King Indra Afflicted by Sinful Reaction
This chapter describes Indra’s fear at having killed a brāhmaṇa (Vṛtrāsura), and it also describes how he fled and was saved by the grace of Lord Viṣṇu.
When all the demigods requested Indra to kill Vṛtrāsura, he refused because Vṛtrāsura was a brāhmaṇa. The demigods, however, encouraged Indra not to fear killing him because Indra was protected by the Nārāyaṇa-kavaca, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, Lord Nārāyaṇa. Even by a glimpse of the chanting of Nārāyaṇa’s name, one becomes free from all the sinful reactions of killing a woman, a cow or a brāhmaṇa. The demigods advised Indra to perform an aśvamedha sacrifice, by which Nārāyaṇa would be pleased, for the performer of such a sacrifice is not implicated in sinful reactions even if he kills the entire universe.
Following this instruction from the demigods, King Indra fought Vṛtrāsura, but when Vṛtrāsura was killed, everyone was satisfied but King Indra, who knew Vṛtrāsura’s position. This is the nature of a great personality. Even if a great personality acquires some opulence, he is always ashamed and regretful if he acquires it illegally. Indra could understand that he was certainly entangled by sinful reactions for killing a brāhmaṇa. Indeed, he could see sinful reaction personified following him, and thus he fled here and there in fear, thinking of how to rid himself of his sins. He went to Mānasa-sarovara, and there, under the protection of the goddess of fortune, he meditated for one thousand years. During this time, Nahuṣa reigned over the heavenly planets as the representative of Indra. Unfortunately, however, he was attracted by the beauty of Indra’s wife, Śacīdevī, and because of his sinful desire he had to accept the body of a serpent in his next life. Indra later performed a great sacrifice with the help of exalted brāhmaṇas and saints. In this way he was released from the reactions of his sinful killing of a brāhmaṇa.
वृत्रे हते त्रयो लोका विना शक्रेण भूरिद ।
सपाला ह्यभवन् सद्यो विज्वरा निर्वृतेन्द्रिया: ॥ १ ॥
vṛtre hate trayo lokā
vinā śakreṇa bhūrida
sapālā hy abhavan sadyo
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; vṛtre hate — when Vṛtrāsura was killed; trayaḥ lokāḥ — the three planetary systems (upper, middle and lower); vinā — except; śakreṇa — Indra, who is also called Śakra; bhūri-da — O Mahārāja Parīkṣit, giver of great charity; sa-pālāḥ — with the rulers of the various planets; hi — indeed; abhavan — became; sadyaḥ — immediately; vijvarāḥ — without fear of death; nirvṛta — very much pleased; indriyāḥ — whose senses.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: O King Parīkṣit, who are so charitably disposed, when Vṛtrāsura was killed, all the presiding deities and everyone else in the three planetary systems was immediately pleased and free from trouble — everyone, that is, except Indra.
प्रतिजग्मु: स्वधिष्ण्यानि ब्रह्मेशेन्द्रादयस्तत: ॥ २ ॥
daityā devānugāḥ svayam
deva — demigods; ṛṣi — great saintly persons; pitṛ — the inhabitants of Pitṛloka; bhūtāni — and the other living entities; daityāḥ — demons; deva-anugāḥ — the inhabitants of other planets following the principles of the demigods; svayam — independently (without asking permission from Indra); pratijagmuḥ — returned; sva-dhiṣṇyāni — to their respective planets and homes; brahma — Lord Brahmā; īśa — Lord Śiva; indra-ādayaḥ — and the demigods headed by Indra; tataḥ — thereafter.
Thereafter, the demigods, the great saintly persons, the inhabitants of Pitṛloka and Bhūtaloka, the demons, the followers of the demigods, and also Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the demigods subordinate to Indra all returned to their respective homes. While departing, however, no one spoke to Indra.
In this connection Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura comments:
brahmeśendrādaya iti; indrasya sva-dhiṣṇya-gamanaṁ nopapadyate vṛtra-vadha-kṣaṇa eva brahma-hatyopadrava-prāpteḥ; tasmāt tata ity anena mānasa-sarovarād āgatya pravartitād aśvamedhāt parata iti vyākhyeyam.
Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the other demigods returned to their respective abodes, but Indra did not, for he was disturbed at having killed Vṛtrāsura, who was actually a brāhmaṇa. After killing Vṛtrāsura, Indra went to the Mānasa-sarovara Lake to become free from sinful reactions. When he left the lake, he performed an aśvamedha-yajña and then returned to his own abode.
इन्द्रस्यानिर्वृतेर्हेतुं श्रोतुमिच्छामि भो मुने ।
येनासन् सुखिनो देवा हरेर्दु:खं कुतोऽभवत् ॥ ३ ॥
śrotum icchāmi bho mune
yenāsan sukhino devā
harer duḥkhaṁ kuto ’bhavat
śrī-rājā uvāca — King Parīkṣit inquired; indrasya — of King Indra; anirvṛteḥ — of the moroseness; hetum — the reason; śrotum — to hear; icchāmi — I wish; bhoḥ — O my lord; mune — O great sage, Śukadeva Gosvāmī; yena — by which; āsan — were; sukhinaḥ — very happy; devāḥ — all the demigods; hareḥ — of Indra; duḥkham — moroseness; kutaḥ — from where; abhavat — was.
Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī: O great sage, what was the reason for Indra’s unhappiness? I wish to hear about this. When he killed Vṛtrāsura, all the demigods were extremely happy. Why, then, was Indra himself unhappy?
This, of course, is a very intelligent question. When a demon is killed, certainly all the demigods are happy. In this case, however, when all the demigods were happy because of Vṛtrāsura’s having been killed, Indra was unhappy. Why? It may be suggested that Indra was unhappy because he knew that he had killed a great devotee and brāhmaṇa. Vṛtrāsura outwardly appeared to be a demon, but inwardly he was a great devotee and therefore a great brāhmaṇa.
Herein it is clearly indicated that a person who is not at all demoniac, such as Prahlāda Mahārāja and Bali Mahārāja, may outwardly be a demon or be born in a family of demons. Therefore in terms of real culture one should not be considered a demigod or demon simply according to birth. In his dealings while fighting with Indra, Vṛtrāsura proved himself a great devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Furthermore, as soon as he finished fighting with Indra and was apparently killed, Vṛtrāsura was transferred to Vaikuṇṭhaloka to become an associate of Saṅkarṣaṇa. Indra knew this, and therefore he was morose at having killed such a demon, who was actually a Vaiṣṇava or brāhmaṇa.
A Vaiṣṇava is already a brāhmaṇa, although a brāhmaṇa may not be a Vaiṣṇava. The Padma Purāṇa says:
avaiṣṇavo gurur na syād
vaiṣṇavaḥ śva-paco guruḥ
One may be a brāhmaṇa in terms of his culture and family and may be expert in Vedic knowledge (mantra-tantra-viśāradaḥ), but if he is not a Vaiṣṇava, he cannot be a guru. This means that an expert brāhmaṇa may not be a Vaiṣṇava, but a Vaiṣṇava is already a brāhmaṇa. A millionaire may very easily possess hundreds and thousands of dollars, but a person with hundreds and thousands of dollars is not necessarily a millionaire. Vṛtrāsura was a perfect Vaiṣṇava, and therefore he was also a brāhmaṇa.
वृत्रविक्रमसंविग्ना: सर्वे देवा: सहर्षिभि: ।
तद्वधायार्थयन्निन्द्रं नैच्छद् भीतो बृहद्वधात् ॥ ४ ॥
sarve devāḥ saharṣibhiḥ
naicchad bhīto bṛhad-vadhāt
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; vṛtra — of Vṛtrāsura; vikrama — by the powerful activities; saṁvignāḥ — being full of anxieties; sarve — all; devāḥ — the demigods; saha ṛṣibhiḥ — with the great sages; tat-vadhāya — for the killing of him; ārthayan — requested; indram — Indra; na aicchat — declined; bhītaḥ — being afraid; bṛhat-vadhāt — due to killing a brāhmaṇa.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī answered: When all the great sages and demigods were disturbed by the extraordinary power of Vṛtrāsura, they had assembled to ask Indra to kill him. Indra, however, being afraid of killing a brāhmaṇa, declined their request.
स्त्रीभूद्रुमजलैरेनो विश्वरूपवधोद्भवम् ।
विभक्तमनुगृह्णद्भिर्वृत्रहत्यां क्व मार्ज्म्यहम् ॥ ५ ॥
vṛtra-hatyāṁ kva mārjmy aham
indraḥ uvāca — King Indra replied; strī — by women; bhū — the earth; druma — the trees; jalaiḥ — and water; enaḥ — this (sin); viśvarūpa — of Viśvarūpa; vadha — from the killing; udbhavam — produced; vibhaktam — divided; anugṛhṇadbhiḥ — showing their favor (to me); vṛtra-hatyām — the killing of Vṛtra; kva — how; mārjmi — shall become free from; aham — I.
King Indra replied: When I killed Viśvarūpa, I received extensive sinful reactions, but I was favored by the women, land, trees and water, and therefore I was able to divide the sin among them. But now if I kill Vṛtrāsura, another brāhmaṇa, how shall I free myself from the sinful reactions?
ऋषयस्तदुपाकर्ण्य महेन्द्रमिदमब्रुवन् ।
याजयिष्याम भद्रं ते हयमेधेन मा स्म भै: ॥ ६ ॥
ṛṣayas tad upākarṇya
mahendram idam abruvan
yājayiṣyāma bhadraṁ te
hayamedhena mā sma bhaiḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; ṛṣayaḥ — the great sages; tat — that; upākarṇya — hearing; mahā-indram — unto King Indra; idam — this; abruvan — spoke; yājayiṣyāmaḥ — we shall perform a great sacrifice; bhadram — good fortune; te — unto you; hayamedhena — by the horse sacrifice; mā sma bhaiḥ — do not be afraid.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Hearing this, the great sages replied to King Indra, “O King of heaven, all good fortune unto you. Do not fear. We shall perform an aśvamedha sacrifice to release you from any sin you may accrue by killing the brāhmaṇa.”
इष्ट्वा नारायणं देवं मोक्ष्यसेऽपि जगद्वधात् ॥ ७ ॥
iṣṭvā nārāyaṇaṁ devaṁ
mokṣyase ’pi jagad-vadhāt
hayamedhena — by the sacrifice known as aśvamedha; puruṣam — the Supreme Person; paramātmānam — the Supersoul; īśvaram — the supreme controller; iṣṭvā — worshiping; nārāyaṇam — Lord Nārāyaṇa; devam — the Supreme Lord; mokṣyase — you will be liberated; api — even; jagat-vadhāt — from the sin for killing the whole world.
The ṛṣis continued: O King Indra, by performing an aśvamedha sacrifice and thereby pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the Supersoul, Lord Nārāyaṇa, the supreme controller, one can be relieved even of the sinful reactions for killing the entire world, not to speak of killing a demon like Vṛtrāsura.
श्वाद: पुल्कसको वापि शुद्ध्येरन् यस्य कीर्तनात् ॥ ८ ॥
हत्वापि सब्रह्मचराचरं त्वं
न लिप्यसे किं खलनिग्रहेण ॥ ९ ॥
śvādaḥ pulkasako vāpi
śuddhyeran yasya kīrtanāt
śraddhānvito ’smābhir anuṣṭhitena
hatvāpi sabrahma-carācaraṁ tvaṁ
na lipyase kiṁ khala-nigraheṇa
brahma-hā — a person who has killed a brāhmaṇa; pitṛ-hā — a person who has killed his father; go-ghnaḥ — a person who has killed a cow; mātṛ-hā — a person who has killed his mother; ācārya-hā — a person who has killed his spiritual master; agha-vān — such a sinful person; śva-adaḥ — a dog-eater; pulkasakaḥ — a caṇḍāla, one who is less than a śūdra; vā — or; api — even; śuddhyeran — may be purified; yasya — of whom (Lord Nārāyaṇa); kīrtanāt — from chanting the holy name; tam — Him; aśvamedhena — by the aśvamedha sacrifice; mahā-makhena — the topmost of all sacrifices; śraddhā-anvitaḥ — endowed with faith; asmābhiḥ — by us; anuṣṭhitena — conducted or managed; hatvā — killing; api — even; sa-brahma-cara-acaram — all the living entities, including the brāhmaṇas; tvam — you; na — not; lipyase — are contaminated; kim — what then; khala-nigraheṇa — by killing one disturbing demon.
One who has killed a brāhmaṇa, one who has killed a cow or one who has killed his father, mother or spiritual master can be immediately freed from all sinful reactions simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Nārāyaṇa. Other sinful persons, such as dog-eaters and caṇḍālas, who are less than śūdras, can also be freed in this way. But you are a devotee, and we shall help you by performing the great horse sacrifice. If you please Lord Nārāyaṇa in that way, why should you be afraid? You will be freed even if you kill the entire universe, including the brāhmaṇas, not to speak of killing a disturbing demon like Vṛtrāsura.
It is said in the Bṛhad-viṣṇu Purāṇa:
tāvat kartuṁ na śaknoti
pātakaṁ pātakī naraḥ
Also, in the Prema-vivarta by Jagadānanda Paṇḍita it is said:
bahu janme sei pāpī karite nāraya
This means that by once chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can be freed from the reactions of more sins that he can even imagine performing. The holy name is so spiritually potent that simply by chanting the holy name one can be freed from the reactions to all sinful activities. What, then, is to be said of those who chant the holy name regularly or worship the Deity regularly? For such purified devotees, freedom from sinful reaction is certainly assured. This does not mean, however, that one should intentionally commit sinful acts and think himself free from the reactions because he is chanting the holy name. Such a mentality is a most abominable offense at the lotus feet of the holy name. Nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhiḥ: the Lord’s holy name certainly has the potency to neutralize all sinful activities, but if one repeatedly and intentionally commits sins while chanting the holy name, he is most condemned.
These verses name the performers of various sinful deeds. In the Manu-saṁhitā the following names are given. A son begotten by a brāhmaṇa and born from the womb of a śūdra mother is called a pāraśava or niṣāda, a hunter accustomed to stealing. A son begotten by a niṣāda in the womb of a śūdra woman is called a pukkasa. A child begotten by a kṣatriya in the womb of the daughter of a śūdra is called an ugra. A child begotten by a śūdra in the womb of the daughter of a kṣatriya is called a kṣattā. A child begotten by a kṣatriya in the womb of a lower-class woman is called a śvāda, or dog-eater. All such offspring are considered extremely sinful, but the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is so strong that all of them can be purified simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.
The Hare Kṛṣṇa movement offers everyone a chance to be purified, regardless of birth or family. As confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.4.18):
ābhīra-śumbhā yavanāḥ khasādayaḥ
ye ’nye ca pāpā yad-apāśrayāśrayāḥ
śudhyanti tasmai prabhaviṣṇave namaḥ
“Kirātas, Hūṇas, Āndhras, Pulindas, Pulkaśas, Ābhīras, Śumbhas, Yavanas, members of the Khasa races, and even others addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of devotees of the Lord, for He is the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.” Even such sinful persons can certainly all be purified if they chant the holy name of the Lord under the direction of a pure devotee.
Herein the sages encourage King Indra to kill Vṛtrāsura even at the risk of brahma-hatyā, the killing of a brāhmaṇa, and they guarantee to release him from sinful reactions by performing an aśvamedha-yajña. Such purposefully devised atonement, however, cannot relieve the performer of sinful acts. This will be seen from the following verse.
एवं सञ्चोदितो विप्रैर्मरुत्वानहनद्रिपुम् ।
ब्रह्महत्या हते तस्मिन्नाससाद वृषाकपिम् ॥ १० ॥
evaṁ sañcodito viprair
marutvān ahanad ripum
brahma-hatyā hate tasminn
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca — Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; evam — thus; sañcoditaḥ — being encouraged; vipraiḥ — by the brāhmaṇas; marutvān — Indra; ahanat — killed; ripum — his enemy, Vṛtrāsura; brahma-hatyā — the sinful reaction for killing a brāhmaṇa; hate — was killed; tasmin — when he (Vṛtrāsura); āsasāda — approached; vṛṣākapim — Indra, who is also named Vṛṣākapi.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Encouraged by the words of the sages, Indra killed Vṛtrāsura, and when he was killed the sinful reaction for killing a brāhmaṇa [brahma-hatyā] certainly took shelter of Indra.
After killing Vṛtrāsura, Indra could not surpass the brahma-hatyā, the sinful reactions for killing a brāhmaṇa. Formerly he had killed one brāhmaṇa, Viśvarūpa, out of circumstantial anger, but this time, following the advice of the sages, he killed another brāhmaṇa purposely. Therefore the sinful reaction was greater than before. Indra could not be relieved from the reaction simply by performing sacrifices for atonement. He had to undergo a severe series of sinful reactions, and when he was freed by such suffering, the brāhmaṇas allowed him to perform the horse sacrifice. The planned execution of sinful deeds on the strength of chanting the holy name of the Lord or undergoing prāyaścitta, atonement, cannot give relief to anyone, even to Indra or Nahuṣa. Nahuṣa was officiating for Indra while Indra, absent from heaven, was going here and there to gain release from his sinful reactions.
ह्रीमन्तं वाच्यतां प्राप्तं सुखयन्त्यपि नो गुणा: ॥ ११ ॥
nirvṛtir nāmum āviśat
hrīmantaṁ vācyatāṁ prāptaṁ
sukhayanty api no guṇāḥ
tayā — by that action; indraḥ — King Indra; sma — indeed; asahat — suffered; tāpam — misery; nirvṛtiḥ — happiness; na — not; amum — him; āviśat — entered; hrīmantam — one who is shameful; vācyatām — ill fame; prāptam — obtaining; sukhayanti — give pleasure; api — although; no — not; guṇāḥ — good qualifications like possessing opulence.
Following the advice of the demigods, Indra killed Vṛtrāsura, and he suffered because of this sinful killing. Although the other demigods were happy, he could not derive happiness from the killing of Vṛtrāsura. Indra’s other good qualities, such as tolerance and opulence, could not help him in his grief.
One cannot be happy by committing sinful acts, even if one is endowed with material opulence. Indra found this to be true. People began to blaspheme him, saying, “This person has killed a brāhmaṇa for the sake of enjoying heavenly material happiness.” Therefore in spite of being King of heaven and enjoying material opulence, Indra was always unhappy because of the accusations of the populace.
जरया वेपमानाङ्गीं यक्ष्मग्रस्तामसृक्पटाम् ॥ १२ ॥
विकीर्य पलितान् केशांस्तिष्ठ तिष्ठेति भाषिणीम् ।
मीनगन्ध्यसुगन्धेन कुर्वतीं मार्गदूषणम् ॥ १३ ॥
cāṇḍālīm iva rūpiṇīm
tiṣṭha tiṣṭheti bhāṣiṇīm
tām — the sinful reaction; dadarśa — he saw; anudhāvantīm — chasing; cāṇḍālīm — a woman of the lowest class; iva — like; rūpiṇīm — taking a form; jarayā — because of old age; vepamāna-aṅgīm — whose bodily limbs were trembling; yakṣma-grastām — infected with tuberculosis; asṛk-paṭām — whose clothes were covered with blood; vikīrya — scattering; palitān — grayed; keśān — hair; tiṣṭha tiṣṭha — wait, wait; iti — thus; bhāṣiṇīm — calling; mīna-gandhi — the smell of fish; asu — whose breath; gandhena — by the odor; kurvatīm — bringing about; mārga-dūṣaṇam — the pollution of the whole street.
Indra saw personified sinful reaction chasing him, appearing like a caṇḍāla woman, a woman of the lowest class. She seemed very old, and all the limbs of her body trembled. Because she was afflicted with tuberculosis, her body and garments were covered with blood. Breathing an unbearable fishy odor that polluted the entire street, she called to Indra, “Wait! Wait!”
When a person is afflicted with tuberculosis, he often vomits blood, which makes his garments bloody.
प्रागुदीचीं दिशं तूर्णं प्रविष्टो नृप मानसम् ॥ १४ ॥
prāg-udīcīṁ diśaṁ tūrṇaṁ
praviṣṭo nṛpa mānasam
nabhaḥ — to the sky; gataḥ — going; diśaḥ — to the directions; sarvāḥ — all; sahasra-akṣaḥ — Indra, who is endowed with one thousand eyes; viśāmpate — O King; prāk-udīcīm — to the northeast; diśam — direction; tūrṇam — very speedily; praviṣṭaḥ — entered; nṛpa — O King; mānasam — the lake known as Mānasa-sarovara.
O King, Indra first fled to the sky, but there also he saw the woman of personified sin chasing him. This witch followed him wherever he went. At last he very quickly went to the northeast and entered the Mānasa-sarovara Lake.
नलब्धभोगो यदिहाग्निदूत: ।
सञ्चिन्तयन् ब्रह्मवधाद्विमोक्षम् ॥ १५ ॥
alabdha-bhogo yad ihāgni-dūtaḥ
varṣāṇi sāhasram alakṣito ’ntaḥ
sañcintayan brahma-vadhād vimokṣam
saḥ — he (Indra); āvasat — lived; puṣkara-nāla-tantūn — in the network of the fibers of a lotus stem; alabdha-bhogaḥ — not getting any material comfort (practically starving for all material needs); yat — which; iha — here; agni-dūtaḥ — the fire-god messenger; varṣāṇi — celestial years; sāhasram — one thousand; alakṣitaḥ — invisible; antaḥ — within his heart; sañcintayan — always thinking of; brahma-vadhāt — from the killing of a brāhmaṇa; vimokṣam — liberation.
Always thinking of how he could be relieved from the sinful reaction for killing a brāhmaṇa, King Indra, invisible to everyone, lived in the lake for one thousand years in the subtle fibers of the stem of a lotus. The fire-god used to bring him his share of all yajñas, but because the fire-god was afraid to enter the water, Indra was practically starving.
र्नीतस्तिरश्चां गतिमिन्द्रपत्न्या ॥ १६ ॥
nītas tiraścāṁ gatim indra-patnyā
tāvat — for so long; triṇākam — the heavenly planet; nahuṣaḥ — Nahuṣa; śaśāsa — ruled; vidyā — by education; tapaḥ — austerities; yoga — mystic power; bala — and strength; anubhāvaḥ — being equipped; saḥ — he (Nahuṣa); sampat — of so much wealth; aiśvarya — and opulence; mada — by the madness; andha — blinded; buddhiḥ — his intelligence; nītaḥ — was brought; tiraścām — of a snake; gatim — to the destination; indra-patnyā — by Indra’s wife Śacīdevī.
As long as King Indra lived in the water, wrapped in the stem of the lotus, Nahuṣa was equipped with the ability to rule the heavenly kingdom, due to his knowledge, austerity and mystic power. Nahuṣa, however, blinded and maddened by power and opulence, made undesirable proposals to Indra’s wife with a desire to enjoy her. Thus Nahuṣa was cursed by a brāhmaṇa and later became a snake.
पापस्तु दिग्देवतया हतौजा-
स्तं नाभ्यभूदवितं विष्णुपत्न्या ॥ १७ ॥
pāpas tu digdevatayā hataujās
taṁ nābhyabhūd avitaṁ viṣṇu-patnyā
tataḥ — thereafter; gataḥ — gone; brahma — of the brāhmaṇas; girā — by the words; upahūtaḥ — being invited; ṛtambhara — on the Supreme Lord, who maintains truth; dhyāna — by meditation; nivārita — impeded; aghaḥ — whose sin; pāpaḥ — the sinful activity; tu — then; dik-devatayā — by the demigod Rudra; hata-ojāḥ — with all prowess diminished; tam — him (Indra); na abhyabhūt — could not overcome; avitam — being protected; viṣṇu-patnyā — by Lord Viṣṇu’s wife, the goddess of fortune.
Indra’s sins were diminished by the influence of Rudra, the demigod of all directions. Because Indra was protected by the goddess of fortune, Lord Viṣṇu’s wife, who resides in the lotus clusters of Mānasa-sarovara Lake, Indra’s sins could not affect him. Indra was ultimately relieved of all the reactions of his sinful deeds by strictly worshiping Lord Viṣṇu. Then he was called back to the heavenly planets by the brāhmaṇas and reinstated in his position.
यथावद्दीक्षञ्चक्रु: पुरुषाराधनेन ह ॥ १८ ॥
yathāvad dīkṣayāṁ cakruḥ
tam — him (Lord Indra); ca — and; brahma-ṛṣayaḥ — the great saints and brāhmaṇas; abhyetya — approaching; hayamedhena — with an aśvamedha sacrifice; bhārata — O King Parīkṣit; yathāvat — according to the rules and regulations; dīkṣayām cakruḥ — initiated; puruṣa-ārādhanena — which consists of worship of the Supreme Person, Hari; ha — indeed.
O King, when Lord Indra reached the heavenly planets, the saintly brāhmaṇas approached him and properly initiated him into a horse sacrifice [aśvamedha-yajña] meant to please the Supreme Lord.
अश्वमेधे महेन्द्रेण वितते ब्रह्मवादिभि: ॥ १९ ॥
स वै त्वाष्ट्रवधो भूयानपि पापचयो नृप ।
नीतस्तेनैव शून्याय नीहार इव भानुना ॥ २० ॥
api pāpa-cayo nṛpa
nītas tenaiva śūnyāya
nīhāra iva bhānunā
atha — therefore; ijyamāne — when worshiped; puruṣe — the Supreme Personality of Godhead; sarva — all; deva-maya-ātmani — the Supersoul and maintainer of the demigods; aśvamedhe — through the aśvamedha-yajña; mahā-indreṇa — by King Indra; vitate — being administered; brahma-vādibhiḥ — by the saints and brāhmaṇas expert in Vedic knowledge; saḥ — that; vai — indeed; tvāṣṭra-vadhaḥ — the killing of Vṛtrāsura, the son of Tvaṣṭā; bhūyāt — may be; api — although; pāpa-cayaḥ — mass of sin; nṛpa — O King; nītaḥ — was brought; tena — by that (the horse sacrifice); eva — certainly; śūnyāya — to nothing; nīhāraḥ — fog; iva — like; bhānunā — by the brilliant sun.
The horse sacrifice performed by the saintly brāhmaṇas relieved Indra of the reactions to all his sins because he worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead in that sacrifice. O King, although he had committed a gravely sinful act, it was nullified at once by that sacrifice, just as fog is vanquished by the brilliant sunrise.
वितायमानेन मरीचिमिश्रै: ।
इष्ट्वाधियज्ञं पुरुषं पुराण-
मिन्द्रो महानास विधूतपाप: ॥ २१ ॥
iṣṭvādhiyajñaṁ puruṣaṁ purāṇam
indro mahān āsa vidhūta-pāpaḥ
saḥ — he (Indra); vājimedhena — by the aśvamedha sacrifice; yathā — just as; uditena — described; vitāyamānena — being performed; marīci-miśraiḥ — by the priests, headed by Marīci; iṣṭvā — worshiping; adhiyajñam — the Supreme Supersoul; puruṣam purāṇam — the original Personality of Godhead; indraḥ — King Indra; mahān — worshipable; āsa — became; vidhūta-pāpaḥ — being cleansed of all sinful reactions.
King Indra was favored by Marīci and the other great sages. They performed the sacrifice just according to the rules and regulations, worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supersoul, the original person. Thus Indra regained his exalted position and was again honored by everyone.
mahendra-mokṣaṁ vijayaṁ marutvataḥ
śṛṇvanty atho parvaṇi parvaṇīndriyam
dhanyaṁ yaśasyaṁ nikhilāgha-mocanaṁ
ripuñjayaṁ svasty-ayanaṁ tathāyuṣam
idam — this; mahā-ākhyānam — great historical incident; aśeṣa-pāpmanām — of unlimited numbers of sinful acts; prakṣālanam — cleansing; tīrthapada-anukīrtanam — glorifying the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as Tīrthapada; bhakti — of devotional service; ucchrayam — in which there is an increase; bhakta-jana — the devotees; anuvarṇanam — describing; mahā-indra-mokṣam — the liberation of the King of heaven; vijayam — the victory; marutvataḥ — of King Indra; paṭheyuḥ — should read; ākhyānam — narration; idam — this; sadā — always; budhāḥ — learned scholars; śṛṇvanti — continue to hear; atho — as well; parvaṇi parvaṇi — on the occasion of great festivals; indriyam — which makes the senses sharp; dhanyam — brings wealth; yaśasyam — brings fame; nikhila — all; agha-mocanam — releasing from sins; ripum-jayam — makes one victorious over his enemies; svasti-ayanam — brings good fortune for all; tathā — so also; āyuṣam — longevity.
In this very great narrative there is glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, there are statements about the exaltedness of devotional service, there are descriptions of devotees like Indra and Vṛtrāsura, and there are statements about King Indra’s release from sinful life and about his victory in fighting the demons. By understanding this incident, one is relieved of all sinful reactions. Therefore the learned are always advised to read this narration. If one does so, one will become expert in the activities of the senses, his opulence will increase, and his reputation will become widespread. One will also be relieved of all sinful reactions, he will conquer all his enemies, and the duration of his life will increase. Because this narration is auspicious in all respects, learned scholars regularly hear and repeat it on every festival day.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Sixth Canto, Thirteenth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “King Indra Afflicted by Sinful Reaction.”