Asuras and Devas

One of the more interesting questions in religious history is why there is a divide and reversal between the asuras and the devas.

If you’ve made a serious study of religions this divide is old hat. If you haven’t heard of it until now, you can begin to see it easily and quickly just by watching for it. I noticed it before I ever heard about it. From a Christian perspective our word devil must certainly be related to our word deity, and also to the Hindu word deva. From there it just spirals into endless fascination.

Michael York phrases it this way, “The divine-asurian duality I posit rests on an attempt to explain the Indo-Iranian dichotomy in which the Vedic devas or deities versus the asuras or demons becomes inverted into an antagonism between the Avestan demonic daevas and the ‘angelic’ ahuras headed by Lord Mazda. A further variant of this mythogen is the conflict between the Norse aesir headed by Odin and a unbeatable race of beings called the vanir. 1 The dismemberment of Tyr reflects the temporary impairment of the divine hypostasis which in Scandinavian myth has become permanent as the aesir or Odin successfully gain the pre-eminent position. The much wider survival of the *dei– cognates throughout the IE daughter languages reveals the earlier central placement of the divine devas.

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