Indra is the king of the cosmic gods. One time, pride entered into him because, while he was supreme in Heaven, he began to neglect Prakriti, who is Mother-Earth. Prakriti was so enraged that she cursed Indra. She said to him, ‘You will lose everything you have – your throne, your kingdom, everything. Even your Guru, Brihaspati, will curse you.’
When he was cursed by Prakriti, Indra was so sad and depressed. He was literally sunk in despair. Who should come to him then but his own Guru, Brihaspati, who is the Guru of all the cosmic gods. Because Indra was so depressed, he did not show any respect to his Guru; he did not even stand up.
Brihaspati became furious. He said, ‘How is it possible for you, of all the cosmic gods, not to show any respect to me? Do you not know who is standing here? It is your own Guru! I curse you! You will lose your kingdom, you will lose your throne, you will lose all your prosperity. Everything you have, you will lose. You will become a beggar.’
Prakriti’s curse and Brihaspati’s curse came true. Indra became an utter beggar. Then Brihaspati felt sorry for Indra and he modified his curse a little. He told Indra, ‘After 60,000 years I will restore your kingdom to you.’ So Indra prayed and meditated for 60,000 years and his kingdom was restored to him. Unfortunately, he discovered that his kingdom was not as beautiful as it had been previously. His palace needed remodelling and many other places needed construction. Indra was filled with sadness because his kingdom did not have its former perfection. So he employed the Heavenly architect, Vishwakarma, to do the needful.
Vishwakarma worked for many months. The months became years, but still Indra was not satisfied. He was always finding fault with Vishwakarma’s work. Every day Vishwakarma had to endure Indra’s scoldings and insults. In addition, Vishwakarma had no time for his other important work, so he was miserable.
One day Vishwakarma went to Vishnu and said, ‘O Vishnu, please save me, save me! Indra has appointed me to rebuild his kingdom. How hard I have been working to please him, but he is not satisfied with my work. He only scolds me and insults me.’
‘Let me see what I can do,’ answered Vishnu.
Vishnu took the form of a very striking young boy and came before Indra. ‘This kingdom is your kingdom?’ he asked.
‘Definitely it is my kingdom!’ said Indra. ‘Who else could have such a kingdom? This is my creation. Since it is beautiful, you are appreciating it.’
The young boy went on, ‘No other Indra has such a beautiful kingdom or such a splendid palace. Did you receive any help from anyone?’
‘Yes,’ said Indra. ‘I received some help from Vishwakarma, but it was next to nothing.’
‘No other Vishwakarma can be of help in re-modelling, no other,’ said the boy mysteriously.
‘What do you mean?’ cried Indra. ‘You said ‘no other Indra’ and ‘no other Vishwakarma.’ Does that mean there are more Indras and more Vishwakarmas?’
‘Yes, yes, there are others,’ stated the boy. Indra got furious. When he thought that there was more than one Indra, he lost all interest in his kingdom. He did not mind at all if there were other Vishwakarmas. But for Indra to tolerate more Indras was too much.
‘I no longer want this kingdom,’ said Indra in a sad voice. ‘Now what am I going to do?’
Vishnu once more took his own form as a cosmic god. He said to Indra, ‘Go and bathe in the river and you will be purified. After you have been purified, you will see that your kingdom, your palace and all your possessions are as beautiful and as perfect as they were before Prakriti cursed you.’
So Indra got back his kingdom and he was completely satisfied.
from The Earth-Illumination-Trumpets of Divinity’s Home (Stories from the Indian Scriptures: the Puranas)
by Sri Chinmoy