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The Untold Story of Asuras

prasad1

Well-known member
Our earliest sensitivity of good and bad dates back to the childhood tales of the god and the demon. There have been as many descriptions of the devil as are for the god. The most righteous description I find is that god resides in our good deeds while the demon does in our bad.
We by now have been too familiar with the saying,
“An ideal mind is a devil’s workshop.”
The early civilizations maintained a fascinating relationship between the good and the bad. So, this dual was nature apparent in Hindu scriptures that were composed around 5000 BC and are evident in the Hindu traditions even today. On a small scale they form the expression of Hinduism as a whole.
The various situations and emotions that we as humans experience have been valuably represented through a collection of folk lore depicting this dual nature of good and bad in an interesting mix.
Mahishasura Statue - Chamundi Hills Mysore
The Mahishasura Statue in Chamundi Hills

The stories we heard, have not always classified good and bad based on the physical stature, rather focused on their actions. While the greatest of the kings and sometimes gods themselves have been associated with greed for power and strength that have wronged them, the cruelest of the demons many a times have also been portrayed as the hero of the story because of their little acts of kindness.

We have been cautioned that all that shines is not gold, but were left to realize for ourselves that all that is dark isn’t just coal. It still has the brilliance of a diamond.

The earliest picture of the demon is the Asura. Asuras were perceived as the lesser beings of the dark or underworld, who were in constant battle with the Devas or gods, yet were closely related to them.
The Puranas paint the kinship of the Asuras and Devas. According to which Kashyapa, who married the 13 daughters of Prajapati is the father to all beings on earth including Devas, Asuras, Manavas or humans and the entire animal world.
Asuras being older are recalled as the primal gods of ancient times and the predecessors of the Devas.
An engaging story validates the above theory. The early Vedic texts heavily drew from the Aryans, originally the immigrants from central Asia who were worshippers of fire for its natural valour and named their god as the Ahura Mazda which later branched out as Asura and naturally found its way to India through the Persians. Even in our scriptures the god of fire or Agni was originally an Asura who later switched sides with to the Devas. The word “Assur” also represented the Assyrian nation and his worshippers, who were cruel with their treatment of the enemy. A hatred is thus known to have existed between the Indo-Aryans and the Persians. While cruelties were called off by the Persians later on, the Aryan family that migrated into India brought with them very bitter feelings towards Assur and thus the term Asura, which at one time was considered an appealing label for the Supreme Being, became descriptive only of those who were the enemies of the gods.

The word that was originally derived from asu, meaning breath through the means of a spirit, or “the Great Spirit” now is explained to be simply a contradictory of sura or god, meaning a non-god and therefore a demon.
The earliest of the Hindu scriptures speaks of the virtues of the Asuras, who were just good and equally powerful as the Devas, themselves and also mention of their potential to create wonders, including life itself. In the Rig Veda, the asuras were said to preside over moral and social phenomena and the Suras presided over natural phenomena. However, by the time the Brahmana texts were written, the character of the Asuras had become negative.
The Satapatha Brahmana cites that “the gods and asuras, both descendants of Prajapati, obtained their father’s inheritance, truth and falsehood. The gods, abandoning falsehood, adopted truth; the asuras, abandoning truth, adopted falsehood. Speaking truth exclusively, the gods became weaker, but in the end became prosperous; the asuras, speaking falsehood exclusively, became rich, but in the end succumbed.”

The later Vedic texts cite that the split was caused by the change in nature of the Asuras and hence a battle was raised to balance the two forces and create a harmonic peace reflective of us humans’ strive. In fact the name Asuras was in fact coined during this epic battle popularly referred to as churning of the sea, Samudra manthan, when they were rejected the Sura or wine of immortality, came to be known as the Asuras and for the same reason are in constant battle against the Suras or the Devas.

Alain Daniel says. “It is significant that it was not for their sins that the anti-gods had to be destroyed but because of their power, their virtue, their knowledge, which threatened that of the gods—that is, the gods of the Aryans.
Asuras and Slavery - Hindu Mythology

Scriptures were written depicting Asuras as evil – Photo of Asuras waging war
In order to explain the demonization of asuras, mythology was created to show that though the asuras were originally just, good, and virtuous, their nature had gradually changed. The asuras were depicted to have become proud, vain, to have stopped performing sacrifices, to violate sacred laws, not visit holy places, not cleanse themselves from sin, to be envious of Devas, torturous of living beings, creating confusion in everything and to challenge the Devas.”
He perceives a change in the political alignment and moral conceptions to be the cause of the division.
“With new political alignments and alliances, as well as with changes in moral conceptions and ritual, some of the gods changed side the teachings of the wise asuras came to be incorporated into those of the Vedic sages and often, more or less openly replaced by them.”
Ravana - One of the Most Powerful Asura King
Ravana – One of the Most Powerful Asura King
On the other hand the Asuras slowly acquainted with the aboriginal tribes or the other non Vedic populations of India, who were out casted by the Aryans as the worshippers of Demons. The allusions to the disastrous wars between the Asuras and the Suras, found everywhere in the Puranas and the epics, seem to include merely episodes of the struggle of the Aryan tribes against earlier inhabitants of India. The Asuras are often grouped with different Hindu tribes such as the Kalinga, the Magadha and the Nagas. There still exist the Naga tribes in Assam and the Asur are a primitive tribe of ironsmiths in central India.
The Asuras were never originally the bad guys. Their creation is a result of the loopholes in transmission of the scriptures. Good and bad exists only in the deeds of man and not their social, political or physical origin.

 
OP
OP
prasad1

prasad1

Well-known member
by Jayaram V
The ancient Indians and ancient Iranians had many in things in common. They worshipped many identical gods, spoke languages of common origin, performed rituals that had many things in common both in the method and manner in which they were performed and the purpose for which they were performed. Their religious beliefs and practices drew inspiration from similar sources. The ancient Iranians spoke Avestan which was a sister language of Sanskrit, spoken by the vedic Indians.

Both groups worshipped several gods and performed elaborate sacrificial rituals (yagnas or yasnas) at the end of which they feasted and drank an intoxicating drink called Soma in India or Haoma in Iran. The Iranians recited verses to invoke ancient gods just as the Indians performed rituals to invoke the deities of the heavenly region. Some of the deities they worshipped had similar names, such as Airyaman, apam Napat, Atharvan/Atar/Agni, Sraosa/Brihapsati, Mitra/Mithra, Vauy/Wayu, Tvastar/Thworeshter, Datar/dadar, Indra/Werethragna, Varuna/Rashnu. Usha/Usa, Yama/Yima, Vayu/Vay, and so on. Both groups believed in the existence of a three tier cosmos consisting of an upper heavenly region, a middle atmospheric region and the earth. Some of the terminology they used in the practice of rituals was also similar such as zaotar and hotar, athaurwan and atharvan, manthra and mantra, asha and arta and so on.

Incidentally, at some stage in their development, both groups parted their ways and developed differences. Some of the differences may be attributed to geography and some to the new political and social developments that took place in the respective regions. They also came into contact with new religions and new religious ideas of other traditions that came from across the borders through conquests or through traders, merchants, and immigrants or grew indigenously.


While the Vedic Indians interacted with the pre-Vedic traditions of India, dating back to the Indus period and even earlier, the ancient Iranian religion which was rooted in the Vedic beliefs, faced opposition from Zoroastrianism, which was gradually emerging in the region as the most organized and appealing religion of ancient Iran, backed by the support of some rulers and the teachings of Zoroaster who claimed he had direct communication with God and obtained the seal of approval to spread the new ideas. Zoroaster elevated Ahura Mazda as the highest God and introduced the element of monotheism in an otherwise polytheistic religion of ancient Iran. He introduced the practice of worshipping one God, (Madayasna), in contrast to the Vedic practice of worshipping multiple divinities (devayagna). He laid more emphasis on ethical living rather than on ritual purity and sacrificial ceremonies as the dominant theme of religious practice.

There was no place in his teachings for the old practice of sacrificial rituals involving animal and human sacrifices, which were deemed agonizing and cruel and antithetical to the revelations received by him. He brought into focus a dynamic universal God as a protector of the righteous and opposed to evil, in place of an enigmatic and passive God who remained in the background while the divinities battled with various dark forces and claimed divine authority to themselves. However he did not discard old religion entirely. He retained those ideas, divinities, practices and doctrines that fitted well in his new teachings and declared the rest to be antithetical to the new dogma. As a result most of the erstwhile devas, who were found to be in direct opposition to the principles represented by God, were categorized as demonic spirits and unworthy of honor and worship.


Zoroaster brought into focus the ethical dualism perceived in the entire creation as an ongoing conflict between the forces of good and evil, a conflict that was already perceived in the ancient religion but interpreted rather anecdotally. He shifted the focus of the religion from ritual purity to ethical purity and from individual divinities to a central God, who combined within Himself all the qualities represented by them as their lord, creator and sustainer. His teachings portrayed the conflict between good and evil beyond the known theological speculation, as an ethical battle of universal proportions between the creative forces of good led by God and the destructive forces of evil led by an anti-God principle. This ethical view of religion as the means to maintain the spiritual purity of not just men but the entire creation, resulted in the polarization of the classical deities into two groups, the followers of Truth (ashawan) and the followers of falsehood (drugwant), the former portrayed as benign and beneficial, representing the ideals to be cultivated by men; and the latter as evil, harmful and destructive forces, representing the dangers to which humanity might succumb if they were careless. What the ancient Iranians practiced was a tradition that was grounded in the history of their ancestors and their beliefs, without being inimical to new ideas. What the new prophet taught was an uncompromising new dogma that had elements of intolerance and rigidity, which was so characteristic of the new religions that descended upon earth a few centuries later in the Mediterranean and engulfed nation after nation obliterating all traces of ancient religions.

In the process of this social and religious churning in the ancient Iran, some well known popular divinities of the ancient world, like Indra, Natasya (Naonhaitya) and Rudra (Saurva) lost their status as recipients of ritual honors. The reasons are not difficult to find. All the gods, who lost their status as divinities in the new religion, possessed qualities and indulged in actions that could not be categorized strictly as pure and virtuous according to Zoroastrian values. From a purely ethical point of view, they had qualities with shades of gray, suggestive of contamination, which would disqualify them, in the new religion, as beings of pure light or forces of a just and righteous God. In a religion that rested on the foundation of uncompromising purity and an unambiguous approach towards good and evil, it was not possible to continue their worship and still convince the new converts about the importance of purity and righteousness. So all the popular divinities of the old tradition that seemingly possessed questionable qualities were pushed into the dark side and disqualified from receiving sacrificial offerings. Those who fitted into the new pantheon with their exemplary qualities, such as Mithra and Yama (Yima), continued to receive the honors as forces of light. In a move that smacked of religious intolerance, but for reasons understandable from a Zoroastrian perspective, Zoroaster declared that impure gods should not be worshipped and no sacrifices should be offered to them. He introduced new rules for the sacrificial rituals, prohibiting certain old methods and practices which were used to invoke them, such as the haoma rituals involving intoxicating drinks, which were pleasing to the daevas.

The Indo Iranian connection in a different perspective​

Subhash K. Kak, a noted Indologist, draws some parallels between the Indian and Iranian religions and presents the developments in Zoroastrianism in a new perspective. In his research paper entitled, "Vedic Elements in Ancient Iranian Religion," he provides a comprehensive list of deities present in both traditions who had identical names with some phonetic variations to present the view that both religions had many things in common. He then goes on to argue that the Vedic and the Zarathushtrian systems were much less different than was generally supposed and that the three way division of devas, asuras and daevas was not an entirely unknown classification to the Indian tradition as it was familiar to the inhabitants of Kashmir who had contacts with both. He believes that subsequently the Indian writers brought into focus the same dichotomy between the divine and evil forces in the Puranas, with Vishnu or Siva as a Supreme Being, acting as an adjudicator between the two, in a terminology that was familiar to the Indians. Before concluding that the even after the Zoroastrian reform, the basic system in ancient Iran remained unchanged, he makes the following observations.
"The list of common deities and concepts will make it clear that the Zoroastrian system is essentially the same as the Vedic one. The presence of Indra in the list of the daevas seems to mirror the relegation of Indra that started in the Puranic times where instead of connecting to Svar through the intermediate region of which Indra is lord, a direct worship of the Great Lord (Vishnu or Siva) was stressed. This innovation is not counter to the Vedic system since the triple division is a recursive order. The devas are a part of the good forces in the Zoroastrian system under the label of yazata (yajatra, the adored- ones).
"The Zoroasatrian mythology remembers the Vedic sages and heroes such as Kavi Susravah (Kay Khosrau), Kavi Usanas (Kay Us). The names Ksatra Virya (Shahriyar) and Suvarn ah (Khwarrah, Farrah) helped the logic of late Persian names. The daeva in modern Persian are known as deev.
"The commonality of the fire ritual is well known. Less known is the ritual of the nine-nights (barashnom i noshab) which is like the Indian ritual of the same name (navaratri). The No Roz occurs on the day of the spring equinox just as the festival of Indra."

Conclusion​

Due to the geographical proximity, there was a regular exchange of ideas and practices between India and Iran from the early vedic period till the Mughal period. As early as 1400 BC, the Hittites and the Mittanis were familiar with the Sanskrit names of many Indian gods. Their kings bore Sanskrit names. Like the ancient Iranians, they probably followed a religion that bore many resemblances with the vedic religion of ancient Indians. Afghanisthan and Baluchistan acted as the connecting link between the two regions. India was known to the Persians, in the Avestan, as Hapta Hindu (Sapta Sindhu), a land that existed beyond Kubha (Kabul), Kurmu (Kurrum) and Gomti (Gomal. King Darius ruled an empire which included parts of India. He employed an Indian army that was well equipped and fit to fight, with infantry, archers, cavalry and chariots. The Persians continued to hold their sway on parts of India till Darius III (300 BC). The invasion of Alexander contributed further to the cultural exchanges. The continued presence of Persians on the Indian soil led to the intermingling of ideas and practices. Indian goods were popular in Persia. So was the knowledge of metallurgy and other sciences, while elements of Persian architecture found their way into many monuments constructed curing the Mauryan rule. The Mauryan emperor Chandragupta employed women bodyguards of probably Persian origin and adapted the hair washing ceremony of the Persian kings. In the religious sphere a number of new developments took place in the Indian subcontinent. The vedic religion transformed itself into a complex religion incorporating the best of all the prevailing ideas of the time, challenged by Buddhism and Jainism and other rival traditions. In Persia the opposite happened. Zoroastrianism developed into an organized religion. Its strict adherence to the teachings of Zoroaster, intolerance of other religions and puritanical approach to religious practice, made any changes in its basic fabric impossible, till it met its own match in Islam several centuries later and was completely wiped out from Iran.

 

renuka

Well-known member
Our earliest sensitivity of good and bad dates back to the childhood tales of the god and the demon. There have been as many descriptions of the devil as are for the god. The most righteous description I find is that god resides in our good deeds while the demon does in our bad.
We by now have been too familiar with the saying,

The early civilizations maintained a fascinating relationship between the good and the bad. So, this dual was nature apparent in Hindu scriptures that were composed around 5000 BC and are evident in the Hindu traditions even today. On a small scale they form the expression of Hinduism as a whole.
The various situations and emotions that we as humans experience have been valuably represented through a collection of folk lore depicting this dual nature of good and bad in an interesting mix.
Mahishasura Statue - Chamundi Hills Mysore
The Mahishasura Statue in Chamundi Hills

The stories we heard, have not always classified good and bad based on the physical stature, rather focused on their actions. While the greatest of the kings and sometimes gods themselves have been associated with greed for power and strength that have wronged them, the cruelest of the demons many a times have also been portrayed as the hero of the story because of their little acts of kindness.

We have been cautioned that all that shines is not gold, but were left to realize for ourselves that all that is dark isn’t just coal. It still has the brilliance of a diamond.

The earliest picture of the demon is the Asura. Asuras were perceived as the lesser beings of the dark or underworld, who were in constant battle with the Devas or gods, yet were closely related to them.
The Puranas paint the kinship of the Asuras and Devas. According to which Kashyapa, who married the 13 daughters of Prajapati is the father to all beings on earth including Devas, Asuras, Manavas or humans and the entire animal world.
Asuras being older are recalled as the primal gods of ancient times and the predecessors of the Devas.
An engaging story validates the above theory. The early Vedic texts heavily drew from the Aryans, originally the immigrants from central Asia who were worshippers of fire for its natural valour and named their god as the Ahura Mazda which later branched out as Asura and naturally found its way to India through the Persians. Even in our scriptures the god of fire or Agni was originally an Asura who later switched sides with to the Devas. The word “Assur” also represented the Assyrian nation and his worshippers, who were cruel with their treatment of the enemy. A hatred is thus known to have existed between the Indo-Aryans and the Persians. While cruelties were called off by the Persians later on, the Aryan family that migrated into India brought with them very bitter feelings towards Assur and thus the term Asura, which at one time was considered an appealing label for the Supreme Being, became descriptive only of those who were the enemies of the gods.

The word that was originally derived from asu, meaning breath through the means of a spirit, or “the Great Spirit” now is explained to be simply a contradictory of sura or god, meaning a non-god and therefore a demon.
The earliest of the Hindu scriptures speaks of the virtues of the Asuras, who were just good and equally powerful as the Devas, themselves and also mention of their potential to create wonders, including life itself. In the Rig Veda, the asuras were said to preside over moral and social phenomena and the Suras presided over natural phenomena. However, by the time the Brahmana texts were written, the character of the Asuras had become negative.
The Satapatha Brahmana cites that “the gods and asuras, both descendants of Prajapati, obtained their father’s inheritance, truth and falsehood. The gods, abandoning falsehood, adopted truth; the asuras, abandoning truth, adopted falsehood. Speaking truth exclusively, the gods became weaker, but in the end became prosperous; the asuras, speaking falsehood exclusively, became rich, but in the end succumbed.”

The later Vedic texts cite that the split was caused by the change in nature of the Asuras and hence a battle was raised to balance the two forces and create a harmonic peace reflective of us humans’ strive. In fact the name Asuras was in fact coined during this epic battle popularly referred to as churning of the sea, Samudra manthan, when they were rejected the Sura or wine of immortality, came to be known as the Asuras and for the same reason are in constant battle against the Suras or the Devas.

Alain Daniel says. “It is significant that it was not for their sins that the anti-gods had to be destroyed but because of their power, their virtue, their knowledge, which threatened that of the gods—that is, the gods of the Aryans.
Asuras and Slavery - Hindu Mythology

Scriptures were written depicting Asuras as evil – Photo of Asuras waging war
In order to explain the demonization of asuras, mythology was created to show that though the asuras were originally just, good, and virtuous, their nature had gradually changed. The asuras were depicted to have become proud, vain, to have stopped performing sacrifices, to violate sacred laws, not visit holy places, not cleanse themselves from sin, to be envious of Devas, torturous of living beings, creating confusion in everything and to challenge the Devas.”
He perceives a change in the political alignment and moral conceptions to be the cause of the division.
“With new political alignments and alliances, as well as with changes in moral conceptions and ritual, some of the gods changed side the teachings of the wise asuras came to be incorporated into those of the Vedic sages and often, more or less openly replaced by them.”
Ravana - One of the Most Powerful Asura King
Ravana – One of the Most Powerful Asura King
On the other hand the Asuras slowly acquainted with the aboriginal tribes or the other non Vedic populations of India, who were out casted by the Aryans as the worshippers of Demons. The allusions to the disastrous wars between the Asuras and the Suras, found everywhere in the Puranas and the epics, seem to include merely episodes of the struggle of the Aryan tribes against earlier inhabitants of India. The Asuras are often grouped with different Hindu tribes such as the Kalinga, the Magadha and the Nagas. There still exist the Naga tribes in Assam and the Asur are a primitive tribe of ironsmiths in central India.
The Asuras were never originally the bad guys. Their creation is a result of the loopholes in transmission of the scriptures. Good and bad exists only in the deeds of man and not their social, political or physical origin.

Its all so confusing.
No idea of anything anymore.
I was reading about Lord Jaganath of Puri which according to some is a tribal deity of Odisha.
So really no idea what is true anymore.
But since everything is contained within Brahman, I guess it makes no difference what we think or worship.
 
OP
OP
prasad1

prasad1

Well-known member
Its all so confusing.
No idea of anything anymore.
I was reading about Lord Jaganath of Puri which according to some is a tribal deity of Odisha.
So really no idea what is true anymore.
But since everything is contained within Brahman, I guess it makes no difference what we think or worship.
Dr. Renukaji, you are in a different plane compared to us mere mortals.:cool::p
I too subscribe to the Advaita philosophy and believe everything is Brahman, in theory. But I am far far away from truly practicing.
So mostly what I post is from my perspective.
 

renuka

Well-known member
Dr. Renukaji, you are in a different plane compared to us mere mortals.:cool::p
I too subscribe to the Advaita philosophy and believe everything is Brahman, in theory. But I am far far away from truly practicing.
So mostly what I post is from my perspective.
Dear Prasad ji..
I am also mere mortal.
Just that its all confusing and I wish I actually knew where Hinduism really originated from.
Why does it have to always be Central Asia...anyways..
 
I a
Our earliest sensitivity of good and bad dates back to the childhood tales of the god and the demon. There have been as many descriptions of the devil as are for the god. The most righteous description I find is that god resides in our good deeds while the demon does in our bad.
We by now have been too familiar with the saying,

The early civilizations maintained a fascinating relationship between the good and the bad. So, this dual was nature apparent in Hindu scriptures that were composed around 5000 BC and are evident in the Hindu traditions even today. On a small scale they form the expression of Hinduism as a whole.
The various situations and emotions that we as humans experience have been valuably represented through a collection of folk lore depicting this dual nature of good and bad in an interesting mix.
Mahishasura Statue - Chamundi Hills Mysore
The Mahishasura Statue in Chamundi Hills

The stories we heard, have not always classified good and bad based on the physical stature, rather focused on their actions. While the greatest of the kings and sometimes gods themselves have been associated with greed for power and strength that have wronged them, the cruelest of the demons many a times have also been portrayed as the hero of the story because of their little acts of kindness.

We have been cautioned that all that shines is not gold, but were left to realize for ourselves that all that is dark isn’t just coal. It still has the brilliance of a diamond.

The earliest picture of the demon is the Asura. Asuras were perceived as the lesser beings of the dark or underworld, who were in constant battle with the Devas or gods, yet were closely related to them.
The Puranas paint the kinship of the Asuras and Devas. According to which Kashyapa, who married the 13 daughters of Prajapati is the father to all beings on earth including Devas, Asuras, Manavas or humans and the entire animal world.
Asuras being older are recalled as the primal gods of ancient times and the predecessors of the Devas.
An engaging story validates the above theory. The early Vedic texts heavily drew from the Aryans, originally the immigrants from central Asia who were worshippers of fire for its natural valour and named their god as the Ahura Mazda which later branched out as Asura and naturally found its way to India through the Persians. Even in our scriptures the god of fire or Agni was originally an Asura who later switched sides with to the Devas. The word “Assur” also represented the Assyrian nation and his worshippers, who were cruel with their treatment of the enemy. A hatred is thus known to have existed between the Indo-Aryans and the Persians. While cruelties were called off by the Persians later on, the Aryan family that migrated into India brought with them very bitter feelings towards Assur and thus the term Asura, which at one time was considered an appealing label for the Supreme Being, became descriptive only of those who were the enemies of the gods.

The word that was originally derived from asu, meaning breath through the means of a spirit, or “the Great Spirit” now is explained to be simply a contradictory of sura or god, meaning a non-god and therefore a demon.
The earliest of the Hindu scriptures speaks of the virtues of the Asuras, who were just good and equally powerful as the Devas, themselves and also mention of their potential to create wonders, including life itself. In the Rig Veda, the asuras were said to preside over moral and social phenomena and the Suras presided over natural phenomena. However, by the time the Brahmana texts were written, the character of the Asuras had become negative.
The Satapatha Brahmana cites that “the gods and asuras, both descendants of Prajapati, obtained their father’s inheritance, truth and falsehood. The gods, abandoning falsehood, adopted truth; the asuras, abandoning truth, adopted falsehood. Speaking truth exclusively, the gods became weaker, but in the end became prosperous; the asuras, speaking falsehood exclusively, became rich, but in the end succumbed.”

The later Vedic texts cite that the split was caused by the change in nature of the Asuras and hence a battle was raised to balance the two forces and create a harmonic peace reflective of us humans’ strive. In fact the name Asuras was in fact coined during this epic battle popularly referred to as churning of the sea, Samudra manthan, when they were rejected the Sura or wine of immortality, came to be known as the Asuras and for the same reason are in constant battle against the Suras or the Devas.

Alain Daniel says. “It is significant that it was not for their sins that the anti-gods had to be destroyed but because of their power, their virtue, their knowledge, which threatened that of the gods—that is, the gods of the Aryans.
Asuras and Slavery - Hindu Mythology

Scriptures were written depicting Asuras as evil – Photo of Asuras waging war
In order to explain the demonization of asuras, mythology was created to show that though the asuras were originally just, good, and virtuous, their nature had gradually changed. The asuras were depicted to have become proud, vain, to have stopped performing sacrifices, to violate sacred laws, not visit holy places, not cleanse themselves from sin, to be envious of Devas, torturous of living beings, creating confusion in everything and to challenge the Devas.”
He perceives a change in the political alignment and moral conceptions to be the cause of the division.
“With new political alignments and alliances, as well as with changes in moral conceptions and ritual, some of the gods changed side the teachings of the wise asuras came to be incorporated into those of the Vedic sages and often, more or less openly replaced by them.”
Ravana - One of the Most Powerful Asura King
Ravana – One of the Most Powerful Asura King
On the other hand the Asuras slowly acquainted with the aboriginal tribes or the other non Vedic populations of India, who were out casted by the Aryans as the worshippers of Demons. The allusions to the disastrous wars between the Asuras and the Suras, found everywhere in the Puranas and the epics, seem to include merely episodes of the struggle of the Aryan tribes against earlier inhabitants of India. The Asuras are often grouped with different Hindu tribes such as the Kalinga, the Magadha and the Nagas. There still exist the Naga tribes in Assam and the Asur are a primitive tribe of ironsmiths in central India.
The Asuras were never originally the bad guys. Their creation is a result of the loopholes in transmission of the scriptures. Good and bad exists only in the deeds of man and not their social, political or physical origin.

I am shocked to read the proverbial statement you mentioned in this essay that “an ideal mind is devil’s workshop “. It must be “an idle mind …”.
Thank you
m Our earliest sensitivity of good and bad dates back to the childhood tales of the god and the demon. There have been as many descriptions of the devil as are for the god. The most righteous description I find is that god resides in our good deeds while the demon does in our bad.
We by now have been too familiar with the saying,

The early civilizations maintained a fascinating relationship between the good and the bad. So, this dual was nature apparent in Hindu scriptures that were composed around 5000 BC and are evident in the Hindu traditions even today. On a small scale they form the expression of Hinduism as a whole.
The various situations and emotions that we as humans experience have been valuably represented through a collection of folk lore depicting this dual nature of good and bad in an interesting mix.
Mahishasura Statue - Chamundi Hills Mysore
The Mahishasura Statue in Chamundi Hills

The stories we heard, have not always classified good and bad based on the physical stature, rather focused on their actions. While the greatest of the kings and sometimes gods themselves have been associated with greed for power and strength that have wronged them, the cruelest of the demons many a times have also been portrayed as the hero of the story because of their little acts of kindness.

We have been cautioned that all that shines is not gold, but were left to realize for ourselves that all that is dark isn’t just coal. It still has the brilliance of a diamond.

The earliest picture of the demon is the Asura. Asuras were perceived as the lesser beings of the dark or underworld, who were in constant battle with the Devas or gods, yet were closely related to them.
The Puranas paint the kinship of the Asuras and Devas. According to which Kashyapa, who married the 13 daughters of Prajapati is the father to all beings on earth including Devas, Asuras, Manavas or humans and the entire animal world.
Asuras being older are recalled as the primal gods of ancient times and the predecessors of the Devas.
An engaging story validates the above theory. The early Vedic texts heavily drew from the Aryans, originally the immigrants from central Asia who were worshippers of fire for its natural valour and named their god as the Ahura Mazda which later branched out as Asura and naturally found its way to India through the Persians. Even in our scriptures the god of fire or Agni was originally an Asura who later switched sides with to the Devas. The word “Assur” also represented the Assyrian nation and his worshippers, who were cruel with their treatment of the enemy. A hatred is thus known to have existed between the Indo-Aryans and the Persians. While cruelties were called off by the Persians later on, the Aryan family that migrated into India brought with them very bitter feelings towards Assur and thus the term Asura, which at one time was considered an appealing label for the Supreme Being, became descriptive only of those who were the enemies of the gods.

The word that was originally derived from asu, meaning breath through the means of a spirit, or “the Great Spirit” now is explained to be simply a contradictory of sura or god, meaning a non-god and therefore a demon.
The earliest of the Hindu scriptures speaks of the virtues of the Asuras, who were just good and equally powerful as the Devas, themselves and also mention of their potential to create wonders, including life itself. In the Rig Veda, the asuras were said to preside over moral and social phenomena and the Suras presided over natural phenomena. However, by the time the Brahmana texts were written, the character of the Asuras had become negative.
The Satapatha Brahmana cites that “the gods and asuras, both descendants of Prajapati, obtained their father’s inheritance, truth and falsehood. The gods, abandoning falsehood, adopted truth; the asuras, abandoning truth, adopted falsehood. Speaking truth exclusively, the gods became weaker, but in the end became prosperous; the asuras, speaking falsehood exclusively, became rich, but in the end succumbed.”

The later Vedic texts cite that the split was caused by the change in nature of the Asuras and hence a battle was raised to balance the two forces and create a harmonic peace reflective of us humans’ strive. In fact the name Asuras was in fact coined during this epic battle popularly referred to as churning of the sea, Samudra manthan, when they were rejected the Sura or wine of immortality, came to be known as the Asuras and for the same reason are in constant battle against the Suras or the Devas.

Alain Daniel says. “It is significant that it was not for their sins that the anti-gods had to be destroyed but because of their power, their virtue, their knowledge, which threatened that of the gods—that is, the gods of the Aryans.
Asuras and Slavery - Hindu Mythology

Scriptures were written depicting Asuras as evil – Photo of Asuras waging war
In order to explain the demonization of asuras, mythology was created to show that though the asuras were originally just, good, and virtuous, their nature had gradually changed. The asuras were depicted to have become proud, vain, to have stopped performing sacrifices, to violate sacred laws, not visit holy places, not cleanse themselves from sin, to be envious of Devas, torturous of living beings, creating confusion in everything and to challenge the Devas.”
He perceives a change in the political alignment and moral conceptions to be the cause of the division.
“With new political alignments and alliances, as well as with changes in moral conceptions and ritual, some of the gods changed side the teachings of the wise asuras came to be incorporated into those of the Vedic sages and often, more or less openly replaced by them.”
Ravana - One of the Most Powerful Asura King
Ravana – One of the Most Powerful Asura King
On the other hand the Asuras slowly acquainted with the aboriginal tribes or the other non Vedic populations of India, who were out casted by the Aryans as the worshippers of Demons. The allusions to the disastrous wars between the Asuras and the Suras, found everywhere in the Puranas and the epics, seem to include merely episodes of the struggle of the Aryan tribes against earlier inhabitants of India. The Asuras are often grouped with different Hindu tribes such as the Kalinga, the Magadha and the Nagas. There still exist the Naga tribes in Assam and the Asur are a primitive tribe of ironsmiths in central India.
The Asuras were never originally the bad guys. Their creation is a result of the loopholes in transmission of the scriptures. Good and bad exists only in the deeds of man and not their social, political or physical origin.

 
I enjoyed the article and shared with SM like Twitter,, Facebook and WhatsApp.
I used to say that Devas and Asuras are devotees of Shiva. So We have to remember the sloka बान्धवाः शिवभक्ताश्च ☺️
 

vAYALORE

Member
FACTUALLY INCORRECT. THis is like Tamilains calling Sanaihi charah = Sanischara as SANEESWARA and even claiming that only saturn has the status of Easwara among navagrahas . (Vaishavaites make GhoDHA devi as kodhai, sarngapani (one who hold Saarnga bird) as SAARNAGABHAANI and so on . JUST WANT TO POINT OUT A MAJOR CATASTROPHIC MISTAKE . The word AArya means one who is noble. (good hearted, kind hearted, thinking good things, speaking good words, doing good acts. Lord McCauley wanted to divide Indians by telling that ARyans are immigarnts and dravidans are native. And this author is just a PREY to spreading such falsehoods. Almost 30 years ago a lady head of CBE Chinmaya mutt lectured to 1,000 audience. dharmaArthaKaamaMoksham thus: Earn money, Do charity. Satisfy your lust . You will attain mukthi. ANd another great pravachanakartha claimed he has never hear of the gyana called "nirupa yoga" Actually it was "Nir UpayOga gyAnA"", My heart was bleeding because most of us conditioned to beleive what the pravachakartha lectures or whatever is in print. I AM SORRY TO MAKE THE AUTHOR FEEL SAD. But my request, please first learn the issues by making inquiry well before you put it in print. Because misleading is also a sin. A comment section is not an appropriate place to explain the REAL MEANINGS of the word dEva, dhAnava, mAnava and Oh My God - Advaitha. I humbly request readers to validate their understanding rather than taking this article as 100% accurate.
 

harshak

Member
Our earliest sensitivity of good and bad dates back to the childhood tales of the god and the demon. There have been as many descriptions of the devil as are for the god. The most righteous description I find is that god resides in our good deeds while the demon does in our bad.
We by now have been too familiar with the saying,

The early civilizations maintained a fascinating relationship between the good and the bad. So, this dual was nature apparent in Hindu scriptures that were composed around 5000 BC and are evident in the Hindu traditions even today. On a small scale they form the expression of Hinduism as a whole.
The various situations and emotions that we as humans experience have been valuably represented through a collection of folk lore depicting this dual nature of good and bad in an interesting mix.
Mahishasura Statue - Chamundi Hills Mysore
The Mahishasura Statue in Chamundi Hills

The stories we heard, have not always classified good and bad based on the physical stature, rather focused on their actions. While the greatest of the kings and sometimes gods themselves have been associated with greed for power and strength that have wronged them, the cruelest of the demons many a times have also been portrayed as the hero of the story because of their little acts of kindness.

We have been cautioned that all that shines is not gold, but were left to realize for ourselves that all that is dark isn’t just coal. It still has the brilliance of a diamond.

The earliest picture of the demon is the Asura. Asuras were perceived as the lesser beings of the dark or underworld, who were in constant battle with the Devas or gods, yet were closely related to them.
The Puranas paint the kinship of the Asuras and Devas. According to which Kashyapa, who married the 13 daughters of Prajapati is the father to all beings on earth including Devas, Asuras, Manavas or humans and the entire animal world.
Asuras being older are recalled as the primal gods of ancient times and the predecessors of the Devas.
An engaging story validates the above theory. The early Vedic texts heavily drew from the Aryans, originally the immigrants from central Asia who were worshippers of fire for its natural valour and named their god as the Ahura Mazda which later branched out as Asura and naturally found its way to India through the Persians. Even in our scriptures the god of fire or Agni was originally an Asura who later switched sides with to the Devas. The word “Assur” also represented the Assyrian nation and his worshippers, who were cruel with their treatment of the enemy. A hatred is thus known to have existed between the Indo-Aryans and the Persians. While cruelties were called off by the Persians later on, the Aryan family that migrated into India brought with them very bitter feelings towards Assur and thus the term Asura, which at one time was considered an appealing label for the Supreme Being, became descriptive only of those who were the enemies of the gods.

The word that was originally derived from asu, meaning breath through the means of a spirit, or “the Great Spirit” now is explained to be simply a contradictory of sura or god, meaning a non-god and therefore a demon.
The earliest of the Hindu scriptures speaks of the virtues of the Asuras, who were just good and equally powerful as the Devas, themselves and also mention of their potential to create wonders, including life itself. In the Rig Veda, the asuras were said to preside over moral and social phenomena and the Suras presided over natural phenomena. However, by the time the Brahmana texts were written, the character of the Asuras had become negative.
The Satapatha Brahmana cites that “the gods and asuras, both descendants of Prajapati, obtained their father’s inheritance, truth and falsehood. The gods, abandoning falsehood, adopted truth; the asuras, abandoning truth, adopted falsehood. Speaking truth exclusively, the gods became weaker, but in the end became prosperous; the asuras, speaking falsehood exclusively, became rich, but in the end succumbed.”

The later Vedic texts cite that the split was caused by the change in nature of the Asuras and hence a battle was raised to balance the two forces and create a harmonic peace reflective of us humans’ strive. In fact the name Asuras was in fact coined during this epic battle popularly referred to as churning of the sea, Samudra manthan, when they were rejected the Sura or wine of immortality, came to be known as the Asuras and for the same reason are in constant battle against the Suras or the Devas.

Alain Daniel says. “It is significant that it was not for their sins that the anti-gods had to be destroyed but because of their power, their virtue, their knowledge, which threatened that of the gods—that is, the gods of the Aryans.
Asuras and Slavery - Hindu Mythology

Scriptures were written depicting Asuras as evil – Photo of Asuras waging war
In order to explain the demonization of asuras, mythology was created to show that though the asuras were originally just, good, and virtuous, their nature had gradually changed. The asuras were depicted to have become proud, vain, to have stopped performing sacrifices, to violate sacred laws, not visit holy places, not cleanse themselves from sin, to be envious of Devas, torturous of living beings, creating confusion in everything and to challenge the Devas.”
He perceives a change in the political alignment and moral conceptions to be the cause of the division.
“With new political alignments and alliances, as well as with changes in moral conceptions and ritual, some of the gods changed side the teachings of the wise asuras came to be incorporated into those of the Vedic sages and often, more or less openly replaced by them.”
Ravana - One of the Most Powerful Asura King
Ravana – One of the Most Powerful Asura King
On the other hand the Asuras slowly acquainted with the aboriginal tribes or the other non Vedic populations of India, who were out casted by the Aryans as the worshippers of Demons. The allusions to the disastrous wars between the Asuras and the Suras, found everywhere in the Puranas and the epics, seem to include merely episodes of the struggle of the Aryan tribes against earlier inhabitants of India. The Asuras are often grouped with different Hindu tribes such as the Kalinga, the Magadha and the Nagas. There still exist the Naga tribes in Assam and the Asur are a primitive tribe of ironsmiths in central India.
The Asuras were never originally the bad guys. Their creation is a result of the loopholes in transmission of the scriptures. Good and bad exists only in the deeds of man and not their social, political or physical origin.

 
OP
OP
prasad1

prasad1

Well-known member

An Arya and an Asura​


Rama, a great King, a great Hero, loved by all and charming. Ravana, also once a great King, also adored by his people and good looking, but more known as having been a Tyrant and now remembered as a demon.
Lord_Ram
These characters and the Ramayana teach us a lot about ourselves and our potential from which we can learn, interpret and live. Rama wasn’t just an average hero to admire, Rama sets an example, each of us are capable of becoming like him, and in fact deep down we are Rama. But likewise, Ravana isn’t just a villain to fear, but someone to fear our own selves becoming, he is an example of what a human becomes as a victim of his own ego.
What was the difference between these two kings that make them who they were?

Lust​

Rama was born in a time where kings often had multiple wives. His father Dasaratha, a great king, also followed this custom. Conversely, Rama kept no other lady by his side but Sita. Not once did he consider another woman. This was brought to the surface with the encounter of the flirtatious and sensuous Surpanakha to who Rama responded with “there is no other for me but Sita”.

On the other side of sea, Ravana not only possessed multiple wives, but he was fuelled by sensuous desires. Whichever woman he desired, he would have her. He even lusted after the wife of Shiva, Parvati. When he saw the beautiful Sita he abducted her. Interestingly however, he couldn’t so much as lay a finger on her. This wasn’t out of his decency however, a story within the Ramayana goes back to a time where Ravana had once grabbed a beautiful lady called Vedavati against her will, later on just before she ended her life, she cursed him “if you ever touch a woman against her will again, you will burn.” Some believe that Vedavati was no other than Sita in her previous birth.

Greed​

Kings are known to be rich, wealthy and surrounded by riches. Many of us today already live like kings, yet we tell ourselves we need more and need to become Kings. No matter how wealthy you are, you often want more. Kings themselves, were at times no different, they fought for more land, more riches and more power.

Rama by first glance doesn’t appear as a King, we know him better as the adventurous forest dweller. He was actually selfless enough to leave his own kingdom and comfortable rich life for 14 years, obeying the command of His father, due to his selfish stepmother Kaikeyi. He didn’t argue, as an ideal son he said “Father has blessed me with the kingdom of the forests.”

Ravana, wealthy as he was, acted by his greed. Many of the riches and ornaments he owned were acquired through Adharmic and unrighteous means, they were stolen goods. A story details of how he robbed Lord Kuber, the deity of riches, items included an ancient flying aircraft called the Pushpavakan.

Anger & Ego​

In the eyes of Rama, no living being was different to the other. Monkeys, Bears, Cows and even Squirrels were all as divine to him as a human being was. Rama demonstrated this throughout the Ramayana.

One tale speaks of an elderly lady named Sabari whose cottage Rama and Lakshmana once passed. She adored Rama and wished to serve him a meal. Being the sweet lady she was she wanted to make sure that everything she fed to Rama from the tiniest grape was of good quality, so she tasted each herself first. Normally, one would repulse at eating something that has been near someone else’s mouth. Add race and caste and this is a greater issue, but Rama lovingly accepted her food pointing out “a person’s caste is not determined by birth but by their deeds.”

Even during the war in Lanka, Rama once had Ravana cornered and was able to kill him if he wished, but through his forgiving nature he gave him another chance and the dignity to save himself. Even after the war’s end and Ravana’s demise, Ravana’s own brother Vibishan, who had led a righteous life was given the throne. It is also worth considering the fact that if Rama had wished he could have taken the kingdom of Lanka under his own rule, again showing his control of desire and greed.

On the hand, we have Ravana, he may have been loved by his followers and many wives, but his heart was filled with hatred and ego. He would put himself before anything else. One example of this was his involvement in human sacrifices, many of which included sages who he sacrificed and collected the blood from, in the belief that he would benefit. In Dharma, the golden rule is to live without harming another life physically, mentally or spiritually. By acting in this way, he was already an Adharmic being. He felt a need to be known as the greatest and the biggest and this in itself leads to one’s own demise.

In summary, regardless of what we have and how intelligent we are, if we let our heart fill with the slightest amount of lust or greed, it could be detrimental to us. One must keep his ego and pride under control and live without causing harm to any living being. This is the difference between a great King and Tyrant, between an Arya and an Asura.

He who lives by Dharma is an Arya, and he who lives by Adharma is an Asura.
 
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prasad1

prasad1

Well-known member


In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, many white supremacist groups used the word Aryan in their name as an identifier of their racist ideology. Those groups include the Aryan Circle (a large group that had its roots in the Texas prison system), the Aryan Nations (a Christian Identity-based hate group prominent in the late 20th century), and the Aryan Brotherhood (a group originating in San Quentin [California] prison). That association with racism, crime, hate crimes, and Nazism has given the word a powerful new negative sense.


The term Arya was first rendered into a modern European language in 1771 as Aryens by French Indologist Abraham-Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron, who rightly compared the Greek arioi with the Avestan airya and the country name Iran. A German translation of Anquetil-Duperron's work led to the introduction of the term Arier in 1776. The Sanskrit word ā́rya is rendered as 'noble' in William Jones' 1794 translation of the Indian Laws of Manu, and the English Aryan (originally spelt Arian) appeared a few decades later, first as an adjective in 1839, then as a noun in 1851.



You can also refer to the previous post

 
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prasad1

prasad1

Well-known member
The term Aryan was first used in reference to the Indo-Iranian people. The name Iran is related to the term Aryan. The term was likely used by the ancient Aryans to describe themselves and is thought to be related to the word for southerner or perhaps kinsman or noble. There is debate among linguists as to the origin of this term. When Aryans settled in northern India and in Persia, they continued to identify themselves as Aryan in their languages of Old Persian and Vedic Sanskrit. These people brought their language, culture, and religion.

Again, not much is known about the ancient Aryan people. They emerged in the Eurasian Steppe as part of the broad Indo-European family of people. Their expansion is thought to have been facilitated by their invention of the horse-drawn chariot, which allowed them superior mobility over the ground-restricted soldiers of other civilizations.

In northern India, the Indus Valley civilization flourished from 3000 to roughly 1000 BC. This society consisted of many advanced city-states and metallurgy. Some have attributed their decline to environmental causes, while others attribute it to the arrival of the Aryan people in northern India. In either case, the Aryan people began to arrive in this region.

Around the year 1500 BC, the first hymns of the Rigveda, a collection of the Aryans' ancient religious texts, were written in the Vedic Sanskrit language. Like the other Indo-European religions of common origin found in Europe and the Middle East, the Vedic religion consisted of multiple deities. The Aryans also brought about the rise of a caste system in India. Around 300 BC, the Vedic religion was replaced by or evolved into Hinduism, which is the largest religion in India today.

 
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