Page:A history of Sanskrit literature (1900), Macdonell, Arthur Anthony.djvu/99

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specimen of the way in which the greatness of Indra is celebrated:—

Who made the widespread earth when quaking steadfast,
Who brought to rest the agitated mountains,
Who measured out air's intermediate spaces,
Who gave the sky support: he, men, is Indra.
Heaven and earth themselves bow down before him,
Before his might the very mountains tremble.
Who, known as Soma-drinker, armed with lightning,
Is wielder of the bolt: he, men, is Indra.

To the more advanced anthropomorphism of Indra's nature are due the occasional immoral traits which appear in his character. Thus he sometimes indulges in acts of capricious violence, such as the slaughter of his father or the destruction of the car of Dawn. He is especially addicted to soma, of which he is described as drinking enormous quantities to stimulate him in the performance of his warlike exploits. One entire hymn (x. 119) consists of a monologue in which Indra, inebriated with soma, boasts of his greatness and power. Though of little poetic merit, this piece has a special interest as being by far the earliest literary description of the mental effects, braggadocio in particular, produced by intoxication. In estimating the morality of Indra's excesses, it should not be forgotten that the exhilaration of soma partook of a religious character in the eyes of the Vedic poets.

Indra's name is found in the Avesta as that of a demon. His distinctive Vedic epithet, Vṛitrahan, also occurs there in the form of verethraghna, as a designation of the god of victory. Hence there was probably in the Indo-Iranian period a god approaching to the Vedic form of the Vṛitra-slaying and victorious Indra.