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Indra and Vritra

For centuries the people of India sang a hymn about Indra and Vritra before the story was written down in about 1200 B.C. Water was so precious in those times that the god who controlled it was thought to be all-powerful.

Long ago, before the world was fully formed, Indra was the god of all warriors. He was also the god of nature and the bringer of rain. But he had one enemy, Vritra, a mighty, limbless dragon that crawled over the mountaintops and held all the waters of heaven in his belly. Indra had to destroy Vritra before the waters could flow upon Earth. Indra got ready to fight Vritra. He took the sun for his chariot and thunderbolts for his arrows. Then he charged on his enemy. But Vritra saw him coming and attacked first. Vritra was a ferocious opponent. For a while, Indra seemed to be losing the fight, as the huge serpent wound about him in suffocating coils.

Then Vritra made a big mistake. For one brief moment, he took his eyes off his victim, Indra saw his chance to win. Quick as a flash, he fired one of his thunderbolts. It struck Vritra in the heart and killed him. As he rolled, lifeless, down the mountainside, the great dragon burst apart, releasing the heavenly waters. Rivers gushed and tumbled down to make the sea. Indra's sun chariot rose in the sky, and the first dawn broke over a new world.

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