“They say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.8)
The Sanskrit word “asura” means one who does not believe in God. The word is commonly translated as “demon” because from the rejection of the existence of a Supreme Controller all bad tendencies come. Even those who are purportedly religious can also be classified as asuras, for they can make an outward profession of faith and then act in totally the opposite way. After all, anyone can say anything. I might be lying through my teeth, but if I tell someone, “No, I’m not lying. I’m telling you the truth,” they might actually believe me. They might think that I am an honest person.
Whether there is faith in a higher power or not, there is always a foremost desire that guides each person. This means that the asura is looking to gain something as well. If they find out a way to achieve it, they will come up with rules that others may wish to follow to replicate the success. If the asura encounters obstacles along the way, then they include rules that will remove those obstacles going forward. Since the asura mentality denies the existence of an original source of everything, naturally the ultimate objective is to try to enjoy as much as possible. The person who enjoys the best is the superior person. Since other asuras will shoot for the same objective, there is guaranteed to be competition. Some will win and some will lose, though in the end everyone loses since no one is complete in the opulences of beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation. And neither will anyone hold these attributes infinitely, for everyone must die.
Along their journey, the asuras come up with rules that are presented as absolutes. Others must abide by them, lest they be labeled as fanatics or nonbelievers. Of course then those rules are later overturned. For instance, at one time the asuras considered the earth to be flat. This they tried to figure out for themselves. If they had consulted authorized shastra, they would have realized that the universe is like an oval. The concept of a brahmanda was unknown to them. In Sanskrit this word means a realm of spirit, or Brahman, that is shaped like an egg. It is the word used to describe a single universe.
Anyone who believed that they earth was not flat was ridiculed. Some were punished with death. Then, along the way the asuras figured out that the earth was round. Thus their previous rule that they found through basic observation was nullified. Now a new rule was made. This is only one example, but there are so many others as well. One need only peruse the health section of the daily newspaper. One day eating cheese is bad and another it is good. Wine is bad for you, but then it is not. The same with coffee and oat bran.
In this way there is never an absolute truth found, as the individual is imperfect. There are four defects that man inherits at the time of birth. He tends to cheat. Since man doesn’t know that ultimately everything will be destroyed at the time of death, he puts too much importance on temporary gains. Sometimes, the fear that this body is the only life brings the same mindset. Cheating is a shortcut way to find an advantage. Man commits mistakes. To err is human after all, and so when he comes up with absolute rules they are sometimes wrong. Man is easily illusioned. What he sees isn’t always what he gets. He gazes upon a beautiful woman in the present but he can’t see past her flesh to realize that her appearance will change as the years pass. He can’t see her for the spirit soul that she is. Man also has imperfect senses. These senses are used for making observations which then get used to formulate various rules. As the senses cannot possibly perceive everything, the gathering mechanism is itself limited. How then can the conclusions be without flaw? If you had a wonderful photo editing software on your tablet computer but no way of taking pictures, of what use is it to you?
The suras are devotees. They accept the Absolute Truth from the outset. They understand that He is the source of everything. All other truths descend from Him. Since only He is absolute, all others are relative. What is good for me may not be so for you. Honesty is the best policy, except when someone in danger has come to you for protection. If a thief comes to you looking for a house that he wants to rob, if it is your neighbor’s house will you give away the location? In this case dishonesty is the pious option. Medicine is the right food to take when stricken by a certain disease, but in other circumstances it is the wrong thing to take.
The ultimate conclusion of the suras never changes: worship God with body, mind and speech. And don’t just take someone’s word for it when deciding who God is. Don’t be swayed by the false notions of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Judaism. If God is really God, He must be so for everyone. Indeed, the intelligent suras never speak of this “ism” or that, as they know that God’s position is scientifically explainable to a degree. The individual is spirit, and God is the supreme spirit. The individual goes through birth and death within the current lifetime. This is known as transmigration of the soul. The soul is in bed one minute and then at work the next. The soul has thus moved, but the individual is still the same. This is one way to better understand reincarnation, a way to take away its mystical aura.
Nowhere in this discussion do we see mention of Hinduism. That is a term used by the less intelligent, who consider spiritual life to be a matter of faith only. There is faith in anything, for sure, but the concept of a supreme controller is real, as we see intelligence to the workings of nature. The original person created that nature, so He must be the most intelligent. Taking devotion to Him to be the ultimate guiding principle, the suras are released from the burden of having to constantly conjure up new truths, rules which are later on revised or completely abolished. The suras practice devotion by always chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” which is a practice whose effectiveness will never change.
With my observations to take,
A new principle with mind to make.
Then a newer perception will come,
My previous truth abruptly undone.
Asuras in this way always to try,
Since existence of God they deny.
Devotion to real God suras choose,
Chanting holy names time wisely to use.