Indra ［因陀羅］ (; Indara): Also known as Shakra Devānām Indra or Shakra. The most prominent god in the Rigveda, the oldest Indian scripture. In Vedic mythology, Indra was the god of thunder and rain and the powerful god of war. Buddhism later adopted this god as its defender, and Buddhist scriptures refer to him as either Shakra or Indra. The Rigveda characterizes the god Indra as a great hero, and many of its hymns are addressed to him. He wields a weapon called a vajra fashioned by the artisan god Tvashtri. He fights a heroic battle against and slays a dragon demon named Vritra, or “The Enveloper,” because the demon envelops and withholds all the waters of the land, causing a severe drought.
In later Indian mythology, Indra’s status declined; a later version of the above story has him being initially defeated by Vritra and requiring the help of the gods Vishnu and Shiva to slay him. Other stories portray him as inferior to the gods Brahmā, Vishnu, and Shiva. Indra was also believed to be the guardian of the eastern quarter and to ride a white elephant named Airāvata. See also Shakra.