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Combating Asura In Indian Parliament

An essay By Lalit Mishra in backdrop of JNU row of incidences, Date 27-12-2016, email:
Arrival of Mahishasur in Indian parliament has charged up the insipid debate on nationalism which was
about to lose initial excitement generated, running in last phase of its lifecycle and we have entry of mighty
Mahishasur, who eversince the moment of stepping in, has succeeded in turning debate to a politically
sensitive and complex problem of Indian Adivasis (tribes hereinafter) and their religious faith. In absence
of a standard narrative on origin and evolution of Indian culture, all debating parties enjoy maximum
freedom to pick and choose their arguments and throw it on the other, scenario is a group of participants
argue that mighty Mahishasur is regarded among tribes as their god or mythical ancestor, particularly
among tribes living in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal whereas the party though not
countering the Mahishasur aspect of the debate, but engaged to counter abusive, disrespectful portray
of goddess Durga by the organizers of JNU campus.
The truth of the day is, since time immemorial, tribes living in these remote forest areas have been
celebrating various festivals in memory of the mother Goddess or the Devi which they very fondly call
with many adorable names such that Gura, Kali or Durga . Maximum no of Devi Shakti peethas fall in tribal
bracket of India. The oldest archaeological Devi shrine discovered at Baghor, a village of district Sidhi of
Madhya Pradesh, is dated between 7000 BCE to 8000 BCE belonging to terminal upper Paleolithic era
(Kenyor, Clark & Sharma) when Aryans invasion is clear impossibility.
Unfortunately, archaeological evidence Baghor is completely overlooked by the party who interprets and
claims that goddess worship is introduced by invading Aryans in India, who are placed around 1500 BCE
by majority of historians, moreover, such a huge difference of timing rejects the thesis that goddess
worship among tribes is a faith borrowing from so called invading Aryans. Another question is why tribes
wd preserve pure Sanskrit word Mahishasur which is not so popular even in Hindi belt.
Anthropologists have known that popular folk dance Chhau in same tribal zone is staged by three tribal
schools Seraikella, Purulia and Mayurbhan in adorable memory of goddess Durga. In view of the continuity
of the tradition of goddess Durga shows goddess worship is an indigenous Indian tradition evenly shared
by tribes living in dense forest areas and non tribes living in plains. As the Rigveda, the oldest extant text
of the world which gets a place in UNESCOs world register, has a dedicated hymn (10.125) to goddess
Gauri, shows visionaries who compiled Vedic hymns too are indigenous Indians, both Aryans and Tribes
appear to belonging same tradition of faith and leaves no room to color the controversy as a conflict
between Aryans and tribal communities.
A generalization that all tribes trace their identity in demon Mahishashur, has no historical endorsement
and whole episode has potential to go against claimed indigenous roots of few tribes particularly the
Santhals, who are getting linked to controversy apparently with no agreement of theirs to controversy.
For tribes like Santhals, Munda and Oraons there are two great difficulties to sustain controversy as
linguistically, they are well identified speakers of Astro-Asiatic language and racially the Proto-australoid,
which could be part of migratory ethno group that is spread from Jharkhand, Asam, Tripura, Bangladesh

to Myanmar and beyond. According to Sreferud (1968) word Santhal is a corruption of Saontar which
was adopted by the Santals when they lived in the area around Saont in Midnapur district of West Bengal.
Quite possible Santhals might have brought in some non-Indian beliefs but having settled down in Santhal
Paragana and in neighboring regions, a synthesis of customs and beliefs with other tribes of Indian origin
might have happened as evident from their religious beliefs, rituals and festivals.
Santhals perhaps preserve memory of having migrated to areas of their settlements since they call their
places of worships in the region as Sarna - Asthal (Jaher) and note their religion is Sarna, believe in cult
of mother goddess of Sarna Devi. No connection or recognition to Mahishashur is found in their rituals,
moreover, they do not believe in idol worship and there entire controversy seems to be unfounded.
Its to be noted that Santhals Mahishasur connection is not very old, it surfaced only around year 2000
when Pashupati Prasad Mahato an anthropologist and an admirer of a new cult Anandmarga established
by PR Sarkar, in-famously known for Purulia Arms drop controversy, started asserting Mahishasur linkage
to Santhals in his programs and the neo activists group who is tremendously active in cyberspace, although
came forward to back the Mahishasur linkage but these groups also acknolwedge that Santhals are astro
Asiatic speaking people neither speaking Indo Aryan nor Dravidian languages.
Vedic Asura
Unlike the common belief asura is never a derogatory demonic characterization in supreme books of
faith for Hindus, the Vedas. It may not be easily acceptable to media and journalist fraternity and to neo
advocates of diversity that almost all Vedic gods are praised as asuras also. Linguistically, by asura
essentially means full of dynamism with vital energy and regarded as a special mark of respect to Gods of
Rigveda for instance Indra, Surya, Agni, Mitra, Varun, Marut, Rudra all are called asura more than once
in Rigveda. Chhandogya upnishad, one of mainstream Upanishads is believed to represent Asuri
philosophy, in fact, a small number of Brahmins belonging to Asuri lineage still exists in some parts of
Bihar and Orissa. Though the confusion over Deva and Asura is over, still, its to be stated that contrary
to progressive views presented in mainstream anthropological workshops and seminars, aesthetically
Vedic gods are depicted as Bull with horns, for reference, specifically the Indra (Rigveda, 8.17.13), a
parallel to such a depiction is attested in a good number of Indus valley seals.
For the clarity and satisfaction of curios readers of this essay, some crucial mantras of Rigveda are
reproduced below
1) Surya as Asura (1.35.10) : Surya (Savita) is the lord of world known gayatri mantra, who
praised as asura and invoked to protect the seer from oppressing rakshaas, it shows stark
difference in asura and rakshasas in view of Vedic rishis.

hirayahasto asura suntha sumka svavm ytv arv |

apasedhan rakaso ytudhnn asthd deva pratidoa gna

2) Agni as Asura and Pitra (10.124.3) : This is a remarkable mantra in that Asura epithet is
given to Agni as well as Pitras or heavenly ancestors of rishis

payann anyasy atithi vayy tasya dhma vi mime puri |
asmi pitre asurya evam ayajiyd yajiyam bhgam emi

3) Varuna as Asura (10.132.4) : Varuna is the lord of cosmic order or the rita as propounded in
Rigveda, gets occasionally greeted with epithet Asura and regarded as king of Vedic

asv anyo asura syata dyaus tva vive varusi rj |

mrdh rathasya ckan naitvatainasntakadhruk

For Varuna, herein the context, another mantra (1.151.04) is worthy of scholarly attention
as in this mantra, asur Varuna is explicitly declared great lord of earth (kitir asura) since he
holds the cosmic order

pra s kitir asura y mahi priya tvnv tam ghoatho bhat |

yuva divo bhato dakam bhuva g na dhury upa yujthe apa

Vedic Asura and Iranian Ahura, Unforgettable Connects

It looks, as Vedic culture progressed over the period, attribute of Deva distinguishably used for showing
divinity and Asura for showing vitality, gradually, set of values and ideals cherished in these two
attributes evolved as two independent schools of faith, early sign of such an evolution is mildly noted in
one mantra (Rigveda, 2.27.10) where deva and asura appears as two distinct terms in same row (pankti
chhanda) denoting two different groups.
Its easily inferable that continuous process of shaping up faiths into two schools might have encountered
conflicting situations by competing followers and eventually, Vedic priests along with flowers got formally
sub divided into two different cults namely Deva and Asura, primarily Deva group got aligned to Indra
and Asura group to Varuna. Its over a century now scholars have known that in Iranian texts Asura is
identified with Ahura following well attested linguistic rule that in Iranian pronunciation syllables
changes to syllable h.

Iranian text Yasna (33.11) hails Ahur mazda as their supreme god which is studied as Persian version of
Sanskrit Asur medhir (Kuiper, 1957) and interpreted as wisdom giver Asura. Zoroaster, the founder of
Iranian religion, is noted (Gatha, 46.1) imploring mazda for guidance and blessings (Gatha, 28.2) for
comfort and righteousness. Iranian texts although make enthusiastic depiction of attribute Ashura but
on the contrary they depict attribute Deva with demonic qualities which is reflection of hostility spread.
According to an article published by Iranian chamber of commerce a few more Gods such that Vedic
Bhaga, Aryamaan, Goddess Asha, Apam Napat (Burj Yazad), Saraswati (Harahawati), Mitra (Mithra), Soma
(Haoma) are commonly shared and venerated since Pre- pre-Zoroastrian times as in Vedic period of India.
Same write-up also narrates that it is widely accepted that *Bagastana (Mt. Behistun) is named after glory
of Bhaga that is unambiguously, accepted as Iranian version of Vedic god Bhaga. Its important to note
that Iranian emperor Darius-II (500 BCE), declares in his Behsturn inscription that he is an Arya which
says by that period Iranians had harmonious relationship.
Like Iran, in Armenia too registers imprints of Vedic culture and presents with equal honor and pride.
Armenia was part of former Soviet republic and situated on mountain Caucasus. Arminian text Xanthos
preserves an uncorrupted Sanskrit term Khathrapati which corresponds to Vedic Mitra and linguistically
read as lord of khathra equivalent to a dominion. It can be inferred that they Armenians were
influenced by kshathriya ( warriors of Vedic India since the Armenian ruler class accepted khathra as
their title. The term Khathrapati in Armenian tradition has been attested till fourth century CE.
Influence of Vedic Ahsuras are noted from north Mesopotamia to modern day Syria where Assyrians
formed Ashur dynasty. In this region Ashur worship is attested from 1800 BCE to 700 BCE, although
intermittent evidences are found upto 400 CE. Its interesting to underline that one of most popular
Semitic terms Ansar formed when Ashur kings conquered Babylon. In Assyrians texts term Ansar is
originally written as An-Sar.
Mainstream Indian historians including premier institutions has never bothered, rather comfortably
overlooked rich Vedic history and influence over Iran, Armenia and Greece which is however
acknowledged by historians of these nations despite adoption of different faith as Vedic influence has
been a culturally friendly experience and it leaves no grudges to their memory.
In India, however, scenario is complicated due to unqualified pressure of some progressive intellectuals
and custodians of secularity, sincere attempts are made to keep Vedic history only to unsubstantiated
thesis of Aryan Invasion or migration, which keeps misleading newer generations of India, its despicable
to see nearly entire Vedic history has been erased from NCERT syllabus, designed for history students of
class XIIth standard. This is a serious intellectual offense which has no parallels in world neither in Islamic
nor in Christian. Only ISIS and earlier Al- Kaiida terrorist are seen destroying history of region in their
occupancy and then it is done in India by so called secular intellectuals.
Since, Vedic seers contributed in making entire world modern in numerous ways and elevated world
view of people lived in their sphere of influence, most nations of contemporary world, are keen on to
acknowledge and display shared past with Vedic Indians.

Vedic history, if rightly constructed shall bring much desired peace and harmony to world of our times, it
will help humanity knowing shared history of theirs beyond barriers of faith, culture, language and
Lalit Mishra,
Phone : 9650100768