[Advaita-l] Asuras and Dharma

Durga Janaswamy janaswami at gmail.com
Fri Nov 20 14:02:53 CST 2015

Hari Om,

One way of looking at Asuras is:  Asuras are not a distinct category of
persons separate from us. Both Deva and Asura are with in an individual

Bhagawan Shankaracharya's bhashya gives clarity on the topic.

Chandogya Upanishad - Chapter 1 (Udgitha Vidya)
mantra 1.2.1 देवासुरा ह वै यत्र संयेतिरे उभये प्राजापत्यास्तद्ध देवा
उद्गीथमाजह्रुरनेनैनानभिभविष्याम इति

devAsurA ha vai yatra saMyetire ubhaye prAjApatyAstaddha devA
udgIthamAjahruranenainAnabhibhaviShyAma iti

When the gods and demons, who were both progeny of Prajapati, fought
against each other ........................

The word deva is derived from the root div in the sense of shining. So it
means functions of the organs, which are illumined by the scriptures.

The asuras are verily the normal, unillumined (ignorant) activities of the
organs; opposed to them (devas) because they remain engrossed in the
enjoyment of their own respective lives, i.e. in (their respective) diverse
objects and vital functions.

The demons, the natural, unillumined functions of the organs, became
engaged in war for undermining those functions of the organs which are
illumined (regulated) by scriptures.

So also the gods, who are opposed to them and are possessed of
characteristics of light emerging from the understanding of subjects
presented by the scriptures, became engaged in defeating the demons
possessed of the natural characteristics of darkness.

Thus the whole idea is this: From time immemorial a war, as it were, is
continuing in the bodies of all individual beings, between the gods and
demons, for the sake of defeating or winning over one another.

That is being related here by the Upanishad in the form of a story, by way
of enjoining knowledge of the purification of the vital force for
(arousing) discriminative knowledge about the rise of virtue and vice.

Thus, ubhaye, both the gods and demons; are prajapatyah, progeny of
Prajapati, of a person competent for rites and meditation.

The opposing functions of the organs of that very person, those which
follow the scriptures and those which follow their natural tendencies, are
his progeny as it were because they arise from him.

(By Swami Gambhirananda, I did not type full, please look into the book for
full details)


On Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 9:09 AM, Santosh Rao via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaskara,
> In the shastras we read about how some asuras were given knowledge by
> certain preceptors, for example, shukra is known to have been the guru of
> the asuras, while brighu was the preceptor of the devas.
> My question is, what exactly were these asuras learning? Was it the Vedas,
> or some other type of knowledge? If it was the Vedas, doesn't that mean
> there was adhikara for that to take place to begin with? How was that
> defined? If there was adhikara, then why would the lord have to incarnate
> to mislead them with a false doctrine (buddha), instead of correcting them
> in their errors?
> I also read somewhere that the carvaka atheistic philosophy has it's
> origins with rishi brhispathi....is this true? If so, was it's purpose to
> mislead a certain group of people similar to what we are taught about
> buddhism? Sorry if this is offtopic, I've been curious about it for a
> while.
> Thanks,
> Santosh Rao
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