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Indra riding his elephant mount, Airavata.

Indra (P. Inda; T. dbang po དབང་པོ་; C. yintuoluo/di-shi 因陀羅/帝釋) refers to one of the principal gods or deities of the Vedic tradition, who is commonly regarded as the chief of all the deities in Indian popular religion.[1]. The full name for Indra is Śakro Devānām Indrah, which translates as "Shakra, king of the gods." Indra is the common abbreviation of this name.[1]

Indra is incoporated within Buddhist cosmology as the ruler of Trāyastriṃśa ("deva realm of the thirty-three"). In this context, Indra is commonly referred to as Śakra which means “Mighty One.”[2] This epithet often appears together with the title “King of Gods.”

In the Buddhist scriptures, he is also presented as a Dharma protector (dharmapāla), and is always shown as subservient to the Buddha.[1] For example, Indra is shown as worshipping the Buddha, holding an umbrella to protect the Buddha from the sun, or carrying an alms bowl for the Buddha.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Indra.
  2. The Tibetan translation for Śakra is "brgya sbyin" (pron. "Gyajin"), which means “Hundred Gifts,” because he is said to have attained his state by performing one hundred pujas.