When we read the epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, most of our attention is focused on the heroes and the villains. We never notice the characters that are not complete heroes. It is because they lie in that gray area between good and bad, and hence they are conflicted and hence do not come off as strong characters to us.
But these characters are the most we all can relate to, because we too lie in the gray area between good and bad, where we strive to do good by ourselves, pushing the bad thoughts aside.
One such relatively unknown characters is Indrajit. And if people do know him, they are unaware of how powerful, accomplished and loyal he was.
This is Indrajit’s story.
1. It began with Ravana’s quest for the perfect son
Ravana, as we know was immensely powerful, and like all egoistic people wanted the perfect son. He ordered the planets to be in the perfect constellation for an auspicious birth of his son. Ravana at the time had conquered everything there was to conquer.
The planets, fearing Ravana’s wrath obliged. Thus, his son was born at the most auspicious time, assuring him of a great life ahead.
2. Thus was born a boy whose cry made the sound of thunder
Ravana’s son was born of his wife Mandodari, and when the son was born, his cries sounded like thunder, and hence was named Meghanad (meaning thunderous in Sanskrit).
3. He was trained to become the most powerful warrior
Meghanad was taught by Shukra himself. Shukra was the guru of the Asuras, and had many famous disciples. Some of his famous students you may know are Pralhad, Bali and Bhishma.
Shukra taught him all the secrets of warfare, and Meghanad learned and mastered all the weapons and strategies. In addition to conventional warfare, Meghanad also mastered the art of sorcery and magic, which very few are able to master, even at that time.
4. He conquered the heavens defeating Indra
The Devas and Asuras have always fought against each other. During one of these wars, Ravana and Meghanad also took part in the battle. During the battle, Indra and Ravana got into a vicious duel in which Ravana is defeated and faints. Meghanad, enraged, engaged in a duel with Indra. He defeated him and tied him to his chariot and took him to Earth.
Brahma, feared that Meghanad might kill Indra, who is the king of the gods, and intervened. He asked Meghanad to release Indra in exchange of a boon.
5. And was given a boon by Brahma to be invincible in any battle – but with a condition
Meghanad asked for immortality against everything. Brahma said that immortality is not a boon for mortal people as it is against the laws of nature. Brahma however, granted him invincibility in battle. No one would be able to defeat him ever.
But at a condition – he will have to perform a yagna – to his local goddess Prathyangira – before he went to battle.
It was here that Brahma named him Indrajit (the one who defeated Indra).
6. During the battle of Ramayana, he almost wiped out the entire Vanara army single-handedly
Indrajit only entered the battle after Ravana was defeated and Kumbhakarna was killed. He also lost all his brothers and cousins too. He was invincible and the day he entered the battle, and he spread terror through the ranks of Rama’s army.
During the time he was on the battlefield, he completely obliterated his enemies and there was no stopping him.
7. He defeated Hanuman…
Hanuman, who was one of the strongest beings on Earth to ever live was defeated by Indrajit. Indrajit captured and defeated him by using the Brahmastra.
8. And Rama…
Rama, the avatar of Vishnu was defeated when Indrajit let loose one of his most powerful weapons – the Nagapash. The weapon unleashed a million snakes that wrapped themselves around the bodies of Rama and Laxmana.
They fell defeated and utterly exhausted and had to be saved by Garuda.
9. And Laxmana – twice!
After he had defeated Rama and Laxmana and failed, he fought very hard the next day to achieve victory. He employed all of his sorcery skills. This made it very hard for Rama and Laxmana to kill him because Indrajit would suddenly disappear from their vision and appear behind them.
Frustrated that he could not still defeat all of them, he unleashed the Brahmanda Astra – the most terrible weapon ever created.
The weapon knocked out Rama and Laxmana and the entire Vanara army unconscious.
This was the reason Hanuman had to go to the Himalayas to get the Sanjivani plant to revive everyone.
10. He demoralized the entire army Rama led with his expert knowledge of magic and sorcery
Indrajit was surprised the next day that Rama and Laxmana were still alive. If the Brahmastra didn’t work, what would? So he planned to demoralize the entire army.
He invoked an illusion of Sita so real, everyone believed it to be her. Then he killed the illusion in front of the entire Vanara army.
Rama collapsed at the news and so did the rest of the Vanara army.
11. But was then betrayed and Rama finally knew his secret of invincibility
Indrajit, realizing that he may not win it with his present abilities, decided to do his yagna and then enter the battle.
Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana was a good person, and believed that the abduction of Sita was not right at all. He gave up the secret of Indrajit’s invincibility to Rama and Laxmana. Hanuman, along with Laxmana interrupted his yagna.
One of the rules of doing that yagna was to not have weapons in the place of worship. Indrajit still managed to
escape Laxmana and Hanuman using pots and pans as weapons.
12. Undaunted he unleashes the most terrible weapons on Laxmana during their duel the next day
Enraged that Laxmana insulted his favorite deity and used treachery to interrupt his yagna, he vowed to kill Vibhishana. But Laxmana saved him. A terrible duel ensued where, in the end Indrajit unleashed the three most powerful weapons in all creation –
Brahmanda Astra, Pashupatastra, and Vaishnavastra.
None of these ultimate weapons even touch Laxmana.
13. Indrajit realizes that Rama is no ordinary human and pleads to his father to surrender and give Sita back
The Vaishnavastra – the weapon of Vishnu, circumnavigated Laxmana without harming him. Indrajit realized that Laxmana and Rama are no human beings and transported himself instantaneously in front of Ravana using his magical powers.
He pleaded to his father to give Sita back or face sure defeat.
14. Ravana laughs and humiliates Indrajit, calling him a coward
Ravana, drunk with power, refused to pay heed to his own son, just like he ignored Vibhishana. He called Indrajit a coward for running away from the battle. Indrajit is ashamed and with anger, he tells his father that it was because of his duty as a son he was still fighting.
However, he assured Ravana that he will not abandon his side, come what may.
15. Indrajit accepts his fate and walks to his own death knowing his fate is sealed.
Indrajit realized that his father will never surrender Sita. He also realized that Rama and Laxmana are much more than just humans. He walked into the battle with a finality, accepting his death at the hands of Laxmana. But he still fought valiantly.
But this time, Laxmana slayed Indrajit without compunction and it drew to an end the life of the most powerful warrior ever to walk on Earth.
Indrajit was the only person in the whole universe to hold the three ultimate weapons – Brahmanda Astra, Pashupatastra, and Vaishnavastra together.
He was also known as a Atimaharathi who is capable of engaging 12 Maharathis at the same time.
To put things into perspective – Arjuna, Karna, Rama, Laxmana, Krishna and Hanuman are Maharathis. He could have fought all of them at once and would have still defeated all of them.
He slew millions upon millions of Vanaras during the three days he fought, a feat of terror even Ravana and Kumbhakarana couldn’t achieve.
But in the end, he did realize who he was fighting against, and he did surrender to his fate but did not go down easily.
Although Ravana and Kumbhakarna were mighty in their own right, and deserve all the recognition they get, Indrajit has been relatively less known. And it is not fair because he was the most accomplished warrior in all history. No one came close to his might on the battlefield.
After all, it took a God to defeat him.
But he did redeem himself when he pleaded with his father to release Sita.
And he never left his father’s side and played the role of a religious son – literally to his own death.