So, I have made it no secret that I am a huge, huge Naruto Shippuden stan. Though, I’m mostly an Uchiha fangirl. And I loved the show, following it to the bitter end until we reached that point in the story: The Indra Ōtsutsuki and Asura Ōtsutsuki plot twist.
Welcome to Lore Analysis, a section where we break down illusive anime and manga lore for curious fans that might not be getting the full picture from Fandom Wikis alone. This can span certain events or integral parts of the story that weren’t fleshed out enough. It’s also a great excuse for me, the author, to rant about how my favorite anime was done dirty because Kishimoto, what the actual hell?
And today we will be taking a look at Indra and Asura who are, quite possibly, the second most important duo in the history of Naruto. Considering they are the ‘reason’ the infamous Naruto VS Sasuke rivalry exists. We’re talking reincarnation, baby!
So, who are Indra and Asura and how are they responsible for getting the ball rolling on everything that happens in the show, from the concept of Chakra to the Fourth Shinobi War? For that, we have to go way, way into the past. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Indra And Asura Ōtsutsuki: Sons Of The Sage Of Six Paths
Even newer fans are aware of the Sage Of Six Paths ability that Naruto gains during Shippuden. Well, the Sage was an actual figure in history whose real name was Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki, also known as the Father Of All Shinobi and the first Jinchūriki, housing the Ten-Tailed Demon. Who also happens to be his mother, Princess Kaguya. Who goes on to become the main antagonist in the Fourth Shinobi War? As I said, this goes places so buckle in.
After defeating Kaguya with his brother, Hamura, Hagoromo decides to remain on Earth and fathers two children. Indra is the first-born son, talented in every way possible but brash and dependent on his power to solve conflicts. The second son, Asura, is more of a late bloomer but more like his father in his calm demeanor, choosing to be of a more pacifist nature.
Indra was very gifted, even going on to invent the art of Ninjutsu. He was influenced early on by Black Zetsu through a traumatic event that awakened his Sharingan. This corrupted him into becoming a colder, more impulsive individual as time went by, fueled by the belief that power alone makes a ruler.
Asura was not like that. He didn’t show much promise when younger but proved himself to be a kind person. He grew up to be powerful in his own right, just not at the level that Indra was. Still, he adored his brother to bits.
When the time came to decide which brother would inherit Hagoromo’s legacy, they were sent on a quest to help a budding village through its issues. Where Indra used his force to help quell problems, Asura worked with the village people to find solutions together. Naturally, it should’ve been Indra who inherited the powers as his right as the first born, but Hagoromo ended up choosing Asura instead, deeming him the best messenger for peace.
And Indra was angry, thus the Curse Of Hatred was born.
Naruto Uzumaki And Sasuke Uchiha: Breaking The Cursed Cycle
Indra vowed to exact revenge upon Asura for ‘stealing’ his position, no matter how many reincarnations it took. Where Asura laid the path for the Senju and Uzumaki clans, Indra founded the Uchiha clan.
We only know two reincarnation cycles so far, the first one being Hashirama Senju and Madara Uchiha. Yeah, the founders of Konohagakure itself.
The second reincarnation that we know of is Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha. And you can see the echoes of the brothers’ stories in both characters and their lives. Sasuke was Indra, gifted but isolating and jaded. Naruto was Asura, underestimated but pragmatic and hopeful.
We are led to believe that every time the two get reincarnated, it always ends the same way. Thanks to the feud, it’s always a cycle of failed peace followed by destruction. It’s the nature of the Curse of Hatred. We saw this happen with Indra and Asura, and then we saw it in the fight between Madara and Hashirama. And, of course, then there is the dichotomy of Naruto and Sasuke.
Something changed with those two. Because they ended up breaking the cycle where one of the reincarnations dies at the hands of the other. Naruto succeeded in bringing Sasuke back to the light, working together without jealousy or bitter feelings by the end of it all.
The Reincarnation Twist: Why Didn’t It Land?
The moment that will always remain pivotal for me in the anime is when Naruto changes Neji Hyuuga forever. Naruto rejects destiny, saying he’ll make his own nindo, his own ninja way, free from outside influence.
So, this reincarnation bit? In my opinion, it went against Naruto’s very core. To be a Child Of Prophecy feels like it negates all the hard work Naruto put into becoming who he was. Sasuke and Naruto aren’t destined brothers, they had found a kindred spirit in one another through the way society had treated them.
They were supposed to be rivals, equals on their own merits. And yet, this late addition just muddled what made Naruto great in the first place. The story of rising above the circumstances your birth landed you in with a Will Of Fire became one of forced reincarnations and aliens, apparently.