Overview for Asura in Early Vedic Religion
In the Rg-Veda the word asura is frequently used as an epithet for various deities. However, in later Sanskrit it is used instead for a class of demons who are enemies of the gods.
In this book the Vedic passages containing the word asura - are examined to see how such a remarkable shift in meaning could occur. Every verse in the Samhitas containing the word asura- or a derivative or a compound of it is quoted, translated, and discussed. The occurrences of this word and in the prose passages of the Brahmanas are reviewed and the more interesting are quoted. In order to examine the semantic field of this word, occurrences of the terms dasa-, dasyu-, and raksas- are also examined in some detail. In the appendix, the relevant occurrences of the cognate word ahura- are quoted, translated, and analysed.
If the author's conclusions are accepted, then some commonly held ideas about early Indo-Iranian religion will have to be revised. In particular, any ideas about the cult of Asuras distinct from the Devas who were worshipped by some people will have to be abandoned.