Irreligious Aspects Introduced By Indra Sri Maitreya Ṛṣi King Prithu initiated the performance of one hundred horse sacrifices at a place known as Brahmavarta, where the River Sarasvati flows towards the east. This piece of land was controlled by Svayambhuva Manu. When the most powerful Indra, the King of heaven, saw this, he considered the likelihood that King Prithu would exceed him in fruitive activities and take his position as King of heaven. Thus Indra could not bear to see the great sacrificial ceremonies performed by King Prithu. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Vishnu is present in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul. He is the proprietor of all planets and the enjoyer of the results of all sacrifices. Therefore He personally attended the sacrifices made by King Prithu. When Lord Vishnu appeared in the sacrificial arena, Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and all the chief predominating personalities of every planet, as well as their followers, came with Him. Seeing Him, the residents of Gandharvaloka and Apsaroloka and all the great sages, praised Him. The Lord was also accompanied by the residents of Siddhaloka and Vidyadhara-loka, the descendants of Diti, and the demons and Yaksas. He was also accompanied by His chief associates, headed by Sunanda and Nanda. Great devotees, who were always engaged in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as well as the great sages named Kapila, Narada and Dattatreya, and masters of mystic powers, headed by Sanaka Kumara, all attended the great sacrifice with Lord Vishnu. In that great sacrifice the entire land came to be like the milk-producing kāma-dhenu, and thus, by the performance of yajña, all daily necessities for life were supplied. The rivers supplied all kinds of tastes sweet, pungent, sour, etc.-and very big trees supplied fruit and honey in abundance. The cows, having eaten sufficient green grass, supplied profuse quantities of milk, curd, clarified butter and similar other necessities. King Prithu was presented with various gifts by the general populace and predominating deities of all planets. The oceans and seas were full of valuable jewels and pearls, and the hills were full of minerals and natural fertilizers. The four kinds of edibles grew profusely. King Prithu was dependent on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as adhokṣaja. King Prithu performed many sacrifices, and because of that, the Supreme Lord, His mercy empowered him to become like a super-human. King Prithu’s opulence, however, could not be tolerated by the King of heaven, Indra, who naturally tried to impede his progress. When Prithu Maharaja was performing the last horse sacrifice [aśvamedhayajña], King Indra, invisibly, stole the sacrificial horse. He did this because he was greatly jealous of King Prithu. When taking away the horse, King Indra dressed himself to appear as a holy person (sādhu). Actually this dress was a form of cheating, for it falsely created an impression of religion. When Indra escaped in this way, the great sage Atri saw him and understood everything of the whole situation. The son of King Prithu, being apprised by Atri of King Indra’s trick, was immediately spurred into action, and followed Indra to kill him, calling, Wait! Wait!; King Indra was fraudulently dressed as a sannyāsī, having knotted hair on his head and ashes smeared all over his body. Upon seeing such dress, the son of King Prithu thought Indra a holy renunciant (sannyāsī.) Therefore he did not shoot him with his arrows. When Atri Muni saw that the son of King Prithu did not kill Indra but returned deceived by him, the muni again instructed him to kill the corrupt heavenly King. He thought that Indra had become the lowliest of all demigods due to his impeding the execution of King Prithu’s sacrifice. Being thus informed, the grandson of King Vena immediately began to pursue the rapidly fleeing Indra. Greatly angry he pursued King Indra just as the king of the vultures chased Ravana, When Indra saw that the vigilant son of Prithu was chasing him, he immediately abandoned his false dress and let go of the horse. Indeed, he disappeared from that very spot, and the great hero, the son of Maharaja Prithu, returned the horse to his fathers sacrificial arena. When the great sages observed the wonderful prowess of the son of King Prithu, they all agreed to give him the name Vijitāśva. Later Indra, being the powerful King of heaven brought a dense darkness upon the sacrificial arena. Clouding everything in this way, he again abducted the sacrificial horse, which had been chained with golden shackles near the wooden sacrificial guillotine. The great sage Atri again pointed out to the son of King Prithu that Indra was fleeing through the sky. That hero, the son of Prithu, again chased him. However he saw that Indra was holding a staff with a skull at the top and was wearing the dress of a sannyāsī, and again chose not to punish him. When the great sage Atri re-apprised him, Vijitāśva, became very angry and placed an arrow on his bow. Upon seeing this, King Indra immediately abandoned the false dress of a sannyāsī and, giving up the horse, made himself invisible. Then the great hero, Vijitāśva, the son of King Prithu, again took the horse and returned to his father’s sacrificial arena. Since that time, certain men of lesser knowledge have adopted the dress of a false sannyāsī. It was King Indra who introduced this. Whatever different forms Indra assumed as a mendicant because of his desire to seize the horse were symbols of atheistic philosophy.
In this way, King Indra, in order to steal the horse from King Prithu’s sacrifice, adopted several orders of sannyāsa. Some sannyāsīs go naked, and sometimes they wear red garments and pass under the name of kāpālika. These are simply symbolic representations of their sinful activities. These so-called sannyāsīs are very much appreciated by sinful men because they are all godless atheists and very expert in putting forward arguments and reasons to support their case. We must know, however, that they are only passing as adherents of religion and are not so in fact. Unfortunately, bewildered persons accept them as religious, and being attracted to them, they spoil their life. Maharaja Prithu, who was celebrated as very powerful, immediately took up his bow and arrows and prepared to kill Indra himself, because Indra had introduced such irregular sannyāsa orders. When the priests and all the others saw Maharaja Prithu very angry and prepared to kill Indra, they requested him: “O great soul, do not kill him, for only sacrificial animals can be killed in a sacrifice. Such are the directions given by śāstra. Dear King, Indra’s powers are already reduced due to his attempt to impede the execution of your sacrifice. We shall call him by Vedic mantras which were never before used, and certainly he will come. Thus by the power of our mantra, we shall cast him into the fire because he is your enemy.” After giving the King this advice, the sacrificial priests, in a fire mood, began to summon Indra, the King of heaven, by mystic mantras. When they were just about to initiate that fierce sacrifice, Lord Brahma appeared there and forbade them to continue. Lord Brahma addressed them thus: My dear sacrificial performers, you cannot kill Indra, the King of heaven. That is not expected of persons such as yourselves. You should know that Indra is as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Indeed, he is one of the most powerful assistants of the Personality of Godhead. You are trying to satisfy all the demigods by the performance of this yajña, but you should know that all these demigods are but parts and parcels of Indra, the King of heaven. How, then, can you kill him in this great sacrifice? In order to make trouble and impede the performance of King Prithu’s great sacrifice, King Indra has adopted some means that in the future will destroy the clear path of religious life. I draw your attention to this fact. If you oppose him any further, he will further misuse his power and introduce many other irreligious systems. Let there be only ninety-nine sacrificial performances for Maharaja Prithu, Lord Brahma concluded. Lord Brahma then turned towards Maharaja Prithu and informed him that since he was thoroughly aware of the path of liberation, what was the use in performing more sacrifices? Let there be good fortune to both of you, for you and King Indra are both part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore you should not be angry with King Indra, who is nondifferent from you. My dear King, do not be agitated and anxious because your sacrifices have not been properly executed due to providential impediments. Kindly take my words with great respect. We should always remember that if something happens by providential arrangement, we should not be very sorry. The more we try to rectify such reversals, the more we enter into the darkest region of materialistic thought. Stop the performance of these sacrifices, for they have induced Indra to introduce so many irreligious aspects. You should know very well that even the demigods have many unwanted desires. Just see how Indra, the King of heaven, was creating a disturbance in the sacrifice by stealing the sacrificial horse. These sinful activities he has introduced will attract the minds of the people in general, who will imitate them. O King Prithu, son of Vena, you are the part-and- parcel, expansion of Lord Vishnu. Due to the mischievous activities of King Vena, religious principles were almost lost. At that opportune moment you descended as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Indeed, for the protection of religious principles you have appeared from the body of King Vena. O protector of the people in general, please consider the purpose of your being incarnated by Lord Vishnu. The irreligious principles created by Indra are but mothers of so many unwanted religions. Please therefore stop these imitations immediately. When King Prithu was thus advised by the supreme teacher, Lord Brahma, he abandoned his eagerness to perform yajñas and with great affection made peace with King Indra. After this, Prithu Maharaja took his bath, which is customarily taken after the performance of a yajña, and received the benedictions and due blessings of the demigods, who were very pleased by his glorious activities. With great respect, the original king, Prithu, offered all kinds of rewards to the brāhmaṇas present at the sacrifice. Since all these brāhmaṇas were very much satisfied, they gave their heartfelt blessings to the King. All the great sages and brāhmaṇas said: O mighty King, by your invitation, all classes of living entities have attended this assembly. They have come from Pitraloka and the heavenly planets, and great sages, as well as common men, have attended this meeting. Now all of them are very much satisfied by your dealings and your charity towards them.
—Srimad Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) » Canto 4: The Creation of the Fourth Order » Chapter 19. King Prithus One Hundred Horse Sacrifices » Verse:1 to 42.