair drops. That is why in the center all the hairs
have gone. When the other half of the period allotted to Brahma
expires, I myself am destined to die. O Brahmin boy, it follows that I
am somewhat short of days; what, therefore, is the use of a wife and a
son, or of a house? 

"When the mere twinkle of the eyes of Hari causes the fall of a Brahma,
it necessarily follows that all this is unreal. That is why I am always
thinking of the incomparable lotus-feet of Hari. Faith in Hari is
greater than redemption and is rarely to be secured. All prosperity is
transient like a dream and interferes with one's belief in Hari.
Shambhu (Shiva), the highest spiritual guide, taught me this wonderful
wisdom, and void of faith, I do not wish to attain even the four kinds
of redemption - Salokya, etc."

So saying, the Muni abruptly vanished and returned to Kailasa, for He
had been Shiva Himself, and Vishnu in the guise of the boy also
disappeared. Indra was amazed to behold this wonderful phenomenon,
which seemed to him to have been a dream. He no longer felt the
slightest desire to secure worldly prosperity. The lord of a hundred
sacrifices (i.e. Indra, who is known as Shatakratu since he achieved
his position as the king of the Devas by performing a hundred
sacrifices) summoned Vishvakarma, graciously greeted him with sweet
words, heaped on him a very large number of precious gems, then with a
sumptuous celebration, sent him home. 

Indra now desired redemption, having acquired wisdom. He entrusted the
pomp and burden of his office to his son, and prepared to retire to the
forest. Shachi, his beautiful and passionate queen, was overcome with
grief, and resorted to Indra's spiritual guide, Brihaspati. She
implored him to divert her husband's mind from its stern resolve. The
spiritual guide conducted her to the presence of Indra, and according
to the rules of ethics, Shachi comforted her husband. Brihaspati
himself composed a treatise dealing with the stratagems of married
love, and expounded its doctrines to Indra. This priceless book
established on sound foundations the married life of the reunited pair.


Hari concluded the story and said to Radha, "O Devi, I have narrated to
you everything connected with the humiliation of Indra, and how he was
once cured of excessive ambition."


[Ramana Maharshi narrated, with a slight variation, the above story of
Lomasha Maharshi and said that one should never be proud of a long life.]

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