Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pandemonium: The Asura/Deva Split (1500 BC)


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"Pandemonium" is Jaan Puhvel's word for the mutual demonization that occurred when the Younger-Avesta demonized the daevas, and the post-Rigvedic texts demonized the asuras. Neither demonization occurs in the oldest texts: in the Rigveda, there is not yet any hard-and-fast distinction between asuras and dēvas, and even in the later Vedas, the two groups (though thematically in opposition) cooperate at certain times. In the Old Avestan texts the daevas are to be rejected for being misguided by the "lie", but they are still gods, and not demons."...Kuiper, F.B.J. (1983). In Irwin, J. Ancient Indian Cosmology.

Chogyam Trungpa made it interesting when he stated that "In Buddhism the Asuras are referred to as 'Jealous Gods"....In the Shambhala tradition there are referred to as 'Fiesty Gods'.."....

"The Rigdens other than Rigden Raudrachakrin are of the Asura family because of bestowing fear. If one thinks this explanation is not suitable, Palden Raudrachakrin having a short spear bestows fear in the asura family. So it is taught.... The linguistic history indicates that the Aryans ("Indo-Europeans"....."Iran") originally formed a single people until the beginning of the 2nd millenium BC when the Deva worshipping Indian Aryans and the Asura worshiping Iranian Aryans went separate ways....... ... The Kalachakra discusses the expulsion of the Deva worshippers from Shambhala and refers to the Rigden kings as Asura." (Yarshater: 684)

"Asuras represent the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods in traditional Buddhist cosmology. They 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....While all the gods of the Kamadhatu 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. .".....

"Deva (देव in Devanagari script) is the Sanskrit word for deity, its related feminine term is devi. In modern Hinduism, it can be loosely interpreted as any benevolent supernatural beings. The devas in Hinduism, also called Suras, are often juxtaposed to the Asuras, their half brothers. Devas are also the maintainers of the realms.... They are often warring with their equally powerful counterparts, the Asuras.".....

"Pandemonium is Jaan Puhvel’s word for the mutual demonization that occurred when Zarathustra demonized the Gods of the Sanskrit speakers, and the Sanskrit speakers (Rig Vedic priesthood) demonized the Gods of the Zoroastrians (Avestan speakers) in turn. Conspicuous examples are the Devas and the Ashuras. Sanskrit speakers referred to the Devas as good Gods and the word devi, deva is a word for ‘a god, any god,’ whereas the Ashuras are demons in later Sanskrit literature. The Zoroastrians used the word ahura (cognate with Sanskrit ashura) as a word for ‘a god, any god,’ and Ahura Mazda is their highest God, whereas the daevas (cognate with Sanskrit devas) were demonized....The observation of the mutual demonization was made as early as 1884, by Martin Haug who “postulated his thesis that the transition of both the words [Ashuras and Devas] into the designations of the demons.... is based on a prehistoric schism in religion....” according to Alfred Hillebrandt, p. 264, Vol. 2, Vedic Mythology. The same observation is reported by Jacob Grimm, who describes the Persian introduction of dualism and various devils (p. 985, Teutonic Mythology). By the way, this dualism with its long complex history is the reason that the English words ‘divine’ and ‘devil’ have ultimately the same etymology, though they have the opposite meaning. ...."

"This demonization is not limited to the Sanskrit and Avestan languages. The close correspondence between the Zoroastrian Gods and the Germanic Gods has long been recognized, and is referred to as the Aesir-Asura correspondence. The exact time and reason for this correspondence is unknown, but it cannot be reconstructed to the early Proto-Indo-European mythology, and more likely dates to the time of the expansion of Zoroastrianism under the Sassanian kings. Furthermore, this dualism and demonization were absorbed by the Hebrews during their sojourn in Babylon, and from there it passed into Christianity, according to George Cox, quoting M. Bréal, see p. 174 and 562, although interestingly, it is the “Asheras” that are demonized by the Jerusalem priesthood in the Old Testament."....

"The mutual demonization is not limited to the Devas and Ashuras. Most of the deities of the Proto-Indo-Europeans were divided into one group or the other at the time of the division, and while the majority of the most important Gods were retained by the Sanskrit speakers and their descendants (modern Hindus), many of the high status deities of the Germanic-language-speaking people correspond to the replacement Gods of the Zoroastrians.".....

" It is believed that Aryans came to India through Central Asia in the Bronze Age. There is a theory among historians explaining the Asuras and Devas divide to the split between the Indian Aryans and the Iranian Aryans. This theory is corroborated by the fact that in old-Iranian religion as well as Zoroastrianism, the term Asura corresponds to the Zoroastrian word “Ahura”. In Zoroastrianism, Asuras or “Ahuras” are supreme godly beings while Devas or “Daevas” are demonic. Prophet Zoroaster propagated the worship of Ahura Mazda while the first Zoroastrian Gatha condemns Daevas for their ill treatment of cows.".....

• Analecta Indoeuropaea, by Jaan Puhvel, published by Innsbrucker Beitrage zur Sprachwissenschaft, Innsbruck, 1981.
• Vedic Mythology by Alfred Hillebrandt, translated by Sreeramula Rajeswara Sarma, publ. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1981 (orig. 1891).
• Deutsche Mythologie by Jacob Grimm, (English title Teutonic Mythology, translated by Stallybrass), George Bell and Sons, London, 1883.
• Sacred Books of the East, translated by various Oriental scholars, series ed. by Max Müller, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1879-1904.
• Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World, by J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006.
• The Mythology of the Aryan Nations by George W. Cox, Kegan Paul, Trench & Co, London, 1887.

.....the earliest period of the Indo-European culture, which is defined as the time when all Indo-European-speaking people could still understand each other and conservatively thought to be about 4000 BCE.....

" In general, the earliest texts have the Asuras presiding over moral and social phenomena (e.g. Varun or Bhaga, the patron of marriages) and the devas presiding over natural phenomena (e.g. Ushas, whose name means "dawn", or Indra, a weather god) Varuna, Mithra, Indra, Rudra, Agni, Aryaman, Pusan and Parjanya are all asuras without being demonic.."....


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