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Sunil Upasana hails from Kerala (India) and has been a Bengalurean for 13 years. He has had a deep yearning to understand the profound philosophy that underlies Hinduism Read More.
In social media debates (most of them are low rate discussions), it is often argued that Asuras, mentioned in Indian religious literatures, are actually Dravidians. The inherent argument is that, Devas are north indians and Asuras are South Indians. The perpetuers of this theory are, as evident, trying to divide north and South India, using ancient scriptures. This tactic is first employed by colonial ‘scholars’ in eighteenth and ninteenth century. Now tgose who are under colonial influence, still, releats this old, outdated childish argument. In fact, if we studied Rigveda, we can understand that Devas and Asuras are people lived in the same geography and the classification has its base in the character of the respective group.
The words, ‘deva’ and ‘asura’ are mentioned for the first time in the Rigveda. Rigveda is composed around 3000 BC minimum. This date is fixed using astronomical and hydrological data. (For more details please read – The Lost River: On the Trail of Saraswati, Michel Danino). If we read Rigveda from historical viewpoint, we will get lots of data about the classification of Deva and Asura. (There are arguments that Deva – Asura classification, actually, came to India from outside. But such arguments are baseless as there is no data, prior to Rigveda, to substantiate this claim).
From Rigveda, it is very clear that, Devas and Asuras are two sections of same branch of people. And this classification is done on the basis of differences in the belief and ritual performance.
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The king of Devas, in Rigveda, is Varuna, and Varuna is an Asura, Asuric god. (Some of you may think that Indra is the King of gods. But it is not true. Indra is the king of gods in Puranas, not in Rigveda). Quoting some lines below that shows that Varuna is an Asura and Asuric god.
“With bending down, oblations, sacrifices, O Varuna, we deprecate thine anger:
Wise Asura, thou King of wide dominion, loosens the bonds of sins by us committed.”
(Two hymns mentioning Varuna (also Mitra) as an Asura follows. Varuna and Mitra usually invokes in conjuction. Both are prominent gods in Avesta, Iranian book. Iranians are another Aryan stock, in fact, Asuras).
“With hymns I call you, when the Sun hath risen, Mitra, and Varuna whose thoughts are holy,
Whose Power Divine, supreme and everlasting, comes with good heed at each man’s supplication?
For they are Asuras of Gods, the friendly make, both of you, our lands exceeding fruitful.
May we obtain you, Varuna and Mitra, wherever Heaven and Earth and days may bless us.
(Rg-Veda: 07-065-1 & 2)
“Great Varuna and Mitra, Gods, Asuras and imperial Lords,
True to Eternal Law proclaim the high decree”
(All verses are from the Rigveda translation by Griffith).
Things are very clear now. Rigveda, the sacred scripture of Hindus, places Asuras and Asuric gods (Varuna, Mitra) in a high position. One more evidence to substantiate this, as follows:-
In Bhagavat Gita, Sri Krishna emphatically states that ‘Among Rishis, I am Brighu’. Brighu is a prominent Rishi from the Brighu clan of Rigveda. His another name is ‘Shukracharya’. He is the pioneer among Rishis and the main Acharya of Asuras. Only Shukracharya knew the Mrutha-Sanjeevani-Mantra. So when Vishnu, one among the Hindu Trimurtis, comments about the Achatya of Asuras in such a higher style, then the thing that is clear there is that, Devas and Asuras are closely related and even among some rivalries between them, there existed brotherhood among them.
Some people points that, Mahabali was sent to underground by the Vamana (Mahavishnu), and it is an example of the tension between North and South India. This argument is no less than farcical. Because Puranic stories do mentions that Vamana gave back all of the wealth and kingdom to Mahabali.
It is because of the pure ignorance about the link between Rigveda and the Zent Avesta (Holy religious text of Parsis of Iran) that the people are tying Asuras wit South Indians. The term Asura has its origin in Rigveda. SO any inquiry about ‘Asura’ should start in the Rigveda only. If we can point to any communities as Asuras, it is Parsis only. In Zend Avesta, Parsis eulogize Ahuramazda (Asura-mazda), while Devas are villains in the same text.
Asuras are frequently mentioned in Ramahayana and Purans because those texts were dated closely to Rigveda. But in Mahabharata, which is of a later date, mentions about Asuras are not frequent.
Featured Image Credit: – https://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/aryans/religion.htm