Friday 13 January 2023

Bhogi Ponggal - The Worship of Lord Indra

Though the worship of Lord Indra is on the decline today, we should not discard his significance during the festival of Bhogi.

The ancient Tamiḻs venerated Lord Indra eminently, evidence by their Indra Viḻa during Poṅkal. Even today, you will find villagers in Tamiḻ Nāṭu worshiping Indra in the form of of Poṭṭu svāmi during Bhogi.

Image: Poṭṭu svāmi being worshiped in a 
Tamiḻ village.

Why Indra?

Bhogi comes from Bhoga, which means sensual pleasures - to experience something through the senses. Lord Indra is a very prominent deity in the Vedas. In a symbolical manner, He represents the power of mastery over the senses. This is very beautifully explained in the Taittirīya āraṇyakam of the Yajur Veda.

मयि मेधाम् मयि प्रजाम् मयीन्द्र इन्द्रियम् दधातु

mayi medhām mayi prajām mayīndra indriyam dadhātu


mayi= my
medhaam = power of retention / intelligence
prajaam = progeny ( in reference to DNA which will be passed in the form of progeny )
Indra = deity Indra
indriyam = of the senses ( indriya - sense organs )
dadhaatu = to provide and protect that which has been provided

In Bahasa Malaysia, the word for sensory functions is Indra.

Indra represents the aspect of the mind which perceives the world through the five senses. He is the prime towards enlightenment which is possible only if one goes beyond the clutches of the sensory pleasures.

Tiruvalluvar beautifully quotes in his Tirukkuṟaḷ:

ஐந்தவித்தான் ஆற்றல் அகல்விசும்பு ளார்கோமான்
இந்திரனே சாலுங் கரி

Aintavittāṉ āṟṟal akalvicumpu ḷārkōmāṉ
intiraṉē cāluṅ kari

Translation: The king of gods Indra the great, is the prime example for the power that one can acquire by conquering his senses.

This Bhogi, let us all strive to realise that we are beyond the body and mind. May Medha devi, in the form of Indra, help us gain mastery over our senses, which allows us to live as a king, like Lord Indra.

Video: Bhogi celebration in Penang, Malaysia 

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this article. May I ask why you spell Tamil as Tamizh?