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Vajra - The Tale Of A Sacrifice

Vajra – The Tale Of A Sacrifice

Stories of Hindu mythology are incomplete without wars. In these wars, Hindu deities used their most lethal weapons to attack their enemy. Those weapons were not just sharp blocks of metals. Made with sacred verses and magical elements, they carried great powers that could annihilate the enemy in a moment. One such weapon that comes to mind is Vajra. Lord of rain and thunder, Indra carries it.

Vajra is a type of club with a ribbed spherical head. The ribbed ends can be separated and used to stab the enemy with all sharp ends. Indra used this weapon in many battles. That’s why in Rigveda, Indra is called Vajrabhrit (bearing the Vajra) and Vajrin (armed with a Vajra). Let us see how this weapon came about.

Indra had a lot of enemies. Among them was an Asura named Vritra. Many ancient texts describe Vritra as a powerful Vedic serpent. While Indra brought rain, Vritra was a personification of drought. He used to keep the waters of earth captive.

Vritra had inherited the hate for Indra from his father, Tvastha. Indra had killed Tvastha’s son Trisiras. To avenge his son, Tvastha performed sacred rituals and created Vritra.

Since childhood, Vritra knew his goal was to finish Indra. Vitra tried to challenge Indra a couple of times. But to his disappointment, he never succeeded. Vritra performed severe austerities for years to gain a boon such that no weapon known to the world could kill him, and weapons made of metal or wood could never hurt him.

Powered with the boon, Vritra attacked Devaloka. Indra couldn’t hold off the demon for long. He ran away before Vritra could find him. Vitra thought that he had avenged his brother. He became blind with arrogance. To display his power, Vritra stopped the flow of water on earth. Innocent lives became scapegoats in Vritra’s cruel games.

Driven out of Devaloka, gods along with Indra went to Shiva for guidance. Shiva directed them to Vishnu. Vishnu revealed that a weapon made out of sage Dadhichi’s bones could stop Vritra. This was a tricky situation as once Indra had beheaded the sage. But he had no other alternative. Humbly, Indra approached Dadhichi with this request.

Dadhichi was ready to sacrifice his life for the greater good. In return, he asked for some time as he wanted to go on a journey to all the holy rivers. Indra knew this pilgrimage would cost him time and the lives of innocents. Indra wasn’t just a mortal. Using his godly powers, Indra summoned the water from all holy rivers to Narsimha forest, to Dadhichi. Indra fulfilled his wish.

Later, Dadhichi’s soul left his body. From his spine, the gods created an indestructible weapon. It had properties like a diamond and a thunderbolt. Even the gods were awed by their creation. They called it Vajrayudha. Indra held Vajra in his hand and vowed to reclaim Swarga (heavens) from Vritra.

Indra challenged Vritra for a battle. They were engaged in the war for almost a year. Indra, at last, used Vajra, making the deathly blow. Vritra’s protective shield broke. The weapon finished him off. Once again, Indra became the ruler of Devaloka.

There is another version of this tale in which Dadhichi was safeguarding sacred weapons from Asuras. As Dadhichi got tired of the job, he dissolved all the weaponry in the water. He later drank it. When the gods returned for weapons, Dadhichi told them that the weapons were a part of him now. Assessing the dire situation of the gods, Dadhichi sacrificed himself in flames. Brahma created a large number of weapons from his bones. One among them was Vajra.

India’s highest military decoration, Param Vir Chakra, has a symbol of Vajra. Dadhichi’s sacrifice is a motif for soldiers sacrificing their life for the country.

Click here to read about the Saptarishi – The Seven Sages.

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