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It is little wonder that Indra was the lord of all gods - he displayed the true characteristics of a perfect leader. It was his diligence and eye for detail that ensured that only the virtuous were given god-like status. Arrogance and impatience were soon corrected. But, most importantly, as a leader, Lord Indra strove to be worthy of his position. Though references of Indra occur in Hindu scriptures from Vedic times to the medieval age, there had been a gradual erosion in his importance. The Vedic Indra, wielder of the thunderbolt, was among the most important deities, but by the Puranic period, he had become almost a vassal of the Trimurti – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. In the Puranas, the heaven over which Indra ruled is referred to as Indraloka or Devloka, inhabited by the Devas, the secondary deities. His city is Amravati, his elephant the four-tusked Airavata, and his horse Uchchaishravas. Stories like the ones included in this collection, which depict Indra as a benign and noble deity, are rare. Most of the stories in the Puranas depict Indra as a deity jealous of mortals who perform tapas (austerities) or yajnas (fire sacrifices). This was because the position of Indra could be attained (according to Puranic lore) by anyone who performed a hundred Ashwamedha yajnas. All the stories in this collection are based on the Mahabharata. The one relating to Shibi is similar to that narrated about his father Ushinara in the Mahabharata.
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