ASURA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'Spiritual, divine.'
In the oldest parts of the Rig. veda this term is used for the supreme spirit, and is the same as the Ahura of the Zoroastrians. In the sense of 'god' it was applied to several of the chief deities, as to Indra, Agni, and Varuna. It afterwards acquired an entirely opposite meaning, and came to signify, as now, a demon or enemy of the gods.
The word is found with this signification in the later parts of the Rigveda, particularly in the last book, and also in the Atharva,. veda. The Brahmanas attach the same meaning to it, and record many contests between the Asuras and the gods. According to the Taittiriya Brahmana, the breath (asu) of Prajapati became alive, and "with that breath he created me Asuras." In another part of the same work it is said that Prajapati "became pregnant. He created Asuras from his abdomen." The Satapatha Brahmana accords with the former statement, and states that "he created Asuras from his lower breath." The Taittiriya. Aranyaka represents that Prajapati created gods, men, fathers, Gandharvas, and Apsarases from water, and that the Asuras, Rakshasas, and pisachas sprang from the drops which were spilt. Manu's statement is that they were created by the Prajapatis.
According to the Vishnu Purana, they were produced from the groin of Brahma (prajapati). The account of the Vayu Purana is: "Asuras were first produced as sons from his (Prajapati's) groin. Asu is declared by Brahmana to mean breath. From it these beings were produced; hence they are Asuras." The word has long been used as a general name for the enemies of the gods, including the Daityas and Danavas and other descendants of Kasyapa, but not including the Rakshasas descended from Pulastya.
In this sense a different derivation has been found for it: the source is no longer asu, `breath,' but the initial a is taken as the negative prefix, and asura signifies 'not a god;' hence, according to some, arose the word sura, commonly used for 'a god.'
ARBUDA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] 'A serpent.'
Name of an Asura. Slain by Indra.
Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM