The Humbling of Indra

Indra slew the dragon, Vritra, the giant titan that had been couching on the mountains in the limbless shape of a cloud serpent, holding the waters of heaven captive in its belly. The god flung his thunderbolt into the midst of the ungainly coils; the monster shattered like a stack of withered rushes. The waters burst free and streamed in ribbons across the land, to circulate once more through the body of the world.

This flood is the flood of life and belongs to all. It is the sap of field and forest, the blood coursing in the veins. The monster had appropriated the common benefit, massing his ambitious, selfish hulk between heaven and earth, but now was slain. The juices again were pouring. The titans (asuras) were retreating to the underworlds; the gods (devas) were returning to the summit of the central mountain of the earth, Mount Meru, there to reign from on high.

During the period of the supremacy of the dragon, the majestic mansions of the lofty city of the gods had cracked and crumbled. The first act of Indra was to rebuild them. All the divinities of the heavens were acclaiming him their savior. Greatly elated in his triumph and in. the knowledge of his strength, he summoned - Vishvakarman, the god of arts and crafts, and commanded him to erect such a palace as should befit the unequaled splendor of the king of the gods. The miraculous genius, Vishvakarrnan, succeeded in constructing in a single year a shining residence, marvelous with palaces and gardens,lakes and towers. But as the work progressed, the demands of lndra became even more exacting and his unfolding visions vaster. He required additional terraces and pavilions, more ponds, groves, and pleasure grounds. Whenever lndra arrived to appraise the work, he developed vision beyond vision of marvels remaining to be contrived. Presently,the divine craftsman, brought to despair, decided to seek succor from above. He would turn to the demiurgic creator, Brahma, the pristine embodiment of the Universal Spirit, who abides far above the troubled Olympian sphere of ambition, strife, and glory.

When Vishvakarman secretly resorted to the higher throne and presented his case, Brahma comforted the petitioner. You will soon be relieved of your burden, he said. Go home in peace. Then, while Vishvakarman was hurrying down again to the city of lndra, Brahma himself ascended to a still higher sphere; He came before Vishnu, the Supreme Being, of whom he himself, the Creator, was but an agent. In beatific silence Vishnu gave ear , and by a mere nod of the head let it be known that the request of Vishvakannan would be fulfilled.