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Asuras

Asura (Sanskrit, Pāli. Korean: 아수라, Tib: Lha.ma.yin, Japanese 阿修羅 Ashura, Chinese: 阿修罗; pinyin: Āxiūluō) in Buddhism is the name of the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods of the Kāmadhātu.

The Buddhist asuras are broadly derived, in general character, from the wicked asuras of Hinduism, but have acquired some very distinctive myths which are only found in Buddhist texts.

For the etymology of asura, see Aesir-Asura correspondence.

In its Buddhist context, the word is sometimes translated "Titan" (suggesting the wars of the Greek gods and Titans), "demigod", or "antigod".

While all the gods of the Kāmadhātu are subject to the passions to some degree, the Asuras above all of them have become addicted to them, especially wrath, pride, boasting and bellicosity.

Because of their passions, rebirth as an Asura is considered to be one of the four unhappy births (together with rebirth as an animal, a preta, or a being in Naraka). The state of an Asura reflects the mental state of a human being obsessed with force and violence, always looking for an excuse to get into a fight, angry with everyone and unable to maintain calm or solve problems peacefully.

In terms of power, Asuras rank above humans but below most of the other deities. They live in the area at the foot of Mount Sumeru, at least partially in the sea that surrounds it.

On the popular cosmic picture of the Bhavacakra, the Asuras are sometimes shown as a sixth stage of existence, and sometimes grouped together with the devas. The five-stage version was the original, and the addition of the Asuras as the sixth was done in Tibet on the authority of Je Tsongkhapa.

The leaders of the Asuras are called Asurendra (Pāli: Asurinda) "Asura-lord". There are several of these, as the Asuras are broken into different tribes or factions. Among them are the bow-wielding Dānaveghasa Asuras, and the terrible-faced Kālakañjakas. The principal leaders are Vemacitrin (Pāli: Vepacitti), Rāhu (also called Veroca or Verocana), and Pahārāda. (wikipedia)

Page last modified on Tuesday 31 of May, 2011 03:43:36 MDT

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