Mada is an asura
of Hindu origin who appears in the massive epic The Mahabharata. He is summoned by a great sage named Chyavana to humble the Deva Indra
into providing the sacred Soma
of immortality to the divine twins Nasatya and Dasra, the two of whom are often referred to combined as the Ashvins. Mada's name means "intoxicator" and, according to the text, he was dispersed upon the earth into euphoric activities such as drinking
, and athletics
The Great Sage and the Divine Twins
A great sage, but very old, Chyavana was married to a woman named Sukanya who was his junior by a great margin. The divine Ashvin twins, who act as the physicians of the gods, saw Sukanya naked after she had bathed and wished to seduce her, arguing that someone so young and beautiful is wasting opportunity by being married to someone old like Chyavana. Loyal to her husband, she refused their offer.
Impressed by her devotion, the Ashvins offered to restore Chyavana's youth by their powers. The two divine physicians led the sage into a body of water, where they submerged him and made him young once more. Chyavana and Sukanya were then said to live out lives comparable to the gods'.
The Creation of Mada
In thanks to his two benefactors, Chyavana wished to give the Ashvins offerings of Soma--and thus the same immortality as the gods. When Indra, god of war and thunder, caught word of Chyavana's plan he became furious, interjecting that the Ashvins are not worthy of the Soma because of their positions as healers and because they wander around the Earth performing such tasks of servitude. Chyavana disagreed with Indra, arguing that because they are flawless of form and restored his own youth is precisely why they deserve to drink of the Soma.
Ignoring Indra's warnings, Chyavana began the offering ceremony to the Ashvins, spurring the god to hurl his Vajra (thunderbolt) at the sage, "which is superior to all the weapons that exist," says Indra. However, Chyavana calmly paralyzes Indra's throwing arm, preventing the Vajra from causing any destruction. Then reciting hymns, creating an altar of fire, and calling upon his ascetic powers, Chyavana invokes and creates a great demon to destroy Indra: Mada.
Almost immeasurably huge, Mada's two jaws were said to rest upon both Earth and the heavens, respectively. He had four great fangs, measuring up to 900 miles long each, and his arms measured up to 90,000 miles each. With an insatiable hunger, Mada licked his lips as he approached Indra, with full intent on consuming the god.
With Mada's shrieks and wails resounding, the world and heaven feared the demon's power and the possibility that he could swallow the entire universe. Admitting that he was paralyzed and powerless to stop Mada, Indra relents to Chyavana's wishes and allows the Ashvins to consume the Soma. Thoroughly made victim of his own hubris, Indra lavishes extravagant praise upon Chyavana, promising to spread his fame far and wide. Mada, the intoxicator, is then disseminated by Chyavana into alcohol, physical pleasure, sports, and gambling, signifying why and how such activities are at once addictive to humans and can cause irrational behavior.