Bhagwad Gita- Who are Asuras?
There is confusion and misconception among people that the people called Asuras or Rakshasas or Nisachars of Ramayana or other epics and puranas’s stories and tales were some different beings mostly with ferocious and larger human’s’type limbs, face and teeth with lot of bodily strength, eating human beings and animals and remaining asleep after drinking alcohol like Kumbhakarana. But the reason for this ignorance is some ancient religious books and over the folk tales and mythological stories.Even Tulsidas told such a formidable form and behavior of Ramcharitmanas Asura in the Sundarkand case, “Kahun Mahish Manush Dhenu Khar Aj Khal Nisachar Bhachhihi”, further Ravana tells Mandodari, “Jaun Aavai Markat Katkai, Jiahin Bichare Nisichar Khai” Going to Kumbhakarna, Ravana first tells about the chief demons of his army “Durmukh Surripu Manuj Ahari” have been killed in the battle with Ram and then he arranges for Kumbhakarna “Ravan Mageu Koti Ghat Mad Aru Mahisha Anek” then Kumbhakarna “Mahishkhai Khai Kari madira pana” went to war. Tulsidas himself was a great scholar, fully knowledgeable of the Bhagavad Gita, then why did he used these these exaggerations for the demons? At I don’t know the logic. After the composition of Vedas, Upanishads and Gita, all this was written to scare the common people. The exaggerations of the later stories are the flight of imaginations of the authors of various time. However, people forget that Ravana was Brahmana and highly learned, and his other two brothers were also Brahmins. Actually, as I understand, Bibhisan represented sattvik nature, Ravana rajas and Kumbhakarna tamas in every way.
In Mahabharat war, there are stories related to four of the principal Rakshasas, viz., Vegavat, Maharudra, Vidyujihva, and Pramathin, who particated from Pandava side.Bhim married a rakshani Hidimba and their son Ghatotkach participated in Mahabharat.
There is a story in the Chandogya Upanishad. Prajapati told all the gods and demons about the all powerful Self. Then Indra on behalf of the Devas and Virochana on behalf of the Asuras went to Prajapati to know, seek and feel the Self so that they could fulfill all their desires. Virochan after 32 years of waiting trading misunderstood Self and taught Asuras to enjoy worldly life to fulfil their desires. Indra in three or four time spent in total 101 years. He could understand the real Self and taught the same to devas the route to learn and realise the Self, Brahman , the ultimate Reality.
Even In the oldest verses of the Samhita layer of Vedic texts, the Asuras are any spiritual, divine beings including those with good or bad intentions, and constructive or destructive inclinations or nature.
In Bhagwad Gita Krishna in Chapter 16 called, The Yoga of Division Between the Divine and the Demonical Endowments, दैवासुरसंपद्विभागयोगः, daivāsurasaṁpadvibhāgayogaḥ clarifies the difference of the words.
Basically there was no difference between the two except for their nature and natural actions.
In chapter 16,6
द्वौ भूतसर्गौ लोकऽस्मिन्दैव आसुर एव च।
दैवो विस्तरशः प्रोक्त आसुरं पार्थ में श्रृणु॥
Dwau bhootasargau loke’smin daiva aasura eva cha;
Daivo vistarashah proktah aasuram paartha me shrinu.
There are two types of beings in this world—the divine and the demoniacal; the divinehas been described at length (in slokas 1-3)hear from Me, O Arjuna, of the demoniacal!
इस लोक में मनुष्य समुदाय दो ही प्रकार का है, एक तो दैवी प्रकृति वाला और दूसरा आसुरी प्रकृति वाला। उनमें से दैवी प्रकृति वाला तो विस्तारपूर्वक कहा गया, ( श्लोक १-३) में, अब तू आसुरी प्रकृति वाले मनुष्य समुदाय को भी विस्तारपूर्वक मुझसे सुन, (जो पूरे अध्याय के अनेक श्लोकों में दिया है।
Following are the nature of demonic persons, hypocrisy, arrogance, self-conceit, harshness and also anger and ignorance. They do not know not what to do and what to refrain from, neither purity nor right conduct nor truth is found in them. According to them this universe is without truth, without a (moral) basis, without a God, brought about by mutual union, with lust for its cause; what else?Holding the above view, these ruined souls of small intellects and fierce deeds, come forth as enemies of the world and cause of its destruction.9 Filled with insatiable desires, full of hypocrisy, pride and arrogance, holding evil ideas through delusion, they work with impure resolves. Giving themselves over to immeasurable cares ending only with death, regarding gratification of lust as their highest aim, and feeling sure that that is all. Bound by a hundred ties of hope, given over to lust and anger, they strive to obtain by unlawful means the hoards of wealth for sensual enjoyment. They keep on thinking, “This has been gained by me today; this desire I shall obtain; this is mine and next that much wealth too shall be mine in future.” “That enemy has been slain by me and others also I shall slay. I am the lord; I enjoy; I am perfect, powerful and happy”.“I am rich and born in a noble family. Who else is equal to me? I will sacrifice. I will give(charity). I will rejoice,”—thus, deluded by ignorance…Bewildered by many a fancy, entangled in the snare of delusion, addicted to the gratification of lust, Self-conceited, stubborn, filled with the intoxication and pride of wealth, they perform sacrifices in name, through ostentation, contrary to scriptural ordinances. Given over to egoism, power, haughtiness, lust and anger, these malicious people hate Me (Isswara) in their own bodies and those of others. Finally Krishna warns: “These cruel haters, the worst among men in the world,—I hurl all these evil-doers forever into the wombs of demons only”. And finally an advice for the people of Divine nature, he says lust, anger, and greed – these nature is the three gate of this hell, destructive of the Self—,— therefore one should abandon these three. A man who is liberated from these three gates to darkness, practices what is good for him and thus goes to the Supreme goal!
For a reference the following constitutes the divine nature in sloka16.1-3:
Fearlessness, purity of heart, steadfastness in Yoga and knowledge, alms-giving, control of the senses, sacrifice, study of scriptures, austerity and straightforwardness, ….Harmlessness, truth, absence of anger, renunciation, peacefulness, absence of crookedness, compassion towards beings, uncovetousness, gentleness, modesty, absence of fickleness, vigour, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, absence of hatred, absence of pride.
If you are interested you can see it in https://drishtikona.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/irs-my-favourite-shlokas-from-scriptures.pdf . It provides about 200 best slokas from our most respected scriptures: 50 from four Upanishads in verse and 150 slokas from Bhagwad Gita in bigger bold coloured print in the chapters that you can easily find from the the table of content with sufficient details to satisfy you. Even all the others are equally important. By memorising it all gradually with five slokas after your thirties. You get benefits mentioned in Gita in Chapter 18:
अध्येष्यते च य इमं धर्म्यं संवादमावयोः ।
ज्ञानयज्ञेन तेनाहमिष्टः स्यामिति मे मतिः ॥
And he who shall study this sacred discourse of ours, by him I shall be worshipped with the sacrifice of knowledge.
और जो मनुष्य हमारे इस धर्म से युक्त संवाद का अध्ययन करेगा, उससे मैं ज्ञान यज्ञ के द्वारा अर्चित होऊँगा — ऐसा मेरा मत है।
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