The Difference Between Devas And Asuras, Gods And Demons


by Jayaram V

The Upanishads are the heart of Hinduism. I was introduced to them by chance nearly forty years ago, and ever since my interest in them only grew. It was out of my interest I translated several Upanishads twice in the past. The first attempt was several years ago, and it was meant mainly for the Internet. In my recent attempt, which took me over a year, I translated 16 major Upanishads covering over 1700 slokas. For me the exercise was more like an active meditation with an opportunity to communicate with the best of the ancient minds and making sense of their universal vision of God and existence. In this section I want to share with you the wisdom of the Upanishads, whenever I am inspired to do so. I hope to present at least a few every month until my thoughts are exhausted or my interest has waned. I hope you will find them useful. Jayaram V

Please do not look for complete answers or information in these. They are fragments of thoughts which deal with only certain aspects of the chosen subject

In Hindu cosmology the Asuras (rakshasas) enjoy the same status as the gods and humans. The gods, demons and humans are considered children of Brahma. They all practice the same dharma and worship same the Trimurthis (Trinity), but differently. Brahma provided them with the same knowledge. However, because of difference in understanding, attitude and thinking, each understand the same knowledge in different ways.

Truth is the same for all. Because of the differences in our temperament and thinking, we receive it differently, think differently and interpret differently. Truly speaking, these variations are part of the diversity which is universally present in creation. They arise due to the differences in our karmas and and influence of the guans.

For example, Brahma taught the knowledge of Self to both Vairocana, the leader of the Asuras and Indra, the leader of gods. After listening to Brahma and seeing his own reflection in the water, Vairocana went back with the understanding that the body or the physical form was the self, whereas Indra was not satisfied with that analogy. He stayed back and spent over a hundred years with Brahma to arrive at the truth and know the true meaning of Self.

The story of Indra and Vairocana is mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad (8:7). It gives us an insight into the psychology of the asuras and the devas. The Asuras go by perceptual and superficial knowledge. Hence, they lack true insight into the nature of things or the nature of reality. Since they go by their senses, they are prone to attachment, delusion and ignorance, and mistake the apparent reality as the highest reality.

The devas operate at the mental and intelligence level. Since they possess a lot of intelligence and analytical ability, they are not easily impressed by the surface reality. Because of their intelligence, which arises from the sattvic nature, they possess a lot of discretion or discerning wisdom, which gives them the ability to know right from wrong. Hence, they can clearly distinguish between reality and illusion. << >>

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