Though Indra is the king of gods, he is rather insecure. It is he who often rushes to petition to the mighty trio viz Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma whenever a human or an asura enters into a rigorous ‘tapas’ to seek divine gifts from the gods.
Indra’s weapon is the ‘Vajra’ much like his Norse counterpart, Thor. He also rides the white elephant known as the ‘Airavat’.
Kunti who had received the boon of having sons of gods by the chanting of a mantra, invites Indra and is blessed with a handsome boy who grows up to become the famous Arjuna, unparalleled in archery.
Arjuna was a good student and was tutored by Guru Drona along with the other princes which included the Kauravas. Arjuna’s prowess and Drona’s uninhibited appreciation of his skills earned Arjuna many rivals. But none of Arjuna’s rivals were as talented or as fierce as Karna. Karna’s skills on the battlefield were formidable and it made Arjuna’s allies especially, his father, Indra anxious for his son’s safety.
One day Indra approached Karna when he was paying obeisance to gods in the guise of a poor brahman and asked for a favor. Ever kind and eager to help, Karna offered the brahman any gift he chose to ask. Indra cleverly put forth his request for the divine armor of Karna and his ornament of the ears which Karna was born with and which made him invincible on the battle field. Without any hesitation, Karna immediately tore off the armor from his chest and plucked the earrings to give them away to the brahman. Perhaps he sensed the trickery in the brahman’s request, but Karna was known to keep up a promise made.
Indra’s guile and his schemes reinforced Arjuna’s ability to vanquish his rival, Karna on the battle field.
Gods are as fallible as humans when it comes to favoring their own, aren’t they?