16 Disturbing Historical Demons Most People are Scared Of

“Asura” in 249th cave of Mogao Caves. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain

2. The Asuras exemplified balance between light and dark.

The Asuras made their first appearance in the Hindu Vedas, a collection of poems written between 1500-1200 BC. However, they seem to originate in the Iranian Ahura, the celestial beings of the Zoroastrians. While Zorastarians regarded the Ahura as a force for good, Hindus saw the Asuras as evil. These Hindu Asura included various classes of demons: the Nagas or serpent demons, the Ahi, the demons of drought, Kamsa, an archdemon, and Rakshasa or “Harm to be guarded against,” a group of demons who haunted cemeteries and caused violent deaths and caused people to commit foolish acts.

Along with the Devas or gods, Azuras seemed to be a way for Hindus to conceptualize the balance between light and dark in the world. For although Hindus classed the Asuras as evil, they also regarded them as equal to the gods- hence the meaning of their name, which came from the Sanskrit, for ‘divine.’  The Asuras merely acted as the balancing opposite numbers of their better-natured brothers and sisters- and explained why bad things happened.

Both the Asuras and Devas were children of the great celestial god. However, the two camps of celestial siblings became divided over the quest for the elixir of immortality. Both wanted to drink it to ensure everlasting life. So it was agreed that whichever group discovered it would share it with the other. However, when the Devas discovered it first, they kept it for themselves. Thus, the gods became immortal- and the Asuras did not, ensuring the two groups remained in perpetual conflict.

The Chinese also had tales of demons who wanted to be gods.