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Indra as God of Fertility.— By E. "Washburn Hopkins, Profes- 
sor in Yale University. 

During the drought and famine which accompanied the out- 
break of plague in India in 1896-1897 the peasants of the Ganges 
valley lived in the hope that 'Indra would send rain,' and 
further west, at Ahmedabad, the local priests circumambulated 
the city hymning the same desire in more orthodox form. For 
to the peasant Indra has lost his ancient personality and is 
vaguely conceived as a god somehow connected with Siva, but 
his essential character persists and as a divinity of rain and 
fertility he is even to-day potent in the imagination of the 
Hindu. 

There is something that appeals to our imagination also in the 
realization that this god, who is older than Brahman, Vishnu, 
and Siva, still has his worshipers. No other god, unless it be 
the rather impersonal Heaven of the Chinese, has been revered 
with uninterrupted devotion for so many centuries. The gods 
of Egypt and Babylon were born earlier perhaps, but they all 
died long ago. Indra, worshiped to-day, was already a notable 
god fourteen hundred years before the Christian era. His con- 
temporaries, Varuna, Mitra, and the 'healing' Twins, who cor- 
respond to the Dioskouroi, have long since vanished from the 
mind of the people. But Indra perdures, at least as giver of 
rain. 

Outside of India, this god, under the name Indra or Andra 
(possibly connected with Anglo-Saxon ent, 'giant') was recog- 
nized as a demon so important that he stands third in the list of 
evil spirits opposed to the good powers of the Zoroastrian, his 
only superiors being the Evil One himself and the Corpse-demon. 

In my Epic Mythology I have pointed out that Indra in epic 
literature is a god of fertility as well as a god of battles. The 
feast of Indra, which comes at the end of the wet season (cf. 
BS. 43), is a stated festival, not, as later, a celebration of a vic- 
tory, in which a pole gaudily decked is set up as the central 
object of a popular merry-making. Indra is the 'crop-con- 
troller,' pdkasasana (misunderstood of course as 'controller of 
Paka' and interpreted in terms of war as conqueror) . All grain 
that springs up without cultivation is called grain raised by 



Indra as God of Fertility. 243 

Indra. He is 'lord of the water-givers (clouds).' The expres- 
sion 'when it rains' is indifferently 'when the god rains' or 
'when Vasava (Indra) rains.' When a categorical answer is 
demanded to the question 'What is the especial business of 
Indra?', the answer is not 'to lead the gods to battle' but 'to 
bestow energy, children, arid happiness' (op. cit. p. 123 f.). 

The bestowal of energy and of children is a function of Indra, 
noticed as early as the Rig- Veda, to which I called attention 
in this Journal twenty-one years ago; but its importance has 
been practically ignored since then, as it was in previous discus- 
sions of the god's character. Ludwig, for example, in his 
resume did not even allude to it. Nevertheless, if we consider 
the persistence of this trait through the native literature, it can- 
not be relegated to a subsidiary place, as if fertility-giving were 
a late-developed attribute of a panergetes or visvakarman god, 
though this title is given him in the Rig- Veda. 

To resume the study of Indra in post-Vedic works, it is sig- 
nificant that the law-book of Manu recognizes him only as a god 
of power who 'rains for four months.' His wife, according to 
Paraskara (2. 17. 9), is Sita, that is, the personified furrow (not 
Savitri, as native tradition has it). The sacrifice to Indra is 
here conjoined with that to (the fertile field) Urvara, also called 
Sita, and to Bhuti, personified Prosperity, the offerings being 
of rice and barley. Baudhayana (3. 3) agrees with the epic in 
recognizing all wild plant life as produced by Indra. Several 
plants are called especially by his name. An early example is 
that of the adara-plants known as ' Indra 's might' (SB. 14. 1. 
2. 12). In the Sautramani (ib. 12. 7. 1) the meaning of the 
legend that plants and virile forces come from his body is that 
he produces the plants and animals mentioned. He is here the 
'giver of life.' The he-goat and barley, with jujubes, the ram 
and 'Indra-grain' were the first products of his virya (virile 
or vital power) ; afterwards came the bull, horse, mule, ass, etc., 
till Indra lay exhausted and the gods said, 'He was the best 
of us ; let us cure him. ' Here too the bull is represented as the 
one animal especially sacred to Indra. These peculiarly virile 
animals, goat, ram, and bull reflect best the virya of the god, 
whose virtus to be sure is bravery but more essentially is virility. 
'The Earth, whose bull is Indra' (AV. 12. 1. 6), is a distinct 
allusion to the fructification of earth through the god. That the 
god is the rain-god may be surmised even from the fact that 



244 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

both in epic and legal literature the rainbow is called the 'bow 
of Indra.' Also the 'net of Indra,' which in the epic is 
regarded as a kind of magic weapon, is perhaps in its earlier 
appearance, where it encircles all men with darkness (AV. 8. 8. 
8), nothing more than fog or mist. Indra 's 'arrows' or darts 
are rain (e. g. Par. GS. 3. 15. 18). 

The appeal, 'Do not forsake us, Indra,' is one offered at the 
ceremony of first-fruits and is followed by the marking of the 
cattle, also associated with the same god (SGS. 3. 8). But more 
than this, in sympathy with the whole conception of the Indra 
of every-day life, the sky is said to become pregnant with Indra 
and (at a certain time) the householder's wife is addressed with 
the words, ' (As) Indra puts the embryo in the cow, (so) do 
thou conceive' (Hiran. GS. 1. 7. 5). He is one of the gods who 
assure the birth of a male child (SGS. 1. 17). Indra granted to 
women the boon of having children (elaboration of the story 
that they assumed his guilt when he slew the son of Tvastr, Vas. 
5. 7) . As was to be expected from a god of fertility, Indra shows 
his power in the human race as well as in the vegetable world. 
He gives children and crops. When others are associated with 
him, for he is by no means unique in this regard, it is profitable 
to study the group. For example, when the plow is first started, 
there is a group of spirits to whom sacrifice should be made to 
insure a good harvest. The group consists first of all of Indra ; 
then of his companion spirits, the Maruts ; then of his epic double, 
Parjanya; then of the Asani, the personified lightning-bolt of 
Indra; and finally of the genius of getting (and begetting), 
Bhaga, who in the Rig-Veda is synonymous with Indra (see 
below). At the same time sacrifice is made to other rural dei- 
ties, such as the Furrow (Sita; Gobh. GS. 4. 4. 28). In short, 
it is no exaggeration to say that, to the householder of the age 
immediately following that called Vedic, Indra is virtually a 
god of fertility and nothing more. 

The Vedic period differs only in this, that while it presents 
Indra as god of fertility it dwells also upon his warlike, crush- 
ing 'power, so that he is invoked not only to give fertility and 
virility, but to destroy it in the case of enemies (e. g. AV. 6. 
138. 2). Instances of the former abound. Thus in the magic- 
mongering Atharva, to back up a charm magically potent to 
produce virility through an herb, Indra is invoked with the 
words, '0 Indra, controller of bodies, put virility into him' 



Indra as God of Fertility. 245 

( AV. 4. 4. 4) . Or, to get a wife, a man entreats Indra, to pro- 
cure a wife for him with his golden hook, which drags in all 
sorts of good things (as in the Eig-Veda), while, conversely, 
Indra is also invoked to provide a husband for a girl (ib. 2. 
36. 6.). He is entreated as giver of virility to bestow the power 
of the goat, the ram, and the bull; and as giver of power he 
also bestows long life and puts power into the plants (e. g. 
AV. 4. 19. 8). It is reasonable to suppose that all this hangs 
together with the fact that Indra is regent of the early spring 
(Indranaksatra is Phalguni, &B. 2. 1. 2. 11), when weddings are 
in order (AV. 14. 1. 13 ; possibly, as Hillebrandt suggests, with 
the belief that Indra is son of the New Year, ib. 3. 10. 13). 

In the Eig-Veda, Indra is the close companion of the rain- 
gods who cannot represent the occasional showers of winter but, 
with accompaniment of lightning and storm, portray or are 
the storms of summer, as their sire, the later Siva, Vedic Eudra, 
is also god of summer-time. Several books call him especially 
marutvat and marudgana, even when Indra is not particularly 
invoked along with the Maruts. It is only the inner similarity 
which has united these originally separate elements. Indra had 
at first nothing to do with the Maruts, who belong to Eudra ; but 
they and their acts are so Indra-like that even the phraseology 
employed to describe them is that employed to describe the god 
who has adopted them. 

As dhunir munir va(iva) describes them (7. 56. 8), so Indra 
is addressed, 'A storm god, thou (dhunir Indra) hast let out 
the stormy waters which are like rivers' (sira, as in 4. 19. 8; 10. 
49. 9). Indra here expressly lets out stormy waters which 
are (not rivers but) 'like rivers' (1. 174. 9). These are the 
waters referred to as devts, svarvatis, 'heavenly' (1. 173. 8; 3. 
32. 6 ; 5. 2. 11 ; 8. 40. 10 f. ; cf. 10. 63. 15). In the last passage, 
Indra and the Maruts together are invoked for weal in respect 
to the waters in the heavenly, svarvati, place, and for weal in 
begetting sons. He is the virile one (or ram, vrssni) who leads 
this herd of Maruts and wins the waters for man and storms 
out the 'cows' for them. When he gets excited not even heaven 
and earth together can overpower him (1. 10. 2, 8). He goes 
between them in the atmosphere what time he seizes the wealth 
of the hills (1. 51. 2). Now the Maruts themselves fly over the 
ridges of the hills and are evidently givers of cloud-water, since 
they darken the sky and flood the earth along with 'water-bring- 



246 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

ing Parjanya' (1. 38. 8 f. ; 5. 58. 3; 8. 46. 18, vrstim junantv 
etc.). In these passages they are said to urge on and let out 
the rain. They are themselves the 'bulls of the sky' and they 
let the water stream from the sky as they are entreated, in the 
very words addressed to Indra, for seed and children (tokdm 
pusyema tdnayam (1. 64. 6 and 14; see below). Like Indra, 
the Maruts in the first passage are like lions and elephants in 
their roaring and fury, and they are said to bring out, as it 
were, a strong horse mihe, to let out water, an expression we 
shall meet again used of Indra. 

It is by no means a negligible fact that, on the other hand, 
Indra is entreated to let out the waters, 'life-giving, Marut- 
accompanied' (1. 80. 4). The poet who says this was thinking 
of the waters just described given by the Maruts and says at the 
same time that Indra blows the dragon from the sky as well as 
from the earth, vrtrdm jaghantha nir divdh: marutvatir apdh. 
It is impossible to maintain that Indra in the Rig- Veda is 
not a giver of rain or to confine the possible cases where he 
gives rain to the passages where rain is mentioned by its prose 
name. 'Marut-accompanied water' is rain, as a dozen passages 
prove. Like Indra, the Maruts also 'split the rock' (parvatam, 
1. 85. 10) and pierce the demons with lightning (1. 86. 9). The 
sustenance which they stream to man is called is (as is that 
of Indra). They rend the hills; they dance and sing (2. 34. 8; 
5. 52. 9, 12) ; he and they bestow cattle, horses, cars, heroes, per- 
haps gold (3. 30. 20; 5. 57. 7). As bulls they make tremble 
mountains, earth, and trees, yet bring healing waters as medi- 
cine for ills (8. 20. 5 f.). They are said to be 'in close con- 
nection with Indra' (sdmmisld indre, 1. 166. 11). The sap or 
sustenance, is, which Indra 'found in the endless stone' is iden- 
tical with the 'treasure of the sky' (1. 130. 3) and is one with 
the is distributed by the Maruts (above). This treasure, nidhi, 
is then again the divdh kosah ('treasure of the sky') mentioned 
as having been found by the Maruts, when they 'loosen Par- 
janya' and send the treasure of rain to earth (5. 53. 6). Thus 
at all points the activity of the Maruts agrees with that of 
Indra. The treasure is rain, 1 rain is the sap or sustenance, the 
sustenance is sent by Indra and by the Maruts. Moreover, the 
dragon 'stems the sky' before being slain by Indra, whose bolt 

1 In 10. 42. 2, 7, Indra himself as treasure gives grain and cows. 



Indra as God of Fertility. 247 

makes the two worlds shudder with its loud sound (2. 11. 9), 
where the same word is used to describe the sound as is used 
of Parjanya when thundering (kdnikradat standyan, 5. 83. 9). 
So of Indra it is said, as of the Maruts (above), that he sends 
gifts of horses and cows when he thunders (standyan, 6. 44. 
12). Compare (8. 6. 40), 'The bull with the bolt has roared 
in the sky,' of Indra thundering. For, though an atmospheric 
god, as is shown by his thunder and the bluster which 'makes 
the woods roar' (1. 54. 5), he yet 'touches the sky' (1. 23. 
2), as he rushes along with the Wind-god, whose close compan- 
ion he is. Thus it is with Wind that Indra conquers (4. 21. 4) 
and hence he shares the morning-sacrifice with Wind (4. 46-48; 
cf. 7. 90. 6). The two are invoked together (1. 2. 4; 135. 7), 
and it is with the horses of Wind that Indra brings death to 
Susna (1. 175. 4). Indra 'yokes the two horses of the Wind- 
god,' as if to imply that Indra 's two steeds were identical with 
the winds (10. 22. 4), as is actually stated in Val. 2. 8: 'With 
the horses of the Wind thou puttest to silence the demons and 
goest about the bright sky.' Hence it is that Indra is said to 
'extend the rain as if from the sky' (8. 12. 6). The frequent 
adverb 'down' is also to be noticed in connection with his send- 
ing, though this might apply to the downward course of rivers 
as well as of rain. Yet 8. 54. 8 is significant : ' Let thy constant 
favor drip down' (ni tosaya), alluding to the sap (rain) men- 
tioned in the preceding verse. Indra climbs on the back of the 
tottering demon and hews downward at him with his bolt, and 
this too may be more than the downward stroke of any bestrid- 
ing victor. It seems to imply, with the many parallel cases of 
'smiting down' (1. 80. 5; 2. 17. 5; 5. 29. 4; etc.), what is 
explicitly said in 3. 31. 8: 'From the sky shining' he frees his 
friends from shame. For such explicit statements are not iso- 
lated: 'High in air he stood and then cast his bolt at Vrtra; 
clothed in mist he attacked him and sharp was his weapon, ' fol- 
lowed by the invocation, 'Cast down from the sky above, 
Indra, the stone wherewith thou joying wilt burn the foe; for 
the getting of seed and many children and cows make us thy 
party' (2.30.3,5; 6.44.18). Indra. is the 'celestial giver of 
cows,' divdksas (3. 30. 21), and it is probable that the (virtually 
identical) word dyukm is to be taken in the same sense in 5. 39. 
2, 'Bring us, O Indra, whatever thou thinkest desirable in 
heaven' (alternative, 'brilliant'). Like the Maruts (above) 



M8 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

Indra is frequently described as the 'dancer' or dancing god 
(1. 130. 7; 2. 22. 4; etc.), who 'joys in the seat of the sun' and 
drinks Soma as soon as he is horn, in the highest heaven (3. 32. 
10; 34. 7; 51. 3 f.). A more than usually brilliant description 
of him, which accords ill with the interpretation that he is a 
giant of the mountains of earth, says that Indra 'is the dancing 
god who, clothed in perfumed garments, golden-cheeked rides on 
his golden car' (6. 29. 2 f.), as the Maruts are clothed (5. 55. 
6) and otherwise appear in the same golden glory. 

It is now time to make the application of these data. Profes- 
sor Hillebrandt, whose thesis is that Indra 's sphere of activity 
is diametrically opposed to that of the Maruts, the latter operat- 
ing in summer and Indra in spring or when the winter begins 
to pass, has endeavored to offset the community of Indra and 
the Maruts by showing that some families do not invoke the 
Maruts and Indra together (as one group) so often as do other 
families. But this is no adequate explanation of the phenomena, 
which show that in all the points enumerated above the field of 
activity and process of accomplishment are identical. It is 
quite impossible to separate Indra and the Maruts as represent- 
ing activities belonging to different times of the year. The only 
point which could be proved by the fact that one clan does not 
besing Indra and the Maruts conjointly (though there is no such 
clan) is that some clans have seen that the two divinities (Marut 
and Indra) are practically one in their performances and some 
have refused to see it or have refused to bend to the syncretistic 
tendency. As a matter of fact, no clan omits to conjoin them ; 
only some clans join them more closely and speak of the union 
more often, either in action or at sacrifice. If, as Hillebrandt 
thinks, the Maruts are in origin Manes, there may have been good 
reason for the unwillingness of some and the willingness of 
others to associate Indra with them or them with Indra. More 
important than the relative frequency with which clans more 
or less adverse to the Indra-cult admitted him and the Maruts to 
a joint sacrifice is the fact that Indra 's own home clan, the 
Kusikas, fully endorse the intimacy. They who know him best, 
whose pet god Indra is, are the very ones who group the Maruts 
with him. Still more important is the fact that apart from clan- 
predilection the description of even the clans which do not 
favor this grouping shows (as explained above) that it is idle 
to sunder the Maruts as summer-gods from Indra as late-winter 



Indra as God of Fertility. 249 

or spring-god. Even the Bharadvajas, who Hillebrandt shows 
do not favor the sacrificial community of the two, speak several 
times of Indra as accompanied by the Maruts (6. 19. 11; 40. 5; 
47. 5). They admit also that the Maruts strengthen Indra (6. 
17. 11), and their identification of the deva ratha with Indra 's 
bolt and the Maruts' van also connects them closely (6. 47. 28), 
especially in view of the fact that the 'Maruts' van' is elsewhere 
apparently identified with Indra 's 'sharp weapon,' the bolt 
(8.96.9). 

Similarly, the Vasisthas, though rarely uniting Indra and the 
Maruts, yet show full acquaintance with the fact that if one has 
'Indra and the Maruts' as his helpers, he will become rich in 
cows (7. 32. 10), and they pray that the 'accompanying roar 
of the Maruts' shall encompass Indra as he comes with his light- 
ning (7. 31. 8, sahd dyubhih; for the roar, cf. 2. 11. 7 f.). Even 
the Atris speak of Indra as the wise seer of the Maruts (5. 29. 
1) and the Grtsamadas at least group the Maruts with Indra and 
Vayu as common benefactors (2. 11. 14). Evidently Indra, how- 
ever apart or shared be his victory, is recognized everywhere 
as coming at the same time with the Maruts, whose 'friend' 
he is (8. 36. 2, as apsujit; cf. ib. 76. If.). The sdrdho maru- 
tdm rejoice in Indra (ib. 15. 9), whether they fight with him 
or not, and the prevailing opinion of the Eig-Veda, no one 
opposing, is that they are his band, gana, that Indra gave them 
a share of Soma (3. 35. 9), and that all beings have bent before 
(yemire) Indra since the Marut clans have bent down (niye- 
mire) before him (8. 12. 29 ). 2 There is certainly not the slight- 
est indication that they are active in different seasons, and since 
Hillebrandt admits that the Rudra-Maruts are summer-time 
gods, it follows that Indra is a god of the same season, even if 
the phenomena accompanying both, driving winds, rending 
lightning, loosening the waters and 'cows,' shaking the hills, 
and roaring 'music,' were not identical. 

As Indra stands in the air, so he is represented as 'blowing 
the great snake (the dragon) out of the air' (atmosphere, nir 
antdriksat, 8. 3. 20) and as 'shooting from the sky' (10. 89. 
12). Rain is his herd (10. 23. 4). The waters which he lets 
out come up 'from the south day after day, going without 
cessation to their goal,' and it is these monsoon-waters which 



2 Compare 8. 89. 2; 98. 3. 
17 JAOS 36 



250 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

Indra collects and gives as his unceasing gift (6. 32. 5). His 
bolt is variously represented as a stone or a club of a hundred 
knots or an arrow or a spear or simply as a missile. It light- 
ens, it burns, it smashes down, it gleams as a hot bolt — and yet 
the modern mythologist believes that it is 'only a club' and a 
club does not imply a bolt of lightning! 3 As a clinching argu- 
ment we are reminded that Mithra also carries a club and Jupi- 
ter with his bolt is not a rain-god! Surely 'Zeus rains,' and 
Jupiter Pluvialis, also Elicius (cf. aquaelicium) , gives rain. As 
for Mithra, his own hymn says that he 'makes the waters flow 
and the plants grow.' Mithra too has a club with a hundred 
edges and with it he ' smites the Daevas, ' while with his arrows 
he lets out water. So Mithra and Jupiter both show what a 
club as a bolt may do. 4 

Before Fire became a mere sacrificial horse, burdened with a 
load of offerings, he was an averter of demons, a function still 
retained in the Big- Veda: 'Burn, Agni, all the demons; pro- 
tect us from the curse' (1. 76. 3). In the same way Indra is 
'begotten as demon-slayer'; he smites the demons or burns 
them with his missile (1. 129. 11; 6. 18. 10, heti), as he burns 
the foe or 'burns down on high the dasyus out of heaven' (6. 
22. 8; 1. 33. 4, 7), so that he appears to be lightning itself 
(divyevasdnir jahi, 1. 176. 3). Of course, Indra is not light- 
ning, but when he is asked to 'burn demons as fire burns wood' 
(6. 18. 10), there is no doubt that the poet is right in saying 
that he is like lightning. The use of stone and metal as synony- 
mous with missile and arrow seems to bar out the suggestion 
that Indra 's normal weapon might be burning sun -beams, though 
he may employ them (8. 12. 9) 5 when he becomes so great 

* asdnim tdpistham . . tdpusim hetim (3. 30. 16 f .) ; Sdrva (2. 12. 10); 
tanyatum = vajram (1. 52. 6); aSdnim (1. 54. 4); 'thou who begottest 
gleaming lightnings from the sky,' didywto divdh, (2. 13. 7), etc., etc. 
Compare 1. 52. 15, the edged club, bhrstimdtd vadhSna; of metal (1. 80. 
12) ; srlcdm pavim (10. 180. 2). 

1 When Tibullus says arida nee Pluvio supplicat herba Iovi (1. 7), he 
means that in Italy the dry vegetation begs Jupiter for rain. Apropos 
of this, Pausanias says that there was an (Attic) ' statue of Earth beseech- 
ing Zeus to rain.' 

5 In the same hymn (8. 12. 30) Indra is said to 'hold the sun in the 
sky,' which opposes the idea that the poet regards him as one with the 
sun. In 10. 171. 4, Indra even transports the sun across the sky. Yet the 



Indra as God of Fertility. 251 

that he is regarded as like Agni or the sun, or even as begetting 
the sun. In 1. 133, a priest is employed in 'burning away' the 
various 'un-Indra demons' and invokes Indra as 'stone-holder' 
to 'smash' them, obviously not with sun-beams but with that 
bolt, 'like a sharp knife,' with- which 'as with an axe' he 
breaks down trees (1. 130. 4; cf. 10. 73. 8, 'upturns the trees'). 

Indra indubitably lets out rivers, but this is no argument 
against his letting out rain. Varuna also 'goes over earth' 
(10. 75. 2) when he 'lets out the rivers.' Varuna too 'let out 
the floods of rivers' (7. 87. 1), though he and Mitra also let out 
rain (5. 63. 1 f.). When therefore Indra is said to let out rivers 
and to dig a path for them (10. 89. 7, etc.), it no more implies 
that he is not a giver of rain also than, when Varuna is said to 
let out rivers, this god by implication is restricted to river-free- 
ing. Indra 's strength is collected 'in the sky' (1. 80. 13) and 
his 'metal stone' (bolt) is hurled 'from the sky' (1.121.9). 

That food is implicit in the rain and sap appears to be the 
case from the way in which the 'swelling of the sap' is con- 
nected with invocation for food. Thus Indra is besought to 
'make visible the sun, penetrate to the cows (or food-strength) 
and (at this time) to make the sap swell' (6. 17. 2-3; cf. 8. 103. 
5 and 10. 74. 4, of worshipers who wish to pierce to the cows or 
cow-stall). The swelling is obviously of the cloud-sap when it 
is said that the bull of the Asvins, the cloud (megha), swelled 
(1. 181. 8) and apparently of Indra 's waters when the god is 
represented as rushing like the wind, and the (his) waters swell 
and he is then described as 'the only one among the gods who 
divides with mortals' (dayase, 7. 23. 4-5; cf. 10. 147. 5, as 'dis- 
tributor'). So Indra is 'distributor of food, lord of people, 
king of the world' (6. 36. 1-4). The full expression 'let swell 
the sap' is peculiarly Indra 's (1. 63. 8), 'let the sundry kinds 
of strength-giving sap swell like water' (perhaps, with Ludwig, 
of earthly food) ; so of Indra or of his Maruts is used the phrase 



explanation of 8. 12. 9, though it is here said that he has grown great when 
he burns with the sun's rays, may be that Indra operates in general with 
the sun's rays on the principle of the Sruti given by Sayana at 7. 36. 1: 
'Parjanya rains with the sun's rays' (see below). For Indra as one with 
the sun, compare 4. 23. 6 and 8. 93. 4. Such eases appear to belong to the 
later not to the earlier part of the Big- Veda, new creations, not remnants 
of an older belief, as they should be, were Indra first the sun. 



252 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

dhuksdsva pipyusim isam (8. 13. 25) ; isam jaritre nadyd nd 
pipeh (Indra, 4. 16. 21 ; cf . 6. 35. 4) ; of Maruts, dhuksdnta pip- 
yusim isam, 'milk out the rich sap' (8. 7. 3) . 6 

Indra in 1. 57. 6 shatters the 'great rock' when he lets out the 
waters, and in 6. 17. 5 he moves from its place the 'great rock 
which surrounds the cows.' In this parallel, not to speak of the 
neighboring 1. 56. 6, in which Indra rends apart the pdsya of 
Vrtra (which, pace Oldenberg, seems to be stone-work), the 
cows appear to be the waters for which men long to break open 
'the stall full of cows' (10. 74. 4; but cf. Oldenberg, ZDMG. 
55. 316 f.). At any rate, we have here an example of the inter- 
pretation of Indra as still a physical phenomenon operating with 
metaphorical cows as contrasted with a spiritual victor-god who, 
as in the 'cow-getting' of 10. 38. 1, is virtually a god of battles 
assisting a cow-raider (cf. gosuyudh) to carry off his neighbor's 
cattle. That 'cows' always are bossies in the Rig- Veda is impos- 
sible. In whatever way such remarks as that above concern- 
ing Indra 's activity in removing the rock round the cows may 
be interpreted, the cows are not domestic cattle, as they are when 
a real cow-stall is mentioned (1. 191. 4, etc.). In 5. 30. 4, for 
example, the cows found by Indra are not cattle and the rock 
he rends is probably the same rock as that above, or that of ib. 
45. 1. In the light of the constant statement that the dragon 
encompasses waters, how can the expression, 'I am Indra; I 
brought out cows from the dragon' (10. 48. 2) be set aside in 
favor of the literal interpretation? 

Through persistent weakening of the original meaning the 
translators of Vedic passages ignore some significant words in 
connection with Indra. The etymology of megha, 'cloud,' as 
water-giver is known to be from mih ('mingo' ; cf. mihe above). 
The verb in its later form mih is common enough, but in its older 
form, and thereby conserving its earlier meaning of letting out 
water, it is used only of the raining-down Maruts and of raining- 
down Indra (nimeghamana, 'day by day as thou pourest down 
rain thou assumest strength,' 8. 4. 10; of the Maruts, 2. 34. 
13, 'raining down with power'). The weaker root appears in 

6 In 2. 27. 14. f., following an invocation to Indra it is said: 'for him 
two worlds swell the rain from heaven . . both worlds he goes conquering.' 
On account of 5. 37. 4, it is doubtful what the original construction and 
reference may have been (Ludwig omits 'Indra'). 



Indra as God of Fertility. 253 

the standing sense of 'spending,' and so 'generous,' 'merci- 
ful,' and in this weaker sense applies to sundry gods. Again 
it is significant that the word mehdna, translated 'in a stream' 
and so 'abundantly,' may really be taken literally, 'with rain.' 
So 5. 38. 3, Indra 's powers (Maruts?) 'follow his wish with 
rain'; ib. 39. 1, 'give us the two hands full of that blessing 
which you bestow with rain' (i. e. in streams). The gift or 
blessing here can be no other blessing than that usually expected 
of Indra. In 8. 63. 12, the companions of Indra, the Eudras, 
are said to be present with rain, mehdna. Only in the danastuti 
of 8. 4. 21 is it probable that the weaker sense, 'abundantly,' 
is to be accepted. Indra is mehdndvat in 3. 49. 3, 'der reichlich 
regen stromende,' as Ludwig rightly translates (PW. 'reichlich 
spendend ' ; 2. 24. 10, of Brhaspati, the priestly form of Indra) . 
It is at least curious that, if the word is rightly rendered only 
in its secondary sense of 'giving freely,' it should be confined, 
among all the freely giving gods, to Indra and his associates. 

A word here also regarding another derivative of this root, 
mih, 'rain' or 'mist.' "When the Maruts in 8. 7. 4-5, are said to 
make the mountain and the rivers bow to their power, they 'cast 
rain and make the hills totter,' vdpanti Maruto miham, prd 
vepayanti pdrvatdn. When Indra attacks his foe he is said to 
'cast forth dark mihah and darkness' (10. 73. 5). Veiled in mih 
Indra attacks Vrtra (2. 30. 3). The same use occurs in 1. 79. 2, 
pdtanti mihah, perhaps 'rains fall, clouds thunder' ('es fliegen 
die dunstmassen, ' Ludwig). The Maruts may make mist 
(miham krnvanti, 1. 38. 7 , 'windless' in this instance) . Sayana, 
probably correctly, interprets 'the child of mih, long and broad, 
the Maruts urge forth' as rain (1. 37. 11). The verb used here 
is that employed to indicate the urging or stirring forth of Indra 
himself when metaphorically called the 'treasure' and to indi- 
cate the activity of the Maruts in sending out the treasure of 
the sky, or rain (5. 53. 6; 83. 8 ; 10. 42. 2). The same phrase 
used of Indra 's activity, kosam acucyavit (8. 72. 8), especially 
as filled out with divdh, means that Indra has sent rain from the 
sky (poured out the treasure-pot). 

Indra 's 'fiery rain' (or mist) may be dangerous and so it 
is not strange when a hymnist begs to be kept safe from it (3. 
31. 20). Here we come to the explanation of what has puzzled 
the commentators, how Indra can be said to slay the serpentine 
(undulating) demon Arbuda with coolness, himena. The foes 



254 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

of Indra include not only the dragon or great snake Vrtra, but 
also Susna and Arbuda. The former is called a child of the 
mist, as Vrtra is veiled in mist as well as Indra (1. 32. 13 ; 5. 32. 
4) and as his regular epithet is asusa, 'devouring,' Susna is 
most reasonably interpreted (pace the euhemerists) as devour- 
ing drought. Another epithet, kuyava, 'bad harvest' (barley), 
the meaning of which is tolerably certain from its use in VS. 
18. 10 f., is an appellation of Susna or at times an independent 
personality. Indra 'tears the encircling well-knotted power 
of the drought-demon (Susna) from the sky' (divas pari, 1. 121. 
10), after the demon had left the people no food (caused a fam- 
ine) and so slays him, the great demon, Druh, as he is expressly 
called, or, as elsewhere stated, the 'not human' adversary (6. 
20. 4 f. ; cf. 4. 28. 2 and 10. 22. 7, 14), as Indra slays all who are 
born of him. Another passage says expressly that Indra 'made 
flow the springs restrained by the season through killing Susna, 
the child of mist' (5. 32. 2 f.). That Indra is said to have 
killed this demon for the sake of his devotee Kutsa Arjuneya 
is on a par with the fact that he slays the eclipse-demon for the 
sake of his devotee Atri. Susna 's 'fortress' is the same 'mov- 
able city,' puram carisnvam . . sdm pinak (8. 1. 28), which the 
later Hindus ascribe to the Gandharvas. In some passages 
Susna even exchanges with Vrtra. 7 There can be as little doubt 
in regard to the demoniac nature of one as of the other. What 
we learn from Susna is that Indra 's foe is not only the demon 
that restrains the water but also drought itself. Now drought 
or dryness (as susna is) is slain rather by rain than by light- 
ning. Lightning may pierce the cloud and split it, so that it 
disgorges water, but the water itself destroys the dryness, though 
the processes are not always distinguished. But the fact that 
what is cool and wet may be used or spoken of as a weapon is 
of importance because it explains how Indra 'wounds Arbuda 
with coolness' (8. 32. 26, himend 'vidhyad Arbudam). Hille- 
brandt's interpretation, 'in the winter,' is a desperate attempt 

7 Compare Hillebrandt, Ved. Myth. 3, p. 290. Kuyava as epithet of 
Susna may become a separate demon by a well-established mythological 
tendency. The human aspect given to Kuyava in 1. 104 is quite illusive. 
His two wives 'bathe in milk' while the devout mortal cannot even get 
water and is hungry. The mortal prays that the wives of the demon may 
be destroyed in the depth of his local river, that is, that Indra may send 
water enough to drown the demon crew. 



Indra as God of Fertility. 255 

to annul the absurdity of a sun-god killing with cold weather. 
But the use of himena elsewhere shows that it is not winter but 
coolness. The Asvins regularly employ this means to alleviate 
the extreme heat, gharmd, with which Atri was encompassed 
(e. g. 8. 73. 3). Consequently Indra may well be said to destroy 
with the coolness of the mist and darkness and rain (above) of 
his approach the serpent of drought and dryness. 8 

But we are not left to induction in regard to the Vedic view 
of Indra. One would think from the utterances of those who, 
like Gruppe, knowing the less of the subject, are the more for- 
ward in expressing their opinion, that it was actually open to 
question whether Indra to the Vedic poets themselves was a deity 
who gave rain. Even Bergaigne, who, despite his bias, knew 
his Rig- Veda, adjudges worthy of only a negligent note the 
important passage in 4. 26. 2, because forsooth not Indra but a 
poet is speaking (Bergaigne 2. 185). Yet here we have an 
impersonator who poses so palpably as Indra that all the rest 
of the description but echoes Vedic expressions: 'I gave the 
earth to the Aryan ; I (gave) rain to the devout mortal ; I fetched 
the sounding waters; the gods followed my will; with joy I 
split apart the nine and ninety forts of Sambara.' Very 
emphatic this ahdm, no other than I '(Indra) gave rain. Com- 
pare (above), Indra 'extends the rain abroad as from the sky,' 
vrstim prathaycm (8. 12. 6). 9 Indra is not, like Parjanya, per- 
sonified rain-cloud ; he gives rain, Parjanya is rain. The Maruts 
rain also, as servants or companions of Indra, or independently, 
themselves pouring down rain. He who is a general fertility- 
deemon gives rain as one of his functions. 

8 The undulations of intense heat actually appear visible in the air. 
Arbuda is arnavd, 'billowy.' Indra stamps on him and cuts off his head 
in other passages (arbuda — arbuda ; 1. 51. 6; 10. 67. 12). There is no 
one manner of slaying demons. Even Vrtra, who swallows the waters, is 
represented as swallowed by Indra, perhaps when the demon is 'asleep' 
(3. 45. 2; 4. 17. 1; 19. 3; 10. 111. 9). Vrtra like Indra is so huge that 
he embraces heaven and earth (8. 6. 16 f.). The foes of Indra use his 
own weapons occasionally (e. g. 1. 80. 12 f.). 

Sambara 's overthrow is invariably attributed to Indra, who slays him 
in the fortieth autumn in the mountains, as also Indra disperses Eauhina 
with his bolt as he climbs the sky and the mountains fear his power 
(2. 12. 11 f.), here as 'the bull of seven rays,' an epithet that has worked 
back to him from the 'lord of power' (4. 50. 4) conception, originally 
Agni 's. 



256 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

Indra is a growing god in the Rig- Veda. Belonging originally 
to the Kusika and Gotama clans, 10 he was rather reluctantly 
accepted by others, but chiefly as by the Bharadvajas as a bat- 
tle-god. He is not a giant of the mountains, as represented by 
some scholars, but a cosmic giant, whose greatness surpasses the 
sky-greatness of Varuna, the favorite inherited god of the 
Vasisthas. He not only encompasses Varuna as sky, but 
embraces earth and sky and stretches beyond (1. 61. 9; 6. 30. 
If.), the first crude conception of an all-god expressed material- 
istically as an all-embracing god, whose rule or will (as declared 
in the verse above) the gods follow, or, as said elsewhere, even 
Varuna and the sun follow (1. 101. 3). 11 The 'fist of Indra' 
is a term applied to a drum, obviously because its sound resembles 
Indra 's thunder, not because it indicates size. It is used to 
frighten away demons (6. 47. 30). 

In these different aspects of fertility Indra as giver of rain 
comes nearest to the Maruts and Parjanya ('like rainful Par- 
janya,' 8. 6. 1). He thunders, gives rain, casts the dragon from 
the air, sends a sharp and gleaming bolt to earth. His waters 
are heavenly, and as such they are seven, or nine and ninety 
streams, which are let loose not only for man's sake but for the 
gods (10. 104. 8). At the same time he indubitably lets out 
the streams of earth from the mountain, as no mere sun-god 
does. His relation to Soma is not merely that of the god drink- 
ing an intoxicant which rouses his strength. The Soma-drops 
pouring through the sieve are utilized by a kind of sympathetic 
magic to induce Indra to rain: 'Enter into thy friend (Indra), 
O Soma, and let rain come from the sky' (9. 8. 7). Indra and 
Soma are thus identified, 12 as (9. 5. 9) Indra is identified with 
the lord of progeny and the creative Tvastr, who like Indra cre- 
ates all things and gives children (2. 3. 9; 3. 55. 19). 

As giver of rain 'from the sky' Indra is united with Pusan, 
the god of fertility and general prosperity, who, like other Vedic 

10 1. 10. 11; 3. 30. 20; 42. 9; 50. 4; 4. 32. 9. Compare 10. 43. 6, 
(Indra) 'embraced one clan after another.' 

11 For Indra 's size compare e. g. 1. 52. 14. _ In 3. 32. 11 and 8. 4. 8 f., 
Indra is so great that he covers earth with one hip, perhaps thought of 
here as a god enveloping earth with rain, after his angry or raging form 
has passed: 'his gift no longer rages' (ma (land asya rosati) ; in the fol- 
lowing verse (10) he is nimeghamanah, 'raining down.' 

12 In 6. 39. 3 the poet gives Soma the credit for Indra 's acts. 



Indra as God of Fertility. 257 

gods, has been interpreted as sun and as moon with equal suc- 
cess. But a more intimate relationship than that of rain-giver 
(3. 57. 2) is revealed in that aspect of Indra which arrests the 
attention in the ritual and in the Rig-Veda alike. It will be 
remembered that in later literature Indra is the husband, pati, 
of the furrow, Sita, or of the fallow field, urvara-pati, and as 
such (as god of fertility) receives most of the homage of later 
times. But in the Rig- Veda also Indra is urvarapati (lord or 
husband of the fallow field). He wins tilth, is lord of tilth, as 
he is lord of cattle (2. 21. 1; 6. 20. 1; 8. 21. 3). And as such 
he is begged to 'sink the furrow,' as Pusan guides it (4. 57. 7). 
No other Vedic god is so intimately connected with this form 
of fertility. Indra is lord of plants and of grain as he lightens 
from the sky, didyuto divah, and extends the streams. He lets 
out the tender shoots; spreads blossoms over the fields; he 
bestows plants and trees (2. 13. 7; 3. 34. 10) ; he lets the trees 
grow (10. 138. 2). For this reason more than for his prowess 
against foes he is said to be the god who distributes 'enjoy- 
ments and growths'; he extracts 'dry sweet from wet'; he 
lays his treasure in the sun (compare the waters in the sun, 
1. 23. 17) and as master of life is called the only owner of all 
(2. 13. 6). The treasure laid in the sun must be the treasure of 
the sky, which, as shown above, is Indra 's rain. It is the idea 
familiar to the epic writers. Indra sends down rain ; it is drawn 
up by the sun and kept as a treasure in the sky from circa 
October till June and then Indra pours it down again for four 
months. It is the Maruts who 'bring the seed-corn' (5. 53. 13). 
According to 1. 52. 9, the 'man-helping Maruts' go with Indra, 
though they belong also to another fertilizer, Visnu (5. 87. 8; 
8. 20. 3), who is 'the guardian of the seed' (embryo, 7. 36. 9), 
and 'they give strength to beget.' 

Indra 's food, though eventually the Soma, which he drinks at 
first once a day, then thrice, as his power grows, was clearly 
in the first instance a more bucolic diet of grain. The com- 
pleted ritual pours him full of intoxicants, though even then 
he is 'like a granary (filled) with barley' (2. 14. 11) ; but the 
Soma, which he is expressly said to have stolen, is always mixed 
with milk or (and) barley, while occasionally his food is honey, 
the 'sweet of bees,' and milk (2. 22. 1; 3. 42. 7; 8. 4. 8). More- 
over, although the official explanation says that corn is pre- 
sented to him 'for his horses,' he himself (3. 35. 3) eats corn 



258 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

every day (1. 16. 2). As the companion of the Rbhus and 
Maruts, sdgano Marudbhih, and of Ptisan, the god of bucolic 
prosperity (fertility), whose laud is united with his own, Indra 
receives a kind of mush, as well as cakes and corn (3. 52. 
3; 4. 32. 16). 13 In 8. 91. 2 (like 3. 52. 1), a girl desiring 
maturity propitiates Indra with mush and corn-cake and drink. 
This mixture of corn probably preceded the Soma-drink of 
which Indra gradually assumed ownership, extending his share 
from the mid-day feast to the other two, till 'his became all 
Somas' (4. 17. 6; more insistently, 'thine are all the Somas, 
first and last,' 3. 36. 3). The corn-brew is Indra 's (3. 43. 4) 
and his only, except as his companions share. As god of fer- 
tility also he is the giver of food and of strength, a veritable 
'Bhaga for giving' (Val. 6. 5; 3. 36. 5; 3. 49. 3). He won 
the fields (above) and also won for himself the plants and 
trees (3. 34. 10), albeit as incidental to winning the 'heavenly 
waters' and earth and sky, the cow 'much nourishing,' an 
epithet used by implication of Indra himself (indrarn nava- 
mahe . . giriin nd purubhojasam, 'we praise Indra — like a 
much-nourishing hill, ' 8. 88. 2, that is, on account of its streams, 
ib. 49. 2). The 'nourishment' coming from Indra is revealed 
clearly enough, if playfully, in the punning ode, 3. 44. 3, where 
hari, 'yellow and green,' is applied to all Indra 's phenomena 
including heaven and earth, 14 and the god is said to go between 
heaven and earth and hold the nourishment of heaven and of 
earth. For earth also 'brings him much wealth, and the sky 
and the plants and the trees and waters guard wealth for him' 

13 In 8. 17. 12, akhandala, sacigu, sacipujana, saci, according to VS. 23. 8, 
would be groats (ef. pustigu, as name). Indra also eats oxen and buffa- 
loes (5. 29. 7; 8. 12. 8, etc.), not to speak of dogs and wolves (4. 18. 13; 
10. 73. 3; for 'many are the foods of the rite,' 4. 23. 8). Visnu is 
sent off like a servant and fetches to Indra, apparently as food, a boar 
and a cake and a hundred buffaloes (8. 77. 10). With Visnu Indra enjoys 
the barley-mixture (2. 22. 1; cf. 6. 17. 11; 8. 3. 7). Indra drinks also 
with Pusan and his wife (1. 82. 6) and is apparently identified with Pusan 
(8. 4. 15). He represents Varuna and Pusan (? 6. 24. 5): 'Indra per- 
forms this to-day and that to-morrow; he realizes the non-existent; he 
is here the overpower of hostile wishes, Mitra to us, Varuna, Pusan.' 

"Hence a certain resemblance of Indra and the Sun, both of whom are 
'yellow-haired.' So Indra 's yellow steeds arc, qua yellow, 'two banners of 
the sun' (2. 11. 6). 



Indra as God of Fertility. 259 

(3. 51. 5), so that he is entreated to shake down this saving 
wealth for the worshiper (3. 45. 4). He makes his worshiper 
wealthy because he is a god who, 'shattering, like Dyaus with 
the thunderbolt,' gives his gift of life-strength (4. 17. 13, 18), 
or, as expressed elsewhere, gives virility to him who roasts corn 
for the god as well as presses Soma or cooks for him (4. 24. 7 ; 
cf. 5). So repeatedly Indra is said to be the sole master of 
strength and as such is begged to give much sap, strength as 
food (4.32.7). 

But the varied benefits bestowed by Indra and the Maruts 
alike are not confined to rain. As we saw above, the Maruts are 
invoked with the prayer 'May we live long and prosper in chil- 
dren and posterity,' tokdm pusyema tanayam satdm himdh, (1. 
64. 14). So Indra is invoked (1. 100. 11 = 6. 44. 18; cf. 6. 18. 
6 and 19. 12) for 'children, cows, and water.' To these, as in 
the last passage, is added 'land,' or more particularly 'fallow 
fields' (cf. 6. 25. 4) ; since the Bharadvajas accept Indra more as 
a war-lord and their petition is extended to all that they desire, 
even including a place in the sun, as in 6. 31. 1, where the usual 
cows of this formula are replaced by 'sun.' 15 In sundry varia- 
tions the toke tanaye formula is usually employed in connec- 
tion with Indra, though not confined to him. But it is interest- 
ing to see that another rain-god, Varuna, is invoked for the 
same purpose, withal together with Indra, 'for children and 
fields' (and 'the sight of the sun,' 4. 41. 6) ; but especially does 
the hymn to them ask 'help to children' (toke tanaye, 7. 84. 5), 
Other gods who are asked for children are begged to send the 
impulse (Savitr, 4. 53. 7; 5. 82. 4) or to 'rouse' or 'impel' a 
man to the getting of fields and children (e. g. the Asvins, 1. 112. 
22; Brhaspati, 2. 23. 9) ; but the particular prayer for water, 
children, cows, and fields is addressed only to Indra or to Indra 's 
inspiring Soma (9. 91. 6) ; as the finding of cows, horses, plants, 
water, and trees is attributed to Indra alone (1. 103. 5; cf. 6. 
39. 5). 'Earth and water he got for man' (2. 20. 7) ; 'he won 
the field, the sun, the waters, ' when he slew the enemy with his 
arrow (1. 100. 18). 



15 The verse with its striking carsandyo vivacali is virtually repeated in 
6. 33. 2, with surasatau for sure. The temptation to read sure, for sure, 
is met, however, by 1. 104. 6, where Indra is begged for a 'share of water 
and sun' (ib. 7, 'give strength and life to us who are hungry'). 



260 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

In all this there is a mixture of the earlier and persistent ele- 
ment, Indra as god of fertility, and the secondary, Indra as Mars. 
He causes the production of children and he wins fields and wealth 
as victor in battle, the leader, path-maker, gopati, lord of cows, 
who even guards the cows from the missile, heti, of Rudra (6. 
21. 12, pathikrt; 6. 28. 3, 5, where the cows are even identified 
with Indra by a poet who says that his pecunia is his god). He 
guards from Rudra because he now governs the Rudriyas (iden- 
tified with the Maruts, 3. 32. 2; 35. 9) and they are 'like his 
own sons' (1. 100. 5). The thought is that when Indra lets 
out water he 'sends forth life and food' (as strength and sus- 
tenance, is) . He thus becomes lord of life and gradually sends, 
in his worshipers' opinion, not only sustenance but all good 
things. As contrasted with Agni, the latter is more the guardian 
of children and of cows (tokdsya tdnaye gdvdm, 1. 31. 12), fire 
as deterrent to demons, wild beasts, etc. But also, as heat, Agni, 
for obvious reasons, is said to set the embryo in all beings, vege- 
table and animal (10. 183. 3), while Indra grants 'the luck of 
progeny' (3. 30. 18) as a concomitant of his gift of food and 
virile power (8. 6. 23). Thus Indra and Varuna together are 
besought for 'progeny and prosperity' (Val. 11. 7). Yet of 
Indra also is it said, 'thou didst set the liquid in cows and 
plants' (10. 73. 9, pdyo gosv ddadhd osadhisu), the liquid being 
both milk and rain (sent by the Maruts, 5. 63. 5 ; cf. 4. 57. 5, 
ydd divi pay ah, 'sky-liquid,' rain). The fear of the poet is 
poverty. He cries to Agni, 'Deliver us not to poverty, nor to 
lack of heroes and cows,' invoking the Maruts, however, at the 
same time (3. 16. 5; cf. 2). Substantially the same prayer (7. 
1. 19) adds 'hunger' and 'poor clothes,' to explain the con- 
cept of dmati (poverty) ; while two other prayers to the same 
god entreat him to keep away poverty, oppression, and ill-will 
{dmati, durmati) and conjoin poverty on the part of the poet 
with 'curse' and evil (4. 11. 6; 8. 19. 26). Destruction and 
poverty, opposed to 'wealth,' are also deprecated in a prayer 
to the sacred tree (of sacrifice, 3. 8. 2) and in one to the press- 
stones (10. 76. 4), and the Adityas in general are besought (8. 
18. 11) to keep off 'the arrow, and poverty and hatred.' A 
prayer to Agni and Indra together begs the two gods to save 
from evil, the curse, and blame, and to give wealth of horses, 
cows, and gold (7. 94. 3, 9). Wealth of children, men, horses, 
and food is also besought of the Dawns (7. 75. 8) ; but these 



Indra as God of Fertility. 261 

sporadic prayers, in part offered by those not inclined to the 
Indra-cult, are few in comparison with the prayers offered to 
Indra to save from poverty, sometimes united with hunger (10. 
42. 10, 'may we escape poverty through cows and hunger 
through barley'; cf. 1. 53. 5, 'keep off poverty through cows 
and horse-hold, having food, is, Indra'). 16 'Be merciful, like 
a father, Indra, for poverty, nakedness, exhaustion oppress 
me,' cries another poet (10. 33. 2). How this poverty is to be 
relieved is explained in 5. 36. 3 : 'My mind fears poverty . . (5) 
may the sky, vrsa, increase thee, vrsanam; as such a vrsa, 
thou of ursa-power, O thou who holdest the bolt, hold us in the 
foray.' Here the virility of power interchanges with the more 
literal meaning. It is as fructifying power that Dyaus aids fruc- 
tifying Indra. The curse so often alluded to in connection with 
the god is the curse of poverty and hunger, from which Indra 
frees men and the gentle Asvins free a woman (10. 39. 6). Com- 
pare the allusion to the actual famine existing at the time the 
poet of 8. 66. 14 cries to Indra, 'Free us from this present pov- 
erty and hunger,' adding 'and (this) curse.' This is clearly 
the curse already referred to in 10. 104. 9, where Indra frees 
the water from the curse by letting out the streams (cf . 8. 89. 2) . 
In the hymn referred to above (8. 91. 5) Indra is begged to 
induce fertility in field and woman both ; he makes all things 
grow, even hair; he ripens the girl and makes the fallow field, 
urvdra, blossom forth. He extracts the swelling sap for the 
people; in him, in fact, 'is the life of the people' (8. 54. 7). 

Hence the festival of Indra (which appears to be a public 
rejoicing wherein even little children take part, and Indra him- 
self appears as a child) with the invocation, 'Sing, O ye chil- 
dren; let harp and lute and pingd sound loudly; ein' feste 
Burg ist unser Gott' (puram nd dhrsnv areata, 8. 69. 8; cf. 
8. 80. 7) "—this festival is probably that of a god of fertility, 
not that of a war-god. It certainly is not as a war-god but as 
a god of fertility that Indra is addressed by the worshiper in 
8. 78. 10: 'In hope of thee (Indra) I take in hand the sickle; 
with a handful of barley fill thou me. ' His associates, the Asvins, 

16 In 10. 43. 3, 'Indra is averse from poverty and hunger.' 
"So Indra is called 'a hill broad on all sides, lord of the sky' (8. 98. 4). 
He is represented as in the sky, in the seat of the gods, lord of the sky 
(8. 13. 2, 8) ; cf. padtim ydd divi (8. 13. 29). The Kanvas extol him thus 
especially (cf. his Tcsdyo divi, 8. 64. 4, and cf. 69. 7). 



362 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

'sow the barley and extract sap' (sustenance, 1. 117. 21). Again, 
they 'plough barley,' but this is 'the old barley in the sky' 
(8. 22. 6, purvydm divi ydvam). But it is Indra who 'gives 
the barley' (as well as cows and horses, 1. 16. 9 ; 53. 2, duro 
ydvasya vdsuna inds pdtih), as harvester. 

Not less important is the converse fact, that with the exception 
of Soma, who merely induces Indra to act, no other god is men- 
tioned as giving barley at all. Thus in 9. 69. 8 and 55. 1, Soma 
is begged to 'stream barley-barley' and give gold, horse, cow, 
barley, and heroes to the worshiper. On the other hand, Indra 
gives horse, cattle, and barley, or plenty of barley and cattle in 
four passages ; and nowhere else does any god do likewise. 18 

The generalized translation of virility as strength tends to 
shade down the aspect of Indra as giver of fertility to man. He 
is, so to speak, the seed-god in every respect, divo nd ydsya retaso 
dughanah pdnthasah . . marutvan indrah (1. 100. 1-3; viryena 
sdmokah, 6. 18. 7), the bull with bull-strength, whose paths 
exude, as it were, the seed of the sky. When he roused the sleep- 
ing dragon, wives and the birds (Maruts? so S.) rejoiced (1. 103. 
7). Indra, here explicitly as 'heavenly ruler,' divydh sdsali 
(cf. 6. 37. 2), is invoked to bestow 'all the brilliant virile powers 
of men' that the worshipers may rejoice with that mad rejoic- 
ing 'whereby we may be reckoned victorious in getting chil- 
dren' (6. 19. 6 f., 11; cf. 3. 47. 5). But despite the literal 
meaning of the words, it may be doubtful whether the bull- 
power is meant in just this sense. In other cases, however, there 
is hardly a doubt that Indra is appealed to as a productive beget- 
ting power. Thus in 3. 30. 18: 'Luck in children, Indra, be 
with us.' So in 5. 31. 2, Indra gives wives to those who have 
none. And in a following hymn, 5. 37. 3 : ' (May his car come) ; 



"'Barley and cattle' in 10. 42. 7 is repeated ib. 10, 'may we stifle our 
hunger with barley. ' The list 'horses, cows, and barley' (begged of Indra 
in 8. 93. 3) follows the order of 1. 53. 2, and may reflect the historical 
gradation of petition, as barley is not begged for at all in the family- 
books. Probably it follows cattle as object of petition, Indra 's spirit of 
fertility being employed first for live-stock, agriculture being more a hap- 
hazard matter. Whether ydva is really barley, or best translated more 
generally as corn, makes no great difference. It seems to be grain even 
in the word ydvasa, in which cows rejoice, and later it is unquestionably 
barley. When ydva is mentioned in the family-books it is only by way of 
a simile. It is a specific form of the general 'corn' already spoken of as 
alternative to barley in Indra 's corn-cake. 



Indra as God of Fertility. 263 

here a woman seeks a husband who wants to carry off a strong 
wife.' In 2. 16. 8, 'May we with thy good- will like bulls unite 
with our wives' is doubtful (perhaps, 'may we come to thy 
good- will, as bulls unite with their wives'). Indra is here the 
ever-youthful god 'without whom is nothing, in whom all virile 
power is collected' (ib. 1). It is apparently in the capacity of 
a virile bull that the poet speaks of Indra at 6. 28. 8 (upapdr- 
canam) : upa (prcyatam) rsabhasya retasy, upe 'ndra tdva 
virye (in 5, the cows appear as incorporate Bhaga and Indra; 
cf. AV. 9. 4. 23) ; the impregnating bull is a form of Indra. As 
such a god perhaps he is described as having a thousand testicles 
(6. 46. 3) when invoked as god of strength (cf. 10. 102. 4). Yet 
as the weaker or generalized meaning applies also to Agni (8. 
19. 32), it may so limit Indra also, even if originally intended in 
a more pregnant sense. Only Indra can make a barren cow give 
milk (4. 19. 7). 

There are various indications that Indra is a more intimate 
god than would be a war-god or general god of rain-giving and 
storm. He has a peculiar interest in the welfare of the children 
of unmarried girls, an interest more particular than that which 
gives him the Marutic reputation of healer. 19 He is the 'house- 
friend, ' damunas, but this title is applied to Savitr also as ener- 
gizing god, as well as to Agni, and presents him rather as friend 
because he 'let the shining waters flow' (3. 31. 16). 20 Yet in 
both capacities, as domestic aider and as particularly interested 
in girls not yet married he appears in the form of the 'little 
man' invoked by Apala, who chews Soma-plant and prepares 
grain for him that he may make her fruitful (8. 91). Indra is 
especially the god who wanders about ' in many forms, ' the well- 
known characteristic of all fertility-gods (6. 47. 18), and one 
shared by Agni and Eudra (puruvdrpas only of Indra, 10. 120. 
6), but only Indra makes use of it to further his love-affairs, as 
he alone of Vedic gods is tempted by a beautiful wife (3. 53. 6). 
This is the traditional interpretation of his form as a ram, and 



19 In 2. 15. 7, he finds the girls' offspring hidden away (4. 19. 9, etc.). 
As a healer of the lame and blind he appears in 2. 13. 11; 15. 7, etc., 
especially as healer of hurts, wrenches, etc., vihrutam, the same word as 
is used of the Maruts, 8. 1. 12, islcarta vihrutam punch; 8. 20. 26, of the 
Maruts, who bring all healing medicines from waters and mountains (25). 

M 'He stands in the houses' (10. 73. 10) appears to be said of Indra, 
who 'alone knows his origin' (also like the Maruts, 7. 56. 2). 



264 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

there is no reason to doubt that Indra's reputation as a gay 
Lothario was not established long before the Brahmanie explana- 
tion of his amours. His wife is the most lascivious of women, 
and he is a fit mate for her (10. 86). In the wedding verses it 
is he who gives many children (10. 85. 25, 45). The obscene 
allusion in 8. 1. 34 is fittingly added to an Indra hymn (cf. 8. 
2. 42). In SB. 3. 3. 4. 18, Indra is invoked as 'ram of Medhati- 
thi, wife of Vrsanasva, lover of Ahalya. ' Indra as ram is besung 
by the priests (1. 51. 1; 8. 97. 12) and comes to Medhyatithi as 
ram (8. 2. 40), while the Vrsanasva story is recognized in the 
same circle (1. 51. 13). Ahalya was wife of Kausika or Gaut- 
ama, the special worshiper of Indra, who is called Gautama (SB. 
ib. 19). She is explicable best as an anthropomorphized form 
like Sita, halya meaning the land fit for plowing and ahalya the 
as yet unplowed land. Compare dvi-halya = dvi-sltya. It is 
worth noting also that the later 'wonder-cow' is clearly the 
earth in the Eig-Veda (as was to be expected) and that she is a 
possession of Indra (7. 27. 4; cf. 10. 133. 7). Besides being a 
ram, Indra, who is usually a bull (e. g. 1. 55. 4; bull and lord 
in 1. 9. 4), is likened to a goat with its foot as he reaches goods 
to his worshiper with his long hook (8. 17. 10; 10. 134. 6). 
Food and children are his constant gifts (8. 6. 23 and above). 
Gold (4. 32. 19) and treasure-trove seem to be later additions 
to his store of gifts (8. 32. 9; 66. 4; 10. 48. 4). In the con- 
ception of him as a storm-god sharpening his weapon against the 
foe, Indra is also like a 'fearful wild beast of the mountain,' 
words employed as well to describe Visnu (1. 154. 2; 10. 180. 
2). 21 

21 The phrase uru Tcrdmista jivdse also is used of Indra as well as of 
Visnu (1. 155. 4; 8. 63. 9, 12). Apropos of the suggested derivation of 
Visnu from sanu, as if the word meant 'through the mountain ridges,' 
it should be remembered that visnu is a perfectly ordinary formation, like 
jisnu in RV., danksnu in VS., bhilsnu in AB., sthasnu in the epic, and sim- 
ilar formations, desnu, gisnu, common to all the literature. The accent 
is no more irregular than in Danu. These forms are not all accented alike, 
and a proper name is always apt to make a shift (arbudd, Arbuda). 
Like jesi jisno hitdm dhdnam (6. 45. 15) we may imagine a vSsi 
Visno more easily than the abnormal formation of vi with a quasi- 
objeet. The vi-tardm, vi-Tcram accompaniment is much more likely to have 
come from Vi-snu than vice versa. In any case, it is only Indra and never 
Visnu who climbs the ridges (1. 10. 2). On the other hand, Visnu is pecu- 
liarly the god of movement. Perhaps splendor is implicit, as in many 



Indra as God of Fertility. 265 

Yet the animals with which Indra is merely compared indicate 
only his strength or fury. Thus he is 'like an elephant' and 
'like a lion' in the same verse (4. 16. 14). Metaphorically 
he is a steed devouring people (2. 21. 3) and winning fields, 
urvardjit, as he wins everything else, visvajit, while at the same 
time he is the bull that does not yield and of unequaled wisdom 
(dsamastakavyah, 2. 21. 1-4). All these differ from the ani- 
mality expressed by his becoming a ram for the sake of a love- 
affair and by his being addressed directly as the ram, 'Sing to 
the ram' (1. 51. 1). Indra is hymned as bull or buffalo else- 
where without special allusion to the stream of life sent out by 
him (compare 1. 177, etc.). 22 

To Indra is ascribed the only general verdict on women's 
mind : asasydm mdnah; uto aha kmtum raghum (8. 33. 17), that 
is, according to Ludwig, women's 'sinn fiigt der zucht 
sich nicht, auch ihre einsicht its gering,' but, in the more 
courteous version of Grassmann, women's sense is 'untadelig' 
and she possesses 'riistige Thatigkeit'! It really means that a 
woman is a light-minded creature whose thoughts are not to be 
controlled, the passage being late and to be interpreted accord- 
ingly. The only significance it has here lies in its being attrib- 
uted to Indra at all, as a general proverb is attributed to the 
one who ought to have said it. In other words, Indra was 
already an expert in female lore. 

A relic of the gradual rise of Indra at the expense of other 
gods may be seen in the statement of 7. 21. 5-7, that phallic 
gods are not admitted to the rite of the Vasisthas and that 
former gods have yielded their power to the spiritual lordship 
of Indra. Many passages point to the same fact. Compare 6. 36. 

1, ' When thou didst take to thyself the spirit-power of the gods ' ; 

2. 16. 4, 'All have brought their power to him the revered, 
yajatd, as to one who is the bull' among gods; 4. 17. 1, 'Earth 
yielded her power (matriarchal?) to thee and Dyaus admitted 

words of swift motion (IF. 2. 43) ; but the radical idea is movement and 
the root vi or vi, meaning ' go, hasten, be active, ' is in accord with the con- 
ception of the god who is especially called ' swift ' and ' hastening, ' es&, etc. 
It is said of the Asvins that they go through the back of the hill (1. 117. 
16), but the only connection Visnu has with the sanu is to 'stand on the 
back of the hill' with Indra (1. 155. 1). 

"'When they say "he is born of a horse," I think it means that 
"he is born of strength" ' (10. 73. 10). 
18 JAOS 36 



266 E. Washburn Hopkins, 

it'; 4. 19. 2, 'As if weak with age (cf. 8. 45. 20) the gods suc- 
cumbed; thou hast become (bhuvah) the universal lord' ; 6. 22. 
9, 'Thou hast become (bhuvah) king of divine and earthly 
people.' As thus exalted Indra becomes pdtir divdh (10. 111. 
3, and above), lord of the sky; and the Vasisthas 'do not for- 
get to praise him as an Asura' (7. 22. 5). He even becomes 
the god of the thirty-four heavenly lights (10. 55. 3) or gods 
(he divides the sky, astronomically, 10. 138. 6), the all-maker, 
all-god (visvdkarmd visvddevah, 8. 98. 2), the universal father 
and mother (ib. 11), begetter of earth and sky (ib. 36. 4-5; 96. 
4-6). Such exaltation in no wise lessens the aspect presented 
above, any more than does the occasionally exclusive laudation 
of Indra as a war-god and victor. The Vedic Aryans do not 
all yield to him at once. The worshipers of Indra are ' blamed ' 
(1. 4. 5) ; they even 'endure the people's curse,' titiksante 
abhisastim jdndnam (3. 30. 1), but Indra 'satisfies even those 
that blame' him (8. 70. 10). The tvdnidas, 'they that blame 
thee,' are of the first importance in estimating the godship of 
Indra in the Rig- Veda. 23 It is only gradually that he becomes 
so great that even among the Vasisthas he is a 'savior from 
sin' as well as 'leader of the army' (7.20.1,5). His 'magic' 
becomes 'wisdom,' and he is extolled by Varuna as well as by 
Visnu and the bowing Maruts (8. 12. 29; 15. 9; 10. 113. 2). 
As supreme god Indra 'does not oppose the laws' of other gods 
(10. 48. 11) ; he even avenges the wrong done to Varuna (10. 
89. 8 f.). Yet this is he who shrinks neither from the vendetta 
waged by those he has wronged, nor from any crime, nd kilbi^ad 
isate (5. 34. 4). His every act becomes famous because he is 
now so great (8. 45. 32). As his two steeds become a hundred 
(8. 6. 42) and then a thousand (6. 47. 18), adorned with pea- 
cock-tails and white backs (3. 45. 1; 8. 1. 25), so has he himself 
been multiplied and magnified. 'Dyaus Asura bowed to great 
Indra, Earth also bowed, and all the gods placed him first' (1. 
131. 1). He is the 'young' god to whom other gods have yielded 
their strength ; but he is sivd, 'kind,' to his worshiper, though a 
relentless victor and usurper (2. 20. 3 f.). As usurper Indra 

23 In 10. 48. 7 Indra himself asks, 'Why do (my) un-Indra enemies blame 
me?' The Maruts too are not without their scoffer (5. 42. 10; ef. 6. 52. 2). 
Visnu as 'friend' of Indra may also be blamed (10. 27. 6, Ludwig). In 
2. 23. 14 some blame Brhaspati (Indra). 



Indra as God of Fertility. 267 

is extolled; he is the great thief among the gods. It is he who 
stole (1. 131. 4) not only earth and water and Soma, but the 
dawns with the sun (2. 20. 5, mtisndnn usdsah). 'Being lord 
because of thy physical power thou hast stolen the sun's disk' 
(1. 175. 4; cf. 1. 11. 4, 'of unlimited power, the youthful wise 
one'). Thus truly the Visvamitras, one of his triumphant clans, 
may say of him that 'he is the only king of the whole world,' 
and the Kanvas cry, 'the gods have bowed themselves to thy 
friendship, O Marudgana' (3. 46. 2; 8. 89. 2; 8. 98. 3). 

On the whole, of former interpretations of Indra, that offered 
by Hillebrandt best agrees with what has here been unfolded. 
His idea is that Indra was originally the sun, but in the Big- 
Veda is no longer the sun-god, while not yet a rain-god. This, 
to be sure, leaves the Vedic Indra suspended like an epic sage 
in mid-air, so to speak, but it is a helpful explanation, and the 
only one that resolves, in a measure, the many elements of fer- 
tility; unless indeed one adopts the older attitude of Eoth and 
Perry and holds that as universal god Indra is explicable in any 
function, 24 which seems to me impossible, as Indra's gradual 
growth is unmistakable. Yet I cannot accept Indra as originally 
a sun-god when he slays Arbuda with cold (nor translate 
himena with Hillebrandt as 'in winter') and assumes (steals) 
solar powers and only in the latest hymns is 'like the sun' or 
is the sun. Nor can I see why a god of light should have become 
obnoxious to the treatment Indra received from Zoroaster or 
Zoroastrianism. If originally the sun, he should have become a 
favorite, not the third-worst devil. Vrtra too as winter cold 
opposes all tradition. If we imagine Indra first as a demon of 
fertility, his rise to chief war-god among two or three clans is 
on a par with similar development elsewhere, and his rise from 
war-god to greatest god of the larger group of clans is like 
that of most successful war-gods, for example those of Babylon 
and Assyria. Even his aspect as healer is consonant with his 
origin as here depicted. 25 Witness the healing qualities of the 
Food-spirit in Shintoism, now curer of ills as well as genius of 
fertility and food. 



24 Hillebrandt, Vedische Mythologie, 3. 251; Perry, JAOS. 11. 69. Olden- 
berg, Die Religion des Veda, p. 143, points out that Indra is a rain-god 
also in Pali literature. 

25 Health and water 'as medicine' are connected. See 5. 53. 14, where 
all three come from the Maruts. 



268 E. Washburn Hopkins, Indra as- God of Fertility. 

If the development of Mars, as some think, were certainly 
from a fertility-spirit, we should have in him a good parallel 
to Indra. Apollo, too, who begins as spirit of herds and flocks, 
is identified with the Earn (-god, Karneios), has his love-affairs 
with nymphs and shepherdesses, becomes identified with the sun, 
and then appears as a healer (he came to Rome first as Apollo 
Medicus), which seems to have been very nearly the career of 
Indra, though I should ascribe to the latter god a more general 
productivity than that evinced by Apollo's care for cattle. Per- 
haps, however, we are too prone to make specialists of the ancient 
clan-gods. Departmental spirits have their place, but the chief 
god of any clan has from the first more to attend to than have 
they. Juppiter et laeto descendet plurimus imbri, long after he 
becomes the national god, Stator, Victor, Invictus, Maximus, 
Optimus; not because he assumes universal guardianship and 
then inter alia sees to rain, but because, despite his later great- 
ness, he retains his primitive duty of caring for his clan in all 
ways.