Naruto is a series with a lot of different concepts and ideas, and one that has generated much controversy has been the inclusion of the Otsutsuki. They are a species that hails from the moon and influenced the events of the shinobi world, with Kaguya being the final antagonist of the original series. This also added the element of reincarnation during the endgame part of the story.
In regards to the last part, it has been stated that Uchiha members like Sasuke and Madara are reincarnations of Indra, one of the Otsutsuki. Meanwhile, Hashirama Senju - the first Hokage - and Naruto Uzumaki, the protagonist of the series, are reincarnations of Asura, Indra’s younger brother.
This has led to a lot of fans wondering whether Indra has been inspired by Hindu mythology, which is going to be explained here.
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for the Naruto series.
Indra and his role in the world of Naruto
Indra is the son of Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki, also known as the Sage of the Six Paths, who is the creator of shinobi, as people in the Naruto world know it. However, once it was time for his father to hand over the position, he chose Asura, Indra’s younger brother, which caused a divide between the two young men - one that would go on for centuries.
The gist of it is that Indra and Asura would be fighting even after their respective deaths, reincarnated time and time again to be as close as brothers, but ultimately fighting one another. This is shown by reincarnating first into Madara Uchiha and Hashirama Senju, the leaders of the founding clans of the Leaf Village, and later on as Sasuke Uchiha and Naruto Uzumaki.
Therefore, this is a very spiritual concept that author Masashi Kishimoto threw in the eleventh hour of the series, which to a lot of fans caused problems with the structure of the story and the message it was trying to convey. However, what inspired Kishimoto to come up with Indra and Asura’s story and relationship? Well, as is usually the case with this author, it harkens back to mythology.
Hindu mythology in Naruto
One of the first and more notorious examples of Hindu mythology being connected to Indra is the name: Indra literally means “King of Gods” in Sanskrit, which is the language of Hinduism. This name could refer to the character’s obsession with his father’s role in the world and wanting to hold that position, which is of course one of the main plot points that he has, and the main reason for his conflict with Asura.
In Buddhist religions, it is also stated that the Gods are led by Indra and he moves forward to battle against the Asura - as both factions are in constant war. This obviously works with the constant battles between the Uchiha and the Senju over the years in Naruto, although it has to be said that Kishimoto reversed the roles for his story.
It is also worth pointing out that Indra is often associated with thunder, lightning, and storm, which are all connected to Sasuke Uchiha and the many different types of abilities that he uses, such as the Chidori or the Kirin, thus making another connection with the series. This has been a common trope of Kishimoto as he constantly takes inspiration from myths and history to come up with concepts and characters.
The concept of the Otsutsuki was a very controversial decision by Kishimoto, which is still debated even to this very day. However, regardless of what people think of this inclusion, the characters of Indra and Asura are another example of where the author tends to take inspiration from and how that has molded his series into something very rich and unique, constantly becoming greater and bigger in the process.