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  • Nitya Handa

Asuras : Saga of Good & Bad Continues..

Ever since childhood, our grandparents have told us many mythological stories, many of them were a clear description of the difference between Good and Bad, the right path and the wrong path, or as they termed it, Deva or Asura. The basic understanding of their stories that we can extract is that ‘Deva’ resides in our good deeds and ‘Asur’ in our bad ones.


Our ancestral stories maintained a mesmerizing relationship between the Good and the Bad. This duo is also included in our scriptures dating almost more than 5000 years back. Our stories always focused on the deeds of the individual, not always the appearance to classify them as good or bad. While the Kings and even the Gods of Hindu mythology have been associated with greed of power, the most vicious villains have been portrayed as the hero, only because of the few acts of Kindness. We have been cautioned that all that shines is not gold, but we are left to realize for ourselves that all that is dark isn’t just coal, it still has the value of a diamond.


Asura is the earliest image of a demon. They were perceived as the residents of the underworld, who were in constant battle with the Deva’s, while being closely related to them. Our Puranas paint a picture of the kinship between Asuras and Devas. Kashyapa, who married the 13 daughters of Prajapati is the father to all beings on earth including Devas, Asuras, Manavas and the entire animal world. Asuras are older and therefore recalled as the ‘predecessors’ of the Devas.


There are many theories supporting the above, one of them provides a foundation and states that our Early Vedic texts have withdrawn knowledge from the Aryan’s heavily. Aryans were people who worshiped the elements and named their God “Ahura Mazda”, as word spilled around, the Persians carried it over to India, the original name was shaped into ‘Assur’ which also represented the Assyrian nation who were famous for their special treatment of their enemies. A hatred is known to have erupted between the Indo-Aryans and the Persians. While the feelings 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 perceived as a term for the Supreme Being, became descriptive only of those who were the enemies of the gods.


In the Rig Veda, the asuras were said to rule over moral and social phenomena and the Suras presided over natural phenomena. But by the time the Brahmana texts were written, the sketch 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.”


Asuras’ origin and real character became acquainted with certain parts of the population, these few parts were the parts exiled by the Aryan population and termed as ‘Demon Worshipers’. Asuras are usually paired with certain Indian tribes such as the Kalinga, Maghda and the Nagas. So, Asuras were never actually the bad guys. Their creation is the result of conveyance of the scriptures. Good and bad exists only in the deeds of man and not their social, political or physical origin.



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