The German, who is on the brink of becoming only the fourth man in history to rack up four drivers' titles, set a fastest lap of one minute 24.119 seconds around the flowing Buddh International Circuit to finish over seven-tenths up on Mercedes' Nico Rosberg in second.
Rosberg's team-mate Lewis Hamilton took third on the grid, a tenth further back, while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who trails Vettel by 90 points but remains the only man who can deny him yet another drivers' title, will start back in eighth place.
"Yes guys, yes. We did what we had to. Great job. The car was fantastic," Vettel said over his car radio after sealing his seventh pole position of the campaign and 43rd of his career.
The top three set their best laps on the quicker soft-compound Pirelli tyres, with Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber choosing to sacrifice grid position with an eye on the race as he took fourth place on the medium tyre.
That Webber was just a tenth slower than Hamilton on a tyre generally regarded as being around a second a lap slower than the soft speaks volumes for the performance of the Red Bull around this circuit so far.
"So far it's a brilliant weekend. The car was amazing," Vettel, the only man to win the Indian Grand Prix since the event came onto the calendar in 2011, added in the post-qualifying press conference.
"The car's been very strong since Friday morning. Very strong on both compounds. It's a good result for the team with Mark sitting just behind those [Mercedes] guys."
Rosberg admitted he was working hard to extract the maximum from his car.
"I'm on a knife-edge. Completely pushing the limits," he said. "Until now it's worked and it seems like we're a step forward from where we were in recent races."
Hamilton added: "It's been a tough weekend. We've been pushing as hard as we can to get a good result this weekend. I was a little bit surprised to be where we are. Hopefully tomorrow we can stick together to stay ahead of the rest."
Like Webber, Alonso's eighth place was achieved on the slower medium compound, so the Spaniard may yet come into play at the head of the pack as Sunday's race unfolds.
McLaren duo Sergio Perez and Jenson Button were the only other shoot-out drivers to run the medium compound and will line up ninth and 10th respectively.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa will start fifth ahead of Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, with the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg seventh.
Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo missed out on the top-10 shoot-out by a tenth of a second and will line up alongside Force India's Paul Di Resta. The Briton's team-mate Adrian Sutil will start 13th ahead of the second Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne.
The Williams of Valtteri Bottas will start 15th, with the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez sharing the eighth row.
Lotus' Romain Grosjean was a surprise casualty in the first section of qualifying after his team elected to attempt to get through on a medium-tyre run to preserve their supply of the quicker soft.
The plan backfired, however, and the Frenchman, who stood on the podium in each of the last two races and had looked to have a quick car this weekend, missed the cut by four-tenths. Told about the result by his team, Grosjean simply replied: "No way."
Grosjean added to reporters: "We just missed the cut-off time, everyone went quicker than we thought. Today, for some reason, the medium were not quick enough. It's a decision we took together, we were confident we could do enough with them but we got it wrong."
Williams' Pastor Maldondo, whose lost wheel nut in practice on Friday cost his team a £51,000 fine, was another to bow out at the first hurdle, the Venezuelan qualifying ahead of only the usual gaggle of Marussias and Caterhams at the back of the pack.